Top 10 Team GB Heroes
With 29 gold medals across many different sports, and numerous other great performances as well, picking just 10 competitors is a tough ask. But I’ve had plenty of time to think about it now and have finally decided on my Top 10 Team GB Heroes the London 2012 Olympic Games.
1. Mo Farah.
The long distance runner rounded of Team GB’s Super Saturday storming home in the 10000m then later in the games he did the double, winning the 5000m as well. But Farah’s significance wasn’t just about two gold medals. It was about what it means to be British and who we, the British people, are happy to take as our own.
2. Jessica Ennis.
The danger of being the poster girl of the games was that it would bring added pressure that would be too much for her to handle. Ennis was unaffected and her two days of heptathlon were majestic. Her final 800m was more like a couple of victory laps with no one in any position to catch her points total.
3. Andy Murray.
Seeing Andy Murray trouncing the great Roger Federer in the men’s singles final was certainly one of the best Team GB moments of the games. Not only did Murray finally live up to his potential to win a major tournament but also he got the crowd unequivocally on his side. He even found time to take silver in the mixed doubles.
4. Alistair Brownlee.
Not only did he win the triathlon but he even had time to stop near the end, take a Union Flag off a spectator, jog the last 50m, and then wander over the line to rapturous applause. Now that’s how to finish a race.
5. Laura Trott.
Although we’re losing old heroes from our cycling squad, including Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton, it’s good to see that new heroes are coming through to take their places. Laura Trott became a double gold medallist here at the age of 20. First she won as part of the Team Pursuit squad. But then came the astonishing last gasp win in the six-event omnium where she proved herself the best all-round female cyclist in the world.
6. Nicola Adams.
She became the first ever female gold medallist in Olympic boxing. But this wasn’t simply historic; it was also a great technical performance. It was skilful and entertaining and fully justified the decision to include the sport on those grounds as well equality grounds.
7. Ben Ainslie.
Our sailors, rowers, and canoeists made sure that Team Britannia ruled not only the waves but also the wild water and flat water. Most memorably Ben Ainslie became the greatest sailor in Olympic history with his fourth gold medal.
8. Bradley Wiggins.
Fresh from his triumph in the Tour de France, Bradley Wiggins took Team GB dominance beyond the velodrome and out onto the road, winning the men’s time trial with ease.
9. Chris Hoy.
He signed off what will most likely be his last games with two more golds to take his Olympic haul to six, one ahead of Steve Redgrave. First he helped the sprint team to victory. Then came a fitting end as he powered home to solo success in the keirin.
10. Jade Jones.
Unknown, and playing in a seldom-seen sport, the 19 year-old Welsh taekwando sensation kicked, punched, spun, and dodged her way to one of the surprise gold medals of the games.
Top 5 Team Rest of the World Heroes
As a bonus here’s my Top 5 heroes from what we’ll call, for the sake of argument, Team Rest of the World.
1. David Rudisha.
On the same night that Usain Bolt and the other sprint boys were posing and posturing in the 200m, this nice, softly spoken Team Kenya athlete was busy smashing the 800m world record.
2. Team Bahamas 4×400 men’s relay squad.
This tiny country of just 350000 people, basically the same size as Leicester, was able to muster a fast enough squad to take on and beat the world, including their main rivals, Team USA.
3. Michael Phelps.
The legendary Team USA swimmer became the most successful Olympian ever during these games. He finished his illustrious career with an astonishing 18 gold medals. I said at the time he went out on a high, which was perhaps an unfortunate choice of phrase given the problems he had a few years ago. How many more golds would he have won if he’d laid off the weed?
4. Usain Bolt.
A treble of golds for the Team Jamaica star were tarnished only by his attitude. It’s really not up to an athlete to decide whether he or she has become a legend yet. That’s one for History to decide. Still, he did do the mobot when he finished the relay.
5. Ye Shiwen.
The 16-year-old Team China swimmer took on and beat older, more experienced rivals such as Rebecca Adlington. Even swimming the final 50m of her 400m individual medley faster than Ryan Lochte in the men’s equivalent race. Then she had to deal with drug cheat slurs from American coaches. Nothing untoward has thus far been found.