Taking the Games to a whole new level
London gave us an Olympics to remember. Irish Times writers and members of Team Ireland reflect on the moments that will live in their memories.THE WRITERS
The Olympic Highlight: Bradley Wiggins’s time trial win was stunning. David Rudisha’s 800 metres victory was a thing of beauty. But from an Irish perspective, Katie Taylor’s gold medal fight was unforgettable.
How the Irish performed. The boxing team was wonderfully confident and slick in their approach and their medal to athlete ratio is incredible. It came close to being Ireland’s best ever Olympics. It’s just a pity that the Irish team couldn’t have made a slightly bigger impression.
Big Olympic surprise. That Roger Bannister did not light the Olympic flame. And that everything went wonderfully right.
The whole London experience. It was a Utopian few weeks for the city. Londoners are delighted and rightly so.
The Home and Away crowd. It was a huge advantage, particularly in the boxing arena. It was hard not to feel sorry for the boxers fighting against Irish opponents: the announcer worked the Irish and English fans up so much that other boxers must have felt on the back foot. It was, after all, their Olympics too.
The Olympic highlight: The incomparably brilliant solo performance of Kenya’s David Rudisha in winning the 800 metres in a world record 1:40.91, leading all seven men behind him to below 1:44.
How the Irish performed: Essentially as well as expected, the few disappointments easily surpassed by the success of the boxers.
The Big Olympic surprise: How the winners of the men’s and women’s 1,500 metres haven’t yet tested positive for drugs.
The whole London experience: Has taken the Olympics to an entirely new level, not just performance-wise, one that not even Rio can possibly celebrate in the same way.
The home and away crowds: Unfailingly loyal and loud and proud – and maybe the last time a morning session of track and field will be entirely sold out.
Olympic Highlight: Ireland boxing Inc, the boxers and the back room team. In 1956, when Ireland won four boxing medals, there were no Russians, Chinese or Cuban boxers in the main draw.
Best Irish performance: Katie Taylor. Sold women’s boxing to the world and sold herself to Ireland without even trying. As Adam Nolan said, she conquered incredible pressure.
Biggest Olympic surprise: The triathlon in Hyde Park. The 200,000 or was it 500,000 fans. Who cares? The feet of winner Alistair Brownlee never touched the ground. A compelling triathlon, whatever next?
The London experience: The bike race past Buckingham Palace; the marathon past the Houses of Parliament . . . Hampton Court . . . Wimbledon. Vast and on a scale Ireland couldn’t comprehend.
Olympic crowds: Boxing was the most raucous and intimate, athletics all encompassing and with 80,000 brought the numbers. The Hyde Park events free to the public and inclusive. Pick your fix. They all worked.
Physical therapist with Team Ireland
The Olympic Highlight:I have known Mo Farah for 15 years and witnessing him conquering the mighty Kenyans and Ethiopians to win the 5,000m, 10,000m double brought tears to my eyes and in my view his victories were the highlights of these Games.
How the Irish performed:The spirit in the Irish team was unique and it is no wonder that it was the most successful Olympic Games for Ireland since Melbourne 1956 matching a total of five medals with Katie Taylors gold medal performance being celebrated and respected by the whole world.
The Big Olympic surprise:The big Olympic surprise was witnessing Cian O’Connor who weeks earlier was not even a member of the Irish Olympic Team compete at his very best to win a bronze medal and in the process silencing his critics.
The whole London experience:I never thought that Sydney would be surpassed but the London Olympic Games went one step further. It was my sixth Olympics and in my view a class above the rest.
The home and away crowds:The crowds supporting the events were awesome and how so many Irish people crammed into witness Katie Taylor’s gold medal fight is a mystery.
4x400m runner and wife of walker Rob
The Olympic Highlight:– Just being here with Rob, two of us together, sharing a coffee, being able to talk about our events.
How the Irish performed:I think we’re all walking away proud, knowng the journey is the thing, not just the destination.
The Big Olympic surprise:Walking into the Stadium, for my race, because if eight years ago someone had told me that I’d never have believed it.
The whole London experience:– Brilliant, from the moment we went into the holding camp, and being fed and watered, stress of being a married couple, and parents, taken off us.
The home and away crowds:Unbelievable, not just in the Stadium, but out on the roads, too, for the 50km.
Olympic Highlight:Without doubt Katie Taylor, our Olympic gold medal winner and the Irish support she brought over here. Along with her gold the atmosphere in the Excel Arena has been absolutely amazing.
Best Irish performance:Katie’s performance in the final has to go down as the best. It was the pressure. Everyone in Ireland expected her to win. I think she coped well.
Biggest Olympic surprise:Michael Conlan going on to win gold! (close but no cigar. The Belfast flyweight won the bronze medal).
The London experience:To be part of this and part of the Irish team was brilliant. Obviously I would have liked to have gone further but I’m part of a great boxing team as well.
The Olympic crowds:The boxing has topped any event. From day one it’s been a cauldron in there. Without doubt the best Olympic crowd has got to be the boxing.