Daily Archives: August 8, 2012

Roger Blitz has written an interesting story here about how Usain Bolt’s megastardom obscures underlying weakness in track and field athletics.

Set aside its showpiece global events and what is left is a sport struggling for sponsors and broadcasters, participants and a grassroots structure.

The earning power of its elite performers, even Usain Bolt, is small compared with their equivalents in other sports.

This prompted us to check how Bolt’s earnings compare with other top global sports stars. The answer, based on Forbes magazine’s latest ranking of the world’s highest-paid athletes, helps illustrate how far behind track and field has fallen. The Jamaican sprint champion is the only runner in the top 100 at a lowly 63rd. Even among athletes competing in London he ranks just eighth: Read more >>

One of the pleasures of being a journalist writing for a newspaper based in the host country of the Olympics is that other journalists see you as a potential source.

About half a dozen have asked me for quotes or basic information about various aspects of the games, or indeed of British life, in the past 10 days. Questions have ranged from why Britain doesn’t always play football as a single nation (a very good question that all the domestic football associations would probably rather wasn’t repeated too often), to what do we call those funny little bread things with holes running through them (crumpets).

Most recently, I was asked by a US correspondent if I thought the UK was becoming Americanised in its coverage of sport, and whether the entertainments provided at different venues to fill the time between action might be a sign of that process. A few minutes later, another American journalist asked why Brits have such an avid sporting rivalry with Australia. The latter question was one I didn’t enjoy answering at all. Honest. Read more >>

Flagbearer Kirani James (C) leads his delegation during the opening ceremony on July 27 (GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/GettyImages)

It’s been a historic few days at the games for Guatemala, Grenada and Cyprus, with each country winning its first Olympic medal, reports Darren Wee.

Erick Barrondo of Guatemala won silver in the 20km walk on Saturday, teenager Kirani James of Grenada won gold in the 400m dash on Monday and sailor Pavlos Kontides of Cyprus won silver in the laser class on the same day.

The three athletes became national heroes overnight. Thousands of revellers took to the streets for an impromptu carnival in James’ hometown of Gouyave, while Barrondo took the opportunity to call for “the kids at home to put down guns and knives and pick up a pair of trainers instead”. Read more >>

Schwazer celebrating his victory at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games (OLIVIER MORIN/AFP/Getty Images)

“I wanted everything, but lost everything”.

Alex Schwazer, the Italian race walk champion expelled from the London Olympics for failing doping tests, confirmed his use of EPO and said he acted alone, at a press conference in northern Italy on Wednesday.

Sobbing, the young athlete confessed his sense of “shame”, along with his anxiety of not living up to expectations after winning a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

“For these Games I wanted to be stronger and wasn’t able to say ‘no’ to doping”, he said.

The runner explained that he wanted to quit the sport more than once but felt the pressure of his family and peers to keep on going. “I was tired and fed up”, Mr Schwazer said.

The 27-year old racer said he bought the doping shots in Turkey, in September last year. For €1500, “the pharmacists gave me what I wanted”, he said. His last injection with the blood booster was the day before the test on July 30.

He said he agreed to the tests by the World Anti-Doping Agency in a “conscious suicide”, in order “to be freed from this burden”. Read more >>

Laura Robson (L) and Andy Murray at the end of the mixed doubles tennis (LEON NEAL/AFP/GettyImages)

The sight of victorious Olympic athletes collecting a bunch of flowers along with the all important medal on the podium has caused many an observer to chuckle at the incongruity of that part of the ceremony.

Not so the floral industry, which is churning out 4,400 of these so-called victory bouquets during the main and Paralympic games. How it must pain them to see most of them getting tossed into the crowds by unappreciative Olympians.

We can reveal however that it is not just the florists that are benefiting from this ancient tradition, which dates back to the original Greek games when athletes were crowned with wreaths made of olive leavesRead more >>

From Maija Palmer on our Tech blog:

The mobile phone is emerging as the technology winner in the Olympics, with more and more stats to show that this is how vast numbers of people are finding out information about the games.

Google published some data on Tuesday showing that Olympics-related searches over mobile phone increased 10-fold in the first week of the games, and mobile is trumping any other technology at key moments.

Google’s analysis showed, for example, that searches for Paul McCartney surged when the former Beatle played Hey Jude during the opening ceremony, and the largest proportion of these searches came from smart phones, rather than desktop computers.

The data highlights how much the internet’s landscape is changing.  The London Olympics are proving not just to be the first ‘social media games’ but also one where the mobile internet is coming of age.

In many countries in Europe, around a third of all Olympics related searches came from mobiles and in the UK, mobiles accounted for nearly half – 46 per cent of all Olympics queries.

 Read more >>