Incredible Olympics beat the records – for hyperbole

It’s official. London has staged the most amazing, incredible and unbelievable summer Olympics of the century, writes Andrew Hill.

A quick trawl through Factiva’s database of new articles produces 10,314 instances of writers, athletes or spectators using the word “amazing” in an Olympic context since the Games opened on July 27. That is on top of 6,185 “incredibles” and 3,142 “unbelievables”.

Typical is this piece from the Sun on Sunday, following Mo Farah’s second gold in Saturday’s 5,000 metres, in which the distance runner managed to use all three adjectives in quick succession.

Is such overuse typical of Olympic games? Yes. But London has outdone previous hosts. London’s Olympic “amazing” count easily tops the table, ahead of Beijing (4,380 during the period of the 2008 games), Athens (2,865) and Sydney (1,797). Even adjusting for the possibility that there are now more publications in the database, London’s hype quotient is higher than in previous games – 36 per cent of all uses of the word “amazing” during London 2012 were made in an Olympic context, compared with less than 30 per cent at the three previous summer Olympiads.

If that’s not enough, more than half of the “unbelievables” recorded by Factiva’s publications database over the past 17 days were uttered or written in articles about the Olympics. There’s only one word for that.

Andrew Hill is the FT’s management editor. The figures cited were updated on August 13.