Legends will undoubtedly be made at the London Olympics. It’s a time when records can be broken and greatness assured. That’s why it really is the ‘Greatest Show on Earth’.
Every athlete dreams of competing in the Olympic Games. The honour of representing your country on the world stage is something we would all love to do. But as well as national pride, there is also individual glory to be won, and in some cases, lost.
In the Beijing Olympics in 2008 there was only one name on everybody’s lips: the phenomenon that is Usain Bolt. Widely known in athletic circles before the games, it was the 100m sprint final that created the legend. Breaking the world record with an astonishing time of 9.69 seconds, Bolt could have run faster had his shoelaces been done up and had he not, somewhat unbelievably, slowed down to celebrate towards the end. He was to shatter his own record and post the superhuman 9.59 seconds two years later in Berlin.
One Giant Leap For Mankind
The Mexico Olympics in 1968 are chiefly remembered for one thing: Bob Beamon going down the runway and literally taking off at the end. His long jump of 8 feet 9 inches was incredible, setting a world record that would last for almost 25 years. Watch the video of his jump to see the visual definition of pure athleticism and grace. It became known as the ‘Leap of the Century’. Although the record was finally beaten by Mike Powell in 1991, Beamon’s monster jump still remains one of the greatest ever sporting moments.
Row, Row, Row Your Boat
It wouldn’t be right, in this year of the London Olympics, to not have a Brit featured in the list. Luckily for us, this one just happens to be arguably the greatest Olympian of all time. There have been many spectacular medal hauls over the years. Michael Phelps and Mark Spitz went home with sack fulls of gold, but to win five golds from five different Olympics is something very special indeed. That’s exactly what rower Sir Steve Redgrave achieved in the 2000 Sydney games, sealing his place in the Olympic record books forever.
The Dark Side
But not all legends are created for the right reasons. In 1988 at the Seoul Olympics, Canadian Ben Johnson blistered home in a new world record pace in the 100m. But he was later found to have taken performance enhancing drugs. Stripped of his medal, Johnson’s name went down in history but for all the wrong reasons.
Thankfully, the number of positive Olympic legends far outweighs the negative and the games still represent everything that is great about sporting achievement. This year who knows what we might see. Records will undoubtedly fall, great races will be won and hopefully we will see legends being born right before our very eyes. That’s what the Olympics means, not just to the competitors, but to all of us at home watching. It’s going to be great.
Clinton Armitage was once a promising athlete until injury forced him to retire at just 16. Today he writes a regular blog on all things Olympian, sharing his love and passion for athletics with a growing online community. He lives in East London, close to the Olympic Stadium.