The grandeur of the Opening Ceremony may still be on the horizon, but yesterday was when the action actually kicked off. As Team GB’s female footballers started the sporting action and the Olympic site buzzed with activity, there was a sense that London 2012 was finally gaining momentum.
And what a beginning; despite consistently finding themselves underpaid and underrated compared to their male counterparts, the GB women roared to their first group victory, defeating New Zealand 1-0 in their opening match. A stunning free kick from Arsenal star, Steph Houghton, saw the hosts open their Olympic campaign with the perfect start. Female athletes were at the fore of Irish Olympic news as well, when world boxing champion Katie Taylor was pronounced bearer of the national flag at Friday’s Opening Ceremony. 26-year old Taylor has won four World Amateur Championships in the lightweight class and is one of Ireland’s brightest medal hopes.
No doubt fellow Olympians will take this as food for thought…
Off the pitch, it was a good day for the Olympic site, and Westfield Park in particular. But it was also a day of controversy for several athletes, several of whom will now be boarding planes home after being kicked out of the games. Moroccan 1500m runner, Mariem Alaoui Selsouli, has been expelled from the squad after failing a drugs test, just as she did at the World Athletics Finals in Berlin back in 2009.
Meanwhile, Greek athlete, Voula Papachristou, found herself banned from competing in even more acrimonious circumstances after publishing a Tweet which was deemed to be racist and offensive. Her comments, which mocked African athletes, were judged to be “contrary to the values and ideas of the Olympic movement” by the Hellenic Olympic Committee, who promptly removed her from the Greek squad. No doubt fellow Olympians will take this as food for thought when posting flippant comments on the social media site in future.
…in remembrance of their husbands and the nine other men killed by Black Sunday Terrorists forty years ago.
Within Team GB, bickering between the British Olympic Association and Triple Jumper, Phillips Idowu, hotted up, as the BOA revealed that it has asked Idowu to disclose the extent of the injury, which has prevented him from competing since June. Idowu is said to be angry that the request has been made public, as he continues to train away from the rest of the athletics squad, in Portugal.
A poignant moment for reflection too, as the widows of two of the Israeli killed by terrorists in the 1972 Munich Olympic Games touched down in London. Ilana Romano and Ankie Spitzer are here to campaign for a moment’s silence in remembrance of their husbands and the nine other men killed by Black Sunday Terrorists forty years ago. The IOC is yet to be moved by their request, which is backed up by a petition signed by 105,000 people from 155 countries.