It was business as usual at the Olympic Park on the first official day of the games, as the dust settled after a lavish Opening Ceremony which drew in billions of global viewers. Nevertheless, there was the odd voice of dissent within a surprisingly united positive response to Danny Boyle’s late night extravaganza. Tory MP, Aidan Burley, came under fire for dismissing the Ceremony as “leftie multi-cultural crap”, citing the left wing political movements represented during the performance. Boris Johnson was just one person to dismiss Burley’s comments, telling ITV News: “I’m a Conservative and I had hot tears of patriotic pride from the beginning. I was blubbing like Andy Murray.”
Onto sporting action of the aquatic kind, where at Eton Dorney Team GB’s rowers put in a host of solid performances to set them up for the next round of races. The Women’s Pair Helen Glover and Heather Stanning set tongues wagging and fingers tweeting by managing to win their race and break the Olympic record in the process. The Men’s Eight, Double Sculls and Quadruple Sculls all managed to come second in their heats, while the Men’s Pair mimicked their female counterparts in winning their round.
All smiles in the gymnastics camp as well, where GB managed to finish the opening day of the gymnastics qualification event in first place. Olympic posterboy, Louis Smith, also qualified for the individual pommel house finals, choking down sobs after his performance. Tweeting after the event, he added: ” A brief moment back on twitter to say a massive thank you to every1 who’s has helped me and my team get through this day love your support x”
Finding themselves too far behind the race leaders to make any sort of feasible comeback…
GB Women’s football team went on to make their second powerful statement of the tournament, beating Cameroon 3-0 in their second group match. A beautifully-worked team effort produced one of the goals of the competition from Jill Scott, with the visitors unable to match Hope Powell’s slick looking side.
Amidst these glimpses of glory to come though, there was devastating disappointment in the Men’s Road Race. Great Britain, and indeed the world, had almost begun to accept a Mark Cavendish gold medal as inevitable after his blitzing sprint in the final stage of the Tour de France. But somewhere along the gruelling circuit, Team GB’s tactics went wrong. Finding themselves too far behind the race leaders to make any sort of feasible comeback, Britain’s first hopes of a place on the podium shattered as Cavendish came in 29th, disappointment etched on his face.
All eyes then turned to young swimmer, Hannah Miley, later that evening for Britain’s first gold, the European Champion tipped to be in with a chance of a medal in in the Women’s 400m Individual Medley. But it simply wasn’t Team GB’s day, as Miley could only muster a fifth place finish, the gold going to sixteen year old Chinese swimmer, Ye Shiwen, thanks to her record breaking swim.
…one Malay shooter, eight months pregnant, felt her baby kick as she competed…
It wasn’t just the athletes making headlines in the Olympic Venues. Confusion and anger slowly began to build up as several venues appeared to have swathes of empty seats, despite events being utterly sold out. Gymnastics, swimming and tennis were just three of the sports where unoccupied places were glaringly evident. As angry punters demanded answers, London’s Olympic Committe (LOCOG) admitted that the majority of empty spaces were within accredited areas reserved for the “Olympic Family” – that’s athletes, sponsors and athletes to you and me – and promised a full review.
Of course, it wouldn’t have been a full Olympic day without some quirkier moments. A clueless dog loping onto the path of the Men’s Road Race brought back memories of the viral “Fenton” youtube video. An aerial shot of “CAV 4 PM”, scrawled onto the race route in chalk, also sparked virtual chuckles on Twitter. And the revelation that one Malay shooter, eight months pregnant, felt her baby kick as she competed added a human touch to one of the Olympics’ less emotive sports.
And finally, Olympic history was made when Bahia Al Hamad became the first female competitor to represent Qatar at the Games. A subtle but powerful reminder that, despite its historical roots, the London Games are very much a reflection of our modern times.