After a nice start, will these Games be the greatest of our time?
July 28, 2012 04:17 PM
We were talking before SportsBusineess Journal’s World Congress of Sports, and at first I wasn’t sure what the former Visa executive meant. The Olympics are so big and ambitious that they often prompt grand statements, and I wondered if Lynch had fallen victim to that.
But his reasons convinced me he hadn’t. Lynch, who has worked on 11 Olympics, said that the London organizers had managed the run-up to the Games well. The venues were on time. The sponsors were being serviced. Everything (up until the unforeseen G4S debacle) was smooth.
That meant that the focus at the Olympics could be on sports, and he thought this Olympics would deliver more great sports stories than any in recent memory, and maybe more than any in the coming quadrennials.
Two of the most high-profile Olympians in history are returning. Michael Phelps is poised to break the record for most medals ever for an Olympian, and Usain Bolt is looking to reclaim his title, lost due to a false start at the 2011 world championships, as the fastest man in the world.
And they have a compelling supporting cast: Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva would be going for her third gold; Liu Xiang, the Chinese hurdler who was hurt four years ago, would look to fulfill his promise; Missy Franklin, the energetic teenager with the brilliant backstroke; Jordyn Wieber and Gabby Douglas, the serious and lively heart of the U.S. gymnastics team; Britain’s men’s and women’s cycling teams were favored to medal; and the American and Brazilian beach volleyball teams would be back.
Long before the Games began, Lynch seemed to buy into the vision of London Olympic Organizing Committee Chairman Seb Coe. The two-time Olympian wants these Games to be about the athletes first. That’s why the Athlete’s Village is conveniently located within walking distance of venues, and it’s why he often reminds the media that athletes spent half their lives working to reach this stage.
Now that the opening ceremony is behind us and the sports have begun, I’m going to be watching to see if Coe and Lynch are right.
Is this going to be an Olympics remembered for great sports moments? Is it going to be about the duel between Phelps and Ryan Lochte? Is it going to be the time that Bolt became the first sprinter to repeat the double? Is it going to be where Isinbayeva won her third gold?
And when it’s all over on Aug. 12, will we call it the greatest Olympics of our lifetime?