London 2012 Summer Olympic Overview

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling

Olympic Stadium and canal through Olympic Park, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Olympic Stadium and canal through Olympic Park

In opening this review and summary of the XXX Summer Olympic Games in London, United Kingdom it must be noted immediately that these games were a phenomenal success for the UK and a fantastic showcase for the British people. Hosting the largest sporting event in the world in one city and having it go off without incident in this modern age of terrorism, media negativity and easy mass travel is something all British people should be proud of and will leave a lasting legacy hopefully for many years to come. As the only city in the world to host 3 Olympic Summer Games, London can stand on its own and point to its most recent success as the standard for all other games in this modern era. London seems to be a city made for handling a massive event like the Olympics, the transport network combining the London Underground, Overground Trains, Ferries on the Thames, Buses and even a cable car over the river connecting the O2 arena and the ExCel Centre was fantastic. Having used the extensive transport network in London many times before I was amazed at how effective, efficient and fast all forms of transport, but particularly the Underground Tube system, were for the entire games.

Rings at Olympic Park, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Rings at Olympic Park

A quote I saw from an IOC member stated that this was the first truly "connected" games, where you could easily do multiple sports in multiple venues in a single day. The Travelling Backflip team proved this was no extension of the truth as we had 5 multi event days during the games where we transferred from East London to West London with ease. The Jubilee line train servicing Olympic Park, the ExCel Centre and O2 Arena, which many Londoners bemoaned on a regular basis, proved to be a most efficient and crucial route of transport for our group being stationed in South West London. I challenge anyone who can show a previous host city with such a fantastic setup for moving so many people with so few problems, sure regular rush hour made the usual lines busy but that is too be expected. One of the big reasons the games went off without issue regarding transport, crowds and overall congestion was the fear mongering and constant warnings that the Mayor and City of London officials were forecasting for weeks and months before the games. Warnings that an extra million people expected to descend on the city would require Londoners to triple their usual journey times along with the slim aspect of possible terrorist attacks seemed to make many people avoid the city.

Stratford Gate, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Large Crowds were a constant throughout Olympic Park, Stratford Station was always busy but backlogs never lasted long

Indeed 10 days into the games the usually popular west end of London around Oxford Circus area etc were complaining of being down usual visitors by at least 30% or more. It seemed all the dire warnings had scared off so many locals and usual travellers to the city that although an extra million people arrived for the games in London maybe 2 million others left the city entirely, worked from home or were simply staying in watching 12 plus hours of sport a day. At the expense of visitors numbers being down in the usual tourist hotspots in the West End of London the Eastern part of the city was absolutely booming with all the activity around Olympic Park and the ExCel Centre. The redevelopment of East London, an area of this great city that had seen a marked decline over the preceding decades with many abandoned factories and blighted landscapes, has been transformed into a showpiece of the city for many years to come. The sprawling Olympic Park had a number of temporary structures for sports like basketball and handball erected for the games which were made from recyclable material to be reused when the games are completed. This temporary side of things did not affect how good each venue looked and functioned and ensured that unlike many previous Olympic cities it will not have derelict structures hanging around in the future.

Regent Street Flags, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Regent Street Flags
British Flags in Central London, London 2012 Summer Olympics
British Flags in Central London
Regent Street Flags, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Regent Street Flags

The 2012 Summer Olympic Games had roughly 10,500 athletes from 204 countries competing in 26 sports with 39 disciplines. The only new sport to the Summer Olympics this time around was Women's Boxing with 36 athletes competing in 3 different weight classes, Tennis also featured mixed doubles for the first time since 1924. The sports of Baseball and Softball were dropped from the Olympics list of sports this time around for apparent lack of interest. During the games a total of 32 new world records were set in 8 different sports with the majority being in Swimming. The USA, China and Great Britain all tied for the most new world records with 5 each. It must be said that the overall festive attitude and positive local response to the games was not evident when the Opening Ceremonies kicked off. However with the success early on of Team GB the country got behind their athletes and were willing to cheer on other nationalities when the top quality sporting performances warranted it, very much like the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.

Olympic Rings floating on the Thames River, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Olympic Rings floating on the Thames River
Olympic Rings hanging from Tower Bridge, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Olympic Rings hanging from Tower Bridge

These Olympic and Paralympic Games had a very comprehensive drug testing program set up with an estimated 150 scientists taking around 6000 samples over both sets of games with every single medalist being tested. Considering there were 10,500 athletes at the Olympic Games the fact only 4 athletes tested positive for banned substances from Albania, Uzbekistan, Belarus and St Kitts and Nevis (a small Caribbean island) these games were one of the cleanest on record. It is amazing to think that the level of competition was so strong and yet such a miniscule percentage of athletes were caught cheating, this is a testament to each sports current level of drug testing and diligence in keeping their respective sports drug free.

Arches near Trafalgar Square, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Arches near Trafalgar Square

Another new feature of the London 2012 Olympic Summer Games was the full internet connectivity on multiple media platforms. Every single sport had every single competition session available to watch live either on TV, online, or on mobile devices like iPhones and tablets. The BBC spared no expense it seems in bringing every moment of the games to the public. With the proliferation of smart phones and tablets a train ride could turn into people surrounding someones iPhone and cheering on a performance or being able to watch another sport at the same time as you are sitting live at an Olympic event. We witnessed such an occurrence during one of our table tennis events when the people in front of us had live Athletics going at the same time. The aspect of being connected at all times is new to the Olympics since even 2 years ago in 2010 for the Vancouver Winter Olympics the streaming of live sports wasn't as effective as it is today. This factor allowed anyone in London, and around the UK for the matter since the BBC had it available to all UK residents, to be on the pulse of the games all the time and if you were really hardcore to almost not miss a moment of action for whatever event you wanted to see most.

Olympic Posters, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Olympic Posters
Olympic Rings on Thames, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Olympic Rings on Thames

Another upside to having the ability to watch all sports when they are going on live was that less popular sports which won't get the airtime on the regular Olympic programming were available to those like never before. It simply cannot be understated how fantastic it was to be so connected and have all options at your finger tips... this is not to say that it always worked as some venues had limited reception available meaning you couldn't stream properly and when your travelling on the underground well your travelling underground so your cellphone or mobile device is useless.

As the London 2012 Olympic Games fade into fond memories for us all it should always be remembered as a moment in our tough modern times where people put their differences and doubts aside to work collectively to achieve a common goal and host an amazing event. Like the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics it feels like these Summer Olympic Games in London exceeded many peoples expectations and hopefully they use that positivity and example to further their great nation.

Rings on the Thames, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Rings on the Thames
Olympic Flag by Westminster, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Olympic Flag by Westminster
Rings on the Thames, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Rings on the Thames

Image Gallery

Photography by Eric Starling and Mike Minckler

Tower Bridge with Olympic Rings, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Tower Bridge with Olympic Rings
Thames River with Olympic Rings, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Thames River with Olympic Rings
Olympic Rings in Olympic Park, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Olympic Rings in Olympic Park
Womens 100 Metre Hurdle Final, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Womens 100 Metre Hurdle Final
Backflip in Olympic Park, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Backflip in Olympic Park
Mens Gymnastics Final, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens Gymnastics Final
Mens High Jump Final, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens High Jump Final
Wembley Stadium, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Wembley Stadium
Mens Team Table Tennis Final, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens Team Table Tennis Final
Great Britain vs China, Basketball, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Great Britain vs China, Basketball
Mens Gold Medal Football Final, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens Gold Medal Football Final
Brazil vs Japan, Womens Volleyball, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Brazil vs Japan, Womens Volleyball
Mens Gymnastics Final, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens Gymnastics Final
Mens 10 Metre Diving Semi Final, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens 10 Metre Diving Semi Final
Mens Long Jump Final, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens Long Jump Final
Earls Court, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Earls Court
O2 Arena from the DLR Railway, London 2012 Summer Olympics
O2 Arena from the DLR Railway
ExCel Centre, London 2012 Summer Olympics
ExCel Centre
Olympic Stadium and ArcelorMittal Orbit Observation Tower in Olympic Park, London 2012 Summer Olympics, United Kingdom
Olympic Stadium and ArcelorMittal Orbit Observation Tower in Olympic Park
Inside Wembley Stadium for the Gold Medal Football Final, London 2012 Summer Olympics, United Kingdom
Inside Wembley Stadium for the Gold Medal Football Final
View East down the Thames River from Waterloo Bridge, London 2012 Summer Olympics, United Kingdom
View East down the Thames River from Waterloo Bridge
Gymnastics Venue in the O2 Arena, also known as the North Greenwich Arena, London 2012 Summer Olympics, United Kingdom
Gymnastics Venue in the O2 Arena, also known as the North Greenwich Arena
Volleyball Venue in Earls Court, London 2012 Summer Olympics, United Kingdom
Volleyball Venue in Earls Court
Inside Olympic Stadium during Super Saturday August 4th 2012, London 2012 Summer Olympics, United Kingdom
Inside Olympic Stadium during Super Saturday August 4th 2012
Royal Courts of Justice on Fleet Street, London 2012 Summer Olympics, United Kingdom
Royal Courts of Justice on Fleet Street
Mens 10 Metre Diving Semi Final, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens 10 Metre Diving Semi Final
Tube Olympics Poster, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Tube Olympics Poster
Nigeria vs France, Basketball, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Nigeria vs France, Basketball
Mens Gold Medal Table Tennis Final, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens Gold Medal Table Tennis Final
Crowds outside Wembley Stadium, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Crowds outside Wembley Stadium
Mens Gymnastics Final, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens Gymnastics Final
Basketball Hoop, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Basketball Hoop
Table Tennis Table, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Table Tennis Table
Volleyball Court, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Volleyball Court
Tower of London, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Tower of London
Big Ben, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Big Ben
Fleet Street, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Fleet Street
Mens 10,000 Metre Final, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens 10,000 Metre Final
Japan Volleyball Spike, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Japan Volleyball Spike
Mens Gymnastics Final, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens Gymnastics Final
Regent Street, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Regent Street
London Underground Station, London 2012 Summer Olympics
London Underground Station
Westminster Abbey and Olympic Flag, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Westminster Abbey and Olympic Flag
ArcelorMittal Orbit Observation Tower, London 2012 Summer Olympics
ArcelorMittal Orbit Observation Tower
St Pauls Cathedral and Olympic Mascots, London 2012 Summer Olympics
St Pauls Cathedral and Olympic Mascots
The Shard Skyscraper, London 2012 Summer Olympics
The Shard Skyscraper
Backflip in O2 Arena, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Backflip in O2 Arena
Olympic Rings on the Thames, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Olympic Rings on the Thames
The Old Mitre Pub, London 2012 Summer Olympics
The Old Mitre Pub

Athletics

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling and Mike Minckler

Mens Long Jump Final, Athletics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens Long Jump Final
Womens 100 Metre Hurdles Final, Athletics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Womens 100 Metre Hurdles Final
Mens High Jump Final, Athletics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens High Jump Final

The Olympic Games are the pinnacle of competition for many sports and offer the world a glimpse at sports that are not typically mainstream or get very little television exposure in non Olympic years. Athletics is certainly one of those sports and although it gets some world media attention at various World Championship or World Cup events there is no denying that Track and Field takes centre stage at every Olympic Games. The Olympics simply would not be the same multiple sport event if there wasn't an Olympic Stadium with 80,000 people watching premier athletes run, jump and throw various objects to the delight of the masses. Athletics also seems to be one of those sports that everyone has at least some small interest in, whether its because you ran track in elementary school, did high jump in gym class, remember legends like Donovan Bailey or Linford Christie winning the 100m final way back or you just can't get enough of the Jamaican legend Usain Bolt. Travelling Backflip was lucky to have gotten 2 excellent evenings of Track and Field tickets in our stack and those evenings were truly amazing. The first evening we went to the impressive Olympic Stadium was on Saturday August 4 2012 and is now referred to in London Olympics folk lore as Super Saturday.

The evening started with the stand out British Heptathlon athlete Jessica Ennis winning her expected gold medal in front of a roaring crowd. Prior to her race the announcer noted that she was so far ahead in the points for the Heptathlon that to lose the gold medal she would have to lose the 800 metre final even by some 30 seconds or more. She ended up winning that event as well making the gold medal never in doubt. The second Gold Medal surprisingly came during the aforementioned 800 metre event as the Mens Long Jump Final was taking place simultaneously. British athlete Greg Rutherford had a jump of 8.21 metres during the race that largely went unnoticed in the cheering going on for Jessica Ennis, this jump would have still won him his gold medal but he bettered the jump and the rest of the field with an 8.31 metre effort 2 jumps later. This gold medal was a big surprise for Team GB and the crowd went nuts when the realized they had just won another medal. Although the Womens 100 metre final was the evenings showcase and other events such as Womens Discus Final and Mens 400 metre hurdles were going on the massive event for all the Brits in the house that night was the Mens 10,000 metre Final. The pressure and expectation on Mo Farah must have been intense as he lined up with 29 other athletes for the 10,000 metre final. He was expected to win and he delivered in spectacular fashion. I have been to a number of big sporting events over the years but the stadium noise from this race was the loudest by far, the cheers must have echoed around the UK. Super Saturday was unlike any other Olympic event in that it seemed everyone there was either British or cheering for the Brits to succeed. Many Olympic venues can lack atmosphere because there are so many different nationalities and random people with tickets. That Saturday night Olympics Stadium was rocking from the start of competition through Mo's amazing race and only died off once the women blasted down the track in less than 11 seconds in the 100 metre final. That noise, jubilation and intensity of the British crowd was something special and was the best Olympic event I went to the entire games.

Mens 1500 Metre Final, Athletics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens 1500 Metre Final
Womens Discuss Final, Athletics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Womens Discuss Final
Jessica Ennis Celebrating, Athletics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Jessica Ennis Celebrating
Womens Long Jump Qualifications, Athletics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Womens Long Jump Qualifications
Olympic Stadium Inside, Athletics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Olympic Stadium Inside
Womens 100 Metre Semi Finals, Athletics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Womens 100 Metre Semi Finals
Mens 10,000 Metre Final, Athletics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens 10,000 Metre Final
Mens High Jump Final, Athletics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens High Jump Final
Mens 400 Metre Hurdles, Athletics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens 400 Metre Hurdles

The second evening of Track and Field that we were fortunate enough to get was Tuesday August 7th 2012. This featured a personal favourite, the Mens High Jump final along with Womens Long Jump qualifications, Mens 1500 metre final, Womens 100 metre hurdles final, Mens Discuss final and more. The High Jump final was right in front of us at our end of the stadium and for a solid 2 plus hours we had guys clearing the bar or crashing out in disgrace. The winner was Ivan Ukhov from Russia who cleared an impressive 2.38 metres and was great at getting the crowd clapping and cheering before each jump. The nearby crowd was very involved in the high Jump at our end of the stadium with a number of commonwealth citizens from Australia, Britain and Canada along with Americans who had athletes to cheer on. In the end a Canadian Derek Drouin and Brit Robert Grabarz snuck in a bronze medal each by clearing 2.29 metres in their first jump. The Mens Discuss final also provided some good entertainment with some monster throws and the eventual winner Robert Harting from Germany tearing his competition uniform off before running around the track and hurdling each hurdle set up for the womens 100 metre hurdle final to the delight of the 80,000 capacity crowd. A light rain started to fall at the end of the evening for the Mens 1500 metre final and the Womens 100 metre hurdle final but each event was cheered on loudly by the crowd although the noise wasn't at the same level as Super Saturday it was still exciting. Overall the Athletics events we watched live were entertaining and memorable. The Super Saturday atmosphere was unlike anything I have ever experienced in any sporting event whether its Summer Olympics, Winter Olympics, World Cup, Champions League Games, NFL Games etc. The noise and unrestrained happiness from the home crowd made even non Brits cheer their lungs out and I think it was that moment when the last few negative nancies of these Olympic Games hopped on board to get a piece of the good times. A final mention must be made to the legend of the last 2 Olympics games from Jamaica Usain Bolt. For the second consecutive Olympics this guy won the Mens 100 metre final, Mens 200 metre final and the 4x100 metre final, it is staggering to think someone can maintain elite speed and skill like that over a 4 year period. Injuries, the strain of training and life could have stopped this talent from showing up to these Olympics and dominating again. In the modern era of competition with strict drug testing, extremely high levels of competition and over hyped athletes this guy has no equal. The sport of Track and Field needs this guy, he truly is super human and it is unlikely that after watching this guy dominate his sport for a solid 5 years that we will ever see someone complete the triple golds in these events in back to back Olympics. Legend.

Olympic Stadium from outside Olympic Park, Athletics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Olympic Stadium from outside Olympic Park
Olympic Stadium, Athletics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Olympic Stadium
Olympic Stadium from the Aquatics Centre, Athletics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Olympic Stadium from the Aquatics Centre
Mens 1500 Metre Final, Athletics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens 1500 Metre Final
Mens 10,000 Metre Final, Athletics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens 10,000 Metre Final
Mens 400 Metre Hurdle Semi Finals, Athletics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens 400 Metre Hurdle Semi Finals
Mens High Jump Final, Athletics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens High Jump Final
Mens High Jump Final, Athletics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens High Jump Final
Mens High Jump Final, Athletics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens High Jump Final
Womens Discus Final, Athletics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Womens Discus Final
Inside Olympic Stadium, Athletics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Inside Olympic Stadium
Womens Discus Final, Athletics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Womens Discus Final
Mens Long Jump Final, Athletics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens Long Jump Final
Womens Long Jump Qualifications, Athletics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Womens Long Jump Qualifications
Mens Long Jump Final, Athletics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens Long Jump Final
Womens 400 Metre Semi Finals, Athletics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Womens 400 Metre Semi Finals
Womens 100 Metre Hurdle Semi Final, Athletics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Womens 100 Metre Hurdle Semi Final
Womens 100 Metre Final, Athletics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Womens 100 Metre Final
Jessica Ennis, Athletics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Jessica Ennis
Team Canada, Athletics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Team Canada
Greg Rutherford, Athletics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Greg Rutherford
Mens Discus Final, Athletics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens Discus Final
Mens 400 Metre Hurdles, Athletics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens 400 Metre Hurdles
Mens High Jump Final, Athletics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens High Jump Final
Womens Long Jump Qualifications, Athletics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Womens Long Jump Qualifications
Mens 1500 Metre Final, Athletics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens 1500 Metre Final
Mens 10,000 Metre Final, Athletics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens 10,000 Metre Final

Gymnastics

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling

Mens All Around Final, Floor, Gymnastics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens All Around Final, Floor
Mens All Around Final, Pommel Horse, Gymnastics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens All Around Final, Pommel Horse
Mens All Around Final, Parallel Bars, Gymnastics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens All Around Final, Parallel Bars

Gymnastics Write Up Goes HErThe Men's Gymnastics All Around Final was one of the main highlights of the entire Olympic trip for the Travelling Backflip team. We took in one round of qualification for the Mens competition and as entertaining as it was the All Around event at an Olympic Games is the pinnacle of gymnastics competitions and it did not disappoint. The two and a half hour event took place at the O2 Arena in East London which was renamed the North Greenwich Arena for the Olympic Games. Getting out to the O2 can easily be done on the Jubilee line of the London Underground but we took a 35 minute ferry from the London Eye along the Thames River out to the arena. This mode of transport was a fantastic way to avoid the sweatbox of the underground in summer and it drops you off right at the dock outside the arena. The All-Around Final is the top 24 gymnasts from the qualification rounds who compete in all 6 events for the title of Olympic Champion. The 6 men's events include Floor, Pommel Horse, Rings, Vault, Parallel Bars and High Bar. The 3 time World Champion Kohei Uchimura from Japan was simply a level above everyone else, and truly was the most complete all around gymnast winning by more than a point and half over second place German gymnast Marcel Nguyen. King Kohei as he is known in the gymnastics world came second on Pommel Horse, Rings and High Bar and first on vault along with solid showings on Floor and Parallel Bars to cement his Olympic victory after having a shaky tournament in the qualification and team rounds prior to this all around final.

For the first 5 events in this Olympics Final it looked like Japan would take gold and silver as the other Japanese gymnast Kazuhito Tanaka was firmly in second place going into the final rotation. However this final had some added drama as Tanaka had to finish on the dreaded Pommel Horse and fell off halfway through his routine opening the door for the German and American gymnasts to get into the medals. It is simply amazing what these gymnasts can do, they are required to combine strength, balance, body awareness and explosive athleticism often all in the same routine or even a single move in a routine. The Olympic games is the pinnacle for gymnastics very much like it is for Athletics and since it only comes every 4 years the competition for medals is intense with each mistake and success magnified. Most gymnasts have a life span of 4-6 years at the elite level and if your luck enough to get to an Olympics your media exposure increases exponentially. Unlike the qualification rounds where all athletes get their chance in the Olympic spotlight the Olympic All Around Final is literally the best of the best battling to make their mark when the world is actually watching. All 24 athletes made it through the competition session without injury which is amazing when you see what they can do. If you ever get a chance to see any kind of elite gymnastics event you should do yourself a favour and do it, if you can ever make it to an Olympics Gymnastics event you will be seeing truly amazing athletes compete for the highest glory available to them.

Mens All Around Final, High Bar, Gymnastics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens All Around Final, High Bar
Mens All Around Final, Rings, Gymnastics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens All Around Final, Rings
Mens All Around Final, Vault, Gymnastics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens All Around Final, Vault
O2 Arena, Gymnastics Venue, Gymnastics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
O2 Arena, Gymnastics Venue
Backflip in O2 Arena, Gymnastics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Backflip in O2 Arena
O2 Arena, Gymnastics Venue, Gymnastics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
O2 Arena, Gymnastics Venue
Mens All Around Final, Pommel Horse, Gymnastics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens All Around Final, Pommel Horse
Mens Qualification Round, Floor, Gymnastics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens Qualification Round, Floor
Mens All Around Final, Parallel Bars, Gymnastics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens All Around Final, Parallel Bars
Panoramic view of the Gymnastics venue at the O2 arena also known as the North Greenwich arena during the Olympic Games, Gymnastics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Panoramic view of the Gymnastics venue at the O2 arena also known as the North Greenwich arena during the Olympic Games
Mens Qualification Round, Floor and Pommel Horse, Gymnastics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens Qualification Round, Floor and Pommel Horse
Mens Qualification Round, Rings, Gymnastics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens Qualification Round, Rings
Mens All Around Final, Vault, Gymnastics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens All Around Final, Vault
Mens All Around Final, Rings, Gymnastics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens All Around Final, Rings
O2 Arena, Gymnastics Venue, Gymnastics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
O2 Arena, Gymnastics Venue
Mens All Around Final, Floor, Gymnastics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens All Around Final, Floor
Mens All Around Final, High Bar, Gymnastics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens All Around Final, High Bar
Mens All Around Final, Floor, Gymnastics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens All Around Final, Floor
Mens All Around Final, Parallel Bars, Gymnastics, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens All Around Final, Parallel Bars

Table Tennis

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling

Team Semi Finals, Table Tennis, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Team Semi Finals
Team Gold Medal Final, Table Tennis, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Team Gold Medal Final
Individual Gold Medal Final, Table Tennis, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Individual Gold Medal Final

The Travelling Backflip team saw more Table Tennis than most other sports at these Summer Olympics in London. We had tickets to the Mens Individual Gold Medal and Bronze Medal matches, the Mens Team Semi Final matches and the Mens Team Gold Medal matches. It is fair to say that China dominated all before them in the entire Table Tennis tournament at these games. China completed a second consecutive clean sweep of all medals on offer with 4 golds and 2 silver, each country is only allowed 2 athletes in the individual competitions and both the mens and womens finals featured China vs China. China now has the dominant statistic of having won 24 of 28 gold medals on offer in Table Tennis since the sport was added to the Olympics in the 1988 Seoul games. The Mens Individual Bronze Medal Final featured Germany vs South Korea with Germany coming out on top in an entertaining run of sets that was like a warm up before the Gold Medal match. The Gold Medal Final showcased China vs China, 2 Table Tennis players of the highest caliber, 2 time Olympic silver medalist Hao Wang and current world champion Jike Zhang. Zhang triumphed over Wang 4 sets to 1 meaning Wang settled for a 3rd consecutive Olympic silver medal in the individual competition. Upon winning the final set Zhang let out a roar from his diminutive frame and jumped out of the court to run and kiss the medal podium before running back and hugging his compatriot who was understandably gutted about coming second again. The Mens Team Table Tennis semi finals were on one of our double sport days where we saw Basketball in the morning then Table Tennis in the afternoon. In the semi finals South Korea dispatched Hong Kong with relative ease and this was our first exposure to the Korean player Joo Saehyuk who became known as the "Slicemaster" for playing defensively with amazing shoestring slice play. In the Mens Team Table Tennis Gold Medal match China beat Korea in 3 straight matches. However during the singles play featuring Individual Gold Medalist Jike Zhang from China against the Slicemaster the crowd was treated to a 4 set thriller with the powerful Zhang being thwarted by Joo for long rallies standing 10 feet or more back from the table. In the end China was just that much better and to the roars of the crowd, who were mainly Chinese for this final, they triumphed easily to complete their clean sweep of medals in Table Tennis.

Team Semi Finals, Table Tennis, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Team Semi Finals
Individual Gold Medal Final, Table Tennis, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Individual Gold Medal Final
Team Semi Finals, Table Tennis, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Team Semi Finals
Inside the ExCel Centre, Table Tennis, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Inside the ExCel Centre
China wins Gold and Silver, Individual Gold Medal Final, Table Tennis, London 2012 Summer Olympics
China wins Gold and Silver, Individual Gold Medal Final
Outside the ExCel Centre, Table Tennis, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Outside the ExCel Centre
Team Semi Finals, Table Tennis, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Team Semi Finals
Team Gold Medal Final, Table Tennis, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Team Gold Medal Final
Individual Bronze Medal Final, Table Tennis, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Individual Bronze Medal Final
Panoramic view of the Table Tennis venue at the ExCel Centre during the Olympic Games, Table Tennis, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Panoramic view of the Table Tennis venue at the ExCel Centre during the Olympic Games
Team Semi Finals, Table Tennis, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Team Semi Finals
Team Gold Medal Final, Table Tennis, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Team Gold Medal Final
Team Gold Medal Final, Table Tennis, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Team Gold Medal Final
Individual Bronze Medal Final, Table Tennis, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Individual Bronze Medal Final
All events hosted in ExCel Centre, Table Tennis, London 2012 Summer Olympics
All events hosted in ExCel Centre
Team Semi Finals, Table Tennis, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Team Semi Finals
Individual Gold Medal Final, Table Tennis, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Individual Gold Medal Final
Team Semi Finals, Table Tennis, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Team Semi Finals
Individual Gold Medal Final, Table Tennis, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Individual Gold Medal Final

Diving

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling and Mike Minckler

Mens 10m Semi Final, Diving, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens 10m Semi Final
Handstand Start, Mens 10m Semi Final, Diving, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Handstand Start, Mens 10m Semi Final
Mens 10m Semi Final, Diving, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens 10m Semi Final

The Mens 10 Metre Platform Diving Semi Finals was one of the last events of these amazing Summer Olympic Games that the Travelling Backflip team took part in. The event took place at 10am on the final Saturday of the games on what happened to be another multi sport day with Football and Volleyball finals to be had later in the day. The 10 metre platform semi final featured 18 divers each doing 6 dives with the top 12 going through to the final that took place later that evening. The British diver Tom Daley heard the loudest cheers from the capacity crowd of 17,500. He is something of a phenom in his sport competing in his second Olympic Games at the young age of 18 years old and was impressive under all the pressure and scrutiny. However as is often the case in world class diving China dominated these semi finals with the 2 Chinese athletes Bo Qiu and Yue Lin scoring 22 and 10 points higher than the 3rd place American athlete. The gap between the Canadian diver Riley McCormick, who qualified in the final spot, and the first place Chinese diver was a whopping 68 points showing the difference in skill level in this particular semi final round. The top dives to be undertaken were the 4.5 flip dives either by running into it or the difficult inward standing one completed only by the Mexican diver Ivan Garcia. The crowd was supportive of all athletes and the occasional gasps of amazement at how these young men can produce so many flips and twists and not lose their composure in the air and land on their back like most of us would do was extremely impressive. Just jumping off a 10 metre tower feet first is a tough task most people would avoid and you can't help but have tremendous respect for the risks these guys take.

Aquatics Centre Outside
Aquatics Centre Outside
View of the swimming pool and diving platforms, Diving, London 2012 Summer Olympics
View of the swimming pool and diving platforms
Divers entrance, Diving, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Divers entrance
Mens 10m Semi Final, Diving, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens 10m Semi Final
Mens 10m Semi Final, Diving, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens 10m Semi Final
Mens 10m Semi Final, Diving, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens 10m Semi Final
Mens 10m Semi Final, Diving, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens 10m Semi Final
Mens 10m Semi Final, Diving, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens 10m Semi Final
Diving platform side view, Diving, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Diving platform side view
Mens 10m Semi Final, Diving, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens 10m Semi Final
Mens 10m Semi Final, Diving, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens 10m Semi Final
Mens 10m Semi Final, Diving, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens 10m Semi Final
Panoramic view of the Aquatics Centre venue for all swimming and diving events during the Olympic Games, Diving, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Panoramic view of the Aquatics Centre venue for all swimming and diving events during the Olympic Games

Volleyball

Text by Mike Minckler; Photography by Eric Starling and Mike Minckler

The 2012 Olympic volleyball tournament is a spectacle all of it's own. As one the pinnacle events in the volleyball calendar, there is no bigger prize than winning Olympic volleyball Gold. I was fortunate enough to receive tickets to both the Men's and Women's events, with a heavy focus on the Women's tournament. 

The tournament took place in West London at historic Earl's Court. It was the perfect venue with warm up courts for the athletes outside of the arena, an unlimited ceiling and great site lines for the centre court matches. Big screens, cheerleaders and music in between points made for a great atmosphere. 

It was great to see the amazing physical abilities of the men during the quarter finals and semi finals. All the quarter finals finished 3-0 and the semi's were a similar story with the Russians defeating Bulgaria 3-1 and Brazil dispatching Italy 3-0. I was unable to get tickets to the Men's final which was an epic 5 setter with the eventual champs Russia coming from behind to take the Gold. The power and quickness of these 6 foot tall plus athletes was truly amazing in a mesmerizing combination of jumping, quickness and close quarter tactics.

The Women's tournament was the same 12 team format as the Men. The tournament started with 2 pools of 6 teams having each team play each other during the rough robin stage. The top 4 teams from each pool cross over with 1st playing 4th and 2nd playing 3rd. Of the 12 teams in the Women's draw only Great Britain and Algeria had little hope of a victory with the other 10 teams all capable of beating each other on any given day. 

After 5 rounds and 30 matches, of which I was able to attend 18, the Russians topped Pool A followed by Italy, Japan, Dominican Republic, and the United States winning Pool B followed by China, South Korea and Brazil. The Americans looked to be the clear favourites after pool play having only dropped 2 sets in during their 5 matches including a strong performance defeating the defending champions Brazil 3-1. After loosing to Korea and the USA, Brazil barely made it into the playoff finishing just one point ahead of Turkey. This setup a titanic clash in the quarter finals with Russia facing the defending champs. The match lived up to all expectations and produced a true Olympic classic with Brazil coming from 2 sets to 1 down to win 21-19 in the fifth. The other quarters saw Japan beat China in another 5 set showdown, South Korea defeat personal favourites Italy, and the USA cruising to victory over the Dominican Republic. The Semi finals were won by the favourites, USA and Brazil, in straight sets. Both teams with on fire and gave no hope to their opponents. This setup a rematch of the 2008 Olympic final won by Brazil but the Americans had looked much stronger defeating Brazil in the round robin. I had seats in the 12th row to watch an amazing final that had an electric atmosphere. The USA came out strong and destroyed Brazil in the first set 25-11. This did nothing but motivated Brazil who had been fighting for their lives ever since the final pool play game and had been battle tested in the 5 set quarter final against Russia and a solid semi against Japan. Brazil took the next 3 sets as the Americans crumbled under the pressure of another Olympic final.

Basketball

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling

Great Britain vs China, Basketball, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Great Britain vs China
Olympic Basketball Arena, Basketball, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Olympic Basketball Arena
Cheerleaders, Basketball, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Cheerleaders

Travelling Backflip had the good fortune to have a couple of double sport days during these Summer Olympic games in London and one of those days featured a double header of Basketball at the mattress like 'cube' arena in Olympic Park. The cube was a temporary venue for Basketball and ended up being a pretty nice venue even if it was only to be used for a few weeks during the games. The day we went to see Basketball it was the final day of round robin games to decide who would make the knockout rounds of the competition. The first game actually mattered with Nigeria facing off against France who ended up finishing second in their group behind eventual champions the USA, if they had lost that game Nigeria may have made the knockout rounds instead so the play was good from both sides. France ended up winning 79-73 but there were some nervy moment near the end of the game where Nigeria gave them a run with a couple late 3 balls. The second game in our double header, which incidentally was the cheapest Olympics ticket we had and we got 2 full Basketball games for around $40, was hosts Great Britain facing off against China. Both teams had been eliminated from making the knockout rounds but there was pride on the line for both and in the end GB smashed China 90-58 to the delight of the home crowd. The play was reasonable with periods of back and forth scoring and scrappy defense from both sides. The other note worthy moment, other than the entire crowd singing Love Me Do by the Beatles at half time, was the group of all blond cheerleaders that came out during the quarter and halftime breaks for some added entertainment. To my knowledge only Team GB got this added eye candy benefit and its also the only time I can recall seeing Cheerleaders run out onto the floor to strut their stuff for a couple of minutes at any major Basketball event. Thanks Team GB for adding some spice to an otherwise meaningless game unless you were British or Chinese.

Nigeria vs France, Basketball, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Nigeria vs France
View from Entrance Gate into Basketball Arena, Basketball, London 2012 Summer Olympics
View from Entrance Gate into Basketball Arena
Nigeria vs France, Basketball, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Nigeria vs France
Basketball Arena, Basketball, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Basketball Arena
Basketball Arena, Basketball, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Basketball Arena
Basketball Arena, Basketball, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Basketball Arena
Nigeria vs France, Basketball, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Nigeria vs France
Great Britain vs China, Basketball, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Great Britain vs China
Nigeria vs France, Basketball, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Nigeria vs France
Backflip, Basketball, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Backflip
Great Britain vs China, Basketball, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Great Britain vs China
Basketball Arena, Basketball, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Basketball Arena
Great Britain vs China, Basketball, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Great Britain vs China
Nigeria vs France, Basketball, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Nigeria vs France
Great Britain vs China, Basketball, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Great Britain vs China
Panoramic view of Basketball Arena from the outside, Basketball, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Panoramic view of Basketball Arena from the outside

Football

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling

Gold Medal Final Corner Kick, Brazil vs Mexico, Football, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Gold Medal Final Corner Kick
Wembley Stadium, Brazil vs Mexico, Football, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Wembley Stadium
Gold Medal Final Corner Kick, Brazil vs Mexico, Football, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Gold Medal Final Corner Kick

One of the last events for the Travelling Backflip team at the London 2012 Summer Olympics was the Men's Football Gold Medal Final at Wembley Stadium on Saturday afternoon August 11, 2012. Brazil vs Mexico were the 2 teams to make the final and the hallowed grounds of Wembley Stadium had over 86,000 people watching some top quality. With Brazil being the heavy favourites the crowds of Brazilian fans were dancing to drum beats and samba outside the train station and the stadium with Mexican fans quietly confident but more low key. The game looked to be a goal fest on paper but ended in a 2-1 win for Mexico on 2 brutal defensive errors by Brazil, the first goal being the fastest goal in FIFA tournament final history just 28 seconds into the game. Manchester United right back Rafael played a poor pass that was intercepted and quickly converted by Mexican Oribe Peralta. Peralta again scored on further defensive frailty by Brazil to make the game 2-0 Mexico in the second half before Hulk scored an injury time header for Brazil. There was a mad scramble in the last few minutes of injury time and new Chelsea signing Oscar had a chance to level as time was expiring but missed a "sitter as the English would say, sending the Mexican fans and players into wild celebrations. Wembley Stadium was a fantastic place for the final and one of the finest stadiums we have ever seen. Although Brazil struggled to press the advantage for much of the match it was still an entertaining final on the penultimate day of the games. 

Gold Medal Football Final, Brazil vs Mexico, Football, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Gold Medal Football Final
Crowds outside Wembley Park Station, Brazil vs Mexico, Football, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Crowds outside Wembley Park Station
Mexico Wins!, Brazil vs Mexico, Football, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mexico Wins!
Wembley Stadium, Brazil vs Mexico, Football, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Wembley Stadium
Olympics Mascot, Brazil vs Mexico, Football, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Olympics Mascot
Wembley Stadium from Tube Station, Brazil vs Mexico, Football, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Wembley Stadium from Tube Station
Gold Medal Football Final, Brazil vs Mexico, Football, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Gold Medal Football Final
Team Canada at Wembley, Brazil vs Mexico, Football, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Team Canada at Wembley
Gold Medal Football Final, Brazil vs Mexico, Football, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Gold Medal Football Final
Gold Medal Football Final, Brazil vs Mexico, Football, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Gold Medal Football Final
Gold Medal Football Final, Brazil vs Mexico, Football, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Gold Medal Football Final
Gold Medal Football Final, Brazil vs Mexico, Football, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Gold Medal Football Final
Wembley Attendance, Brazil vs Mexico, Football, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Wembley Attendance
Inside Wembley before kick off, Brazil vs Mexico, Football, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Inside Wembley before kick off
Wembley from above on big screen, Brazil vs Mexico, Football, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Wembley from above on big screen

Wrestling

Text and Photography by Mike Minckler

Mens 66KG Freestyle Wrestling Final, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens 66KG Freestyle Wrestling Final
ExCel Centre Olympic Sport Banners, London 2012 Summer Olympics
ExCel Centre Olympic Sport Banners
Mens 96KG Freestyle Wrestling Final, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens 96KG Freestyle Wrestling Final

Wrestling took place at the ExCel center, home of several other Olympic events. The venue was another temporary site built inside one of the giant halls of the ExCel. The atmosphere was intimate and up beat as the first set of matches began. Our session consisted of 10 Men's freestyle matches, 5 each at 66k and 96kg, including the gold medal and bronze medal contests. Each match consists of a best of 3 rounds with each round lasting 2 minutes. Wrestlers are awarded points by a referee for taking an opponent to the mat and having control of their back, forcing an opponent shoulders to the press against the mat, as well as forcing the opponent off the mat.

Freestyle Wrestling Medalists, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Freestyle Wrestling Medalists
Inside the ExCel Centre, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Inside the ExCel Centre
Mens 66KG Freestyle Wrestling Final, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens 66KG Freestyle Wrestling Final
Mens 96KG Freestyle Wrestling Final, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens 96KG Freestyle Wrestling Final
ExCel Centre from the Custom House Gate, London 2012 Summer Olympics
ExCel Centre from the Custom House Gate
Mens 66KG Freestyle Wrestling Final, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Mens 66KG Freestyle Wrestling Final

Our session started with the 4 repechage rounds where wrestlers defeated by the finalists are given another chance to wrestler for a bronze. As the draw is completely random the top wrestlers can meet each other in the early rounds and the repechage is a second chance for those wrestlers who loose to the finalist. Canada was represented in two of the repechage matches however both wrestlers were unable to advance to the repechage bronze medal match. After several spirited bronze medal matches the gold medal matches took the stage. The medals were eventually won by Tatsuhiro Yonemitsu of Japan at 66kg and Jake Varner of the USA at 96kg.

The shear power and agility of these Olympians was on full display as one of the most traditional of Olympic events lived up to expectations. The crowd was great and the organizers ran a seamless and entertaining session.

Wrestling Venue at the ExCel Centre in East London, London 2012 Summer Olympics
Wrestling Venue at the ExCel Centre in East London