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We try…Meta-Row at Metabolic London

We try…Meta-Row at Metabolic London

As we come to the end of week two in our #30for30 campaign, new classes and fitness inspiration have been very welcome here in the Sport & Fitness team. Partly because we love trying the latest creations of course, but mainly to help break up the endless runs and spinning classes that have been churned out day-after-day to date.

So, when I heard about Metabolic London, and their innovative Meta-Row class, I was instantly intrigued (if not slightly intimidated) by the class description. It simply read: “Not for the faint-hearted. This class is brutal and will test the best”. Despite my better judgement, I signed up then and there.

Sunday morning soon came around and I was on my way to Mornington Crescent for the class. Having dropped off my bag in the changing rooms, I was good to go. Meta-Row was London’s first boutique group rowing class when it launched in summer 2017. The gym itself is unlike anything I’ve seen before – a huge open space decked out with black walls and more equipment than you could ever wish for.

Scott, the instructor for our class, gathered us together to walk everyone through what we were about to do. Asking if anyone was nursing a hangover, I must admit I was tempted to raise my hand – only to make it less embarrassing for when I inevitably passed out mid-class, but I ultimately thought better of it.

The class itself is made up of row and total body circuit intervals, with interchangeable rounds. With all of the rowing machines lined up, we kicked off with a four minute row. Straight on to the first circuit, which entailed a combination of medicine ball throws, burpees, squats and crunches. One round down and I’m already feeling it. No time to let up, however, as we are into another four minute row and then back on to the mats for the next circuit – featuring kettle bell swings and lifts, followed by a crawl into a press up.

Back on the rowing machine we went – this time for a five minute stint – to try and beat our stats from before, cheered on willingly by the ever-present Scott. A final circuit which included “explosive” burpees and I was well and truly spent. Despite the physical trauma I’d just been through, the feeling of achievement was unparalleled.

The best thing about Meta-Row is it’s suitable for all levels of fitness – you can go at your own pace. At £10 for your first class, it’s cheaper than the majority of boutique classes out there, and you’ll do well to find a better workout. We’ll be back, just as soon as our DOMS ease up.

Rio 2016: Five Brits to watch

Image courtesy of 2016summerolympicsrio via Flickr

Image courtesy of 2016summerolympicsrio via Flickr

Somehow it’s four years since London 2012 and with memories of ‘Super Saturday’ still fresh in the mind, national favourites such as Jessica Ennis-Hill, Greg Rutherford and the indomitable Mo Farah will once again grace the world’s biggest stage to the delight of millions of sports lovers.

As with every Games, however, a new collection of talent has emerged, looking to cement their own places in British sporting history and whilst Farah and co are likely to add to their medal drawers, we’re taking a look at five stars hoping to make their mark on Rio 2016…

Katarina Johnson-Thompson, heptathlon

A familiar name in unfamiliar territory. KJT is undoubtedly the most illustrious of our ‘five to watch’ and she approaches Rio with very real prospects of a medal of any colour. Hyped for years as ‘the next Jessica Ennis’, she arguably enters the heptathlon as a better prospect than the defending champion. Whilst Ennis-Hill has had to battle injury, missing the prestigious Gotzis meeting and faltering in the long jump at the Anniversary Games, KJT won the long jump ahead of GB specialist Shara Proctor and recorded a personal best in the high jump.

For KJT, London 2012 was all about the experience, whereas for Ennis-Hill it really was her time. This year may be very different and KJT will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing World Championships last year to take the gold. Canadian hotshot Brianne Theisen-Eaton may have something to say about that though.

Dina Asher-Smith, 200m

Dina Asher-Smith was a kit-carrier at London 2012, an experience that has clearly inspired her to follow in the footsteps of the senior athletes. How fitting then that she broke Kathy Cook’s longstanding national 100m record in the Olympic Stadium at last year’s Anniversary Games.

Since then she has added the national 200m record, running 22.07 secs at the World Championships in Beijing last year to become the fast teenager in history – agonisingly it was a time that would have won her the gold medal at seven of the past 10 World Championships.

She has used most of this season to focus on the 200m and with another year under her belt, she offers a genuine medal threat. Catch in-form Dafne Schippers on a bad day and she might just bring back gold.

Adam Peaty, swimmer

It’s hard to believe that Team GB’s most sure-fire medal hope, 100m breaststroke swimmer Adam Peaty, was scared of swimming as a child. He scooped three gold medals at last year’s Swimming World Championships and followed that up with a further four golds at this year’s European Championships in London.

He’s the most dominant athlete on this list and apart from Mo Farah, arguably the most dominant in Team GB. Already the fastest British man in the breaststroke and as part of a team that set a world record pace in 4x100m mixed medley relay, he’ll be gunning for glory and might even have an individual world record in his sights.

Tonia Couch, diver

All eyes will undoubtedly be on Tom Daley this year as he looks to complete his collection of gold medals. However, on the women’s side of the board, Tonia Couch has quietly positioned herself as a dark horse in the female competition. With a recent silver medal at the European Championships this year and medals in the World Series events of late, she has an outside chance of a podium finish on the greatest stage of all.

Max Whitlock, gymnast

Max is one of a number of British gymnasts enjoying unprecedented success after the likes of Beth Tweddle and Louis Smith ushered in a golden generation for the sport in the UK. He has already experienced Olympic success, taking bronze in the pommel horse at London 2012.

Since then he has set a course to establish himself as a household name and last year became the first British man ever to win a World Championship gold medal, with a score of 16.133. He comes in this year’s Games in fine form, taking all-round gold in the Glasgow World Cup in March and even wants a gymnastics move named after him.

Gold in Rio certainly won’t hurt his ambitions.

Being the face of an Olympic Games

Image Courtesy of mattyk4, flickr.com

Image Courtesy of mattyk4, flickr.com

Being the face of an Olympic Games can bring about the chance to be a national hero. It can generate widespread media coverage, not to mention lucrative sponsorship opportunities. But it can also, of course, bring about unbridled pressure for the chosen individual.
So, with less than 500 days to go until the Rio Olympics, The PHA Group’s Sport & Leisure department thought it timely to look back at the mixed fortunes of the ‘chosen ones’ over the last 20 years.

1996 – Michael Johnson
The first truly global athletics superstar, Johnson shifted the goalposts for his sport both on and off the track. A double world record holder, marketability and the ability to take athletics to the mainstream, Johnson’s skill set positioned him perfectly to become the face of the Games in Atlanta 1996. He was the clear favourite for both the 200m and 400m and wasn’t just expected to claim gold in both, but he was tipped to do it with a swagger(!)
Competing in his home country, the pressure was heavily on Johnson’s shoulders. But never did that burden appear on the face of the Dallas born athlete. In typically brazen gold Nike running spikes, Johnson did not disappoint. He blitzed the field in both events, sauntering to golds and also broke the Olympic record in both disciplines, breaking new ground by doing so.

 

2000 – Cathy Freeman
The Sydney Olympics in 2000 is still regarded as one of the best the world has seen. And in the build-up, you could not escape the image of Cathy Freeman. She kicked off the games by lighting the torch and was the heavy favourite to claim 400m gold.
Being of aboriginal heritage, Freeman was a symbol of far more than her athletic ability. Not before or since has a single athlete been under so much pressure to deliver and Freeman’s face encapsulated this when she crossed the line first; it was the picture of sheer relief, rather than joy. Her poignant act of carrying both the Australian and Aboriginal flags during her lap of honour is an image which is long to be remembered in Olympic history.

2004 – Costas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou
Being the face of the Olympics doesn’t always have a galvanising effect, however; it can lead some to relative insanity. Costas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou were the darlings of Greek athletics having both surprisingly claimed medals at the 2000 Olympics – Kenteris 200m gold, Thanou 100m silver.
These individuals put Greek athletics on the map and the Games in Athens were seen as their homecoming. It ended in utter controversy, though, as the pair staged a motorcycle accident in order to miss a drugs test as well as encouraging medical staff to issue false certificates on their alleged injuries from the accident. The pair were eventually found guilty of perjury in 2011. Not the kind of ‘face’ any region would like for their Olympic Games.

Image Courtesy of Qatar Olympic Committee, flickr.com

Image Courtesy of Qatar Olympic Committee, flickr.com

2008 – Liu Xiang
Liu Xiang also felt the pressure of a nation, ahead of the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and was ultimately a victim of his own success. He had won gold in the 110m hurdles in Athens, which was China’s first in a men’s track and field event. This led to him being an absolute cultural icon in the country and resulted in him carrying the nation’s hope on his shoulders once again, four years later.
Xiang was the favourite to win gold in the 110-metre hurdles at the Beijing Olympics, but had endured an injury-hit season. The lure of performing in front of his home fans though pushed him to the starting blocks but he withdrew in the heats with injury, all of which had not been revealed to the Chinese public and media. A real blow to all concerned.

 

Image Courtesy of Sarah Peters, flickr.com

Image Courtesy of Sarah Peters, flickr.com

2012 – Jessica Ennis-Hill
Ennis-Hill (then Ennis) became the face of the London 2012 Olympics and with it the nation’s sweetheart thanks to the strong possibility or her claiming heptathlon gold, not to mention her looks and warm personality.
She was under severe pressure to produce the goods in the lead up to the Games. But the British athlete was largely faultless during her two days of events and she gave the British public exactly what they wanted. Ennis was one-third of ‘Super Saturday’ along with Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford but her marketability has meant she has remained in the nation’s thoughts as she bids for success in Rio. Ennis is just the kind of role model any nation would surely be thankful for, and someone we hope to see continue to be used in such a positive way, moving forward.

Impossible is nothing (when you break the doping rules)

Adidas last week announced it had suspended its sponsorship of the USA sprinter Tyson Gay after he and Jamaican Sprinter Asafa Powell failed a drugs test.

When the great Adi Dassler first started to produce his own sports shoes in his mother’s laundry room, he would probably never have dared to consider that those very shoes would one day contain the feet, veins and blood of an athlete contaminated with illegal performance-enhancing drugs. Well, not those exact shoes.

Making it very clear that it does not want to be associated with Tyson Gay after he broke the most sacred law in athletics, ‘the brand with the three stripes’ has set the benchmark for other names whose sponsored party may find themselves in the spotlight for the wrong reasons. The public’s mind works in illogical ways; if a sports star behaves poorly; their sponsor is somehow debauched as well. But however illogical, modern-day brands have learnt to prepare for this type of reaction.

In a PR nightmare for both athlete and brand (not to mention athletics itself – the credibility of which is now in temporary tatters thanks to two of the biggest names in sprinting), the priority for the athletes’ representatives will be to uphold positive media relations while the case is investigated. As is often the case with these stories, they make headlines and break hearts for a day or so, only to be usurped in the mainstream news agenda by a football transfer shock (or a Royal Baby!) Headlines are soon forgotten but that does not negate the need for the damage to be repaired behind the scenes.

Already though, Gay has provisionally lost his lucrative deal with Adidas, which is steering clear of the public relations struggles that will inevitably surround the athlete over the coming weeks.

Both Gay and Powell are insisting that they have never knowingly taken illegal substances and that they have been let down by someone else. In this instance, I am inclined to believe both of their stories to an extent, but whether this belief stems from what seems a logical explanation or rather a desperate wish on my part for both athletes (especially ‘good guy’ Gay) to be found innocent, remains to be seen.

Either way, it will be interesting to see whether the IAF’s anti-doping programme is perceived to have been enhanced or weakened each time such a high profile athlete is caught by a drugs test.

On one hand, there will be those who query how such athletes can compete for so long before being caught and, on the other side, there are those who believe it is a small victory for the sport every time the IAF is able to detect and remove an athlete who breaches the rules. Then, of course, there are those individuals who will defend the two sprinters, buying the athletes’ assertions that they are the victims in this story.

This latter point, however, begs the question of who exactly, if anyone, is doping these athletes and how are they able to roam so freely in and out of hotels and changing rooms, seemingly under the radar? The obvious suggestion is the athletes’ own personal trainers. Surely not. This somewhat cynical assumption of mine comes partly out of frustration at how easily this whole problem could be resolved by the introduction of a simple list that states what, and what not, an athlete is permitted to consume under the rules of athletics. This would leave no athlete ‘in the dark’ about supplements, while trainers and nutritionists would have far less scope to stretch the boundaries of what is legal in their eyes.

This latest revelation does, however, at the very least, dilute the argument that the authorities are inept in their approach towards catching drugs cheats. The system seems to be working and it should be praised, even if it results in the integrity of an event that encapsulates the Olympic Games being diminished further each time a naïve attempt to beat the system is thwarted.

Regardless of the above, it is so important that the 100m – such an integral part of world athletics – remains the exhilarating spectacle that we have come to expect, with no strings attached. Any issues which threaten the future of the event will now, no doubt, continue to be addressed with the highest priority and rightly so.

A hefty task of crisis management for teams Gay and Powell will now take place alongside the investigation, which overshadowed the otherwise successful weekend at the British Championships in Birmingham where there was an impressive performance from British sprinter James Dasaolu, who ran a new personal best in the 100m.

Gay and Powell meanwhile, the fastest and third-fastest men in the world this year respectively, have written themselves into the history books for the most shameful of reasons on a day that will forever be remembered as one of the most damaging in the history of athletics: 14th July 2013.

Image source: www.britishathletics.org.uk

Sport is for life, not just for summer

Sport is for life, not just for summer - David cameron

It has been reported that participation in sport across the UK has fallen by 200,000 since October 2012.

15.3 million of us apparently play sport at least once a week but, according to Sport England, this is down from the 15.5 million who participated in sport some eight months ago. A 200,000 difference might not seem a significant enough figure for people to lose sleep over, but the main issue of concern is how the promise of a long-lasting Olympic legacy has generated no more than a small surge of interest, which has been quickly lost.

We’re quick to blame the weather for preventing us from completing menial everyday tasks: hanging the washing out, walking the dog, walking to the gym. But I’m not sure that the argument that this poor weather is one of the primary reasons for this recent drop in participation is a sound one.

Explaining away these figures by blaming the weather is not the correct attitude if we’re looking to successfully go on to address the problem. It’s also a slightly ironic argument, since the great British weather is not only out of our control but it’s a factor which has always been present. Nothing has changed. Should we be pleased with the fact that we still have relatively high participation figures despite the poor winter, or concerned by the indication that the government have missed their primary legacy target by 50%?

As the sun rose on the morning after the Olympic closing ceremony, children across the country were tying the laces of their new sports trainers and nagging their parents to take them to the local park, pool, or shooting range. Eight months later and it seems that was just a phase; a phase that lasted as long as the GB football team did at the Olympics.

But sport should be for life, not just for summer.

Between them, David Cameron and Seb Coe promised the country that the ‘Olympic Legacy’ would live on and that Britain would be defined by its value of sport at all levels. This recent drop in participation, however, leaves us wondering how exactly this proposed strategy of getting more children involved in sport has been implemented, and how it will continue to be implemented. To add to the problem, the government now faces the daunting task of trying to get participation levels back to where they were in October last year before they can even begin to increase them.

There are those who claim that sport is expensive to take part in. Take football for instance; pitches are not cheap to book and referees are expensive to hire. Many people simply do not have the disposable income to spend on playing sport. But you cannot expect the government to provide endless facilities, nor can people blame the government for their own lack of willpower to get out and exercise. Organised sport and physical activity are two very different things, and, while participation in organised sport can indeed be affected by financial factors, going for a run or having a kick about in the local park are free activities that should be part of everyone’s daily life.

I have never met anyone who has actually contributed to the surveys that provide these condemning stats, nor do I know how they are carried out, but surely the figure of a 200,000 drop must include those (not) taking part in everyday physical activity, and not just organised sport. This is where the responsibility of parents comes in to play. Every parent is accountable for the physical activity of their children up to a certain age, and they are also responsible for communicating to their children the importance of sport and maintaining a healthy lifestyle at the same time.

Having said all of this, 15.3 million people participating in sport across the UK is by no means a poor amount, and the total is up by 1.4 million since Britain won their bid to host the Olympics in 2005. Plus the gender gap has apparently been narrowed significantly, which can only be a good thing.

But it remains disappointing to see a decrease in participation since last year when apparently interest is high and facilities are thriving after a £150 million cash injection. There should be a positive correlation between interest, facilities and participation, but at the moment the latter is a problem – the cause of which is hard to put a finger on.

Wimbledon will inevitably bring a rejuvenation of tennis interest to the country over the next month, but only time will tell whether the effect of professional sport is enough to get Britain’s armchair fans outside and taking part themselves.

Everyone’s talking about….BBC Sports Personality of the Year

 

In 1954 members of the public wrote on a postcard the name of the athlete who they believed had earned the title of Sportsperson of the Year. Some 14,500 votes were counted and the inaugural BBC Sportsperson of the Year Award was presented to the middle and long distance runner Christopher Chataway.

58 years later and Britain’s best-loved sporting figures continue to be publicly acknowledged for outstanding achievement, in what has become one of the most widely recognised awards celebrations in the sports industry. Today men and women from any sporting discipline have the potential to be awarded the accolade, while managers, coaches, teams and the country’s most inspirational unsung heroes are also granted public acknowledgement. 

2012 has been a year of sport for Great Britain. We rejoiced at gold medals, laughed in the face of world records and claimed titles that should never have belonged to us. But which of the many awe-inspiring individuals who have filled our television screens and populated our morning papers throughout 2012 is likely to be recognised as the standout personality of the year? Here are the likely candidates as we see them…

Bradley Wiggins

As if becoming the first Briton to win the gruelling Tour De France was not enough, our favourite potty-mouthed, sideburn-sporting ginger-man went on to claim gold at London 2012, bringing his total Olympic medal tally up to an impressive seven. Wiggins has moved ferociously from pigeon-holed pursuit cyclist into an almighty force across all terrains. He has propelled cycling onto the main stage and has made the name Team Sky synonymous with fortitude and implacable success.

BetVictor odds: 4/6

 Andy Murray

Let’s head back to the beginning of 2012, just for a moment. Andy Murray was then, at best, Britain’s greatest hope of Wimbledon success – someone who allowed us to forget the painstaking disappointment of the Henman years. And at worst? He was the tantrum-throwing non-British-Scotsman who we struggled to warm to (plus his mum was Anne Robinson, and she’s pretty scary). So it goes without saying that we were completely bowled over when the guard was finally taken down and Murray revealed what was probably only an ounce of the pain he was experiencing at having a Grand Slam title snatched from well within his reach yet again. Just a few short months later and Murray is celebrating what has been the greatest year of his career to date. He is Olympic Champion, Grand Slam title holder and, most unpredictably, the people’s champion. Talk about a turnaround.

BetVictor odds: 11/4

 Mo Farah

Few moments from the world of sport in 2012 are quite as memorable as that of Mo Farah crossing the finishing line to claim his second Olympic Gold. In the space of a few short weeks, Farah made us proud to be British, caused one unnamed reporter to look utterly foolish (“Look mate, this is my country.”) and reminded us that the qualities of graciousness and humility do have a place in elite sport. Oh, and he trademarked his own move…. which we’re all a bit jealous of really. If it’s personality you’re looking for, Farah has bucket loads. 

BetVictor Odds: 7/2

Jessica Ennis

The poster girl of London 2012 and one of Britain’s biggest gold medal hopes, heading into the Games; you would have forgiven Jessica Ennis for displaying some small sign of buckling under the weight of public hope and expectation. But for Ennis, competing with the weight of a home crowd behind her and the support of a Nation clinging to the backs of their sofas, made this particular gold medal mission a walk in the park. Ennis catapulted her way into the hearts of the nation with the perfect combination of incomprehensible talent and total grace. Her 800m win in the final event of the heptathlon was the picture-perfect ending to a note perfect performance. Conquering seven different disciplines has never looked quite so easy.

BetVictor odds: 12:1

David Weir

Why have one gold medal, when you can have four? This year Weir claimed first place in the 800m, 1500m, 5000m and the marathon, becoming one of our favourite over-achievers of London 2012. His presence was undoubtedly a key factor in the unexpected wave of energy that surrounded the Paralympic Games and he quickly became the headline athlete on each and every day that he competed. Weir now has ten Paralympic medals to his name. Could this be the year of the Weirwolf?

SkyBet odds: 18/1

Ellie Simmonds

If Ennis was the poster girl of the Olympic Games then Ellie Simmonds was the smiling, superhuman billboard for the Paralympics 2012. At just 17 Simmonds has achieved more than many swimmers do in a lifetime – four Paralympic golds and ten World Championship golds….an achievement worthy of the highest recognition. But more than success in the pool, Ellie has helped to increase awareness of disability sport and has served as an inspirational role model for young people who find themselves in a similar position to her.

SkyBet odds: 40/1

Jonnie Peacock

Oscar who? Jonnie Peacock stormed the 100m, leaving behind the T44 favourite, as well as the existing Paralympic record. ‘Britain’s Bladerunner’, the man who beat the unbeatable…and an athlete who made clear his pride in representing GB as a Paralympic competitor…not bad at just 19 years of age.

BetVictor odds: 100/1

Sir Chris Hoy

The most decorated British Olympian ever. Never did we think adding two more Olympic golds to an already impressive tally could mean so much to the man who owns the velodrome. In stark contrast to the likes of Simmonds and Peacock, Hoy is creeping towards the 40 mark but continues to demonstrate that age is no more than a number.

BetVictor odds: 66/1

Victoria Pendleton

Overlooked in last year’s Sports Personality line up, Pendleton has made a name for herself both on and off the bike. High profile magazine shoots, lucrative sponsorship deals, media profiles (oh, and naked bike riding), Pendleton has achieved what many athletes competing in non-mainstream sports fail to do, to make her achievements stretch farther than the sporting arena. Pendleton has been World Champion, Olympic Champion, European Champion and Commonwealth champion….. Sports Personality 2012 would surely be the icing on the cake, as she happily hangs her bike in the shed for good.

BetVictor odds: 150/1

Rory McIlroy

Ok, so if we had it our way all ten of our shortlist would come from the world of athletics. After all, there aren’t many occasions where we are afforded the luxury of ignoring football in favour of fencing. But with the Ryder Cup underway there may well be space for a golfer in the shortlist this year and it is McIlroy who has enjoyed a standout twelve months. Add to this the rekindling of the irresistible McIlroy/G-Mac partnership and you’ve got yourself another strong contender for SPOTY.

SkyBet odds: 100/1

So there we have it, some of this year’s strongest candidates. As a lasting thought, here’s who some of the team at PHA would like to see named Sports Personality of the Year 2012:

“Jonnie Peacock, for sheer force of personality, triumphing over the odds, beating Oscar Pistorius who is a true legend and for answering the question do you now want to compete in the Olympic Games with the answer: “Why would I do that! I am a Paralympian and proud of it!””
Phil Hall
 
“I’d go for Andy Murray….Olympic Gold and Silver, US open and finalist at Wimbledon…the best ever year by a British tennis player. He’s everything Tim Henman was not and will win five or six slams now. (Plus I can’t separate the Olympians!)”
Stuart Skinner
 
“It has to be Bradley Wiggins. The Tour de France has got to be the ultimate sporting endurance event and to become the first ever British winner and then follow it up with Olympic gold less than two weeks later is an incredible achievement.”
Rob Treloar
 
“Mo Farah. A true champion whose tremendous double-gold lit up a fantastic Olympics. He manages to effortlessly mix his brilliance with humour, warmth and modesty. And he gave us the MoBot!”
Neil McLeod
 
“Jessica Ennis. She was the poster girl for the Olympics and the pressure on her shoulders going in to the Games was immense. But did she let that get to her? Of course not. Her response to that added pressure was to smash the field to pieces in the most gruelling of athletic events. Yes, Mo Farah is awesome at distance running, Murray is phenomenal at tennis, Elle Simmonds rules the pool, but Jess ran, jumped and threw her way to her gold medal in astonishing style. To compete in all those different disciplines to Jess’ standard requires a phenomenal all-round athleticism. And she did it all with a smile on her face and with a grace and humility that endeared her to the entire nation.
It sounds corny to say it but Jess is an inspiration to the nation; not least to a generation of young girls who previously lacked sporting female role models to look up to. Plenty of female athletes have helped put that right over the summer, but none more so than Jess in my opinion. Jess epitomised the spirit of the Games and I believe will epitomise the legacy that lives on.”
Katie Matthews
 
“I would like Ellie Simmonds to win because she won two gold, a silver and a bronze medal at the London 2012 Paralympic Games and has truly captured both the hearts and minds of the British public. For me, Ellie was the face of the Paralympic Games in London and should be an inspiration to others out there, both able bodied athletes and those competing with a disability, showing the world that sport has no boundaries.”
Laura Field
 
“Before London 2012, how many of us were familiar with the accomplishments of David Weir? Probably not very many. Now, he is not only the greatest wheelchair athlete of all time but, quite rightfully, a household name. Time and time again I find myself in awe of the strength and tenacity with which he competes. But more than this, Weir has been instrumental in increasing awareness of disability sport and has made the remarkably mammoth task of bridging the gap between the Olympic and Paralympic Games look as easy as a wheelchair wheelie. He is a truly outstanding talent who has inspired the nation”
Sarah Taylor
 
“Wiggins: Not only Olympic gold and a truly historic Tour de France win, but is a genuine character and a Mod, something we need more of in sport”
Jonny Davies
 
“Bradley Wiggins should take the crown. He is the first Briton to win the Tour De France, has four Olympic Golds and seven medals overall making him the equal most celebrated British Olympian and he deserves to be recognised. For that reason in my eyes he stands above Mo Farah, Andy Murray and Jessica Ennis. Wiggins has reached the pinnacle of his career by winning the Tour De France and has the medals to show for it!”
Dan Apostolos
 
Words by Sarah Taylor

Everyone's talking about….BBC Sports Personality of the Year

Sports Personality of the Year

In 1954 members of the public wrote on a postcard the name of the athlete who they believed had earned the title of Sportsperson of the Year. Some 14,500 votes were counted and the inaugural BBC Sportsperson of the Year Award was presented to the middle and long distance runner Christopher Chataway.

58 years later and Britain’s best loved sporting figures continue to be publicly acknowledged for outstanding achievement, in what has become one of the most widely recognised awards celebrations in the sports industry. Today men and women from any sporting discipline have the potential to be awarded the accolade, while managers, coaches, teams and the country’s most inspirational unsung heroes are also granted public acknowledgment. 

2012 has been a year of sport for Great Britain. We rejoiced at gold medals, laughed in the face of world records and claimed titles that should never have belonged to us. But which of the many awe-inspiring individuals who have filled our television screens and populated our morning papers throughout 2012 is likely to be recognised as the standout personality of the year? Here are the likely candidates as we see them…

 

Bradley Wiggins

As if becoming the first Briton to win the gruelling Tour De France was not enough, our favourite potty-mouthed, sideburn-sporting ginger-man went on to claim gold at London 2012, bringing his total Olympic medal tally up to an impressive seven. Wiggins has moved ferociously from pigeon-holed pursuit cyclist into an almighty force across all terrains. He has propelled cycling onto the main stage and has made the name Team Sky synonymous with fortitude and implacable success.

BetVictor odds: 4/6

 

Andy Murray

Let’s head back to the beginning of 2012, just for a moment. Andy Murray was then, at best, Britain’s greatest hope of Wimbledon success – someone who allowed us to forget the painstaking disappointment of the Henman years. And at worst? He was the tantrum-throwing non-British-Scotsman who we struggled to warm to (plus his mum was Anne Robinson, and she’s pretty scary). So it goes without saying that we were completely bowled over when the guard was finally taken down and Murray revealed what was probably only an ounce of the pain he was experiencing at having a Grand Slam title snatched from well within his reach yet again. Just a few short months later and Murray is celebrating what has been the greatest year of his career to date. He is Olympic Champion, Grand Slam title holder and, most unpredictably, the people’s champion. Talk about a turnaround.

BetVictor odds: 11/4

 

Mo Farah

Few moments from the world of sport in 2012 are quite as memorable as that of Mo Farah crossing the finishing line to claim his second Olympic Gold. In the space of a few short weeks Farah made us proud to be British, caused one unnamed reporter to look utterly foolish (“Look mate, this is my country.”) and reminded us that the qualities of graciousness and humility do have a place in elite sport. Oh, and he trademarked his own move…. which we’re all a bit jealous of really. If it’s personality you’re looking for, Farah has bucket loads. 

BetVictor Odds: 7/2

 

Jessica Ennis

The poster girl of London 2012 and one of Britain’s biggest gold medal hopes, heading into the Games; you would have forgiven Jessica Ennis for displaying some small sign of buckling under the weight of public hope and expectation. But for Ennis, competing with the weight of a home crowd behind her and the support of a Nation clinging to the backs of their sofas, made this particular gold medal mission a walk in the park. Ennis catapulted her way into the hearts of the nation with the perfect combination of incomprehensible talent and total grace. Her 800m win in the final event of the heptathlon was the picture perfect ending to a note perfect performance. Conquering seven different disciplines has never looked quite so easy.

BetVictor odds: 12:1

 

David Weir

Why have one gold medal, when you can have four? This year Weir claimed first place in the 800m, 1500m, 5000m and the marathon, becoming one of our favourite over-achievers of London 2012. His presence was undoubtedly a key factor in the unexpected wave of energy that surrounded the Paralympic Games and he quickly became the headline athlete on each and every day that he competed. Weir now has ten Paralympic medals to his name. Could this be the year of the Weirwolf?

SkyBet odds: 18/1

 

Ellie Simmonds

If Ennis was the poster girl of the Olympic Games then Ellie Simmonds was the smiling, superhuman billboard for the Paralympics 2012. At just 17 Simmonds has achieved more than many swimmers do in a lifetime – four Paralympic golds and ten World Championship golds….an achievement worthy of the highest recognition. But more than success in the pool, Ellie has helped to increase awareness of disability sport and has served as an inspirational role model for young people who find themselves in a similar position to her.

SkyBet odds: 40/1

 

Jonnie Peacock

Oscar who? Jonnie Peacock stormed the 100m, leaving behind the T44 favourite, as well as the existing Paralympic record. ‘Britain’s Bladerunner’, the man who beat the unbeatable…and an athlete who made clear his pride in representing GB as a Paralympic competitor…not bad at just 19 years of age.

BetVictor odds: 100/1

 

Sir Chris Hoy

The most decorated British Olympian ever. Never did we think adding two more Olympic golds to an already impressive tally could mean so much to the man who owns the velodrome. In stark contrast to the likes of Simmonds and Peacock, Hoy is creeping towards the 40 mark but continues to demonstrate that age is no more than a number.

BetVictor odds: 66/1

 

Victoria Pendleton

Overlooked in last year’s Sports Personality line up, Pendleton has made a name for herself both on and off the bike. High profile magazine shoots, lucrative sponsorship deals, media profiles (oh, and naked bike riding), Pendleton has achieved what many athletes competing in non-mainstream sports fail to do, to make her achievements stretch farther than the sporting arena. Pendleton has been World Champion, Olympic Champion, European Champion and Commonwealth champion….. Sports Personality 2012 would surely be the icing on the cake, as she happily hangs her bike in the shed for good.

BetVictor odds: 150/1

 

Rory McIlroy

Ok, so if we had it our way all ten of our shortlist would come from the world of athletics. After all, there aren’t many occasions where we are afforded the luxury of ignoring football in favour of fencing. But with the Ryder Cup underway there may well be space for a golfer in the shortlist this year and it is McIlroy who has enjoyed a standout twelve months. Add to this the rekindling of the irresistible McIlroy/G-Mac partnership and you’ve got yourself another strong contender for SPOTY.

SkyBet odds: 100/1

 

So there we have it, some of this year’s strongest candidates. As a lasting thought, here’s who some of the team at PHA would like to see named Sports Personality of the Year 2012:

  

“Jonnie Peacock, for sheer force of personality, triumphing over the odds, beating Oscar Pistorius who is a true legend and for answering the question do you now want to compete in the Olympic Games with the answer: “Why would I do that! I am a Paralympian and proud of it!””
Phil Hall

 

“I’d go for Andy Murray….Olympic Gold and Silver, US open and finalist at Wimbledon…the best ever year by a British tennis player. He’s everything Tim Henman was not and will win five or six slams now. (Plus I can’t separate the Olympians!)”
Stuart Skinner

 

“It has to be Bradley Wiggins. The Tour de France has got to be the ultimate sporting endurance event and to become the first ever British winner and then follow it up with Olympic gold less than two weeks later is an incredible achievement.”
Rob Treloar

 

“Mo Farah. A true champion whose tremendous double-gold lit up a fantastic Olympics. He manages to effortlessly mix his brilliance with humour, warmth and modesty. And he gave us the MoBot!”
Neil McLeod

 

“Jessica Ennis. She was the poster girl for the Olympics and the pressure on her shoulders going in to the Games was immense. But did she let that get to her? Of course not. Her response to that added pressure was to smash the field to pieces in the most gruelling of athletic events. Yes, Mo Farah is awesome at distance running, Murray is phenomenal at tennis, Elle Simmonds rules the pool, but Jess ran, jumped and threw her way to her gold medal in astonishing style. To compete in all those different disciplines to Jess’ standard requires a phenomenal all-round athleticism. And she did it all with a smile on her face and with a grace and humility that endeared her to the entire nation.
It sounds corny to say it but Jess is an inspiration to the nation; not least to a generation of young girls who previously lacked sporting female role models to look up to. Plenty of female athletes have helped put that right over the summer, but none more so than Jess in my opinion. Jess epitomised the spirit of the Games and I believe will epitomise the legacy that lives on.”
Katie Matthews
 
“I would like Ellie Simmonds to win because she won two gold, a silver and a bronze medal at the London 2012 Paralympic Games and has truly captured both the hearts and minds of the British public. For me, Ellie was the face of the Paralympic Games in London and should be an inspiration to others out there, both able bodied athletes and those competing with a disability, showing the world that sport has no boundaries.”
Laura Field

 

“Before London 2012, how many of us were familiar with the accomplishments of David Weir? Probably not very many. Now, he is not only the greatest wheelchair athlete of all time but, quite rightfully, a household name. Time and time again I find myself in awe of the strength and tenacity with which he competes. But more than this, Weir has been instrumental in increasing awareness of disability sport and has made the remarkably mammoth task of bridging the gap between the Olympic and Paralympic Games look as easy as a wheelchair wheelie. He is a truly outstanding talent who has inspired the nation”
Sarah Taylor

 

“Wiggins: Not only Olympic gold and a truly historic Tour de France win, but is a genuine character and a Mod, something we need more of in sport”
Jonny Davies

 

“Bradley Wiggins should take the crown. He is the first Briton to win the Tour De France, has four Olympic Golds and seven medals overall making him the equal most celebrated British Olympian and he deserves to be recognised. For that reason in my eyes he stands above Mo Farah, Andy Murray and Jessica Ennis. Wiggins has reached the pinnacle of his career by winning the Tour De France and has the medals to show for it!”
Dan Apostolos

 

Words by Sarah Taylor

Futuristic shopping: High-tech or highly wasteful?

Britain’s first ‘high-tech’ flagship store has opened, and it’s a Marks and Spencer in Cheshire. Not your conventional image of a high tech brand, this M&S is the size of 11 Olympic swimming pools, their second biggest store in the country. The new store tries to integrate both the online and offline worlds, but is this just a marketing promotion, or a real way of making shopping easier for consumers?

Touchscreens that allow shoppers to browse and then order, display TVs with constant adverts and shop assistants with I-Pads. Only 10 years ago this would have been viewed as a futuristic marvel, but now M&S believe it is necessary to optimise its sales. In the internet age, people are demanding shorter time lags between desire of a product and receiving it. Not only that, but so-called ‘multi-channel’ shopping is growing, clearly the more channels available, the more consumers are targeted and the more we will all spend. Despite warnings that numbers of department stores will stagnate as people move to using the internet, M&S believe that this could be the solution. The estimated catchment for the store is 1.3 million, and it is clear that this is not just an experience, it’s an M&S experience.

But not only is this high-tech store complete with electricity wasting technology, it prides itself on being M&S’s ‘greenest’ store to date. Its curved wooden roof is made of glued laminate; its building materials are supposedly 30-50% more carbon efficient. Natural light and carbon-absorbing hemp panels allow this and insulation is improved as the building is sunk into the ground. But is this six-year build really outweighing the cost and waste of the somewhat extravagant technology that’s inside it? M&S have obviously answered this question already – there is indeed an energy consumption monitoring system installed, along with a biomass boiler and electric car charging points. And this is even qualified by the BREEAM Excellent environmental rating it has received.

 

Not only investing in physical space, M&S has decided to update its website, to make sure it wins from all angles. In-store wi-fi in Cheshire will allow the physical and virtual shopping worlds to be connected. The marketing team are clearly trying to update the old-fashioned image that the young often attach to the store.

But what about the large proportion of M&S’s elderly customers that will be unable to use such technology? Surely the shopping process will be slowed down for them if they choose to experiment with the new touch screens? Will such high-tech equipment turn the most loyal customers away? Last year M&S’s womenswear sales dropped. It looks like M&S must weigh up the pros and cons in terms of cost and customers before rolling this concept out across all of their stores.

The moments we won’t be forgetting in a hurry…PHA Sport’s top ten London 2012 highlights

PHA Sport's top ten London 2012 highlights

The London 2012 Olympic Games have been a resounding success, no doubt, delivering triumph after triumph for team GB and spreading joy and happiness throughout the nation. There have been many unforgettable moments over the last couple of weeks, but here we pick our top ten highlights…

 

Super Saturday

OK, we’re starting with the obvious: Super Saturday. But what wasn’t there to love? Great Britain’s most successful day on the athletics track since, well, ever, with Ennis, Farah and Rutherford all taking Gold in fine style (don’t worry Greg, we’ve forgotten about your final jump already). Ennis was first up, taking Gold in the most gruelling of events by storming home in the 800 metres, remaining as charming as ever in the process. Rutherford’s huge 8.31 metre jump launched him to the top spot on the podium shortly after. We paced that distance out in the office and came to the conclusion that if you can jump that far, you are basically flying; it’s phenomenal. And then there was Farah; his storming performance topped off a magical night of sport for team GB. Just ask Denise and Colin, or watch their studio celebrations here https://bit.ly/OCEUmF. We won’t be forgetting it in a hurry!

London’s transport system

For coping admirably throughout and proving all those predictions of chaos and disorganisation wrong. Despite dire warnings of mayhem at Marylebone, bedlam at Bank and horror scenes in Stratford, most Londoners and Games goers reported more seamless journeys than normal. What’s more, here at PHA Sport we even witnessed strangers TALKING on the tube. The feel-good factor brought on by the Games spread right across the capital, even to the depths of the Victoria line… Now that really is an Olympic achievement.

Let’s hear it for the parents

Hoy’s mum unable to watch, Mrs Tweddle acting out daughter Beth’s routine from the stand, Murray hugging mum Judy after his emotional win (yeah, we missed it too thanks to the genius editing by the OBS but we know it happened thanks to the cheering crowd), and who could forget Daddy Le Clos… Parents who have supported their kids every step of the way, lived and breathed the sport as much, if not more (Judy), as their successful offspring and dedicated much of their lives to helping their children achieve their Olympic dreams. To see these parents punching the air, dancing in the stands and weeping with pride, brought a tear to our collective eye. It also made us question why our parents hadn’t made us stick at gymnastics, or taken us rowing when we were three.

‘Good evening Mr Bond’

The opening ceremony feels like a lifetime ago considering all the sporting highs and lows we’ve witnessed since. But a firm highlight of the Games remains the Queen’s acting debut alongside Daniel Craig. What a rascal that Monarch of ours is! She even kept the joke a secret from Harry and Wills! We always knew the Queen had a wicked sense of humour and now the whole world does too. Simply brilliant. And a stroke of genius from Boyle.

Horse Guards Parade

We’ve been to a fair few Olympic venues over the last couple of weeks and they have, without exception, been superb. But the beach volleyball arena at Horse Guards Parade deserves a special mention. Not only is it set against the most impressive of backdrops, with views of Downing Street, St Pauls, the London Eye and Big Ben, but the atmosphere inside is electric. Designed to ensure spectators have the most amount of fun possible in the space of a couple of hours, the organisers threw everything into making this an experience to remember for the crowds… Dancing girls (and boys) writhing in the sand, crowd sing-alongs, Chelsea Daggers dance moves, Congas round the stadium, the Benny Hill theme tune and the voice over man from the X Factor (IT’S TIME. TO FACE. THE MUUUUUSSSIIIC – that guy), oh and some beach volleyball action too. It was one long beach party in the centre of the capital. Top that Rio!

Mugging off the French with our ‘really round’ wheels

Oh, we Brits do like to rub the French up the wrong way. It serves them right for being rude whenever we get the Eurostar to Paris. And last week, the mastermind of British cycling, Dave Brailsford, pulled off a class A gag. Whilst the French were being sore losers and moaning about the Brits being better than them, a French journalist thought he’d investigate the matter further and quizzed Brailsford on the secrets of the team’s success. Was there some funny business going on? Some dark art at work perhaps? Brailsford’s response was to say that it was down to the ’round wheels’ used by the British team. Not just round, but ‘really round’. ‘AH HA!’ The French journalist thought. What a coup! The secret is out! L’Equipe published the story the next day; ‘The Brits use round wheels! How dare they!’, or words to that effect…  Oh, hang on. Wait a minute… They’re wheels. Aren’t they always round? And aren’t they made in France anyway? Yes. Oh. Merde…

Anyone for clay pigeon shooting?

Over at PHA Sport, we love the mainstream sports. Football, rugby, cricket, golf, tennis, we can’t get enough of them. But the beauty of the Olympics, especially when they are being held in your own backyard, is the variety of sporting action we get to enjoy, and the range of sports which command column inches. Kayaking, volleyball, hockey, judo, women’s football, basketball, diving, even clay pigeon shooting for heaven’s sake… We’re hooked on them all. Is clay pigeon shooting even a sport? Who cares! We love it! Go Team GB!

Murray‘s moment

Ok, we admit it, we haven’t always liked Murray. Yes, when Wimbledon comes around we try our best, but it’s hard, you know? Well, not anymore. During the Games, just four weeks after his devastating Wimbledon defeat, he came out wearing the GB shirt with pride. He smashed Federer in three sets and even sung the national anthem. Andy, we’re sorry for giving you a hard time; we hope you’ll forgive us. We promise to never single you out as Scottish again. It was a brilliant performance and a pleasure to watch. For what it’s worth (nothing, I am sure) we predict that Grand Slams will now follow. Our money’s on you for the Australian Open.

Humble sports superstars

They’ve achieved the highest honour possible in their sport. They’ve worked unimaginably hard for years. Grafting and grafting to knock a thousandth of a second off their time, to throw a fraction of a centimetre further, to jump a millimetre higher… They deserve every bit of their success and could perhaps be forgiven for letting it go to their head a bit. But have you seen any prima donna behaviour from British Olympians over the last couple of weeks? We thought not. Ennis, Farah, Hoy, Murray, Pendleton, Trott… the list goes on. Our biggest Olympic superstars have remained humble, charming, grateful, gracious and likeable throughout. We can name more than a handful of Premiership footballers who could learn a thing or two from them…

We are Gold! Gold! We always believed in our soooouul…. etc

For number ten, we’ll finish where we started. More Golds for Team GB. Tuesday 7th August was another bumper day for medals, with Sir Chris Hoy’s achievement on the track peddling him into the history books as Britain’s most decorated Olympian ever. The crowd nearly brought the Pringle-shaped roof down on the Velodrome as Hoy battled with German Maximilian Levy to keep the inside line, before producing a final spurt to clinch the sixth Gold medal of his career. Sir Steve Redgrave was there to congratulate him and big man Hoy blubbed on the podium. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house at PHA Towers. Granted only two of us had worked late enough to see it in the office but it was an emotional evening nonetheless.

And there endeth our top ten rundowns. There have been so many stellar moments it was hard to whittle them down, so we know we’ve missed a few other classics. Let us know what would be in your top ten…

The moments we won't be forgetting in a hurry…PHA Sport's top ten London 2012 highlights

PHA Sport's top ten London 2012 highlights

The London 2012 Olympic Games have been a resounding success, no doubt, delivering triumph after triumph for team GB and spreading joy and happiness throughout the nation. There have been many unforgettable moments over the last couple of weeks, but here we pick our top ten highlights…

 

Super Saturday

OK, we’re starting with the obvious: Super Saturday. But what wasn’t there to love? Great Britain’s most successful day on the athletics track since, well, ever, with Ennis, Farah and Rutherford all taking Gold in fine style (don’t worry Greg, we’ve forgotten about your final jump already). Ennis was first up, taking Gold in the most gruelling of events by storming home in the 800 metres, remaining as charming as ever in the process. Rutherford’s huge 8.31 metre jump launched him to the top spot on the podium shortly after. We paced that distance out in the office and came to the conclusion that if you can jump that far, you are basically flying; it’s phenomenal. And then there was Farah; his storming performance topped off a magical night of sport for team GB. Just ask Denise and Colin, or watch their studio celebrations here https://bit.ly/OCEUmF. We won’t be forgetting it in a hurry!

 

London’s transport system

For coping admirably throughout and proving all those predictions of chaos and disorganisation wrong. Despite dire warnings of mayhem at Marylebone, bedlam at Bank and horror scenes in Stratford, most Londoners and Games goers reported more seamless journeys than normal. What’s more, here at PHA Sport we even witnessed strangers TALKING on the tube. The feel good factor brought on by the Games spread right across the capital, even to the depths of the Victoria line… Now that really is an Olympic achievement.

 

Let’s hear it for the parents

Hoy’s mum unable to watch, Mrs Tweddle acting out daughter Beth’s routine from the stand, Murray hugging mum Judy after his emotional win (yeah, we missed it too thanks to the genius editing by the OBS but we know it happened thanks to the cheering crowd), and who could forget Daddy Le Clos… Parents who have supported their kids every step of the way, lived and breathed the sport as much, if not more (Judy), as their successful offspring and dedicated much of their lives to helping their children achieve their Olympic dreams. To see these parents punching the air, dancing in the stands and weeping with pride, brought a tear to our collective eye. It also made us question why our parents hadn’t made us stick at gymnastics, or taken us rowing when we were three.

 

‘Good evening Mr Bond’

The opening ceremony feels like a lifetime ago considering all the sporting highs and lows we’ve witnessed since. But a firm highlight of the Games remains the Queen’s acting debut alongside Daniel Craig. What a rascal that Monarch of ours is! She even kept the joke a secret from Harry and Wills! We always knew the Queen had a wicked sense of humour and now the whole world does too. Simply brilliant. And a stroke of genius from Boyle.

 

Horse Guards Parade

We’ve been to a fair few Olympic venues over the last couple of weeks and they have, without exception, been superb. But the beach volleyball arena at Horse Guards Parade deserves a special mention. Not only is it set against the most impressive of backdrops, with views of Downing Street, St Pauls, the London Eye and Big Ben, but the atmosphere inside is electric. Designed to ensure spectators have the most amount of fun possible in the space of a couple of hours, the organisers threw everything into making this an experience to remember for the crowds… Dancing girls (and boys) writhing in the sand, crowd sing alongs, Chelsea Daggers dance moves, Congas round the stadium, the Benny Hill theme tune and the voice over man from the X Factor (IT’S TIME. TO FACE. THE MUUUUUSSSIIIC – that guy), oh and some beach volleyball action too. It was one long beach party in the centre of the capital. Top that Rio!

 

Mugging off the French with our ‘really round’ wheels

Oh we Brits do like to rub the French up the wrong way. It serves them right for being rude whenever we get the Eurostar to Paris. And last week, the mastermind of British cycling, Dave Brailsford, pulled off a class A gag. Whilst the French were being sore losers and moaning about the Brits being better than them, a French journalist thought he’d investigate the matter further and quizzed Brailsford on the secrets of the team’s success. Was there some funny business going on? Some dark art at work perhaps? Brailsford’s response was to say that it was down to the ’round wheels’ used by the British team. Not just round, but ‘really round’. ‘AH HA!’ The French journalist thought. What a coup! The secret is out! L’Equipe published the story the next day; ‘The Brits use round wheels! How dare they!’, or words to that effect…  Oh, hang on. Wait a minute… They’re wheels. Aren’t they always round? And aren’t they made in France anyway? Yes. Oh. Merde…

 

Anyone for clay pigeon shooting?

Over at PHA Sport we love the mainstream sports. Football, rugby, cricket, golf, tennis, we can’t get enough of them. But the beauty of the Olympics, especially when they are being held in your own back yard, is the variety of sporting action we get to enjoy, and the range of sports which command column inches. Kayaking, volleyball, hockey, judo, women’s football, basketball, diving, even clay pigeon shooting for heaven’s sake… We’re hooked on them all. Is clay pigeon shooting even a sport? Who cares! We love it! Go Team GB!

  

Murray‘s moment

Ok, we admit it, we haven’t always liked Murray. Yes, when Wimbledon comes around we try our best, but it’s hard, you know? Well, not any more. During the Games, just four weeks after his devastating Wimbledon defeat, he came out wearing the GB shirt with pride. He smashed Federer in three sets and even sung the national anthem. Andy, we’re sorry for giving you a hard time; we hope you’ll forgive us. We promise to never single you out as Scottish again. It was a brilliant performance and a pleasure to watch. For what it’s worth (nothing, I am sure) we predict that Grand Slams will now follow. Our money’s on you for the Australian Open.

 

Humble sports superstars

They’ve achieved the highest honour possible in their sport. They’ve worked unimaginably hard for years. Grafting and grafting to knock a thousandth of a second off their time, to throw a fraction of a centimetre further, to jump a millimetre higher… They deserve every bit of their success and could perhaps be forgiven for letting it go to their head a bit. But have you seen any prima donna behaviour from British Olympians over the last couple of weeks? We thought not. Ennis, Farah, Hoy, Murray, Pendleton, Trott… the list goes on. Our biggest Olympic superstars have remained humble, charming, grateful, gracious and likeable throughout. We can name more than a handful of Premiership footballers who could learn a thing or two from them…

 

We are Gold! Gold! We always believed in our soooouul…. etc

For number ten, we’ll finish where we started. More Golds for Team GB. Tuesday 7th August was another bumper day for medals, with Sir Chris Hoy’s achievement on the track peddling him in to the history books as Britain’s most decorated Olympian ever. The crowd nearly brought the Pringle-shaped roof down on the Velodrome as Hoy battled with German Maximilian Levy to keep the inside line, before producing a final spurt to clinch the sixth Gold medal of his career. Sir Steve Redgrave was there to congratulate him and big man Hoy blubbed on the podium. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house at PHA Towers. Granted only two of us had worked late enough to see it in the office but it was an emotional evening nonetheless.

 

And there endeth our top ten rundown. There have been so many stellar moments it was hard to whittle them down, so we know we’ve missed a few other classics. Let us know what would be in your top ten…