David Leggat on sport

David Leggat is a Herald sport writer

David Leggat: Three cheers for a job well done

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Aerial view of the Olympic Park. Photo / LOCOG
Aerial view of the Olympic Park. Photo / LOCOG

Hats off to the Lord Coe and his Locog planning chums. They can put their feet up knowing London did itself, and the Olympics, proud.

If you are of a nit-picky disposition, you could take issue here and there, but there will always be hiccups no matter how well laid the plans for an event of this scale.

Standing at Stratford train station, beside the entrance to the Olympic Park, for 40 minutes in the rain is not inclined to lead one to magnanimous thoughts.

But these were good Games. Security was solid and much of the sport was terrific.

And if the irritatingly naff Team GB moniker was a bit much, they can bask in a hugely successful on-field event.

The venues were a mixed bag, partly through their temporary nature. The cycling velodrome and Greenwich Park for the equine events stood out.

Swimming got it wrong with an eyesore curved roofline.

Most were functional and given that several will simply disappear in the coming months, that is to be expected.

What was out of whack was the hugely lopsided work of the BBC. They didn't just drop their cloak of impartiality; they biffed it over the bridge.

Interviewers wore Team GB shirts and chatted to sixth or seventh-place finishers while races were still on. "We" was everywhere. It was cringeworthy, and unworthy of the organisation.

It drew a spray from US network NBC's sports boss, Dick Ebersol.

"They openly root for their athletes on the air," he railed. "Nobody ever uses the word 'we' in our coverage, and if they did they wouldn't last long."

He's dead right, then again glass- houses spring to mind when it comes to American TV coverage of major international events.

So what of New Zealand's Games?

Based on medals they were immensely successful. Thirteen is equal best with Seoul in 1988.

Rowing was clearly the best-performing section. It was well funded and rewarded those with the chequebook. The rowers' campaign at Eton Dorney lake left memories which will last a long time.

And London reconfirmed that New Zealanders have a certain prowess when it comes to sitting down on the job. Of the 13 medals, 12 were achieved while in a seated position, Valerie Adams' silver in the shot put the exception.

The Adams imbroglio over her botched entry for the shot put should never have been allowed to happen. Undoubtedly she was unsettled by events leading up to the day.

Adams is among the relatively small group of gilt-edged performers New Zealand has. The New Zealand Olympic Committee let her down.

She was still well off the marks of her Belarusian rival Nadzeya Ostapchuk, but her cause was undermined. To what degree only she knows.

The difference between the best throws by the pair was 66cm, which suggests Adams needed to be at her very best and in a tip-top frame of mind. Obviously she wasn't.

New Zealand gathered four fourth placings.

The difference between time triallist Linda Villumsen and third place was 1.84s, over 29km; Andrew Nicholson was two rails poorer at the end of the individual jumping than the third placegetter; Lauren Boyle was two seconds away from a gong in her 800m final; and the women's Black Sticks chose a bad time to produce a timid performance against Britain, with bronze on the line.

New Zealand's medals came from sources expected to do well. There were no bolters.

Those who study these things insist that if an athlete or team are not tracking strongly a year out, they won't feature when the Games arrive.

Still, 13 medals, five of them gold. A job well done.

- NZ Herald

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