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17 totally epic London 2012 moments we'll never forget

Mo Farah! Jessica Ennis! Usain Bolt! Bert Le Clos! Nicola Adams! Chris Hoy's mum!

Published: Thursday, 4th August 2016 at 2:58 pm

What are your favourite London 2012 memories? Let us know!


Remember that moment when Daniel Craig stepped through the doors of Buckingham Palace and came face-to-face with the Queen? And that split-second when you thought: “It’s REALLY her!” And it really was.

Her Majesty’s entrance into the Olympic stadium – ‘skydiving’ from a helicopter, no less – was the crowning triumph of Danny Boyle’s star-studded Opening Ceremony and set the tone for an Olympic Games where anything felt possible.

A confession: I basically cried re-watching this segment. Who could forget the moment Sir Steve Redgrave made his way into the glittering stadium to ‘hand over the torch’ to six future Olympic hopefuls. To the tune of Caliban’s Dream, they jogged around the track, each holding the torch aloft before making their way to the cauldron to light the 204 copper petals that converged to create the spectacular flame that burned throughout the Olympic fortnight. The moment quite simply took our breath away.

Fresh from his Tour de France victory, Wiggins cemented his status as cycling royalty by celebrating his time trial gold medal in style: sitting on a throne outside Hampton Court Palace. Mr Cool Britannia, draped across a gold-gilded chair, flanked by one of London’s most iconic sites – or “wherever we are”, as Wiggins quipped to press.

Given that he'd just won gold, we reckon King Henry VIII would have forgiven him.

To quote Bert: this moment was “UNbelievable.” As his son Chad collected a gold medal after storming past multi-champion Michael Phelps in the pool, Bert Le Clos was interviewed by Clare Balding – a live segment that captured the public’s imagination. “What a beautiful boy. Look at him!” cried Bert, gesturing wildly as Balding stuck a microphone in front of him to bottle the TV gold.

In July he’d sobbed on Centre Court after succumbing to Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final. Just a month on, Andy Murray was back in SW19, surging to victory in straight sets over Novak Djokovic. This euphoric leap of joy says it all. Murray was finally a champion – and the next year he’d go on to lift the Wimbledon trophy itself.


Two standout stars of 2012, each with their own iconic pose. But when Usain Bolt and Mo Farah found themselves on the Olympic track at the same time, they marked their respective victories by swapping their trademark celebrations – the Mobot and the lightning bolt – for a cluster of paparazzi. The newspapers had their front pages

Speaking of Usain, the sprinter was surely tucked up in bed the night after his 100m win. He had a 200m heat the next morning.

WRONG. Instead of getting his 40 winks, the Jamaican sprinter uploaded this photo. At 3am. With three rather attractive members of the Swedish handball team.

No further comment necessary.

On paper, this is the best piece of footage from London 2012. Our most decorated Olympian, (soon to be) Sir Chris Hoy, proving that sheer force of will (and some gigantic thigh muscles) can be enough to propel you over the line in first place.

Little did he know he’d be upstaged by his mother. Carol Hoy was inside the velodrome as her son competed in the keirin and could barely watch. She gasped, she grimaced, she gawped and her shoulders visibly sagged with relief as Chris crossed the line in first place. In that moment, Carol Hoy was all of us.

Forget the mobot and lightning bolt. If you’re going to celebrate a gold medal then this is the way to do it. Step one: rip off your vest. Step two: roar. Step three: wrap yourself in a flag. Step four: do the hurdles.

Discus thrower Robert Harting might want to consider switching disciplines.

After a delirious fortnight headlined by British medal success, the Paralympics rolled into town with another GB squad bidding for a spot on the podium – and they didn’t disappoint. Chief among our triumphs were the four gold medals earned by David Weir and the double win – and world record – from Paralympic poster girl and swimmer Ellie Simmonds. Just watch her step on the gas for the final 50 metres. It's a sight to behold.

When Sarah Attar crossed the line in her 800m heat, she was 45 seconds behind the winner – but the crowds willing her along weren’t just cheering an underdog. They were celebrating a woman making history as one of Saudi Arabia’s first female Olympic athletes. Attar was joined by judo competitor Wojdan Shaherkhani in London and while neither made it past their opening rounds, both will be remembered for the bravery and tenacity they displayed to get to London in the first place.

Another first for the Olympics was female boxing – and first in the ring to fight for her gold medal was Nicola Adams, the Leeds-born 29-year-old with the mega-watt grin. Her historic win made her another much-adored poster girl for the Games as she leapt in the air and thumped her chest in victory.

For nineties kids like myself, this was the crowning moment of the Closing Ceremony. For four minutes, Girl Power spiced up the arena as Ginger, Sporty, Scary, Baby and – yes, she really did it – Posh strutted their stuff atop five black cabs zooming through crowds of jubilant athletes. Viva Forever, ladies.

Denise Lewis arguably put in a more athletic performance than Mo Farah as the British middle distance runner powered to victory in the 5,000m and 10,000m. A camera captured Lewis and fellow BBC commentators Colin Jackson, Michael Johnson and John Inverdale as they cheered Mo down the 100m straight, leaping, yelling, fist-pumping and whooping with delight as he crossed the line in first place.

Sometimes track running is a bunfight to the finish; other times it delivers a masterclass in elegance. Such was the case for David Rudisha who not only finished several strides ahead of the field but did so in a new world record time. The springy stretch of the Kenyan’s endless legs and the calm momentum which propelled him further and further ahead of his battling rivals prompted one commentator to declare: “This is one of the greatest runs we’ve seen in Olympic history.”

This isn’t so much a moment as a sporting marvel. Those eligible for the F42 high jump have had a leg amputated above the knee – so, instead of the Olympic version of the discipline, which sees athletes running at top speeds towards the bar before hurling themselves over, these Paralympians abandon their crutches to make several gigantic hops before somersaulting over the pole. Said pole is still suspended at a height you or I would probably go crashing into. For me, this sums up the very essence of the Paralympics – overcoming adversity to achieve truly remarkable things.

Was this the best hour in British sporting history? It had been billed as Super Saturday before the action even got started with Team GB favourites Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah both in action. What followed was one delirious hour in which both Ennis and Farah withstood overwhelming pressure to storm to victory under the watchful eye of a packed Olympic stadium – and millions of viewers back home.


But the real surprise of the evening was Greg Rutherford who leapt into the history books with the evening's third track and field gold for the home nation. Britain had its hat-trick of heroes and the electric stadium roared in approval.


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