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Benedict Cumberbatch, Matt Smith and co - "What I'll be watching at the 2012 Olympics"

A host of celebrities including Rob Brydon, Dawn French and Sir Bruce Forsyth tell us which events they're most looking forward to and why

Published: Tuesday, 31st July 2012 at 10:46 am

Benedict Cumberbatch


Equestrian: “I’ll be watching quite a few things. The sort of short distance track events are always exciting and I’d quite like to watch the horse competitions, because I learnt how to ride a horse for the film War Horse and now I’m a little bit obsessed with all things horsey. Oh and crazy stuff like pole vaulting.”

Matt Smith

Athletics: “I love to see the 400m – that used to be my event. But I’ll watch anything. My favourite Olympic memory is Linford Christie when he was doing well. I loved his intensity. But I’d watch Michael Johnson any day of the week just because he was so electrifying.”

Dawn French

Diving: “I said no to the hundred-yard dash. I want to watch it on telly rather than take part in it this time. From my sofa, I’ll be watching out for young Tom Daley because he’s from down ‘ere in Devon. I’ll not be watching the weightlifters – I’m always scared of witnessing a rectal prolapse.”

Jennifer Saunders

Equestrian: “I do like showjumping. Or rather, I like watching others showjump. I recently became ambassador for the sport so I’ll be supporting the jumping and eventing teams, and horse sports in general. My top tip: we might get golds in dressage. I will, of course, be taking most of the credit.”

Eddie Mair

Gymnastics: “The gymnastics has no real peer. Are there more finely honed athletes? That stuff where they can hold themselves up on the rings, or swivel around on that horsey thing. I used to imagine that I, too, could manage that but I get breathless bending down to put on my trainers.”

Matt Baker

Gymnastics: “My whole life was gymnastics. I was British squad junior, British champion and all the coaches teaching the GB squad now were my coaches. So it’s very close to my heart. I didn’t make an Olympic team, but I can put myself in their gym shoes and know how it feels to get up and swing those bars.”

Rob Brydon

Beach Volleyball: “I haven’t got Olympics tickets. It’s in east London, you see, and I live in Teddington, and the thought of that journey across London… Although if someone gave me tickets to the women’s beach volleyball I’d gladly walk to Horse Guards Parade. In fact I would probably run there.”

Michael Parkinson

Rowing: “I used to be fleet of foot when I was younger and represented my school as a sprinter. But if I could be one sportsman, I’d be Roger Federer. He defines what a sportsman should be, but I don’t think tennis should be an Olympic sport. I’m going to see the rowing though, now there’s a sport!”

Julie Walters

Athletics: “I love the sprints. The 100m final is pure theatre so I won’t miss that. Sprinting is close to my heart because I was once a 200m county champion. I couldn’t have made a career out of it; I was so nervous, I used to throw up before the race and immediately afterwards. Not pretty!”

Katie Derham

Synchronised Swimming: “I used to be a synchronised swimmer. But all that has remained from my school days in the synchronised swimming squad is a pathetic attempt at recreating some of the moves in the pool when I am on holiday. I am not at all sporty but I could do a dolphin!”

Dara O’Briain

Women’s Boxing: “There’s a woman from Ireland, Katie Taylor. She’s our greatest hope because she’s the world champion. She’s already in the quarter-finals so we’re one fight from a medal. She’s from my town in Ireland, too: Bray. On Twitter I’ve tried to popularise #braygirlintheringtralalalala”

Sue Perkins

Athletics: “I absolutely adore a relay – a 4x400m or a 4x100m. It’s so exciting because there’s so much that can go wrong, so much jeopardy. But when it goes right, it’s poetry. I like the tactics of who’s going to race first, second, third and fourth. All drama is there in the relay.”

Sir Bruce Forsyth

Athletics: 4x100m relay: “It sounds simple, just handing the baton from one person to another. That’s all they have to do. But I’m always so worried about whether they’ll manage it. How they don’t end up in a pile I’ll never know. Our guys just need a little bit of luck and we’re in with a real chance.”

Alan Titchmarsh

Diving: “I’m going to the high-diving final. I can’t wait to support our athletes and I hope the rest of the country does the same rather than whining about it. When you’ve got somebody who’s good at a particular sport, you get a bit more interested in it – so fingers crossed for Tom Daley.”

Michel Roux Jr


Men’s Marathon: “As a keen runner, I’ll be looking forward to the marathon – I’ve run 18 in my time. I’m not really into these speed merchants who do 100m, 200m… To me, that’s not running; just look at their bodies – they could be weightlifters. Real running only starts at the 800m mark.”


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