London 2012: the alternative medals

Competing in our own special Olympics categories, Usain Bolt only manages bronze, while Stambolova and Feck get gold and silver...

We’re rightfully proud of Team GB’s Olympic medals haul, and understandably in awe of living legends like Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps. But the Games are not just about who came first, second or third, they’re about the memorable moments created by all the paricipants – whether intentional or not.
So in that spirit of inclusivity, here are the medals would award following London 2012, in our own specially chosen categories…


Name of the Games
Vania Stambolova

Her name was Stambolova. She competed in the 400m hurdles. There could only be one outcome (see left).
Stephan Feck

Alright, so he’s not Irish but still, Feck will have been cursing this performance, aware that diving judges are looking for as little splash as possible on entry…

Edith Bosch

If Edith Bosch hadn’t dealt with the man who threw a bottle onto the track ahead of the 100m final, Edna Biffy and Dorothy Kerpow were waiting to step in.

Emotional commentary

Seán Bán Breathnach

For all the emotion pouring out of British fans when GB won a gold, not much compared to the reaction when Katie Taylor took the women’s lightweight boxing title for Ireland. Check out this Raidio na Gaeltachta commentary – no, we don’t know what he’s saying but you get the message.

Steve Cram, Brendan Foster, Colin Jackson and Denise Lewis

Steve Cram calls Mo Farah home for gold number two in the 5,000m: “Beautiful!” You can see what it means to Cram and Brendan Foster – not to mention Denise Lewis and Colin Jackson who are going potty in the presenters’ box.

Alan Green and Victoria Derbyshire

GB’s first gold, for rowers Helen Glover and Heather Stanning, on day 5: listen for the moment towards the end when grumpy Alan Green starts to waver with emotion. Then Victoria Derbyshire gleefully screams the news to cycling fans at Hampton Court.

Proud parents

Bert Le Clos

For a while on the evening of Day 4, Bert – whose “beautiful boy” Chad had just shocked Michael Phelps to win the men’s 200m butterfly – was the media star of the Games, and rightly so.

David and Carol Hoy

Chris Hoy’s mum, unable to watch him win a record sixth gold medal, is cute enough. But then Mum and Dad hurriedly get out a banner they’ve made for the occasion, like they were ordinary fans. Lovely.

Mr and Mrs Raisman

Living through their daughter, and apparently in excruciating pain throughout, these gymnasts’ folks are mighty relieved when she “sticks” the landing – watch to the end for Dad’s celebration.

Image problem

Olympic ring spectacles

A still from NBC’s coverage of the Games (taken by Twitter user @AlsBoy) gifts the unsuspecting athlete on the right with some rather attractive eyewear. Note that anyone trying to market these glasses will have the Locog brand enforcement team to deal with.

The Singapore water polo team

There’s nothing funny about the design of these trunks or the fact that they’re paired with those bonnets. What’s this doing in this category…?

Usain Bolt

A fan tries to photograph Bolt in a moment of triumph, but has his camera set to the wrong shutter speed… or is it, as he says, the right shutter speed?


Robbie Harting

After securing Olympic gold, German discus thrower Robbie Harting had a Hulk moment, ripping off his shirt and completing an impromptu hurdles session. But the celebrations didn’t end there, as Harting hit the town, partied on a cruise ship, got robbed of his Olympic accreditation and snoozed till dawn at a train station. Top that!

Mo Farah

The “Mo-bot” – Mo Farah’s iconic victory celebration – has a celebrity following. Invented by BBC commentator Clare Balding and named by James Corden, it was adopted by Usain Bolt as he cruised to victory in the 4x100m relay.

Usain Bolt

Bolt’s own victory pose was iconic even before the Games began, but he went a step further after his 200m victory, dropping to the track to do press-ups before grabbing a camera from a member of the press and snapping shots of fellow Jamaican and silver medallist Yohan Blake.


Hammadou Djibo Issaka

Hailing from the land-locked country of Niger, and having taken up rowing just three months previously, 35-year-old Issaka always had the odds stacked against him. But his heroic completion of the 2,000m race almost two minutes behind the winner drew huge support from the crowd and won him the nickname “Issaka the Otter”.

Jennet Saryyeva

The Turkmenistani swimmer finished one minute and 18 seconds behind the rest of the field in her 400m freestyle heat. “They’re cheering the person who’s losing more than the person that’s won,” noted the BBC commentator. “It’s a British thing, isn’t it?”

Sarah Attar

Yes, she finished over 30 seconds behind the nearest competitor in her 800m heat at the Olympic Stadium, but clad in long sleeves and trousers and wearing a hood that covered her hair, Muslim Sarah Attar ran into the history books as the first woman from Saudi Arabia ever to compete in the Games.

PR disaster

Hampden Park organisers

Kicking off your first Olympic Games in almost 70 years by getting a nation’s flag wrong is bad enough, but when the mix-up is between two countries that are officially still at war, you’re in gold medal territory. The North Korean women’s football team walked off the pitch at Hampden Park in Glasgow when their players were introduced to the crowd alongside the banner of the Republic of Korea.

Madhura Nagendra

Bangalore student Madhura Nagendra was among the volunteers who helped out at the Olympic Opening Ceremony but got a little carried away and decided to take part, joining the Indian athletes as they marched around the stadium. After angry Indian team officials demanded an apology, Nagendra admitted she had made “an error of judgement”.

Royal Mail


Along with every gold medal-winning member of Team GB, cyclist Laura Trott was entitled to a gold postbox in her home town. So when Royal Mail repainted a pillar box in Harlow, Essex, rather than Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, where she’d grown up, Trott rallied her Twitter followers to alert them to the error. She now joins Andy Murray (Dunblane and Wimbledon) as one of the only two British athletes with a pair of gold post boxes.