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Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Over the next few weeks the Olympic Games will throw up numerous defining sporting moments that will be looked back on and remembered for years to come.
But what are the people of Norfolk’s defining Olympic memories. Amy Fordham and Emily Lunn found out.
British journalist and ITV news reader Jonathan Wills said that one of his favourite memories came in 2004 in Athens when Kelly Holmes won two gold medals.
He said: “When the torch came to London and I had the chance to run with it, this was a good memory for me. As a sports correspondent at the time in 2004, I covered all of the games and was able to be at the closing ceremony to watch Kelly Holmes receive her gold medal.”
Jon Thaxton, former English professional lightweight boxer who held European and British lightweight boxing titles in a 17-year career, recalled Britain’s youngest Olympic boxing medallist, Amir Khan, also in the 2004 Athens Olympics.
He said: “When Khan won the silver in the Olympics that was so good to see, a 17-year-old kid - I never thought we’d end up becoming rivals though. Hopefully we will get more people like that in this years Olympics. I will be watching out for Anthony Ogogo from Lowestoft, I have done a lot of training with him, he cracked my ribs.”
For Tonya Knights, Olympic torchbearer and founder of Let’s Do It Anyway charity, from Badersfield, the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games are particularly memorable for the intense rivalry between Steve Ovett and Sebastian Coe. As a middle distance runner herself she said the two athletes “completely inspired me”.
Dean Ashton, former Norwich City striker, said that Michael Johnson in 1986 was a memory that definitely stood out for him. Johnson was considered to be one of the greatest long sprinters in the history of track and field.
He said: ”Without a doubt Michael Johnson was the one with the most swagger in 1996. His 200 metre sprint with his gold shoes on, it was great to see someone who is that far ahead in their field. Michael did it last time; Usain Bolt will do it this time.”
BBC Radio Norfolk’s Matt Gudgin said: “Athens in 2004, Kelly Holmes in the 800 and 1500 metres for Great Britain. In the run up to the games she was suffering with depression, but she stayed up there and came up from behind all the rest. She won two golds and made Dame after that, she ran excellently and won in such dramatic style, what an inspiration – what happens in the Olympic stadium really does resonate.”
Neil Adams, ex-Norwich footballer and radio presenter, remembered the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games. Sally Gunnell’s success in the 400m hurdles and Linford Christie’s victory in the 100m sprint were defining moments for him as both athletes exceeded their prediction as second favourite.
Event fundraiser of NNAB and former Norwich City Football club legend, Jeremy Goss was excited to talk about his hero Sebastian Coe.
He said: “A great memory for me was when my one greatest ever heroes Sebastian Coe beat Steve Ovett. Sebastian was running so well, what a great athlete, the way he trained really inspired me, especially when I read about how he devoted his life to his training. When he touched that finishing line I was so, so pleased for him.”
Director of Active Norfolk, Laurie Hull remembered Robert Beamon at the 1968 Mexico Olympics as he secured his world record in long jump.
He said: “Rob Beamon jumped about five yards, it was never explained how he did it – it was fantastic. Something else that sticks out in my mind was the black power salutes in the sixties and Anita Lonsbrough swimming in Rome.”
Here’s what the people of Norwich said:
Claire Herd, 42, from North Walsham, was particularly inspired by Daley Thompson, gold medallist in the decathlon. She was impressed by the range of his sporting talent, and describes him as ‘really good at everything,’ and an ‘inspiring, decent chap’.
Luke Nelson, 18, from Loddon, remembered how impressed he was with the opening ceremony for the 2008 Bejing Olympics. He desribed the illuminated Olympic rings in the floor of the stadium as ‘incredible’.
Duncan Bush, 67, from Norwich, particularly enjoyed watching the Olympic Torch relay in Norwich in early July. He is especially interested in the cycling events, and hopes for a British success.
David Bean, 69, from Norwich, was impressed with Steve Ovett as he ‘tried his heart out’. He also remembers Herb Elliott for his gruelling training regime of sprinting up sand dunes, and his subsequent victory in the 1500m at the 1960 Rome Olympics.
Mark Billham, 71, from St Faith, described London 2012 as ‘fantastic for the country’. He feels that the Olympic Torch relay has ‘caught the imagination of the country’ and is hopeful that the games will create a positive legacy for Britain. He hopes that the opening ceremony on Friday will compare with that of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, which stood out for him as it was ‘so polished, without a hitch’.
Evelyn Gardner, 83, who was visiting Norwich, said that she loved the Olympics and is ‘fond of the athletics and the gymnastics’. A dramatic moment for her was Linford Christie’s victory in the 100m at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
The impressive career of the gold medallist Steven Redgrave, has particularly inspired Anthony Kwissa, 52, from Melton Constable. Daley Thompson and Sebastian Coe are also sporting heroes for him. What he most enjoys about the Olympics is the social nature of the event, and describes it as ‘humanity at its best’.