Inside Lines: Sir Brad, Dame Jess? Where the gongs will go
The column that runs rings round the rest
Sunday 12 August 2012
After the curtain finally comes down on London's sensational show tonight you can bet they'll be dishing out as many gongs as there have been gold medals – Sir Brad, Sir Ben, Dame Jess and maybe even Baroness Victoria, plus quite a few fistfuls of CBEs, OBEs and MBEs.
I expect Sir Keith Mills, Locog's deputy chair, to be elevated to the peerage and there has to be a knighthood for the chief executive, Paul Deighton, who has been the lynchpin of the whole operation.
The ex-Goldman Sachs man is surely one banker not held in opprobrium. He has even bucked the trend of his former trade by not taking his annual bonus, of £220,125, which he donates to charity. "Hiring him was the best move I ever made," Lord Coe told me.
He's right. While Coe led the line, Deighton anchored the vital midfield operation brilliantly, and I believe his expertise, like that of a score of others in the Locog team, will be extensively tapped by Rio, who stage the next Games in 2016.
But what can we give Coe?
As he happens to be the chairman of the Sports Honours Committee, Coe will supervise the list of those who are to receive awards, and this is one occasion when he can afford to be generous.
But what of His Lordship himself? What do you give the man who has everything?
He is already a peer and a knight (he was made a KBE in 2006 in recognition of London winning the bid), so no doubt the powers that be will be scratching their heads as to how best to reward him. One idea is to make him a Companion of Honour alongside the likes of Sir Ian McKellen, Dame Judi Dench and the Queen herself. He would be the first person from sport to receive this honour.
One other possibility is him becoming a Knight of the Garter, but there is speculation that he could go even higher and receive the Order of Merit, which is limited to 24 living recipients and is regarded as the most prestigious honour of them all. Among the current holders is his former political boss Lady Thatcher.
Coe himself doesn't want – or expect – anything. Lord he may be, but lord it he doesn't, and he never wants to be known as anything other than plain Seb.
Whatever, hasn't the lad done well?
Woman could jump IOC hurdle
Ladies first, and so often foremost, in 2012, which doubtless delights the outgoing IOC president, Jacques Rogge. His own valedictory speech will come at the closing ceremony after Boris, hopefully behaving himself, hands over the Olympic flag to the mayor of Rio. Then a fight as intense as any we have witnessed at the ExCeL begins to find a successor next year, with pressure for a continental change after three successive Europeans (Lord Killanin, Juan Antonio Samaranch and Rogge).
Two Asians, the international amateur boxing chief Dr CK Wu and Singapore's former yachtsman and diplomat Ser Miang Ng, are contenders. The German Thomas Bach remains favourite, but could we see the biggest breakthrough of all for women?
There is growing support for the iconic Moroccan ex-hurdler Nawal El Moutawakel, 50, who famously was the first Muslim woman to become an Olympic champion in 1984 and is now one of the most prominent and active members of the largely rich old boys' club that is the IOC.
Plastic Brits melt in the heat
Who are the biggest losers of the Games – apart from the abysmal US men's boxing team, which failed to win a medal for the first time in Olympic history?
I nominate the Brits – the Plastic variety, that is. That fistful of controversial carpetbaggers seem to have sunk without a trace. So next time the question should be simple: who needs them? Let's stick to True Brits, eh?
Public should clap themselves
The question I've been asked most often after 12 Olympics: are these the best you've attended? Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner that I'm tempted to say yes, though I still have a lingering affection for Sydney.
Best of all here, I think, has been the response of the public, with ever-smiling faces everywhere and a genuinely welcoming, infectious warmth among volunteers and Games Makers that matched that in Sydney and occasionally even surpassed it.
Like the girl soldier drafted in after duty in Afghanistan, who at a security checkpoint told my young grandson that before he passed through the X-ray machine he must take a fitness test. "Arms stretch, knees bend," she ordered smilingly. "You've got to show me how fit you are before we let you in to watch the Olympics."
Another whispered to my granddaughter to walk through backwards: "Go on, just for a laugh." A gold for good humour. Well played London.
Adams wins over more opponents
Nicola Adams has fought her way into Games history and the nation's hearts by winning the first women's boxing gold medal. She also seems to have won over many sceptics who disliked the idea of ladies who punch, among them, I suspect, Amir Khan.
He watched Adams in action at the ExCeL, explaining the finer points to the PM, but the last time I saw him when a women's bout was featured there a couple of years ago he wasn't actually watching, but had his head in Boxing News. He wasn't a fan, he admitted. Times change, as have the Boxing Writers' Club, with a timely lifting of their 60-year ban on women attending their annual dinner. Be my guest, Nicola.
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