Sport / Feature

Relive the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games

Here are our favourite moments, eight years on from that incredible summer of sport.

Taking place every four years, nothing quite makes a summer like a summer Olympic Games.

While we may have to wait an extra year to see Tokyo host what will surely be one of the most unique and extraordinary tournaments of a generation, take a look back at that magical summer as we remember the best of London 2012.


The Olympic torch relay

Some of the most heartwarming scenes of the Olympic Games actually came before the tournament started, as the Olympic flame toured the country before making its way to the opening ceremony.

Joyous scenes were repeated all across the UK as crowds lined the streets to watch the world-famous symbol of the Olympics throughout May and June. Around 8,000 torchbearers carried the flame, handing it over to the next along the route.

Famous faces such as Sir Bobby Charlton, Joanna Lumley, Sir Bruce Forsyth and Patrick Stewart were chosen to be torchbearers alongside members of the public, who had been picked due to their services to their local community.

The flame then made the final leg of its journey to the Olympic Stadium down the river Thames on a speedboat piloted by David Beckham and carried by Jade Bailey, before Steve Redgrave triumphantly marched it into the Olympic Stadium at the opening ceremony.


The Opening Ceremony

After watching Beijing’s spectacular opening and closing ceremonies in 2008, the question on most fans lips remained: “How on earth are we going to follow that?”

The answer? Employ beloved British director Danny Boyle and let his imagination run wild.

Widely heralded as a triumph, notable highlights from the opening ceremony included The Queen parachuting into the stadium with James Bond, Mr Bean accompanying the London Symphony Orchestra for Chariots Of Fire, the NHS tribute – which is obviously very poignant at the moment – and the forging and coming together of the Olympic rings.

You can watch the whole thing below:


Super Saturday

On the evening of 4 August 2012, Team GB had already won three gold medals in rowing and cycling, but the most memorable moments came in the Olympic Stadium where the team won three golds in 44 magical minutes, courtesy of Greg Rutherford (Long Jump), Jess Ennis (Heptathlon) and Mo Farrah (10,000m)

Watch the incredible highlights below:


The London atmosphere

There was a lot of talk pre-games about London not embracing the Olympics – including rumours of a mass exodus and hearsay that locals were subletting their homes for obscene amounts – but this could not have been further from the truth.

During the games, the city shone and visitors from all across the globe were welcomed with open arms, shaking off any perceptions that Londoners were an unfriendly bunch.

Competing athletes were also keen to get a taste of the London atmosphere, with Team USA’s star basketball players – including LeBron James and Kobe Bryant – spotted taking the tube from the Olympic Park to their hotel.


The Games Makers

Speaking of atmosphere, a large part of the success of London 2012 was due to its Games Makers – a 70,000 strong army of volunteers without whom the games just wouldn’t have been possible.

With the role of making sure fans have a great and safe time, and donning their distinctive purple and red uniforms, the volunteers were a constant source of unbridled enthusiasm and humour on London’s streets. They quickly became the beating heart of the most extraordinary few weeks.


Bert Le Clos

And the gold medal for being the most enthusiastic parent of an athlete goes to… Bert Le Clos.

The public really took Bert to the heart following his excitable and emotional interview with Clare Balding, after his son Chad took home gold medal win for South Africa in the 200m butterfly event.

Watch below:


Andy Murray cries tears of joy

What a difference a month makes.

In July, the world watched on as an emotional Murray lost his first-ever Wimbledon final to Roger Federer, breaking down in tears in his post-match interview.

At the summer Olympics in August, Murray’s tears would signify something totally different. Beating the Swiss legend in straight sets, Andy became the first British man in over 100 years to win a singles gold medal at the Olympics.

Later that day, Murray added a silver medal to his collection in the mixed doubles tournament alongside Laura Robson.


Ellie Simmonds wins the hearts of the nation

After the first two weeks of action, the attention triggered by the Olympic Games carried over to the Paralympic Games, where Britain’s athletes took their chance to make their country proud.

One of the country’s biggest success stories was swimmer Ellie Simmonds who, at only 17, captured the nation’s hearts by winning two gold, a silver and a bronze medal.

Watch Ellie describe her journey into sport below:


The Velodrome

Whilst there were many iconic venues at London 2012, nothing could match the velodrome for atmosphere.

Purpose-built for the games, the velodrome’s roof reverberated the sound of the over 6,000 spectators cheering on the indoor cycling events.

Team GB dominated, taking home seven out of a possible ten gold medals, as well as one silver and one bronze. Athletes such as Chris Hoy, Geraint Thomas, Jason Kenny, Laura Trott and Victoria Pendleton became superstars.

The venue is now open to the public to use, its presence reminding everyone of that incredible summer and inspiring the next generation of Olympic hopefuls.


Wheelchair Rugby AKA Murderball

Often considered the most thrilling and brutal of the Paralympic sports – hence the Murderball nickname – Wheelchair Rugby is mixed gender and is renowned for the crunching tackles and relentlessly fast pace.

The sport proved to be hugely popular at the London Paralympic Games, with the Australian team taking home gold.


Katherine Grainger proves why you should never give up

After winning silver medals in four consecutive Olympics, it was on home soil where British rowing legend Katherine Grainger finally took home gold, winning the Double Sculls event with her partner Anna Watkins. The victory also made Grainger Britain’s most decorated female Olympian ever.

Watch Grainger talk about the achievement, as well as London 2012’s legacy below:


The free events

Whilst the London 2012 ticket scramble was real, the city also boasted loads of areas to watch the action unfold for free.

The public also congregated in their thousands to watch the action on big screens at BT London Live in Hyde Park, Victoria Park and Trafalgar Square, giving those who weren’t lucky enough to get their hands on the coveted tickets their chance to be part of the Games, and to soak in the electrifying atmosphere.


The Closing Ceremony

Britain waved goodbye to the Olympic Games with a three-hour epic featuring some of the greatest ever music that’s come out of the country.

Highlights of the show included the Spice Girls performing on top of London’s iconic black cabs, One Direction and Ed Sheeran both performing just before they became global superstars, Brian May and Jesse J bringing Queen’s biggest hits to life, Fatboy Slim raving on a giant inflatable Octopus, Beady Eye performing Wonderwall, and The Who closing the show in style at the Olympic Stadium which was filled with all of the competing athletes and thousands of fans.

Watch the whole thing below:


For more from the world of sport, explore our Sport Guide.

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