2012 London Olympics: Top 10 Memories, Part One

London did the Olympics bigger than life, like this huge Five Rings logo that floated in the River Thames.

John Scott Lewinskiby John Scott Lewinski

More than a week has gone by since the London 2012 Olympics, and the city is well on its way to completing preparations for the follow-up 2012 Paralympics.

Covering the London 2012 Olympics was easily the best working experience of this reporter’s life. Before I file all of the photos away and close the book on my recollections of the Summer Games, my final story on this athletics adventure through Great Britain’s capital city takes a look back at the Top 10 Memories of the Olympic fortnight.

Here are recollections 10 through six:

10) The Sponsors: The Olympics went corporate decades ago, but the official sponsors now dominate the landscape during the Games. The Olympic Park’s Brand Exclusion Zone. Within the Park and for one kilometer in every direction, no advertising was allowed except for approved branded sponsors.

More importantly, I wanted to mention my personal “sponsors.” Obviously, CraveOnline paid a lot of the freight of getting me here. But other companies chipped in to get me from Point A to B in as good a shape as possible. The Gillette Fusion ProGluide Styler razor kept me looking professional and never needed a blade replacement for the three weeks I was in the UK. Harley-Davidson chipped in a 2012 Fat Bob for my transportation. I used an Olympus Olympus PEN Lite E-PL3 SLR for all of my Olympic photos. And, a Scosche switchBACK surge G4 kept my iPhone safe with a little extra charge.

9) The Media: There was press from more than 100 countries on site in London to cover the more than 200 countries competing in the Games. I heard an endless variety of languages at the London Media Centre as reporters wrote, recorded, broadcast and phoned in their Olympic stories.

Unfortunately, some reporters can be jaded, spoiled and whiny. Every time I heard journalists complain about how tired they were or how badly they wanted to get out of London when the competition was over, I took it upon myself to remind them they weren’t exactly digging ditches getting paid to cover the world’s greatest sporting event in London.

8) The Olympic Park: If there was one area where the collective human masses could feel a little overwhelming, it was the massive Olympic Park. Home to the Olympic Stadium, the Velodrome and other primary Olympic venues, the Olympic Park measured more than 246 hectares – enough space to encompass 357 football fields. It took 700 million manpower hours by more than 30,000 construction professionals and engineers to complete it.

Once you got off the Tube at either West Ham or Stratford, it was still an hour’s walk to whatever Park event I had to cover.

7) BBC Coverage: I’ll preface this with an unavoidable and indisputable fact. NBC Sports absolutely butchered its coverage of the Olympics. Whether it was the ridiculous and unnecessary tape delaying of multiple athletic events or the savage editing of the Closing Ceremonies to make time for some crap sitcom about a monkey, NBC put the “ugh” in ugly American. The sheer ignorance of many NBC commentators not knowing British history or the ins and outs of Olympic events in London was pitiful.

Those shortcomings became even more obvious if you got a chance to watch the thorough, informative and even-tempered coverage served up in BBC1. While there was plenty of Team GB jingoism in the Brit coverage, they were just as eager to hype the achievements of Michael Phelps and the American Swim Team, Usain Bolt or Blade Runner Oscar Pistorius.

6) Opening and Closing Ceremonies: Danny Boyle and company got the London Games off to a momentous and entertaining start with the huge opening ceremonies. I know many American viewers didn’t always understand what was going on, but how could they with NBC not bothering – or not being able – to explain many of the references. But the opening show set the playful, pro-British tone of London 2012.

The Closing Ceremonies were just a big party – a multi-faceted concert that passed the Olympic Torch to Brazil. The Who served as a grand finale, but many Americans would never know that thanks to NBC’s devotion to its lousy primetime lineup.


Be sure to visit 2012 London Olympics: Top 10 Memories, Part Two.