News - Olympic Games

The prized Olympic and Paralympic medals are now under lock and key at the Tower of London, where the Crown Jewels are kept under armed guard.

The next time the coveted gold, silver and bronze prizes will be seen in public is when they are draped around the necks of the winning athletes at the London 2012. They will stay in secure vaults at the Tower of London until then.

The winners of the men's and women’s 10m air pistol should be the first athletes to receive their medals.

The medals were taken down to the vaults by London 2012 chairman Lord Coe and Jan du Plessis, chairman of mining company Rio Tinto which is in charge of mining the precious metals for the medals.

Lord Co, who is a two-time Olympic 1500m gold medallist, said: “For an athlete, winning an Olympic or Paralympic medal represents the conclusion of thousands of hours of training and reaching the highest level in sport.

“The victory ceremonies then provide the moment they can truly celebrate their success. It’s great that the London 2012 medals will be kept safe and secure at the Tower of London until then.'

Rio Tinto handed over the medals for safekeeping at a special ceremony where a fanfare by the trumpeters of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Collingwood hailed their arrival.

The Tower’s famous Yeoman Warders and 150 east London children from schools which are part of London 2012’s Get Set educational network were also in attendance.

A total of 4,700 medals are to be awarded in 805 victory ceremonies that will take place in over 30 London 2012 venues.

Olympics minister Hugh Robertson noted: 'To the athletes competing to win these medals they are as precious as the Crown Jewels, so it is fitting that they should be stored for safe keeping in the same iconic location.'

Over eight tonnes of gold, silver and copper has been extracted and refined to make the medals.

The hard-fought-for medals will be priceless to the athletes who get to take them home but, despite the price of gold having soared in the recession-hit years since the 2008 Beijing Games, the sporting treasures are not made of pure gold.

The top prize is made up of 92.5 per cent silver, 1.34 per cent gold while the remainder is copper. It contains a minimum of 6g of gold. The silver medal is 92.5 per cent silver and the rest is copper.

Bronze medallists win medals that are made up of 97 per cent copper, 2.5 per cent zinc and 0.5 per cent tin.

The medals started life as ore dug up on opposite sides of the world - at Rio Tinto’s Kennecott Utah Copper Mine near Salt Lake City in the US and from its Oyu Tolgoi project in Mongolia.

The Olympic medals have been designed by artist David Watkins and the
Paralympic medals were by Lin Cheung, jewellery artist and senior lecturer in jewellery design at Central Saint Martin’s College of Arts and Design.

The Olympic medals’ circular form is a metaphor for the world. The front of the medal always depicts the same imagery at the summer Games - the Greek Goddess of Victory, Nike, stepping out of the depiction of the Parthenon to arrive in the host city.

The front of the Paralympic medal represents spirit in motion. The image struck into the other side is an imagined close-up section of an outstretched wing of Goddess of Victory, Nike.

This is to represent forward flight, power and lightness - a natural metaphor for the spirit of the Paralympic Games.

The medals are being held in a vault that is below ground and secured with a unique barcoded seal.
It can only be opened in the presence of a London 2012 guardian who is a security-cleared official.

-Sportsmail Reporter


CALGARY -- Two of Canada's greatest hurdlers saw their Olympic dreams come to a crushing end Saturday.

Priscilla Lopes-Schliep and Perdita Felicien both failed to qualify for Canada's team bound for London in a dramatic women's 100-metre hurdles final that saw heptathlete Jessica Zelinka emerge the winner.

"I've dusted off. I'm not going to let it get the better of me. Everything happens for a reason," said Lopes-Schliep, who was considered one of Canada's top hopes for a medal in London -- her face is even on a Cheerios box as part of an Olympic promo.

The 2008 Olympic bronze medallist from Whitby, Ont., and the world's fifth-fastest hurdler this season, needed only a top-three finish at the Olympic track and field trials to make the squad. But she finished fifth after crashing into the seventh hurdle and nearly reeling into another lane, prompting a gasp from the fans packed into the stands at Foothills Athletics Park.

Felicien, a former world champion who had tasted Olympic heartbreak twice already, was disqualified for a false start.

"It's not difficult (to accept), because I've had a really long career, a really successful career I don't define myself by Olympic medals or Olympic moments," Felicien said. "They're wonderful, they're beautiful, that's the epitome of our sport. And that's where I want to be. I feel I deserve to be there, but who deserves what?"

Zelinka, from London, Ont., raced to a career-best 12.68 seconds. Phylicia George of Markham, Ont., won the silver medal in 12.72, while Nikkita Holder of Pickering, Ont., captured bronze in 12.80. The top three finishers had the Olympic standard, so barring any further appeals, they should be the trio named to Canada's team on Sunday.

Lopes-Schliep had the potential to be one of the biggest feel-good stories of the Games. The 29-year-old, whose likeness has been splashed across media and marketing campaigns in the months leading up to London, was the world No. 1-ranked hurdler in 2010 and claimed the prestigious Diamond League title that season before taking a year off to become a mom. Her daughter Nataliya was born in September.

"It's a hurdle race, and unfortunately I hit a hurdle really hard and I wasn't able to recover from it," Lopes-Schliep said. "It's disappointing. You want to go out there, you want to give your best. I felt really good. And unfortunately Hurdle 7 got the better of me.

"Darn Hurdle 7," Lopes-Schliep added, with a sad laugh.

Felicien raced under protest and crossed third, just ahead of Holder. The 31-year-old from Pickering, Ont., who crashed in the final of the 2004 Olympics and missed the 2008 Games with a foot injury, appealed her disqualification based on the noise of the crowd at the start, but it was denied about 45 minutes later by a technical committee.

"Unfortunately it's a race of nerves, it's a race of milli-seconds, and breaths and heartbeats, one person laughs, one person coughs, one person's clapping, or cheering for somebody else at the wrong moment, it sets you off," Felicien said. "It's like you're on a gun ready to be cocked and let go, and I got the short end of the stick today. No excuses, my fault."

The 30-year-old Zelinka capped a stunning week with her hurdles victory, which came two days after she won the heptathlon in a Canadian-record performance.

Zelinka, who was fifth in Beijing and then took a year off to become a mom -- her daughter Anika is three -- let out a shriek when she crossed the line.

"It's so exciting," Zelinka said. "To be able to do that and perform on demand like that, it's an amazing feeling. It would be ridiculous if I didn't want to replicate that in London."

Zelinka will compete in both heptathlon and hurdles in London, but her decision to double came after a talk with her coach. Plus a good cry. Accepting a spot in the hurdles meant leaving another hurdler at home.

"This is a horrible situation," she said through tears, before finally making her decision to double in London. "There was no good outcome really. I ran a super-good, world class time. I wanted to be in this position now that I'm here I don't know."

Her coach Les Gramantik urged her to do both events in London, saying she deserved it.

"At some point you have to look at, 'Did you earn it? Yes. Are you better than everybody?' Yes. It's not a Salvation Army here," Gramantik said. "Friendship or not, the reality is life goes on. She proved she's better than anyone else right now."

Asked how he feels Zelinka will fare in the hurdles in London, the coach said: "She's not going to win a medal in 100 metre hurdles. Well, maybe. Maybe I'm wrong. I hope. I was wrong twice. I was married twice."

Earlier in the day, Dylan Armstrong won the men's shot put title to cement his spot on the Olympic team for London.

Armstrong, who needed only a top-three finish to clinch an Olympic spot, threw 21.29 metres, despite a slick throwing circle that had the field of throwers complaining. At one point, the world silver medallist turned to another athlete and said "The throwing circle is brutal, man. It's a sheet of glass."

The distance was well off his Canadian-record toss of 22.21 he threw at last year's national championships in Calgary.

"Today was just about having fun and giving the people here a chance to look and see what we do," said Armstrong, one of Canada's top hopes for a medal in London. "I was really happy with the result, it was a bit challenging with the circle, it was definitely a lot slicker than last year. I think everybody had to make some technical adjustments today, but I'm definitely happy where I'm at right now."

Justin Rodhe, also of Kamloops, was second with 20.30, while Tim Nedow of Brockville, Ont., threw 20.21 for bronze.

Like Armstrong, Rodhe had achieved the Olympic qualifying standard and needed only a top-three finish at the trials to clinch a spot on the London-bound squad.

Rachel Seaman of Peterborough, Ont., and Inaki Gomez of Vancouver were among other athletes who clinched their spots Saturday, Seaman in the women's 10,000-metre racewalk, Inaki in the men's racewalk.

Alex Genest of Lac-aux-Sables, Que., won the men's 3,000-metre steeplechase to earn his berth in London, while hammer throwers Heather Steacy of Lethbridge, Alta., and Sultana Frizell of Perth, Ont., finished 1-2 to clinch their spots on the squad.

-Lori Ewing, Canadian Press


Muse to release new track for the GamesThe London 2012 Organising Committee (LOCOG) has announced today that spectators attending the Games will be treated to a programme of innovative sport presentation.

In an announcement to mark one month until the Olympic Games, LOCOG has revealed plans to entertain and educate spectators, reflecting the London 2012 vision of connecting more young people with sport.

A unique music programme called ‘Rock the Games’ is being created for the Olympic Games, featuring live performances and exclusive new recorded tracks from various artists.

Entertainment programme

Five official songs have been composed for ‘Rock The Games’ led by chart-topping band Muse, whose track 'Survival' will be played at various sport sessions. The other four official songs are by Elton John vs Pnau, Delphic, Chemical Brothers and Dizzee Rascal.

Elsewhere, Scissor Sisters and Rizzle Kicks are just two of the artists that are set to play surprise gigs at Olympic venues. There will also be exciting performances from military marching bands and dancers including the English National Ballet, as well as sport demonstration shows.

A music library of 2,012 songs with five music themes – energy, primetime, extreme, heritage and world stage – has been compiled and will be used during the Games.

Expert analysis

Films will be shown before each session allowing spectators to get an overview of the sport in a dynamic and engaging way.

All venues will have presenters who will act as anchors in venues, guiding the spectators through all the key sporting elements. There will be a mixture of established presenters including Ben Shephard and Gethin Jones, as well as up-and-coming talent such as Aissetou N’gom.

A number of venues will also have in-ear commentary radios available, giving access to live expert analysis of the competition.

LOCOG Director of Sport Debbie Jevans said: ‘Inspiring people to engage with sport has always been central to our vision. There are 26 Olympic sports and many people will be seeing these for the first time so we will explain some of the intricacies in an innovative and informative way.

'We also want to ensure the way we present sport adds to the experience of the spectators in the venues and builds the atmosphere.’


EUGENE, Ore. -- They are two of the fastest men in the history of American track and field, yet not long ago, they seemed to be unlikely Olympians, two among many runners desperate to wear the uniform of the Games, but no closer than a dream.

There was Justin Gatlin, once the billboard face of his sport and then its disgraced outcast, four years away from the game while serving a suspension for steroid use.

There was Tyson Gay, who five years ago smoked Usain Bolt to win a world title but whose career seemed endangered by injuries.

Take them back just a few weeks ago. Gatlin was training on a track in central Florida. It was in the summer of 2006, not long after he equaled Asafa Powell's pre-Bolt world record in the 100 meters with a time of 9.77 seconds, that Gatlin was busted for steroids (for a transgression that he still feels was sabotage) and hit with a four-year suspension. But he came back, all the way to finish second in the U.S. nationals last summer. But he had run only 9.95 seconds, which might not have been good enough to make the Olympic team and certainly was nothing like what he had once been. He had turned 30 years old in February.

Gay had been training on that same track in Florida with his longtime coach, Lance Braumann, until he made his customary move to Texas in March to work with start specialist Jon Drummond. Gay had won the 100 meters and 200 meters at worlds in 2007 and run an American record of 9.69 seconds that was barely noticed because Bolt had already run a ridiculous 9.58. But Gay had missed most of the 2011 season with a torn labrum in his hip and undergone surgery in July of that year. Come April, he was still in pain.

"I was going through a lot of things, mentally,'' Gay said. "I had to try to block out a lot of negative thoughts about my hip.''

Asked if he would have envisioned making the Olympic team at that point, he said, "It would have been tough.''

So it was a moment flush with both the hazily familiar and the unexpected, blended together, when Gatlin crossed the line first and Gay second behind him Sunday in the finals of the 100 meters on day three of the U.S. Olympic trials in front of another record (and typically adoring) crowd at Hayward Field. Gatlin won the race is 9.80 seconds, the third-fastest time in the world in 2012 (Bolt has run 9.76 and 9.79) and Gay was behind him in 9.86, his best time since a suspect 9.79 in Florida last spring.

(Ryan Bailey was a surprise third in the race, a bittersweet moment enabled in part by an injury to Bailey's training partner, Walter Dix, who finished last in the final and hopes to recover for the 200 meters. Both are trained by John Smith.)

The finish announced that both Gatlin and Gay are back and nearly whole. "Surreal, surreal, surreal,'' said Gatlin, in a private interview with after his race. "I don't even have the time to feel emotional about it.''

Gay, who in a pre-race interview with a small group of reporters, talked about lingering pain in his hip and a scaled-back passion that could be satisfied by simply making the team, said, "I definitely feel a sense of relief. It's over with. Now I can go back to the weight room and train a little bit longer. Get my strength back.''

(Gay has run against -- and beaten -- the best sprinters of his generation, yet he said, "When I was in the blocks, I was shaking a little bit. My feet weren't completely on the pads.'' Asked how long it's been since he felt so nervous, he said, "It's been a while. It was nerves, man, jitters.'')

Gatlin had dominated the early rounds in Eugene and did likewise in the final, controlling the race from start to finish. His time puts him squarely in the medal mix in London, in position to break up a Jamaican sweep. "Running that race, it wasn't even my fastest,'' Gatlin said. "The last 20 meters, I just held my form and ran to the line.''

His name summons up strong emotions in the track and field community, where a vocal populace feels that even a four-year ban was not enough. I addressed this issue in a column from Eugene a year ago. This is the entire column, and this was my last line: His punishment was harsh and real, much worse than home run kings. It's time to commute the sentence. My thinking has not changed. Gatlin was punished hugely, and unless he's nailed again, that's over.

Veteran U.S. sprinter Doc Patton, who finished fifth in Sunday's final, said, "The man served his time and came back with reckless abandonment. He showed his class. Now he's showing that U.S. sprinting is a force to be reckoned with.''

Gatlin struggled to find words to describe what's happened. "I'm in uncharted territory, with everyone else who's trying to explain it,'' Gatlin said. "I'm just trying to go with the flow.''

His past -- and now present -- agent, former great U.S. hurdler Renaldo Nehemiah, who was not allowed to represent Gatlin during his ban but never stopped supporting him informally, said, "Think back to 2005 and 2006. Justin was always beating Tyson Gay. Maybe he would have run 9.69, but he lost those years. Now he's so hungry, and I want to be careful how I say this, but he's running angry.''

He's also running like the old Gatlin, and this is something that even Gatlin himself didn't feel until very recently.

"Maybe four weeks ago,'' he said. "I was doing some 80s and 70s with my coach (three-time U.S. Olympian Dennis Mitchell, who, alas, served a doping ban himself, providing more fuel for critics),'' Gatlin said. "The times I was running equated to 9.7s and 9.6s for 100 meters.''

NBC analyst and multiple Olympic sprint medalist Ato Boldon has watched Gatlin closely in his comeback. "I've seen technical changes,'' Boldon said. After Sunday's final, Gatlin explained one of them, made only in the last month. "My arm swing,'' he said. "I've been reconfiguring myself.'' (He formerly ran with a high, chopping arm action, typical of sprinters taught by the disgraced Trevor Graham, and by John Smith, whose style Graham emulated. Now Gatlin keeps his arms more compact, more like Mitchell did).

There is another side to Gatlin's redemption that sits alongside merely building speed. For more than 18 months after his reinstatement in the summer of 2010, he could not secure a shoe/apparel sponsor. He had formerly run for Nike, but they apparently feared association with his doping ban (or, possibly, didn't think he was running fast enough to move product).

So at the end of 2011, Gatlin signed a deal with a Chinese company named Xtep. He ran at trials in adidas spikes (which he paid his own money for), but Nehemiah said Xtep is developing a spike for Gatlin. Also, Nehemiah said Nike came forward in the spring, "but it was too little, too late.''

Also this: "Now that he's run 9.80, a lot of people would be interested.'' The Xtep deal is for five years.

For two summers, many meets refused to invite Gatlin to run. That, too, is changing. "Most of the Diamond Leagues will sign Justin now,'' Nehemiah said. "Not Zurich, but Lausanne, Paris, Brussels.''

And Gatlin insists that he is not finished. There are Olympic Games to run and Jamaican global superstars to challenge. "I don't think it's going to take just speed and power,'' said Gatlin. "It's going to take someone to say, 'These times are not my boundary. I can run faster.'''

Gay has already done that. But as late as that March period when he moved from Florida to Texas, he was barely training and had not approached world-class-level sprinting. "I know I'm the only one who knows what I've been through,'' he said. "Starting my training in March.'' (Usually top sprinters begin their summer training in the previous fall). "It feels good, knowing what I've been able to accomplish.''

In that late afternoon light at Hayward Field, sunny on this day and not rainy, he was asked about Gatlin. "I guess that's just about the biggest comeback,'' he said. But really, on this day, it was just a tie for that distinction.
The Tiebreaker

Long after the finish of the men's 100 meters on Sunday afternoon, USATF at last rendered its decision on the dead heat for third place in Saturday's women's 100-meter final between two-time Olympic 200-meter silver medalist Allyson Felix and her training partner, 22-year-old Jeneba Tarmoh.

In a long news release that can be accessed here, the organization outlined newly formed methods for breaking a third-place tie at trials. It remains unconscionable that no procedure was in place previously, and that nearly 24 hours passed between the dead heat and the announcement. But, moving on:

The new procedures mandate that tied athletes must independently choose either a) a coin flip or b) a runoff or decline to choose either one. If either one chooses a runoff, there will be a runoff. If both refuse to choose a method, there will be a coin flip. Another option is that one of the athletes could decline his or her position.

There is no deadline for the decision, but the U.S. team must be chosen by the end of competition Sunday. Bobby Kersee, who coaches both athletes, has expressed a strong preference to let Felix and Tarmoh run the 200 meters before making a decision. The 200 meters begins with qualifying on Thursday and concludes on Saturday evening.

There are many possibilities, but two are prominent: 1) There is, indeed, a 100-meter runoff race next Sunday at Hayward Field, on the last day of the trials. Or 2) Felix wins, or runs fast, in the 200 meters and declines her position, if Tarmoh doesn't make the team in the 200 meters. This latter decision is hardly easy for Felix; while she is a long shot to medal in the 100 meters, that event sets her up well for the 200.

In any case, a decision before late in the week seems highly unlikely.

-Tim Layden - Inside Track and Field


Volodymyr Gerashchenko (pictured), the former general secretary of the National Olympic Committee of Ukraine (NOCU), has been expelled after he was filmed by the BBC offering London 2012 tickets for cash on the black market.

The 65-year-old, who had held the senior position for 15 years, told an undercover reporter posing as a UK tout he would have as many as 100 tickets from Ukraine's allocation of 2,900 to sell.

A commission established by the NOCU President Sergey Bubka found he had "grossly violated the basic principles of Olympism".

Gerashchenko resigned last month after the report was broadcast on television, causing huge embarrassment to Bukba, who was forced to leave the annual SportAccord Convention in Quebec City early to fly home to Kiev to deal with the scandal.

A statement on the NOCU website said Gerashchenko would be excluded from the organisation for "violation of membership obligations".

Gerashchenko's expulsion coincides with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) asking Sochi 2014 to suspend their ticketing programme after they opened an Ethics investigation following allegations in Britain's Sunday Times newspaper that 27 officials and ticket sellers representing 54 countries were willing to offer London 2012 tickets on the black market for sale at inflated prices.

Olga Zhukovskaya, a member of the NOCU, claimed that Gerashchenko was drunk when the incident happeneded and he offered to sell the tickets, which is illegal in Britain and carries a penalty of up to a fine of £20,000 ($31,000/€25,000).

Zhukovskaya said Gerashchenko had been "in a state of inebriation" when he met the reporter.

Zhukovskaya claimed that Gerashchenko had not been in a position to sell tickets.

"We have found out that Gerashchenko did not have the power to negotiate on such matters," she said.

"There are no left-over tickets and he had no access to ticket distribution.

"He agreed to that conversation [with the reporter], which he did not consider to be serious, in a state of inebriation.

"He was talking about things he had no power to discuss."

-Duncan Mackay


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