DCSIMG

2012 review: Bolt pointed the way to glorious summer

Double Olympic champion Usain Bolt. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Double Olympic champion Usain Bolt. Picture: Ian Rutherford

  • by TOM PETERKIN
 

JULY was to end with the brilliance of Danny Boyle’s Olympics opening ceremony. But before the joie de vivre of London 2012, there was turbulence in the world of high finance.

Bob Diamond resigned as chief executive of Barclays a few days after the bank’s chairman Marcus Agius fell on his sword.

Tragedy visited at the beginning of the month as three RAF crew members died when two Tornado fighters crashed into the Moray Firth.

It was also a difficult time for the army when a defence re-organisation saw the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders reduced to a public duties company.

At Holyrood, SNP ministers said they would go to court to contest a Freedom of Information landmark ruling, which said they must publicly state if they had asked for legal advice on whether an independent Scotland could join the EU.

There was controversy the day before Scotland became the first country in the UK to commit to introducing gay marriage. Fury greeted a comment by Archbishop of Glasgow Philip Tartaglia that appeared to link the premature death of David Cairns MP to his homosexuality.

A golden summer of sport saw Scotland’s Andy Murray reach the Wimbledon final – the first British player to do so for 74 years. A brave attempt to win the tournament ended in tears – literally. Murray broke down after his defeat by Roger Federer. Meanwhile, Ernie Els won the golf Open Championship at Royal Lytham and St Annes.

The Rangers football saga took another turn when the Scottish Football League clubs voted for the team to start from the bottom in the lowest tier of Scottish football. The decision was taken after Rangers crashed into liquidation and was formed into a new club.

In the run-up to the Olympics, Nick Buckles, the chief executive of G4S, admitted his company’s handling of Games’ security had become a “humiliating shambles”. The army was called in to provide cover after it emerged that G4S had failed to provide enough staff. But any suggestion that London would not prove to be a successful host of the world’s greatest sporting event was dispelled by a magical opening ceremony, with an eye-catching cameo from the Queen.

The world gasped when the Queen turned round in her private study at Buckingham Palace and became a Bond girl.

The Queen left the palace with James Bond (Daniel Craig) and clambered aboard a helicopter before appearing to parachute into the Olympic Stadium.

It was the highlight of a remarkable event, titled Isles of Wonder, that celebrated the industrial revolution, the NHS, literature, pop music and culture.

Opened by the Queen, it had a cast of professional performers, including Rowan Atkinson’s Mr Bean, who played the keyboard with the London Symphony Orchestra. Joining them were 7,500 volunteers whose enthusiasm and expertise set the tone for a spell-binding sporting summer.

August

Team GB enjoyed spectacular success in an Olympic Games that won plaudits for its faultless organisation, indomitable spirit and athletic brilliance. After a sluggish start, the medals began to pour in for Team GB.

It would be impossible to list all the athletes who brought joy to the nation. But among the highlights was the sight of Princess Anne presenting her daughter, Zara, with her equestrian silver medal. Rowers Helen Glover and Scotland’s Heather Stanning took Team GB’s first gold. While Bradley Wiggins’ astonishing year continued with a gold in the cycling. Scotland’s Michael Jamieson took silver in the breaststroke. Boris Johnson stuck on a zipwire at an Olympic event provided an entertaining diversion from the serious sporting activity.

Edinburgh’s Sir Chris Hoy became the Britain’s most successful Olympian when he won the fifth and sixth gold medals of his cycling career.

Scottish rower Katherine Grainger won a gold with partner Anna Watkins.

Andy Murray brushed aside the disappointment of losing the Wimbledon final when he returned to SW19 and was crowned Olympic champion, defeating Roger Federer in the final and Novak Djokovic in the semis.

Scotland’s Scott Brash was part of the team that won Britain’s first Olympic show-jumping gold in 60 years.

On the track, the dominance of the Jamaican Usain Bolt in the sprint events was a thing of wonder, while the home crowd was treated to majestic performances from Jessica Ennis in the heptathlon and Mo Farah, who took home the 5,000 metre and 10,000 metre titles.

In the end, Team GB finished third in the medal table behind the United States and China. The team’s haul of 29 golds, 17 silver and 19 bronze was hailed as the “greatest performance of our greatest team at the greatest Olympics ever”.

On the golf course, Rory McIlroy secured a run-away eight shot victory in the USPGA championship.

The Olympics dominated the headlines, but other events managed to squeeze into the news. The remains of the Terra Nova ship that Captain Scott sailed on his last expedition to the Antarctic were discovered off the coast of Greenland. The pieces of the Dundee whaler were located on the seabed in the 100th year since the explorer set out on his fateful trip.

Tony Nicklinson, the 58-year-old sufferer of “locked-in” syndrome, lost his High Court battle for the legal right to end his life with the help of a doctor, but then died six days later after refusing to eat.

An era came to an end when it was revealed that one of Scotland’s great institutions – the Dandy comic – would disappear from shop shelves. Publisher DC Thomson said the last printed issue of the comic would be published in December on its 75th anniversary.

The adage that what happens in Las Vegas, stays in Las Vegas did not apply to Prince Harry, who was photographed cavorting naked with a young woman in a hotel room.

A Norwegian court sentenced Anders Breivik to a life sentence of 21 years for the massacre of 77 people in his shocking bomb and gun attack of 2011.

Breivik was declared “sane” enough to be held responsible and was handed a sentence that makes it unlikely that he will ever be released from prison.

The month was to end in tragedy when the lives of three children were claimed as a six-person canoe capsized in Gair Loch.

Gracie Mackay, five, her friend Ewen Beaton, five, his two-year-old brother Jamie Beaton, and their father Ewen snr died in the accident.

Only Gracie’s father, Garry, and his other daughter Callie, eight, survived when they swam to shore for help after their canoe capsized.

September

The Olympics may have passed, but the Paralympians picked up the torch. Sarah Storey’s four golds for cycling and the double gold secured by Ellie Simmonds in the swimming pool were among the highlights of London’s Paralympic Games.

In all, Scottish athletes won 11 of Great Britain’s 120 medals – a magnificent haul that was 18 more than were won in Beijing four years before.

Neil Fachie and Craig MacLean, as pilot to Anthony Kappes, won cycling golds and David Smith won a rowing gold.

Andy Murray’s golden summer continued as he finally won his first grand slam, in an epic US final against Novak Djokovic. Murray became the first British man in 76 years to win a major, after five thrilling sets.

It was a disastrous sporting event held more than 20 years ago that provided enormous embarrassment for the police. An independent panel report into the Hillsborough disaster, which saw 96 people crushed to death at an FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, was published. The report found South Yorkshire Police and the emergency services made “strenuous attempts to deflect the blame” on to innocent fans for the disaster. Victims’ families, who have been fighting for years for justice, demanded fresh prosecutions.

Shortly afterwards, there was a massive wave of sympathy for police when Fiona Bone, 32, and Nicola Hughes, 23, officers with Greater Manchester Police, were shot having been called to a routine burglary call.

There was royal anger about the French magazine Closer’s decision to publish topless photographs of the Duchess of Windsor when she was relaxing on holiday with her husband Prince William.

At Holyrood, Johann Lamont took a political risk by pledging to end Scotland’s “something for nothing” culture as Labour vowed to review free universal services north of the Border.

 

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