So following on from Sunday’s post, here are the rest of my predictions.
4. Rory McIlroy
I don’t play golf, don’t follow it, and don’t particularly enjoy watching it when it’s on – but even I know that McIlroy won at the US PGA Championship and was part of Europe’s spectacular comeback to win the Ryder Cup. Golf’s a popular sport so he’ll have a decent following, but perhaps the lack of Olympic lustre will prove too much this year.
3. Jessica Ennis
She was on the cover of Time, she’s buff, and she’s from up north, what’s not to like? The poster girl of the London games for so long, some worried that the weight of expectation and pressure may be too much for her. But she delivered, and in style. In her first event, the 100m hurdles, she ran the fastest ever time for that an event in a heptathlon. By the time of the final event, the 800m, all she had to do to secure gold was finish, that is, not fall over. Ennis took the race by the scruff of the neck and crossed the line first. Perhaps the most popular gold of the games.
Ennis also kicked off something of a gold rush for GB in the Olympic Stadium, with Greg Rutherford and Mo Farah winning their events in the same hour. She even helped other nationalities to success, with Australian long jumper Mitchell Watt explaining how he did his silver medal winning jump: ‘I just pretended I was British for about 30 seconds’.
The reason I’m not putting her any higher in because, while still recognising the hard work and dedication that goes into every medal, the path to GB heptathlon gold is pretty well trodden and her achievement, unlike others on this list, wasn’t particularly ground breaking. Ennis is the latest in a long line of British success in this event, from Denise Lewis (Bronze, Atlanta 1996; Gold, Sydney 2000), Kelly Sotherton (Bronze, Athens 2004; fourth, Beijing 2008), to… well, who’s next? Katarina Johnson-Thompson in 2016 perhaps?
2. Mo Farah
Now I must confess that I like Mo Farah partly because it’s fun shouting ‘Go Mo!’ at the TV. He also gets points (and surely votes) for the ‘Mo-Bot’, his celebratory pose that rivals Usain Bolt’s lightning strike as the most iconic image of of the athletics meet at London 2012.
My two favourite things about him are 1) that he agreed to do his trademark ‘Mo-Bot’ celebration after a suggestion made when he appeared on a UK quiz show, and 2) after he won we all had great fun with mock Daily Mail headlines like the one below, courtesy of @Beardedgenius on Twitter.
More seriously though, when he took the 10,000 gold he was the first Briton to take a long distance gold at the Olympics. In adding the 5,000 gold a week later he joined a select band of elite runners to have the double. Following on from his silver medal in the 10,000 metres at the World Championships in Daegu in 2011, when he was agonisingly pipped to gold in the final metres, his brilliant two gold medals have made him, in my opinion, a bona fide superstar. I wouldn’t get too carried away with the all talk of ‘GB breaking Africa’s hegemony on the long distance events’ – the dude was born in Somalia after all – but it’s a great achievement and he seems a very likeable character (or personality, perhaps?). I think he’ll come in a surprisingly close second.
So who am I tipping as the winner, and who gets my vote? Part 3 to follow.