The 2008 Beijing Olympics
on the BBC
BBC Radio team Olympic impressions
As one of GB's greatest-ever swimmers,
earning 11 major medals in a career spanning
over 10 years, Liverpool-born Steve retired
at the very top of his game, adding an
Olympic bronze medal from Athens in the
200m butterfly to his vast collection.
European butterfly champion was the
inspirational captain of his country who never
failed to deliver when it mattered most.
Steve, who retired in 2005, is a leading figure
in the Say No To Drugs campaign and a Sport
England board member.
"For me the Olympics means the obvious
stuff really – an opportunity for nations to
come together and experience sport in its
purest form and enjoy the process.
"It's always more fun watching other people
so my favourite Olympic memories aren't of
my own medal, surprisingly.
"When I was
growing up it was amazing to watch Linford
Christie win the 100m and Greg Louganis on
the diving board, coming back to win a gold
medal; Daley Thompson, hurdler Edwin
Moses, pole vaulter Sergei Bubka, the rowing
guys winning all their gold medals – for me
they are the things that make the biggest
"With regard to Beijing, I think there's a lot
of mystique surrounding China.
"It's a culture
that's very different to our own so there's
the cultural side to going out and enjoying it,
and I certainly think that no expense has
been spared in terms of getting the facilities
"Some people might say well, that's a
waste of money, especially when you look at
the economy compared to what they could
be doing with it, but from a purely sporting
perspective I think it will be a sight to behold – I think they'll put on a show like no other
country on the planet.
"As far as the significance of the Games being
in Beijing, I find it hard to put politics into
sport; I think there is something fairly unique
about the Olympic Games, it's an experience
like no other.
"There are no political agendas
from everyone who goes there and I think
that goes for the volunteers, the athletes, the
drudges – everyone who's involved with it.
"I think the political stance is put on it by the
"It's almost like Vatican City, it's its
own entity. For 16 very special days it is an
Olympic village,something that's very much a
unique entity in its own right, something
that's very pure, an extremely powerful
"Something that's got the
opportunity to do that perhaps has a lot of
pressure put on it, rightly or wrongly, in
social and political terms, but I don't think it's
a bad thing that those issues are being
highlighted and it's something that China will
have to deal with.
"As for myself, I've been to Shanghai a couple
of times but I've never been to Beijing, so I'm
excited about that.
"I'm very lucky because I'm
going out there to cover the swimming and
one of the best athletes will be in the pool –
I'm talking about Michael Phelps – and there'll
also be Laure Manaudou of France, I think
she'll be great as well.
"I'm also looking forward
to seeing a lot of the sports that we
traditionally do well at, the Brits; I'm keen to
see the sailing, the cycling, the rowing of
course, the athletics – I think we'll do very well
in the boxing too.
"The exciting thing for me is
at the Olympic Games no sport is boring and
it's full of excitement whatever it is.
"As far as the British hopes go, for me I'll be
looking to earmark people who are going to
do well in 2012 – so of course we are going
to have stars of these Games for Britain but
also it will give us an opportunity to identify
people who are going to be vying for the top
honours at a home Games.
"Every single cyclist wants to win a gold
medal so I'll be looking out for those guys; in
the pool I'll be looking at the likes of Fran
Halsall, I'm hoping she can do the business;
and of course Tom Daley, he's a young lad
and just for the fact that he's only 14, I'm
excited to see what he can do in the pool.
"Thinking about London 2012, I was quite
lucky to compete and get a medal in the
home of the Olympic Games, in Athens, and
there was only one thing that I thought
would have been better than that and that
would have been competing at a home
Olympics in the capital city.
"I was fortunate
enough to take part in the Manchester 2002
Commonwealth Games and the home
support there was amazing; I just think it will
be even better at the Olympic Games.
"And the fact that it's coming to London gets
everyone focused so much earlier and I think
that has a massive impact.
"Not only are the
athletes thinking about it but also the
coaches, the sports administrators, the
government – all are thinking about it earlier
and it's amazing what you can achieve when
you start to focus.
“We're also spending a lot of money on the
legacy programme for the Olympic Games as
a nation and I really do think it will have a
positive impact on us by the time it leaves.
"It's not just being spent on white elephant
facilities or even on athletes – there are a lot
of things that are being done that are truly
going to make a difference.”