BBC BLOGS - Tom Fordyce

Archives for July 2012

London Olympics finally kick off

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Tom Fordyce | 20:19 UK time, Wednesday, 25 July 2012

"How did the London Olympics of 2012 begin, Grandpa?"

"In Cardiff, lad, with a toot on a whistle, and without a flame or cauldron in sight."

"Whatever, Grandpa. What really happened?"

For all the talk of opening ceremonies, flag-bearers and celebrity cauldron-lighters, the start of the biggest sporting celebration ever staged in Britain was both reassuringly familiar and a touch surreal.

Fully 53 hours before Danny Boyle's much-anticipated spectacular in Stratford, an American referee named Kari Seitz walked to the centre circle of the Millennium Stadium, signalled to the 22 women from Great Britain and New Zealand's football teams and stepped away as GB number 14 Anita Asante swung back her right foot and touched the ball to Kelly Smith.

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Win puts Wiggins among Britain's greats

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Tom Fordyce | 16:56 UK time, Sunday, 22 July 2012

Even though we should really be rather accustomed to seeing Bradley Wiggins in yellow by now, there was still something wonderfully unreal about watching him cruise up the Champs-Elysees on Sunday, bike, helmet and jersey all the same bright jaune, to become Britain's first ever winner of the Tour de France.

These sort of Parisian valedictions are not supposed to feature the British in any other than a supporting role. That a scrawny ginger kid from Kilburn has grown up to win his sport's greatest prize is one of the more remarkable tales British sport has produced.

It might even be the most laudable of all. "I may be a bit biased," admitted Sir Chris Hoy earlier this week, "because Bradley is an old team-mate and a great guy. But if he gets to that finish line it will be as good as anything any British athlete has ever done."

These are mighty claims, and lead to the sort of arguments that slander legends and end friendships. Yet the context, manner and meaning of Wiggins's golden July give Hoy's words a resonance that is hard to ignore.

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Murray loses final but wins British hearts

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Tom Fordyce | 22:11 UK time, Sunday, 8 July 2012

We came to Centre Court expecting history to be made. It was Roger Federer rather than Andy Murray who once again ripped apart the record books, and few who witnessed it will believe it should have been any different.

Murray's brave defeat in the first Wimbledon singles final to feature a British male in 74 years - his fourth painful loss in four Grand Slam finals - came down not to fate or bad luck nor any stage-fright on his behalf.

Federer's win in four sets was instead founded on that most simple logic: the best player playing the better tennis for longer will always ultimately prevail.

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Murray stands on brink of history

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Tom Fordyce | 20:17 UK time, Saturday, 7 July 2012

Amid the carnage around Centre Court on Friday evening as Andy Murray's cross-court forehand fizzed past Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to take him into the Wimbledon singles final, one man remained emotionless and motionless in his seat as all around they jumped and hugged.

We know Ivan Lendl well enough by now not to expect him to have high-fived his way down the Royal Box. So deadpan is Murray's coach that even his portrait in the tennis Hall of Fame has smiled more recently.

But the message the old warrior was sending out to his young charge was clear: why the big party?

To a nation on starvation rations since Bunny Austin became the last British male in a Wimbledon singles final 74 years ago, Murray's achievement in fighting through to a showdown on Sunday with Roger Federer was something to be simultaneously delighted and disbelieving about.

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Murray battles Tsonga - and weight of history

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Tom Fordyce | 19:15 UK time, Thursday, 5 July 2012

It was strangely quiet at Wimbledon on Thursday: in the normally garrulous queue, around the carefully shaved and plucked outside courts, among the gimlet-eyed touts hanging around Southfields tube station and on Centre Court itself.

Women's semi-finals day is often a little low-key, but this was something else - a calm before the storm, a collective deep breath, a final mercifully stress-free few hours before Andy Murray's latest and surely most inviting opportunity to reach the promised land of a Wimbledon singles final.

A pearl of sporting trivia popular on Twitter rather summed it all up: the last man to be beaten by a Briton in a Wimbledon semi-final died at the Battle of Stalingrad in 1942.

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Night tennis raising the roof at Wimbledon

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Tom Fordyce | 18:12 UK time, Monday, 2 July 2012

When Wimbledon changes, it likes to do so slowly and with sufficient deference to tradition that most casual observers never notice.

Which is why the decisive intervention of the Centre Court roof in this year's tournament is creating such a stink in the normally refined SW19 air.

All three of the most dramatic matches in the first week owed their ending and atmosphere to the 1,000 tonne lid on the famous old arena: Rafa Nadal's stunning second-round defeat by Lukas Rosol, Roger Federer's five-set comeback over Julien Benneteau and Andy Murray's late-night dash past Marcos Baghdatis.

Had it simply been raining in south-west London, the story would have slipped away there. That the roof came over in two of those cases because of bad light, and in the third at midday despite play continuing uninterrupted on all other courts, has put the All-England Club in something of a pickle.

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