Tag Archives: olympiad

Mo Farah was the weakest athlete I"ve ever seen, says coach Alberto Salazar

Farah was the weakest athlete I've ever seen, says coach Salazar

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UPDATED:

21:36 GMT, 13 August 2012

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Backs were slapped as competitors decamped from the Athletes’ Village, yet one of the success stories of the XXX Olympiad was called a 90lb weakling.

Mo Farah — who is set to earn
500,000 if he makes a marathon debut in London next April — was the
subject of this unflattering description. It came from his coach,
Alberto Salazar.

Salazar, born in Cuba during the
Revolution, made his comments as 29-year-old Farah was basking in
Downing Street’s acclamation as winner of the 5,000 and 10,000 metres
gold medals. Or, more pertinently, Downing Street was basking in his
achievements.

Team Salazar: Galen Rupp, the Cuban coach and Mo Farah are on top of the world after the 10,000m

Team Salazar: Galen Rupp, the Cuban coach and Mo Farah are on top of the world after the 10,000m

Salazar said: ‘When Mo came to me 18 months ago, he was a skinny distance runner with a great engine but no upper body. At the end of races, he would tire and his head would bob around and his arms would flail.

‘He was the weakest athlete I’d ever trained — in terms of core strength and being able to do push-ups, sit-ups and single-leg squats. He was a 90lb weakling.

‘The No 1 thing that has helped Mo is not the 110 miles a week he puts in on the road, but the seven hours a fortnight in the gym.’

Gym bunny: Farah has worked on his physique

Gym bunny: Farah has worked on his physique

The Farah-Salazar collaboration has proved a triumph after Farah travelled to Portland, Oregon, to work with the former New York marathon specialist at the start of last year.

Speaking to the Evening Standard, Salazar added: ‘When Mo takes off his shirt, coaches who have worked with him just can’t believe how ripped he is.’ The Cuban said Farah gained a surge of energy from the crowd on the final straight that took him clear of his challengers in Saturday night’s 5,000m.

‘But also Mo dug deeper than I have seen any athlete do. You’re talking about a man who has more heart, more guts and more soul than any athlete I’ve ever seen,’ said Salazar.

London 2012 Olympics: Usain Bolt will fly through 200 metre final – Martin Samuel

Big cat Bolt is purring! And in 200m final you'll see that man CAN fly!

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UPDATED:

22:48 GMT, 8 August 2012

Olympics 2012

Usain Bolt does not run the 200 metres. He flies. On Wednesday night he sauntered. Analysis of his victory in the Olympic 100m on Sunday show that in the 9.63sec from gun to tape, Bolt was connected to the earth for no more than two seconds. It is almost inaccurate to call what he does running.

'His stride is wildernesses of freedom: the world rolls under the long thrust of his heel,' wrote Ted Hughes. The poet saw a jaguar trapped behind cage bars in a zoo and imagined its dream, turning the world on its axis with each stride of its giant paws. When Bolt runs as freely as he did in last night’s 200m qualifier it must feel like that, too.

Each pace a revolution, lapping not just a track, but a planet, kicking off into air and landing, whole continents gobbled up and still twirling beneath the traction of his feet.

Float on: Bolt barely touches the ground when during his sprints

Float on: Bolt barely touches the ground when during his sprints

If it is possible for a man to glide, to skim across the surface at the Olympic Stadium, that is what Bolt achieved. He stopped running flat out before he had left the bend, completing the race a blur of pure confidence. Bolt knows his place at these Games, and it is in front, in charge, a London street ahead of the rest.

On Thursday night he will attempt to create his masterpiece. Just before nine o’clock Bolt will set out to run a race so powerful, so extraordinary, so unprecedented that in sporting terms it will make the world spin. With each stride Bolt will be tearing a page, a name, an Olympiad, from the history book.

No predecessor, from Walter Tewkesbury, the first gold medallist in Athens in 1896 to Shawn Crawford in the same city in 2004, got to keep that precious gold medal over 200m. After last night’s semi-final, despite recording the fifth-fastest qualifying time, Bolt is now the 6-1 on favourite to do just that.

This is Bolt’s Olympics, every bit as much as in Beijing. When the parochial thrill of the British medal haul has faded, the name that will leap from the page is his. Bolt has redefined his event, and not just through size. Plenty of people are tall, but they cannot run like Bolt.

And his is the hardest event, for the entire world is his rival. Not everybody can afford golf clubs or a sailboat, not every country has access to a velodrome or the technology required to match British cycling; but each free and able-bodied person in the world is at liberty to try to run as fast as he can. Everybody can have a crack at being Usain Bolt. And only one man is.

Centre of attention: Everyone at the Olympic Stadium (above and below) wants a memory of Bolt

Centre of attention: Everyone at the Olympic Stadium (above and below) wants a memory of Bolt

Centre of attention: Everyone at the Olympic Stadium (above and below) wants a memory of Bolt

Nobody has come close to pushing the outside of this particular envelope, the double 100m and 200m. On Sunday night, Bolt executed his first gold medal run to perfection, setting an Olympic record over the shorter distance. On Thursday night he will attempt a repeat.

Even without a record-breaking time, a place in sport’s pantheon will be assured by gold. The double double has eluded all for one simple reason: in 24 attempts nobody keeps holds of the 200m crown.
Even double domination of the 100m has only occurred once before, when Carl Lewis retained his 1984 gold medal in 1988, in Seoul, a race subsequently discredited by so many positive drugs tests.

Yet if what Bolt did on Sunday was improbable, his aim this evening had previously been considered impossible. Even Lewis could not keep hold of the 200m title, coming second to countryman Joe DeLoach four years later. Tonight, Bolt is intending to go faster, farther than any man has gone before. This is athletic evolution. Given the time he ran on Sunday night, the winner of the first Olympic 100m in 1896, Thomas Burke, would have been 18m in his wake.

Bolt’s feats travel, ricochet like gunshots, bounce from satellites, to every part of the globe. At the Waldensia Primary School in Trelawny, Jamaica on Sunday, the children, their parents and teachers were gathered in front of a television to watch the latest exploits of their most famous ex-pupil. At which point the power failed.

Not his, obviously: theirs. Bolt’s electricity is very much on full current here in London, but the same cannot be said of northern Jamaica, where large swathes missed the sporting highlight of the year.
So what happened At Waldensia Primary, a small girl also triumphed.

Best foot forward: Bolt is preparing to dazzle the world with another 200m title

Best foot forward: Bolt is preparing to dazzle the world with another 200m title

Best foot forward: Bolt is preparing to dazzle the world with another 200m title

She produced a pink battery-operated transistor radio and her friends gathered around that instead. They heard, rather than saw, Bolt become the fastest man in Olympic history and then, in pictures that have gone around the world via Skype, they shared his joy with whooping, cheering, table-slapping abandon. And that was just the adults.

Bolt brings happiness, no doubt of that. His great rival Yohan Blake, who recorded the fastest time in the semi-finals, although he almost slowed to the point of madness in the last 20m, tries to match his showmanship, but he is a young man and always looks slightly self-conscious in his posturing. Bolt acts as if born to it.

For a man said to be scared stiff of disqualification through false-start, a fate that befell him at the World Championships last year, he showed little sign of it at the start here, body-popping to the music before settling down in the blocks.

This is an athlete who tweeted a picture of his 3am companions having won the 100m: the Swedish women's handball team. He thinks British footballers — and he is perfectly serious in angling for a trial at Manchester United, by the way — are encouraged to settle down too early. Don’t tell Sir Alex Ferguson.

Now the stage is set. Bolt is the
marquee name of these Games, and legitimately, too. There is much to
celebrate in his athletic feats, no matter that the sport lends itself
to doubt and suspicion. A man wins Olympic gold with his laces undone,
teasing the crowd, and people tend to ask questions.

Best foot forward: Bolt is preparing to dazzle the world with another 200m title

Stroll in the park: Bolt made light work of his semi-final, cruising home in the final stages

Stroll in the park: Bolt made light work of his semi-final, cruising home in the final stages

The fastest man of all time claims to prepare on breakfasts of chicken nuggets and parties with off duty Swedish athletes and some wonder how so Yet, so consistent over four years, Bolt’s success makes perfect sense.

It had always been thought that if an athlete of his dimensions could achieve the explosive speed of the squat sprinters from the blocks, then his giant steps would take him past the field like no man before. We have been anticipating Bolt for some time; we just haven’t seen his like.

So what we will see at the Olympic Stadium tonight is entirely logical. Bolt is still the slowest starter on the track, as he should be, but once in his rhythm, cannot be caught. That is even truer over 200m than 100, where he has more time to get going.

The longer race was always his favourite, his feats over the shorter distance merely a bonus. The biggest cat on the track, Bolt is the fastest man in the world almost by accident. What happens tonight is by design. You’ll believe a man can fly.

London 2012 Olympics: Victoria Pendleton on course for triple crown

Queen Victoria on track for triple crown as more gold beckons for Team GB

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UPDATED:

22:52 GMT, 6 August 2012

Olympics 2012

Four years ago in Beijing with a gold medal hanging around her neck, Victoria Pendleton cast a curiously envious glance over at Sir Chris Hoy – then just plain old Chris – as he surged to a third Olympic title in the same Olympiad.

An imbalance in the track cycling programme at the Laoshan Velodrome meant that only one shot at glory was offered to the women sprinters, while the men had three. Instead of sewing a golden thread through the track programme, Pendleton had shone brightly just once.

Fast forward to Tuesday afternoon and the 31-year-old has ridden on all but one day of the six-day programme in London and taken centre stage each time. Her astonishing burst of acceleration has carried her to one gold, denied her another by overtaking team-mate Jess Varnish a fraction early to earn a disqualification and, at tea-time on Tuesday night, ought to win her a last golden chariot upon which to ride into retirement.

Queen Victoria: Pendleton goes for a third gold medal on Tuesday

Queen Victoria: Pendleton goes for a third gold medal on Tuesday

In defeating Olga Panarina of Belarus with bursts of speed which appeared to be in inverse proportion to the effort she exerted, Pendleton cruised into the final four of the women’s individual sprint. She was not even trying, was she For everyone else, including longtime rival Anna Meares of Australia and China’s Guo Shuang – the only girls who can logically come even close to her – it looked like hard work.

That may be the case for Pendleton in retirement should she decide to swap spokes for stilettos and accept an invitation from the BBC to take part in a forthcoming series of Strictly Come Dancing but Olympic matters look utterly straightforward for her.

Logic dictates that Britain’s queen of the Velodrome will not lose her pace overnight, so unless she crashes or impedes her opponents, beginning with Kristina Vogel of Germany in the semi-final, a third gold medal will be hers. Who knows how many she would have had if the programme had permitted it in Beijing. She may not be plain old Vicky for long.

Golden girl: Pendleton shows off her medal after winning the keirin last week

Golden girl: Pendleton shows off her medal after winning the keirin last week

Pole position: Young star Laura Trott

Pole position: Young star Laura Trott

At the other end of the age scale, Laura Trott is on course to become a double Olympic champion at the ridiculously tender age of 20. Fresh-faced she may be – and a blonde, not the brunette we have seen before – yet the girl from Essex rode with such maturity in the opening three disciplines of the women’s omnium to suggest that Tuesday’s final three events – the 3,000m pursuit, the scratch race and a 500m time trial – could see her add a solo gold medal to that won in the women’s team pursuit.

It is all becoming bewilderingly straightforward that there appears to be no outcome possible other than British gold in practically every event. Trott leads the omnium standings overnight, level on points with Sarah Hammer of the USA but ahead by virtue of having a faster aggregate time in the disciplines which are against the clock.

Her flying 250m lap was completed at a dizzying average speed of 40mph while her ability to spot every crisis point in the elimination race, in which the last rider across the line every second lap is called out, thrilled the 6,000 spectators.

They will expect to salute three more Olympic titles when the Velodrome opens for the final time on Tuesday, with Sir Chris Hoy’s tilt at Olympic immortality in the men’s keirin. Victory would surpass Sir Steve Redgrave’s five golds – a record for a Briton – although what further accolades are open to Hoy, who already possesses a knighthood and the hearts of a nation, is a mystery.

Nicholas Delpopolo disqualified from London Olympics after failed drugs test

American judoka star thrown out of Games after failed drugs test

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UPDATED:

13:50 GMT, 6 August 2012

American judoka Nicholas Delpopolo has been disqualified from the Olympics after failing a drugs test.

The 23-year-old competed in the men's 73kg division and was tested on July 30 after his loss to Mongolian Nyam-Ochir Sainjargal in the repechage stage.

Test: Delpopolo competed in the men's 73kg division at the Games

Test: Delpopolo competed in the men's 73kg division at the Games

The International Olympic Committee said Delpopolo tested positive for 11-nor-delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol-9-carboxylic acid, which is connected to cannabis consumption.

In a statement, the IOC said: 'The International Olympic Committee today announced that it has disqualified American judoka Nicholas Delpopolo from the men's 73kg judo event of the Games of the XXX Olympiad in London.'

Banned: Delpopolo has been disqualified from the Olympics

Banned: Delpopolo has been disqualified from the Olympics

The IOC disciplinary commission that
heard the case stated that Delpopolo should have his seventh-place
finish rescinded, return his diploma for competing in the Games and have
his accreditation withdrawn.

The International Judo Federation
have been instructed to modify their results and 'consider any further
action within its own competence'.

London 2012 Olympics: Luiza Galiulina kicked out after failing drugs test

Uzbek gymnast Galiulina kicked out of Games after failing drugs test

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UPDATED:

20:17 GMT, 1 August 2012

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Uzbek gymnast Luiza Galiulina was officially thrown out of the Olympic Games on Wednesday night after tests on her B sample were positive.

The 20-year-old from Tashkent, who had been due to compete in artistic gymnastics, tested positive for the banned diuretic furosemide last week, and had her case heard in London on Saturday.

Booted out: Uzbekistan's Luiza Galiulina

Booted out: Uzbekistan's Luiza Galiulina

She was initially suspended pending the results of her B sample, which confirmed the original finding.

An International Olympic Committee
statement read: 'The International Olympic Committee (IOC) today
announced that Uzbek athlete Luiza Galiulina (artistic gymnastics) has
been excluded from the Games of the XXX Olympiad in London.

'Galiulina provided a urine sample on
25 July that tested positive for the prohibited substance furosemide.
The analysis of the B sample confirmed the results of the A sample.'

Her file will now be passed on to the International Federation of Gymnastics, who will consider further action.

London 2012 Olympics: Now it"s Mark Cavendish"s turn to be the king of the road

He helped Wiggins in France, now it's Cavendish's turn to be King of the road

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UPDATED:

01:55 GMT, 28 July 2012

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A dream team fronted by the fastest man in the world on a road bike. What could possibly stop Mark Cavendish becoming Britain's first gold medallist of the London Olympics on The Mall on Saturday afternoon

Well, unfortunately, lots. And therein lies the fascination of a six-hour bike race that will leave central London and head for a fiendish corner of Surrey, which contains a hill that is a pimple by Tour de France standards, but which could wreak havoc on the grand design that is a gold medal- dripping home Olympiad.

Can't catch me: Cavendish wins a stage on this year's Tour

Can't catch me: Cavendish wins a stage on this year's Tour

Within the 156-mile Olympic road race course are nine loops of Box Hill and the splendidly named Zig Zag Road. It is not especially steep, with a maximum gradient of six per cent as opposed to one section of this year's Tour route which rose at a frightening 18 per cent.

Neither is it long. There are just two hairpin bends and the peloton will be up it in five minutes.

The devilment is in the repetition, the narrowness of the road and the bumpy surface that awaits the riders at its foot. Mishaps – crashes and punctures – on these roads and at the wrong time could ruin the British plan in an instant. But that is enough realism.

Pedal power: Mark Cavendish, Chris Froome and Ian Stannard lead David Millar and Bradley Wiggins up Box Hill in preparation for the men's road race

Pedal power: Mark Cavendish, Chris Froome and Ian Stannard lead David Millar and Bradley Wiggins up Box Hill in preparation for the men's road race

For now, consider Cavendish, the most successful sprinter of all time when it comes to converting winning opportunities into victories. Then add in Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome, Britain's one-two on the Tour de France podium in Paris last weekend. Plus the tactical genius and experience of David Millar, the fourth team member to have won at least one stage in this year's Tour. Not forgetting the driving engine that is the unheralded Ian Stannard. Feel better Cavendish certainly does.

He said: 'We were out today, motoring along in training. I just looked round and I was like, “It's a dream team”. All guys who are incredibly motivated, all guys who are incredibly patriotic, all guys who are completely loyal to each other. We couldn't be in a better position to win this bike race.

'If I didn't have a team here, there's no way I could say I'll get over Box Hill nine times alone. Even with four guys around me there's no way I could get over Box Hill unscathed. I need four of the best, four of the strongest bike riders in the world to be able to do that. Luckily I've got them. And it's not just Box Hill, it's everything after it, too.

World champion Mark Cavendish of Britain

World champion Mark Cavendish of Britain

'It's irrelevant to me that it could be Britain's first gold medal of the Games. Regardless of whether it's the first or last medal on offer, it is an Olympic medal for your team. I'm incredibly proud to be British and part of this team at a home Games in London. I want to make the most of that opportunity. The other guys do, too.'

HIS MATES ON THE ROAD

Bradley Wiggins Age: 32 The winner of the Tour de France should aid Cavendish in the final part of the race and, as on the Champs-Elysees last Sunday, carry him to his preferred spot for the crucial sprint finish.

David Millar Age: 35 As captain, the Scotsman is responsible for the team's tactics. 'I'll have to speak to other team captains,' he has said. 'Cycling's a strange one. We'll form alliances to make a sprint finish happen.'

Chris Froome Age: 27 As we saw on the Tour, the Kenyan-born racer is a mountain specialist so he should help Cavendish endure the steep section around Box Hill which they have to negotiate nine times.

Ian Stannard Age: 25 The current British road race champion has been riding the Tour of Poland this month but is no stranger to the team. He has known Cavendish since they were 12 and that familiarity could prove vital.

… AND HIS RIVALS

Luis Leon Sanchez (Spain) Classic breakaway rider who is capable of going it alone for the final 10 miles. Dangerous floater.

Peter Sagan (Slovakia) Sprinter who is not afraid of hills but who is used to winning – a lot. Blistering turn of speed at the end.

Andre Greipel (Germany) Only sprint challenge to Cavendish. Strong with colossal power but needs to time his sprint perfectly.

One of British cycling's great strengths in recent years has been the ability to separate the dream from the reality. So it is with Cavendish, who knows the finish line is on The Mall with Buckingham Palace behind, but has a sprinter's eye view of the setting.

He added: 'Sorry to say but the finish is not as romantic as it sounds to me. It's not The Mall. It's a straight, then a right-left, then a slight downhill, bearing left, wide finish. I haven't thought about climbing on to the podium. I don't do that with anything. The Champs-Elysees maybe, but everything else, no.'

The Olympic road race is cycling stripped bare, back to the essentials and days of yore – well, apart from the technological gizmos on the bikes. Whereas the great stage races such as the Tour have nine-man teams, no country will have more than five riders today. And there will be no communication with team managers via earpieces discussing strategy or passing on information.

Tactics will be decided by each team's road captain. For Britain, read Millar, the reformed doping cheat with an evangelical zeal against the scourge that blighted his sport and sent his life into a downward spiral.

Millar did not ask for a second chance, but, having been granted it, he is savouring every moment. His is the brains trust upon which Cavendish will rely to ensure that the race is brought to the sprint finish the Manx Missile so craves. 'You lose the comfort of information,' said Millar. 'When you've got a radio you know if there's been a crash, you know if your rider's down, you know what's going on in the race ahead if you're behind or caught up in an incident and above all in that finale when it starts going off, you're getting information sent to you.

'If we're behind with Mark reeling everybody in, we're not going to know anything. That's a little bit nerve-racking. We have to stay very aware of what's going on and be confident in ourselves.'

All of which leaves Wiggins, Britain's sporting hero of the hour. He will not be wearing yellow today, and for the first time in four weeks the focus will lie elsewhere, but that does not mean Britain's first winner of Le Tour will be taking it easy, not with a team-mate to douse in the glory he has enjoyed.

Wiggins said: 'I've got a job to do and I'll do whatever I'm asked to do. It goes without saying that it's the strongest GB Olympic road race team that has been assembled. Perhaps it's the finest team of any nation that has been fielded at the Olympics. This is what Cav has been living for most of the year. He's looking as fit as I have ever seen him. In our minds there's no doubt he is going to be there in the final sprint.'

Come on, Cav. Make it a golden start for Britain.

London 2012 Olympics: Opening Ceremony LIVE

Olympic Opening Ceremony LIVE: Follow all the action as London 2012 gets underway

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UPDATED:

12:30 GMT, 27 July 2012

Seven years after London won the right to host the Olympic Games the time has finally arrived for them to get underway. Film supremo Danny Boyle is the artistic director Olympics and has orchestrated the opening ceremony and we will finally discover who will have the honour of lighting the Olympic flame.

Follow all the action as the ceremony takes place at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford and the XXX Olympiad officially gets underway.

*** LIVE COVERAGE STARTS AT 7PM ***

The greatest show on earth: The Olympic Stadium will be the the venue for the opening ceremony

The greatest show on earth: The Olympic Stadium will be the the venue for the opening ceremony

London 2012 Olympics: Team GB handed seven tennis places

Olympic boost for Team GB tennis as seven get the call to join Murray

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UPDATED:

22:21 GMT, 26 June 2012

Seven British players will join Andy Murray at the Olympics, due to the generosity of the International Tennis Federation.

The strongest international entry for the tennis event since its re-introduction to the Olympics in 1988 will feature all the game’s big names and, due to the ‘ITF places’ announced on Tuesday, at least one home entrant in the two singles and two doubles events — with the mixed doubles likely to have a British pair too.

Most delighted will be Elena Baltacha who, after more than two years as British No 1, lost her national top ranking on the very day that the entry qualification cut-off date was set.

London calling: Andy Murray will be joined by seven other Brits in Team GB

London calling: Andy Murray will be joined by seven other Brits in Team GB

It is especially poignant for the Ipswich-based player, whose father Sergei represented the old Soviet Union in the 1980 Games.

Her mother, an international standard pentathlete, was also selected for the Moscow Olympiad but had to miss out as she could not find anyone to look after her infant son.

A delighted Baltacha said: ‘I’ve been playing for GB in the Fed Cup for 11 years and I really wanted a spot. I can’t explain how amazing it feels.’

TEAM GB TENNIS

Men’s singles: A
Murray

Women’s singles: A Keothavong, E Baltacha.

Men’s doubles: A
Murray/J Murray, R Hutchins/C Fleming.

Women’s doubles: H Watson/L
Robson.

Mixed: TBA on July 31.

The LTA made representations on behalf of the home players, but British men’s No 2 James Ward, the world No 173, missed out.

He said: ‘It would have been great because I’m from London, and every time I’ve been asked to play in the Davis Cup I’ve represented my country proudly. But I can’t have too many arguments, my ranking is not where it should be.’

Jamie Murray will partner brother Andy in the doubles, while Heather Watson and Laura Robson are in the women’s doubles.

Spare a thought, though, for world No 17 Feliciano Lopez of Spain. With a limit of four players per country, per event, he was still not ranked high enough to make it into his national team.

London 2012 Olympics: Lord Coe is on the final stages of the race of his life to deliver the Games

It's the race of his life and Coe is on the final bend as Olympics loom

By
Patrick Collins

PUBLISHED:

21:54 GMT, 14 April 2012

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UPDATED:

21:54 GMT, 14 April 2012

A foggy morning in east London and, from the 23rd floor, the Olympic Stadium is no more than a hint on the horizon.

Yet Sebastian Coe sits with his back to the office window, as if even a glimpse into the gloom might emphasise the urgency of his task.

This Wednesday, the Games of the XXX Olympiad will be 100 days away. Reality is nudging his ribs. 'Time's gone so quickly. Flown by,' he says.

'You can sense the excitement by the little things that happen. The other day, in central London, I met a woman who was a volunteer, a bloke who was going to carry the torch and a girl who told me she was dancing in the opening ceremony. All inside 15 minutes on Oxford Street! It's happening out there. And not just at home.

Flying the flag: Lord Coe is relishing delivering the games to London

Flying the flag: Lord Coe is relishing delivering the games to London

'I don't believe I've ever witnessed so much international excitement about an Olympics. You feel it when you walk into the international training centre in Tokyo and you meet their gymnasts or their triathlon team and they just can't stop talking about London.

'They can't wait to get here. And that's typical. Dar-es- Salaam to Marrakesh, from Beijing to Los Angeles, there's people just longing to get to London.

'Everyone's always excited about going to an Olympic Games but there's something different this time, because it's London.'

The unprecedented speed at which tickets were sold effectively settled the debate about the nation's readiness to embrace the Olympics.

As Coe says: 'You don't tell the British people they're going to have a wonderful time, they'll figure it out themselves.

In a previous life: Seb Coe in his days as a top athlete

In a previous life: Seb Coe in his days as a top athlete

'I never thought we'd have a problem selling tickets because I think that sport actually matters to our public.'

There is something of the zealot about Coe as he pursues his theory: 'I've done countless miles, travelling this country. Seeing extraordinary people doing things they didn't know they had it in themselves to do.

'In Truro the other day one of our community leaders, a young girl, said to me, “I was doing nothing three years ago. Now I've got 20 kids in a playground coming to see me three nights a week”.

'It's amazing. We've got millions of kids involved in all sorts of things and 24,000 schools in our Get Set programme.'

His eight years as chairman of the organising committee have not been uniformly smooth, and the disruption of the Boat Race prompted inevitable Olympic speculation.

Coe calls last weekend's protest 'a monstrous piece of self-indulgence.'

Delivered: The Olympic Stadium was opened on time

Delivered: The Olympic Stadium was opened on time

But he pleads for perspective, and delivers a response culled from his previous life as a party politician: 'We have a long history of peaceful demonstrations, as long as they don't put athletes or spectators at risk.'

The success or otherwise of the London Games will be determined by the collective ability of the Organising Committee. Coe is confident in his team.

'They're the reason I don't get sleepless nights,' he says. 'Remarkable people. I was working here at about 10 the other night and a third of the staff were still here.

'The nearest I've seen to that kind of focus was many years ago; that little group who worked with me to get round two or four laps faster than the next guy. It reminds me a lot of those morning sessions I had with my Dad, when we'd be sitting there and saying, “OK let's look at what you did last night, let's modify this or change that”.

'For me, it's very similar. You are thinking minute by minute, the decisions are coming thick and fast.'

Park of dreams: The Olympic Stadium is the centre point of the Olympic Park

Park of dreams: The Olympic Stadium is the centre point of the Olympic Park

The larger questions are still looming; the nature of regeneration, the scope of the sporting legacy, the mark that the festival will leave on the country at large. But the hopes and fears of the nation revolve around the man who delivered the Games. Coe attempts to make light of the burden.

'I'm doing something I thoroughly enjoy and I instinctively understand,' he says. But when he thinks of the Raffles Convention Centre in Singapore, on the evening of July 6, 2005, when the IOC president opened an envelope to announce the triumphant city, does he never secretly wish that Jacques Rogge had said the word: 'Paris'

Coe is faintly shocked at the notion. 'No, no, no! Never!' he says. 'By the day, by the hour, I'm more convinced that it will be fantastic.

'Anyway, I've always felt that what we've had to deal with, even on the difficult days, has been trivial compared to what this could mean for generations to come.'

Come Wednesday, the days will dwindle to a precious few, and Coe's optimism will be tested as never before.

The Games of London will depend on the talents of the man and his team. We should wish them well.