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Greatest show on Earth: How do you like us now, Mitt Romney?
on 11 September 2012
As a paperback at a relatively low cost (it's kind of like a high quality bookazine) this was never likely to be a book for connoisseurs or the hipster's coffee table. It seems best suited to younger enthusiasts, but not necessarily exclusively so. There will be future tomes that dig deeper into every aspect of what made London 2012 an unforgettable time for us Brits. The other forthcoming official publication already looks certain to be among those: London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games : The Official Commemorative Book : An Official London 2012 Games Publication.
What this one does is focus solely on chronicling the sporting events on a day to day basis. That's part of the title's remit, of course, and it's entirely successful in that respect. On top of the writes-ups for each day is a complete index to every medal winner. The layout can be appreciated by all ages and in years to come. As memories begin to fade, it will be a guide worth having around and looking back on. Naturally Team GB is given star billing but the rest of the world is not forgotten. The likes of Korean weightlifters and American beach volleyballers (female beach volleyballers, if you must know) get full page photos accompanying their achievements.
Fans of photography books will be served less well. It's certainly not lacking in shots and all the big names are there but some of the most iconic images, already part of London 2012's folklore, are missing. There's no Bradley Wiggins sitting on his throne, no Mo doing the Mobot (although there is one of Bolt doing it beside him) and no Victoria Pendleton doing the heart shape hands gesture on the podium. Not to mention no Duke and Dutchess of Cambridge or David Beckham seemingly crashing every event or Wenlock the mascot trying to photo-bomb every athlete's lap of honour! And nothing to remind you of the celebrated Games Makers volunteers or the hundreds of thousands who turned up to see the torch on its journey to the capital. Basically, there's a lot of Olympians in the middle of running, jumping, cycling, rowing, swimming, etc. And why not?
The opening and closing ceremonies are covered but, again, so many photogenic scenes that Danny Boyle delivered are saved for another time. The forging of the rings is there but not the best shot available, taking up barely more than a quarter of one page. Also missing is the true poetic imagery of the fortnight like the full moon adding a sixth Olympic ring hanging from Tower Bridge, or the rings reflected in Bradley Wiggins' visor from the road as he homes in on his gold, or, well, Boris Johnson stuck on a zip wire.
'London 2012 Olympic Games: The Greatest Show on Earth: An official day-by-day photographic celebration' is a sporting book that tells a sporting story. There's a far bigger picture to look at, even before we get to thinking about the Paralympics, but that's another book for another day.