London 2012

Phil Clarke's Olympics

My Olympics

Ahead of London 2012 we asked a range of personalities to let us know what the Olympics means to them. Sky Sports rugby league expert Phil Clarke tells us about his fond memories of the Sydney Games and his secret past as an 800m star...

What are your favourite Olympics memories?

I went to the Games in Sydney in 2000 and was fortunate to get tickets to some great events. The beach volleyball at Bondi Beach was a lot of fun and the 1500m men's final for the swimming was a great atmosphere but the men's 100m final was the one that I will never forget. The energy in the stadium was incredible, and then there is an eerie silence just before the race. To watch the fastest men in the world run that quickly was a real privilege. As a younger boy, I enjoyed the 800m and 1500m men's final with Coe , Ovett and Cram.

Who would you class as the greatest Olympian of all time?

I believe that the Decathlon is an under-rated event. For me, they are the best all-round athletes in the world and it is amazing how talented they are at so many things. So having said that, I would have to go for Daley Thompson. Not only was he great, but he was cool as well.

How much of London 2012 will you be watching? Are you going?

Sadly I will not be there but am hoping to try to get along to the Paralympics. There are some heroes that we rarely get to see performing and I would like to witness their efforts. I shall be glued to as much of the action as possible and hope that the Games act as a catalyst to help make us all a healthier nation.

Which events are you most looking forward to?

Track and field are my favourite aspect of the Games, but it is the story behind the sacrifices that the competitors have made that I find most interesting. When you start to hear about the journey that they have made to qualify it makes me happy. I am not a fan of these instant celebrity shows that are often on TV and prefer the stories of people who have worked for years to achieve their success.

How do you think Team GB will fare?

History shows that the home nation usually does well and I hope that this is the case in 2012. The Games themselves only last for a relatively short time and I think that it is important that they have a long-term impact on the people in this country. We now have some wonderful sporting facilities in this country; let's hope that we can find more people to use them after the Games are over.

What sport would you like to see added to the Olympics?

A tough question. I think that there may already be enough. We all have our own definition and interpretation of what a sport is and I may upset some people here, but I think that there needs to be some physical effort or movement needed for it to be classed as a sport. I appreciate the skill of things like pistol shooting and archery, but wouldn't define them as a sport in my book. As society changes though, I realise that for the Games to maintain a connection to the people then they are going to have to change also. Younger people are more interested in things like skateboarding and surfing than track and field, so perhaps we will see the introduction of these and other extreme sports.

If you were to enter the Olympics, which event would you choose and why?

It would have to be the 800m. I was inspired I think by the medals that we won in this event at the 1980 Moscow Games and was lucky to win the Bolton Schools 800m Championship in 1983. It was one of the highlights of my sporting life and I will never forget the rush and thrill of crossing the line first. It must have been the feeling that Martin Offiah and Jason Robinson had when they used to run in all their tries whilst I was stood watching in back play for Wigan!