Tag Archives: Perri Shakes-Drayton

Olympic crowds lift the athletes (and Nike treads softly)

6 Aug


Live from London 2012: I’m blogging from the weightlifting arena in the ExCeL tonight.

I’ve been to many of the events held here in the past week, including judo and table tennis, but weightlifting has a particularly great atmosphere. If there’s any sporting discipline that depends on audience participation – it’s this. After all, 220kg won’t lift itself. It also doesn’t matter where these contestants are from as the crowd just wants to see the human body pushed to its limit.

In the tribune

It was my first shift in the tribune today overseeing the Greco-Roman wrestling, which saw 60kg, 84kg and 120kg contenders attempt to flip their opponent to progress to the next round. The arena was packed and the journalists arrived in their droves to cover the event. Although, Prospect Magazine warns that the alternative wrestling style – freestyle – is the least popular Olympic sport. But, even if the audience is small in numbers later this week it shouldn’t affect the atmosphere. Everyone seems happy to get involved and show their support so far.

Brands breaking out

But, let’s not dwell on sports losing out. Rather, let’s focus on sports brands that are winning – Nike

The most talked about sports brand online (with 33% more tweet mentions under event hash tags according to StarCom MediaVest Group via The Wall), ahead of official Olympic sponsor Adidas, has ensured it’s part of the sporting conversation by supplying athletes with plenty of footwear.

Not only have Adidas got the hump because organisers can’t ban athletes from wearing Nike (it’s deemed as a piece of ‘equipment’) but because lots of pairs have been spied on high-profile names. And, to push the boot in, Nike’s also released a range of trainers with department store Liberty.

With a pair made especially for Team GB 400m hurdler Perri Shakes-Drayton who’s yet to take to the track, Nike is making sure it has the upper hand (or foot) when it comes to brand presence and awareness with its Victory Zoom Elite range.

There’s a week of competition left but will Adidas respond? Yes – it sponsored the ‘greatest show on earth’ for long-term positive brand perception. But, with a global captive audience tuning in, there’s plenty of quick-wins that it can’t afford to miss.

Call the Doctor

On another note, have you noticed how most athletes listen to music before they take to the stage? Have you noticed how they all have similar ‘over the ear’ DJ headphones? That’s because brand Beats by Dre have distributed them as gifts to athletes in a side-step marketing move that avoids slapped wrists by LOCOG. This tactic should make sure that Olympic sponsor Panasonic, which manages the TVs and big screens at the venues but also manufacturers headphones, gets the message too – step up or lose out.


The Voice is finally heard

18 Jul

We all know that the ‘greatest show on earth’ is landing in London in nine days time. When it launches, the world’s media will be ready to report on the wide range of athletes and events – all hoping for a record-breaking scoop from the Olympic Stadium.

But this dream was almost destroyed for Britain’s leading black newspaper The Voice earlier this week when it went public on the British Olympic Association’s (BOA) decision to throw its accreditation application out of the window. Instead, the title was given a handful of football passes as a consolation prize. But, who’s interested in this? Hardly anyone by the sounds of it as half a million were withdrawn  from sale last night.

Fortunately, a successful two-day campaign led by Zita Holbourne, member of the Trades Union Congress’ race relations committee, has forced the BOA to reverse its decision.

I appreciate that the BOA’s original decision was likely to have been based on space in the stadium. And, The Voice’s lesser-known media profile and small circulation (approximately 30,000) may also have contributed. But, it’s ludicrous that our home-grown media, which champion our home-grown athletes, were almost banned from our Olympics.

All eyes will be on the fastest man alive, Usain Bolt, later this month who just so happens to be black. Yet, the biggest black paper – which coincidentally turns 30 next month – was nearly banned from connecting with its readers in real-time as he settles into the sprinting blocks. Not to mention Team GB’s Mo Farah (5,000 and 10,000 metres), Phillips Idowu (triple jump) and Perri Shakes-Drayton (400m hurdler).

It’s such a shame that the BOA even questioned whether a black paper should celebrate the achievements of all British, African and Caribbean athletes at a sporting event that’s meant to welcome, and embrace, diversity. Thankfully, for the BOA, this didn’t blow up into a race issue. Otherwise they could’ve had a riot on their hands and then who would’ve protected us? (We’re lacking in security don’t you know?)

Instead, it turned into a political issue. The Voice’s quick-thinking campaign was backed by Mayor Boris Johnson, Tessa Jewell and 2,774 others who signed the online petition.

The Voice’s sports editor Rodney Hinds made a fair point when he said it didn’t make sense for the BOA to accredit numerous journalists from the same title when it meant an entire community would be sidelined. If only they’d had a sixth sense and foreseen this uproar.

Let’s just hope everything continues smoothly for the organisers in the final days before the Gamnes to ensure they are what they should be – fair.

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