They were down and out, a nation of hard-working people delving deeper into recession. Yet the Diamond Jubilee was to be staged and it culminated in events on June 5, 2012, marking the 60th year of reign for Queen Elizabeth, the daughter of King George VI and his bride, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mum. Yes, way back on February 6, 1952, Princess Elizabeth acceded to the throne of England's monarchy, and she was crowned Queen Elizabeth II on June 2, 1953 with the 900-year old tradition of coronation at Westminster Abbey.
Now what does that have to do with the Sports Story on the Year?
Read on, sportsmen and sportswomen, read on.
The Jubilee, as it's known to most, jump-started a series of events, continuing a feel-good era for Britain that began with Adele's six-Grammy grab for her hit album, "21" and its smash-hit song of the year, "Rolling in the Deep," among others. The monumental year for the United Kingdom continued into the realm of international intrigue as James Bond celebrated his 50th anniversary since Sean Connery took to the big screen as Agent 007 in the film "Dr. No," created in 1962. British "hits" continued as 1962, an epic year in Britain, was to be celebrated properly, especially because of the July '62 debut of The Rolling Stones, one of the top three rock 'n roll bands of all-time.
The 50th anniversary of that monumental time in entertainment history might've crept up on the American movie goer, music fan or royal family enthusiast, but one thing is for sure; as the hits kept coming, the momentum for the people of Great Britain built to a new and wonderful crescendo. It was August and time for the Games of the XXX Olympiad, the Summer Olympics in London.
It seemed as though it were yesterday, but the Beijing Olympics of 2008 gave way to London with a vivid memory, as we recalled Jacques Rogge stating:
"And now, in accordance with tradition, I declare the Games of the XXIX (29th) Olympiad closed, and I call upon the youth of the world to assemble four years from now in London to celebrate the Games of the XXX Olympiad."
Fast-forward a full four years later, the London Olympic Games finished and with the extinguishing of the Olympic flame, the world stopped and paid tribute because it had just been treated to the very best that Britain had to offer.
With that as the headliner and dozens of supporting facts to serve as back-up, the DigitalSportsDesk and its online site, DigitalSportsDesk.com have named the People of Great Britain, the Athletes of Great Britain, the Volunteers of the London Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games as Sports Person(s) of the Year 2012.
This past August, Sebastian Coe, head of the organizing committee and athlete extraordinaire himself, rightfully said, "We lit the flame and we lit up the world. For the third time, for the third time in its history, London was granted the trust of the Olympic movement, and once again, we have shown ourselves worthy of that trust."
You're damn straight!
The sheer excellence not only was apparent at the London Olympics, where the athletes of Britain stepped up in 2012 like never before. In fact, they stepped up BIG-TIME! (Note the fact Brit rock star Peter Gabriel celebrated his 25th anniversary of the multi-platinum album "So," this summer).
So, fact-seekers, let us count the ways: 2012: The Year of the United Kingdom:
2012 Summer Olympics - London
- The volunteers of the London Olympics and Paralympics Games
- The participation in athletics by the British, a 750,000 person increase in regular weekly sports participation
2012 Ryder Cup - Seven from the U.K. anchor victorious European Team
- Luke Donald - England
- Paul Lawrie - Scotland
- Graeme McDowell - Northern Ireland
- Rory McIlroy - Northern Ireland
- Ian Poulter - England
- Justin Rose - England
- Lee Westwood- England
Rory McIlroy -- Northern Ireland -- PGA Champion; PGA Player of the year and leading money winner on Tour.
Andy Murray -- U.S. Open tennis champion and Olympic gold medalist
David Beckham - Retires from MLS soccer with a Cup for LA Galaxy
Athletes of the UK - 65 Olympic Medals, including 29 Gold Medals
- Men's super heavyweight boxing
- 7 golds in cycling
- 4 golds in rowing
- Chris Finch and Great Britain Olympic basketball qualified for the Men's Olympic tournament
- Strong showing, including games by Luol Deng
- The only Olympic team to represent all of Great Britain
- Leeds Rhinos Win Rugby Super Challenge
- Chelsea FC claimed the 2012 UEFA Champions League Cup
The Grande Finale:
- The crowning moment - Sir Bradley Wiggins, knighted this weekend, was the winner of the British Broadcast Corporation (BBC) Sports Personality of the Year as Britain's first-ever Tour de France winner and its most decorated athlete of all-time, winner of seven Olympic medals, including gold at London 2012.
So-says the Editor-in-Chief of DigitalSportsDesk: "When the year was complete, many Brits couldn't believe their very own eyes. The success was astounding, and the applause came from a truly global audience who witnessed the Olympics and Paralympics being staged at a level of expertise unfathomable to the sporting public. The timing was perfect, and it came as the Games opened to such splendor only days after American presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, head of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, decided to lob a rather unpleasant stink-bomb into the planning cycle of his Olympic brethren.
"The Olympic Games were followed by outstanding performances on a global stage, including Andy Murray winning the 2012 U.S. Open tennis championship and Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy becoming, well, the best damn golfer in the world," said Terry Lyons, the founder and head of DigitalSportsDesk.com and the journalists of the world agreed."
"Brits tend to be quite insecure as far as sports concerned, especially internationally" said longtime Brit journalist Ian Whittell, one of the most widely respected and knowledgeable reporters on the planet. "Our soccer team disappoints in every major tournament as we're still waiting for our first World Cup win since 1966, as you know.
"Like the United States, the country is struggling from the recession, times are hard, and there was a genuine feeling of foreboding about the Olympics from a long way out. The critics claimed, 'stuff wouldn't be ready, the infrastructure wouldn't cope, we'd bankrupt ourselves, we wouldn't win enough (gold) or any medals.
"That criticism intensified the week before, when the private security company hired to do the security for the Games admitted they had screwed up and weren't ready. (Editor's note: Whittell did not mention Mr. Romney's comments). Whitell continued, "But the mood changed dramatically with that incredible opening ceremony that graphically reminded people of why we're Great Britain. He noted, eloquently, "From day one, everything was fantastic. Our public transport ran without a hitch, the volunteers were amazing, everything worked and was on time. The TV coverage was superb and, after a couple of minor disappointments, we had our best ever Olympics. For a country used to so many shortcomings in international sport, the seemingly never-ending list of successes went beyond anyone's wildest dreams."
The most skeptic critic of the Olympic movement or the most analytical curmudgeon of a journalist could not find a single thing wrong with the Games of the XXXth Olympiad. And, from the list of both Olympic and non-Olympic accolades, one must be singled out to conclude this tribute to the People of Great Britain.
That is the fact that Chris Finch, the coach of the British Olympic basketball team, gathered a group of basketball wannabes, folded them into a single unit complete with a few NBA stars (Loul Deng), current and future prospects to represent the entire United Kingdom as one. For that, Sir Finch, you deserve special mention.
So, to the People of the U.K., to the Queen and to William and Kate (Godspeed, Kate!), to the entertainers, the sportsmen, the Olympians and Paralympians, to the tremendous passion of the volunteers for both Games, to Mick, Sir Paul, Roger & Pete - the rock stars, to the .007 Spies fueled by the imagination of Ian Fleming. And, lastly, to the collection of British Rock 'n Roll bands who descended upon New York's Madison Square Garden for the culminating moment of 2012 - the 12.12.12 Concert for Sandy Relief, we simply say, "Thank you."
Contributor Terry Lyons is Editor-in-Chief of the new online destination for sports purists - DigitalSportsDesk. You can find him at @DigSportsDesk or #terrylyons