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POPart Over the last few years, Populous has been encouraging its staff to stretch their creative skills beyond architecture. The result is now a mini-art scene which includes bi-annual exhibitions, a book and a short-listing in the World Architecture Festival’s Art and Work Awards. To celebrate the London Olympics and Paralympics, a group of 16 employees from the Brisbane office joined forces to create this multiple-image representation of London’s Olympic Stadium. Each artist interpreted a separate section of the stadium in his or her very own way.


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Robert Myszkowski Tiric Chang Nick George Dan Chambers James Pearce Mel Robson Chris Paterson Bindi Perkins

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Damian Goode Daryl Maguire Nathan Tobeck Taryn McQueen HyoJin Kwon Vinnie Maia Chris Hardie Jo Partos POPULOUS MAGAZINE //

ON YOUR MARKS... The London Olympics and Paralympics are, by far, the biggest sporting events the UK has ever staged. Here, at Populous, we are understandably excited, more than we’ve been for any previous Summer Games. In our modest way, we have helped to nurture, encourage, tend and hopefully see this wonderful occasion blossom in July. We have really put our hearts and souls into this event. Right from the initial bid, and the process of masterplanning the site, all the way through to designing the main stadium and leading the team that planned the event overlay. Even the Games venues away from the Olympic Park, such as Wembley Stadium, Wimbledon, North Greenwich Arena and Millennium Stadium, were our designs. Around half a million seats that will be used for the Olympics and Paralympics this year were part of our planning. Some have said we have been quiet and understated about our achievements. But that’s just like the design for the main stadium – a deceptively simple form that results in an elegant and confident architectural statement. Don’t worry, though. Soon, it will be time to party. We have decided to celebrate the occasion by offering a potpourri of amazing Olympic stories. In this issue we interview Olympic supremo Lord Coe, one of my personal heroes. We feature a diverse cross-section of athletic stars ranging from Usain Bolt (just how does he run so fast?) and the Dutch female field hockey team (stunning both on the field and off it) to a modern pentathlete and a dressage horse who has been sold for a reported 15 million Euros. There are also features on Olympic opening ceremonies, Paralympian technology, the way London has prepared for these Games, and an analysis of future bids for Olympic Games. Just like the Games themselves, with this issue we’ve gone faster, higher, stronger. Enjoy reading Rod Sheard

They call him the father of the modern Olympics. Pierre de Coubertin, who founded the International Olympic Committee, was the brains and the spirit behind what we now know as the Olympic Games, which is why we have chosen him as this issue’s cover star. As the 19th Century was drawing to a close, this French aristocrat and educationalist launched a campaign to unite 02


all the countries of the world in one huge sporting competition. His dream was realised in 1896 when the first modern Olympic Games were staged in Athens. Coubertin had always championed the importance of amateurism within sport. He believed the Olympics would foster peace and understanding between different cultures. And he recognized that competing was far more important than winning.

“The important thing in life is not the victory, but the fight,” he said. “The essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have battled well.” Coubertin was even an Olympic medallist himself. At the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm, when art competitions were part of the Olympic programme, he took gold medal in literature. His entry was submitted under a pseudonym.

Get set... 20




LEFT FIELD How technology is helping swimmers and Paralympians break new records.

LORD COE The London Olympic boss explains how a career in athletics has prepared him for running the UK’s biggest ever sports event.




Horse power Totilas, arguably the world’s greatest ever dressage horse, was sold to the Germans for 15 million Euros. But can he find his form in time for the Olympics?

Faster, higher, stronger What is it that makes the world’s greatest Olympians so great? Often it’s a fine-tuning in their technique and tactics, or a quirk in their physiology.

LET THERE BE LIGHT It all used to be so simple. Nowadays, though, the Olympic opening ceremony is a monumentally complex stage show involving thousands of participants.

Ultimate allrounders Modern pentathletes must be world-class at shooting, fencing, show-jumping, swimming and cross-country running. How can they possibly be such great allrounders?



LIGHTNING BOLT Can science explain the physiological advantages Usain Bolt has over rivals?


Pastures new Isn’t it time the Olympics were staged outside the usual advanced nations? Matt Cutler, from Sport Business International, finds out if the likes of Qatar are in with a shout for the 2020 Games.

Dutch courage They may be the most glamorous team in field hockey, but how on Earth do good looks help the Dutch women win medals?

THE HOST WITH THE MOST Transport, accommodation, security and millions of fans. Expect the warmest of British welcomes from the Olympic hosts.


THE ETERNAL FLAME Populous senior architect Maddalena Cannarsa has been chosen as one of London’s official Olympic torch-bearers.

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Populous magazine is published by: Alma Media International London, United Kingdom Tel: +44 (0) 20 8944 1155 Email: Web:

Images: Roger-Viollet (cover); Getty Images; Corbis; AP Images; Arnd Bronkhorst (p23); Adam Gasson (p28); Pierre Sheard (p35); Adidas; Le Coq Sportif; magazine; FHM Netherlands; LOCOG / London 2012; Ossur UK; Speedo

Editor-in-chief: Rod Sheard Editorial team: Nick Reynolds Tom Jones Patricia Fernandez

Publisher: Tony Richardson Editor: Dominic Bliss Art direction and design: Deep

© Alma Media International Ltd 2012 All material is strictly copyright and all rights are reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without the written permission of Alma Media International is strictly forbidden. The greatest care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of information in this magazine at the time of going to press, but we accept no responsibility for omissions or errors. The views expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of Alma Media International or Populous.


Water colours Look back at some of the most stunning imagery and unforgettable moments from Olympic aquatic sports.


Populous magazine is sent to our clients and friends around the sporting world.






Six million dollar men He could run at 60 mph, leap off tall buildings and lift cars up above his head. The Six Million Dollar Man was a TV character from the 1970s with bionic implants that gave him superhuman powers. It was pure fantasy, of course. But now, thanks to modern prosthetics in disabled sport, that fantasy is just a little bit closer to reality. If anyone should be dubbed The Six Million Dollar Man, it’s got to be South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius. With carbon-fibre blades instead of feet, this double amputee has dominated sprint events in recent Paralympic Games. He’s so fast he’s even attempting to qualify alongside able-bodied athletes for the 400 metres at the London Olympics. Pistorius’s blades are just one weapon in

a whole armoury available to the world’s top disabled athletes. Racing wheelchairs, for example, feature super-light aluminium tubing, carbon-fibre disk wheels, titanium caliper brakes and occasionally aerodynamic fairing. The leading models have their aerodynamics fine-tuned in a wind tunnel, with top Paralympians requesting chairs custom-built for their particular build. But this isn’t any different in principle to the machinery used in Olympic cycling. Where disabled sport gets really interesting is in the use of prosthetic body parts. Technology in this area has advanced massively in the UK and USA, thanks to investment by the military, many of whose personnel have lost limbs in conflicts in

the Middle East. One university in the US is even researching the possibility of attaching motorised ankles and feet onto the residual limb bones of amputees to give them extra strength and speed while running. Suddenly, The Six Million Dollar Man is starting to sound a lot less like science fiction. David James is a sports engineer at Sheffield Hallam University, in the UK. He has worked extensively on engineering in disabled sport. “This kind of work is hugely exciting, but we have to be slightly careful when it comes to sport,” he says. “If you put powered prostheses in runners, I’m pretty sure neither the public nor the sports authorities would stomach it. An internal power supply would give them too much of an advantage.”

Left: Disabled runner Oscar Pistorius, aka The Blade Runner, is just seconds behind the top able-bodied runners.



Costume drama Don’t be surprised if swimming records get shattered at the London Olympics. Many of the world’s top swimmers, including 14-times gold medallist Michael Phelps and double gold medallist Rebecca Adlington (pictured), will be sporting a new swimsuit which they believe gives them a massive hydrodynamic advantage. Designed by Speedo, it’s called the FASTSKIN3. Where it differs from other swimsuits is that all three elements – the goggles, the swimming cap and the body suit – are specially engineered to be worn in a streamlined sequence on the body so as to allow maximum speed through the water. Swimmers have to use special markers to line them up in the correct position before they compete. According to the manufacturers, the suit is so hydrodynamic that drag through the water is reduced by 5.7 per cent compared to normal goggles, cap and suit from the same brand. That may not sound a great deal when you’re splashing about at the beach, but in the Olympic pool it could make all the difference between glory and failure. Fortunately for Speedo, who have spent 55,000 man-hours developing the new suit, the sport’s governing body FINA has approved it for competition. The elite version of the suit, aimed at professional swimmers, features a special fabric which compresses the swimmer’s body in all the right places to create a more efficient shape through the water. Part of the design process involved using the same 3D scanning technology that filmmakers use to create CGI effects in feature films. Given such a high-tech and streamlined design, it’s no easy task actually getting into the suit. The female version is pulled on via the arm holes, which risks a few rather un-ladylike sights in the changing rooms. Speedo aren’t the only swimwear manufacturer going high-tech. Italian company Arena, for example, are bringing out a new carbon-fibre swimsuit called the Carbon-Pro which, they claim, increases a swimmer’s muscle power – by compressing the muscles – but without restricting movement. The suit also features elasticised tape in the leg and buttock areas, which, apparently, gives extra spring on dives, kicks and turns. Just how much, they can’t say. But then, in the mission to break new swimming records, every millisecond counts.

Left and above: Double Olympic gold medallist Rebecca Adlington in her new swimsuit combination.












For the last three years Populous has been playing a major role in the architecture and design of the London Olympic venues. As well as designing the main Olympic stadium, we have also been a key part of the masterplanning team and have led the overlay design of most of the sports venues across the capital. Throughout this entire process we have, not surprisingly, worked very closely with the chairman of the Olympic organising committee, Lord Coe. It’s inspirational to see how his leadership has enabled the preparations for the greatest show on Earth to run as smoothly as they possibly can. In this special interview for Populous magazine, Lord Coe explains how his experience as an Olympic athlete has helped him prepare London for its biggest ever sports event. And how he hopes the main Olympic stadium will inspire athletes to perform faster, higher and stronger than ever before. Rod Sheard Senior principal, Populous

OLYMPIC TSAR // Lord Coe, head of the London Olympics, talks about how a career in athletics prepared him for running the biggest sports event his country has ever seen.

Lord Coe is a man used to winning. In the 1980s he ran his way to two gold and two silver medals at the Olympics. In the 1990s he was elected a member of parliament for the UK. Then in the 2000s he led London’s successful bid to stage the Olympics. His greatest race of all, though, will be this summer when he heads up the mammoth task of organising the London Games. “This is probably the most challenging race of my career,” says the 55-year-old who enjoys his ‘Lord’ prefix thanks to his seat in the UK parliament’s upper house, the House of Lords. “The Olympics and Paralympics are the largest sporting events in the world, and this is quite complex project management. The sheer scale of the London 2012 Games is impressive: we will be hosting 26 simultaneous world championships during the Olympics and then 20 world championships during the Paralympics. At Games time, we’ll have a team of up to 70,000 volunteers, around 100,000 contractors and a workforce of 6,000.”

Working hardest of all will be the thousands of athletes competing in the Games, all of whom are now entering the final stages of their preparation. Having enjoyed a glittering athletic career himself, as plain old Seb Coe, he knows exactly how they’re feeling. Born in London, and brought up in Yorkshire, in the north of England, Coe quickly made a name for himself once he started competing on the international athletics scene. During the late 1970s and early 1980s he set a string of world records in various middle distances. But it was in 1980, at the Moscow Olympics, that he first became a household name in the UK, winning gold in the 1500 metres and silver in the 800 metres, and at the same time triggering a rivalry with fellow Brit, Steve Ovett, that caught the imagination of the entire British population. It was possibly the most intense rivalry British sport has ever known; at least in individual sport. One great example was a 10-day period in 1981, during which the duo traded the world record for the mile between them three times. Even now, three decades on, many British sports fans still can’t think of one man without the other. There’s even a BBC film about their epic duels out this summer. But all those years of training, all those high-octane races… they’re nothing compared to the intensity of the task Lord Coe faces this summer. It’s perhaps a hackneyed comparison, but organising a major sports event is much like competing in one: the preparation, the deadlines, the discipline, the final performance. “In terms of preparation, it’s remarkably similar,” Coe says. “As an athlete, you spend years preparing for one key moment, and this is what we have to do as an organising committee. When I was competing, I needed to be as prepared as I possibly could. I didn’t want to come across something in a race or on the track that I hadn’t come across before. This is the same process that we would follow for the London 2012 Games, and why we’ve had a whole programme to test our venues.” The Olympians coming to London must be reassured to know the chief organiser is a former Olympian himself. “Athletes and sport have always been at the heart of all our planning,” Coe insists. “We want to get everything right for them. All our venues and facilities have been built with athletes in mind. I don’t want an athlete competing at these Games to say they weren’t given the opportunity to compete in the best conditions possible.” Although he hasn’t sported his running spikes for well over 20 years, Coe clearly remembers what Olympic athletes need from the Games organisers in order to excel. “From my own experience, what was crucial to me when I was competing, was knowing that POPULOUS MAGAZINE //









“As an athlete, you spend years preparing for one key moment. This is what we have to do as an organising committee.” LORD COE, CHAIRMAN OF THE OLYMPIC ORGANISING COMMITTEE.




I could concentrate 100 per cent on my performance. So I needed to know that the transport would be reliable, that the catering would be suitable for my diet, that there would be volunteers who would be available to help, and that my training team was near me. I’m confident we will deliver all of this, this summer.” He’s also confident Olympians will be inspired by Populous’s innovative design for the main stadium. “Although it’s a big venue, it still feels quite intimate. As an athlete, I would have loved the opportunity to compete in it. It’s a brilliant venue. Populous have really designed a fantastic stadium.” A key part of Populous’s strategy was to design venues which could be reduced in size after the Games had finished, and transformed into more manageable venues. It’s a strategy Coe admires. “It’s definitely the way we wanted to do things here in London.” In architectural circles there have even been suggestions that, in the future, Olympic

Lord Coe inspects Populous’s Olympic stadium with Olympic ambassador and soccer player David Beckham. 08

Olympic tsar // COE-OPERATION

venues might be dismantled altogether and shipped off to another Olympic host city to be used four years later. “That could potentially happen,” Coe says, “but I think it really depends on what each host city will need in terms of new venues. For London 2012, legacy was a very important part of our bid. Building temporary venues, as well as using existing venues where possible, was a key part of our planning. So if some of our temporary venues, such as the Basketball Arena, can be used at other Olympics, that would be fantastic.” In the meantime there’s the complicated task of hosting the greatest show on Earth. This time round, Coe isn’t eligible for a medal. But if, like in his athletics races, he completes his job successfully, he’ll surely deserve a lap of honour.

POP VIDEO... Watch Seb Coe’s gold medal win in Moscow.

“Populous have really designed a fantastic stadium. As an athlete, I would have loved the opportunity to compete in it.” LORD COE, CHAIRMAN OF THE OLYMPIC ORGANISING COMMITTEE.

In 1980 Coe beat his great rival Steve Ovett (left) to win gold in the 1500m in Moscow. POPULOUS MAGAZINE //


OLYMPIC RECORDS // What is it that makes the world’s greatest Olympians so great? Often it’s a fine-tuning in their technique and tactics, or a quirk in their physiology that gives them the tiny advantages they need. Dominic Bliss unearths the most secret of Olympic weapons.

Nadia Comaneci

GYMnastICS, Romania Olympic medals: 1976: gold in all-around, uneven bars,

and balance beam; silver in team; bronze in floor; 1980: gold in balance beam and floor; silver in team and all-around.

Reason for dominance: Comaneci was the best

because she was the most original. Barely into her teens, she revolutionised the world of gymnastics thanks to some of the most inventive and difficult manoeuvres the sport had ever seen, many of which, up to this day, still bear her name. It was this stunning originality that helped her score seven perfect 10s at the Montreal Olympics in 1976. Early in her career the head of the International Gymnastics Federation was so flabbergasted by her style that he branded it “dangerous acrobatics which could lead to pelvic fractures”.

Sergey Bubka

Pole Vault, Soviet Union Olympic medals: 1988: gold in pole vault. Reason for dominance: Just six feet tall, and weighing only 176lbs,

Bubka was neither the tallest nor the biggest man to wield a vaulting pole. However, he still managed to generate enormous speed and strength. His average velocity during the approach was measured at 22.2mph, or 9.9 metres per second. The extra strength allowed him to carry a pole heavier than that used by vaulters of his size, which meant more recoil was generated on the pole bend. But perhaps most crucial of all was Bubka’s grip. Because he gripped the pole much higher than most vaulters, he benefitted from enormous leverage.


olympic records // faster, higher, stronger

Trischa Zorn

SWIMMING, USA Paralympic medals: 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996,

2000, 2004: 41 golds, nine silver and five bronze.

Reason for dominance: The most decorated

Paralympian of all time (a staggering 55 medals in all), visually impaired Zorn blew all her opponents out of the water… literally. She was dominant in just about every swimming skill you could pinpoint. However, there was one area of her training which differed enormously from her peers’. Most visually impaired swimmers are helped during practice by an assistant situated poolside who gently taps them on the head to warn them they’re approaching the turn. Zorn chose not to use this aid which armed her with extra confidence when it came to competition.

Carl Lewis

TRACK AND FIELD, USA Olympic medals: 1984: gold in 100m, 200m, 4x100m relay

and long jump; 1988: gold in 100m and long jump; silver in 200m; 1992: gold in 4x100m relay and long jump; 1996: gold in long jump.

Reason for dominance: It’s fair to say that Carl Lewis’s

superb record in the long jump (his 1984 indoor world record still stands to this day) was helped massively by the fact he was the fastest sprinter in the world at the same time. However, the man himself claims it was his healthy vegan diet which gave him such dominance over rivals. It allowed him to eat huge quantities of vegetables and fruit while training, but without putting on any extra weight. “My best year of track competition was the first year I ate a vegan diet,” he remembers. “I was drinking 24 to 32 ounces of juice a day.”



Rafa Nadal

TENNIS, Spain Olympic medals: 2008: gold in singles tennis. Reason for dominance: On normal forehand

groundstrokes, all the world’s top tennis players regularly generate speeds of well over 60mph. Where Nadal differs, however, is in the mind-blowing topspin he manages to generate – forcing the ball to rotate at up to 5,000 rpm. Thanks to his extreme semi-western grip (ie. twisted back much further towards the baseline than most players) – and the way he whips the racket from down low to a position high up and round the back of his head, he imparts on the ball a downward force that – even at top speed and full power – causes it to dip into the court before going out. It’s known as the Magnus Effect. For opponents there’s then the extra problem of dealing with the vicious rebound (or kick) of a topspun ball as it bounces.

Dick Fosbury

HIGH JUMP, USA Olympic medals: 1968: gold in high jump. Reason for dominance: Few athletes, in any sport, have

been as revolutionary as Dick Fosbury. Yet, his decision to adopt the unorthodox high-jump technique of a backwards flop over the bar all came about simply because he was unable to coordinate himself to do the traditional forwards-facing straddle favoured by other top-level jumpers. The Fosbury flop, as it became known, was so successful that it was soon copied by virtually every top-level high-jumper on the planet. It’s still ubiquitous today. Had his new style not coincided with the arrival of foam landing mats, it’s unlikely it would have caught on. Previously, high jumpers had to land on sand or wood chip.

Steve Redgrave

Rowing, Great Britain Olympic medals: 1984: gold in coxed

four; 1988: gold in coxless pair, bronze in coxed pair; 1992: gold in coxless pair; 1996: gold in coxless pair; 2000: gold in coxless four.

Reason for dominance: At elite

level, all rowers have near-perfect technique, and all are tall, broad-shouldered, with long limbs and mighty cardiovascular capacity. So what makes Redgrave so exceptional? Is it something as simple as the number of hours he spent in a boat? “Sometimes four training sessions in a day,” he said recently, looking back on


olympic records // faster, higher, stronger

his gruelling schedule. “That’s 20 kms a training session. That’s for 49 weeks a year. So when you’re ploughing up and down the river, your feeling is: ‘This is horrible. I don’t want to be doing this. But I’ve got to be doing this for the race.’” With Redgrave, however, there’s another factor to consider: his mind. Of course, mental strength is impossible to measure. But to win five Olympic golds at five separate Olympics, over a period of 17 years, plus all the training in between… his mental strength must have been off the scale.

Michael Phelps SWIMMING, USA

Olympic medals: 2004: gold in 100m

butterfly, 200m butterfly, 200m medley, 400m medley, 4x200m freestyle and 4x100m medley; bronze in 200m freestyle and 4x100m freestyle; 2008: gold in 100m butterfly, 200m butterfly, 200m medley, 400m medley, 200m freestyle, 4x100m freestyle, 4x200m freestyle and 4x100m medley.

Reason for dominance: Even by

swimmers’ standards, Phelps has an unusually shaped body, and one that is perfectly suited to aquatic speed. His torso is lean and elongated, while his legs are short relative to his height of 6ft 4ins, all of which means he has minimum drag through the water. His unfeasibly long arms – outstretched, they span to over two metres – propel him like huge paddles, while his size-14 feet are attached to his legs on extremely flexible ankles, so that he can flick them up and down like flippers.

Usain Bolt

SPRINTING, Jamaica Olympic medals: 2008: gold in 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay. Reason for dominance: See page 14.



LIGHTNIN USAIN BOLT // Just how does Usain Bolt sprint so much faster than all his rivals? Jason Henderson, editor of Athletics Weekly, analyses the physiological advantages of this superhuman Jamaican.

Percentage of fast-twitch muscles. (Average human vs Bolt )

Before the Beijing Olympics, had someone described the size and shape of the man who would revolutionise world sprinting, it would have sounded like a tall story – in more ways than one. At 6ft 5in, Usain Bolt bucks the trend. In theory, his lofty height (almost a foot taller than some previous 100-metre record-holders) should make it difficult for him to get into his stride. Once he gains momentum, however, the 25-year-old can reach a top speed of 27.79mph. This has led to record times of 9.58 and 19.19 seconds for the 100 metres and 200 metres respectively. Once, in a 150-metre street sprint, he was even timed at an incredible 8.70 seconds over a 100-metre stretch, with a top speed of 10.45 metres per second. There are cheetahs that would raise both eyebrows at that.

Percentage of super-fasttwitch skeletal muscle mass. (Average human vs Bolt )

Amount of time each step touches the ground in 100m race. (Average human vs Bolt )


Good sprint mechanics depend on having long levers. “Bolt is perfectly designed for long strides and fast movement,” says Kevin Norton, professor of exercise science at the University of South Australia. “His lower leg, relative to his upper leg, is very long. His total leg length, relative to his total body height, is long.” Dr Richard Ferguson, senior lecturer in exercise physiology at Loughborough University, adds: “If you have longer legs, then you have longer muscles, which can generate more speed and more velocity.”

Number of strides needed to complete a 100m race. (Bolt’s rivals vs Bolt )

Average stride length. (Bolt’s rivals vs Bolt )




Mere mortals have a 50 per cent split of slow- and fast-twitch muscle fibres. Worldclass sprinters like Bolt, however, have up to 80 per cent of fast-twitch fibres. Scott Trappe, an American human performance scientist, believes most people have one to two per cent of what he calls “super-fast-twitch skeletal muscle mass” which functions at double the speed of normal fast-twitch muscle mass. In Bolt’s case he could have up to 25 per cent of these super-fast fibres.


With an average stride length of 2.44 metres in a 100-metre race, Bolt covers the distance in just 41 strides compared to the 44 to 47 strides of his rivals. It’s all down to the angle of his stride. American biomechanist Bob Prichard has measured the angle between Bolt’s front and rear legs when he’s at full stride and found it to be around 114 degrees, compared to around 106 degrees for his rivals. “Because a runner increases their stride length by two per cent for each degree that they increase their stride angle, Bolt is covering at least 16 per cent more ground with each stride than his opponents,” Prichard explains.


Wearing US size 13 shoes, Bolt’s feet act as highly effective levers. But they’re very nimble levers, too. Each one kisses the ground for only four hundredths of a second (compared to 12 hundredths for ordinary runners) and with 450 kgs of force for each step. No wonder he managed to break the world 100-metre record at the 2008 Olympics even with a shoelace untied.

Relative distance over five strides. (Bolt’s rivals vs Bolt )



FIELD HOCKEY // Yes, they’re beautiful. Yes, they do skimpy photo shoots. Yes, they win sponsorship contracts. But how does this help the Dutch women’s hockey team on the pitch? Andre Venema, sportswriter from Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad, meets the gorgeous Oranje.





For the last 40 years, the Dutch women’s field hockey team has been a dominant force in world sport. Not only because of their skills on the pitch, but also because of their good looks. More recently, the Oranje – as all Dutch national teams are known – with their short skirts and tight shirts, have injected the sport with serious glamour. In the process, they’ve atrracted huge support from outside their traditional fanbase. “They desperately wanted to win Olympic gold, but also to look good,’’ says former coach Marc Lammers, who laid the foundation for the team’s title win in Beijing in 2008. “Their opinion was that appearance was very important; one of the top priorities.’’ Field hockey is one of the few sports in The Netherlands that is on the rise. In the

“Their opinion was that appearance was very important; one of the top priorities.’’ Former team coach Marc Lammers.

Amsterdam area, historically one of the strongest bases nationwide, hockey clubs are so oversubscribed that it’s not uncommon for children to have to wait a whole year before they can join. Almost 225,000 players at 320 clubs are registered with the Dutch field hockey federation, the KNHB. In autumn and spring they compete on artificial grass. In winter they play indoors. Very popular with students, the sport is also a favourite amongst the middle classes in wealthy areas such as Wassenaar, Bloemendaal, Het Gooi, Zeist and

Amsterdam. Many successful clubs service these populations. The Dutch women first won the world title in 1971, adding a further seven trophies over the next 40 years. On top of this they’ve won eight European titles, six Champions Trophies and two Olympic gold medals (1984 and 2008). During the 1990s it was the Australian women’s team which dominated, but since the turn of the millennium, the Dutch have surged back. Spearheading this resurgence was coach Marc Lammers who returned to Holland after working in Spain. “When I came back to Holland I was surprised how little we trained,” he recalls. “Spain, Australia and China did double the hours we did. We built up the intensity, which is one of the reasons we’re back on top.’’

Dutch players have modelled for several sponsors and magazines. 18


The Dutch team celebrates gold in Beijing.

In action against Argentina.

Other reasons, he says, include innovation, creativity and new strategies. A good example of this is the all-crucial penalty corner for which the team practises special moves hours on end, until they’ve perfected them. “I think we are the clear favorites for the gold medal in London,’’ Lammers says. “Our player Maartje Paumen is one of a kind in shooting the penalty corner. She’s a tremendous weapon.’’ Four years ago, at the Beijing Olympics, Fatima Moreira de Melo was one of the Dutch golden girls. Thanks to her stunning blonde features, she instantly became one of the most popular female athletes in the Netherlands. “I am convinced that our appearance helped us in many ways,’’ the now-retired player says. “When you’re, let’s say, good-looking, it gives you a shot of extra self-confidence, even on the hockey pitch. Our squad, at that time, consisted of 18 gorgeous women. Some

“We had an impact on children. But not only because of the way we looked, dressed and behaved. Above all we wanted to win. We were smart, skilled, creative. That was our true strength.” Olympic hockey champion Fatima Moreira de Melo.

people told Marc that he only selected goodlooking women, which of course was not true. However, I don’t think our success was just because of the fact we looked good. Success depends on a lot of things. We had been playing together in national teams since we were 12 years old and were good friends. We accepted each other’s habits. We were driven by winning.’’

Now a professional poker player, Moreira de Melo was as successful off the pitch as she was on it. Skincare company H2O Plus signed her up as the face of their brand. Le Coq Sportif paid her good money to design sticks and clothing. Banker Rabobank, also the main sponsor of the Dutch federation, used her for TV commercials and advertising. She also posed for a rather risqué photo shoot in men’s magazine FHM, with a snake, which raised a fair few eyebrows. “And she was the one who designed the tight shirts and skirts together with adidas,’’ Lammers adds. “In 2004 I asked the players what they wanted. They said they wanted to win, to become fit, to be commited and to work on their appearance. They wanted to show that hockey is not an elite kind of sport, but a sport that’s open and sexy. I myself didn’t care about shirts and skirts, but they thought it was very important they looked good. Image was part of the plan to make that last step to the number one position.’’ Moreira de Melo had just the right character to transform the sport’s image. “In hockey, people tended to look the same, and behave the same,” she explains. “It used to be a little stiff. I found it oppressive.’’ She was initially criticised for trying to shake up the sport. “I dared to do things no one else would,” she remembers. “I put on mascara when we played. People asked me why. They said: ‘You’re going to play hockey, aren’t you?’ Nowadays it is accepted that you can behave like a woman and be an athlete at the same time. Back then sportswomen had to be bitches. I wasn’t like that. I didn’t want to belie my nature.’’ Moreira de Melo recalls how one of her teammates, Ingrid Deenen, was the first player to openly admit that she’d had a breast implant. “It was unheard of! She was my hero because of that.” Moreira de Melo is still one of Holland’s best-known female athletes of all time. She and her colleagues have inspired thousands of youngsters to take up field hockey, and have transformed the sport into one that now atrracts very high-end sponsors. “We were quite often on television,” she explains. “I think we had an impact on children. But not only because of the way we looked, dressed and behaved. Above all, we wanted to win. We invested a lot of time in the team. We were smart, skilled, creative and were part of a strong generation. That was our true strength.’’ It seems the current Dutch team, clear favourites for Olympic gold in London this summer, bears all the same hallmarks. POP VIDEO... See the Dutch team win gold in Beijing.





LONDON PREPARES // With over 11 million visitors expected – on top of its eight million residents – London has a mammoth task on its hands when it comes to transport, accommodation and security. Here we take a peek at how Londoners plan to extend the warmest of British welcomes.



“Above all, the people of London will be ready to welcome the world’s finest athletes to the greatest Games that have ever been held, in the greatest city on Earth.” Bold words from London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, especially since he uttered them last summer, a whole year before the London Olympics were due to start. But now, with hindsight, it seems he wasn’t exaggerating. All the Olympic venues are indeed ready. As are the numerous improvements to transport infrastructure, and the bolstering of security across the British capital. London’s authorities have quite a task on their hands this year. As well as the Olympics and Paralympics, there are the celebrations for Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee, with its climax in June. Not surprisingly, security will be tighter than ever. The Games themselves are being hailed as the biggest peacetime security operation Britain has ever undertaken. Typhoon jets, HMS Ocean and up to 13,500 military personnel will be involved. 9,000 police officers will be dedicated to Olympic duties on the busiest days, supplemented by an additional 10,000 security guards. Transport in Europe’s biggest city has been revolutionised with drastically needed improvements to the London Underground, mainline trains, the bus network, the road network, cycling facilities and even boat transport along the River Thames. The motorway which encircles Greater London – the M25 – has been widened in the years leading up to the Games, while London’s rail link with the Channel Tunnel and mainland Europe has been rerouted through Stratford, the London quarter where the main Olympic Park is situated. (During the Games there will be an extra high-speed link called Javelin.) Transport links to the other Olympic venues such as Wembley, Greenwich and Wimbledon, have also been improved, while for athletes, media and Olympic officials, over 100 miles of

dedicated road lanes have been set aside. During the Games, travel routes will run later than normal to cope with the exodus of visitors at the end of each day. UK residents have so far bought 95 per cent of all the tickets sold, and many live within a day’s travel of the capital. Getting out will be as important as getting in. This explains why London’s hotels may in fact face a lack of demand. A perception that prices will be inflated and availability lessened could see room occupancy drop from a typical 90 per cent to just 80 per cent. Even LOCOG, the Olympic organising committee, has returned 120,000 of the 600,000 rooms it had booked. Other members of the hospitality industry will hope to pick up any slack. As Miles Quest of the British Hospitality Association put it, “these people still have to eat.” There are other, less visible infrastructure challenges. An estimated 26,000 media personnel, many using wireless cameras and microphones, will cover the Games. Their presence, in addition to timing, scoring and commentary systems at the venues, will increase the strain on London’s wireless infrastructure. Ofcom, which regulates the UK’s communication industries, has assigned 20,000 wireless frequencies to London over the summer, double the usual amount. From the start, critics of London 2012 claimed the city’s infrastructure would be unable to cope. A 2004 IOC working group criticised London’s “often obsolete” rail transport system, worried about travel times and fretted about its inexperience in hosting large events. Eight years on, those fears have been largely laid to rest. As Mayor Johnson boasted last summer, with typical bravado: “We might as well call a snap Olympics tomorrow and catch the rest of the world napping.”

London 2012 Olympic Venues

Lord’s Cricket Ground The world’s most famous cricket venue, Lord’s has been hosting top-class cricket – including Test matches, oneday internationals and county matches – since 1814. The Olympic archery competition, for which Populous has designed the spectator facilities, will take place on the hallowed turf of the cricket outfield.

The Mall


Hampton Court Palace

Wembley Stadium Wembley Stadium, the home ground of the English football team, was built in 2007 on the site of the original 1923 stadium. Designed by Populous, its 90,000 seats are sheltered from the weather by a sliding roof, while its pitch remains out in the open. The 133 metretall arch dominates the entire skyline of north-west London.

Wembley Arena



Horse Guards Parade A parade ground right next to Whitehall, the seat of the UK government, Horse Guards Parade was originally used for jousting tournaments during the reign of Henry VIII. Nowadays it’s the home of the Queen’s birthday celebrations, Trooping the Colour. Populous have designed temporary courts and seating here for the Olympic beach volleyball.

Trafalgar Square


Big Ben


St Paul’s Cathedral


5 3

London Eye


Tate Modern



13 Hyde Park

Wimbledon Home to the most famous tennis tournament in the world, Wimbledon has been welcoming the world’s greatest tennis players onto its grass courts since 1922. The club owners recently embarked on a major upgrade. Populous designed upgrades to the Centre Court, including a hydraulic, retractable roof, and two new show courts.

Earls Court

Basketball Arena

Aquatics Centre


Copper Box


OLYMPIC PARK North Greenwich Arena Normally known as The O2, this huge structure was originally built as part of Britain’s millennium celebrations in 2000. It was later reconfigured by Populous into a huge arena, and has now grown to become the world’s most popular entertainment venue, with seating for 23,000 and more than 1.7 million ticket sales every year.

r Bridge Canary Wharf



RIVER ZONE 10 Greenwich Observatory

Greenwich Park

Olympic Stadium Of all the Olympic venues, this is the jewel in the crown. The Populous-designed Olympic Stadium will host the track and field sports, as well as the opening and closing ceremonies. It has a capacity of 80,000 but, rather cleverly, can have its seating layout reconfigured after the Games to host smaller events. There is a reduced use of steel and low-carbon concrete throughout. The Games organisers have said it’s the most sustainable Olympic stadium ever built.


Central Zone 1

Olympic Park 8 Olympic Stadium

Earls Court (volleyball)


Lord’s Cricket Ground (archery)


Hyde Park (triathlon, marathon swimming)

4 Horse Guards Parade (beach volleyball)

5 The Mall (marathon, race walk, Paralympic marathon, road cycling)

OTHER LONDON VENUES 6 Wembley Arena (badminton, rhythmic gymnastics)


Wembley Stadium (football)

(athletics, Paralympic athletics) Copper Box (handball, goalball, modern pentathlon) Aquatics Centre (diving, swimming, synchronised swimming, Paralympic swimming, modern pentathlon) Basketball Arena (basketball, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, handball) Velodrome (track cycling, Paralympic track cycling) BMX Track (BMX cycling) Eton Manor (wheelchair tennis) Riverbank Arena (hockey, Paralympic five-aside football, Paralympic seven-a-side football) Water Polo Arena (water polo)

River Zone 9 North Greenwich Arena (artistic gymnastics, trampoline, basketball, wheelchair basketball)

10 Greenwich Park (equestrian, Paralympic equestrian, modern pentathlon)


The Royal Artillery Barracks (shooting, Paralympic shooting, Paralympic archery)

12 ExCel (boxing, fencing, judo, table tennis, taekwondo, weightlifting, wrestling, boccia, Paralympic table tennis, Paralympic judo, Paralympic powerlifting, sitting volleyball, wheelchair fencing)

13 Wimbledon



14 Hampton Court Palace (road cycling) Key |

Populous design

Non-Populous design

Venues outside London a


The Royal Artillery Barracks c

Lee Valley White Water Centre (canoe slalom) Eton Dorney (rowing, Paralympic rowing, canoe sprint) c

Hampden Park (football)


Millennium Stadium (football)








Hadleigh Farm (mountain bike) f

Old Trafford (football) St James’ Park (football)


Weymouth and Portland (sailing, Paralympic sailing) City of Coventry Stadium (football) Brands Hatch (Paralympic road cycling)

a e





HORSE POWER EQUESTRIAN SPORT // In dressage – the equestrian equivalent of gymnastics – there’s one horse head and mane above all the rest: 11-year-old stallion Totilas. But after controversially switching nationality (for 15 million Euros!), he’s struggling to maintain his form ahead of the Olympics. Ben Cove discovers the secrets of his horse power.

Mention the name Totilas to anyone with even a passing interest in equestrian sports, and their face will light up with uninhibited exhilaration. This Dutch Warmblood stallion is, quite simply, the greatest horse ever to grace the dressage arena. Triple gold medallist in dressage at the last World Equestrian Games, he has that je ne sais quoi: an intangible, inexplicable, priceless sparkle, the type of which had never been witnessed in his sport until he arrived on the scene three years ago. “Totilas blew everyone’s minds at his first international event,” explains Carl Hester, Britain’s number one dressage rider who has competed against the 11-year-old stallion and his Dutch rider, Edward Gal. “Normally horses are either too relaxed or too on edge, but Toto’s temperament was impeccable. He moved with 22

equestrian sport // horse power

grace, with emotion, with spectacle. Almost instantly, he and Edward were breaking world records and transcending our sport like never before.” Amidst the traditional conservatism of  dressage, Toto, as he’s known, was fastbecoming a four-legged rock star; a superior being who single-handedly sold out arenas, quadrupled TV ratings and re-wrote records. With his Facebook following spiralling into tens of thousands, and T-shirts with his image selling for hundreds of Euros, dressage had its first true superstar. At one horse show in Germany a female fan even tried to buy a rubber glove covered in the horse’s spittle. “We’re under no illusions. We know that, for the uninitiated, dressage can be boring to watch,” admits Hester. “But Totilas became to dressage what Tiger Woods, in his

prime, was to golf. He added a new dimension and raised the bar. Suddenly those with no prior knowledge of the sport were hooked.” Like so many defining athletes, Totilas has not been free of controversy. Born and bred in Holland – and having won a clean sweep of prizes under the Dutch flag during 2009 and 2010 – the stallion you couldn’t put a price on was sold for a reported 15 million Euros to a rival stable in Germany. Totilas’ Dutch rider, Edward Gal, who’d bonded with his equine partner for six years, was left devastated. “I felt like I’d been struck by lightning,” he admitted. Germany, long the dominant force in international dressage, had already surrendered its stranglehold to Holland, its closest rival, so when the Germans lured him across, it was seen as a significant statement of intent. Beforehand, eyebrows were raised if a million

Totilas is so popular that a female fan even tried to buy a rubber glove covered in the horse’s spittle.

The world’s highest-paid stud Although Totilas cost 15 million Euros, much of this money will be recouped in breeding fees. In 2010, his first year of breeding, the Dutch Warmblood stallion received more than 350 stud applications from countries all over the world. Half of the requests came from German stables where 175 mares were approved, each stumping up the breeding fee of 5,500 Euros.

Above: The majestic Totilas in action. Below: One of his recent offspring.

Euros were paid for a grand prix horse, let alone 15 times the amount. The move sent shockwaves throughout the dressage fraternity. With the superstar stallion coming to terms with new surroundings and now operating under a new flag, and a new German rider, dressage fans waited in anticipation. “This is where it gets interesting,” says Carl Hester. “Dressage is not an individual sport. It’s a partnership. Many saw Totilas as untouchable while Edward was on the saddle, but he had to start over with the German rider.” Fast forward a year, and Toto is now struggling in his quest to recapture former glories. The harmony that once oozed effortlessly from his and Gal’s performances has faded now that Matthias Alexander Rath, stepson of the new owner, is in the saddle. Ahead of this summer’s Olympics, where the

duo will compete under the flag of Germany, teething problems cloud their preparations. “I don’t envy the pressure Rath’s under,” admits Carl Hester, who will face Totilas and his new rider in London. “Rath is a young guy, a great rider. But Totilas is expected to be extraordinary, and the chemistry he enjoyed with Gal takes years to nurture.” It looks like Totilas will need his je ne sais quoi more than ever before. “With Gal aboard, I’d have said Totilas was a dead cert for gold,” Hester adds. “But now it will be wide open. It just goes to show: no matter how much money you have, you can’t buy sporting supremacy.” Populous has designed London’s Olympic equestrian venue at Greenwich Park. It has also worked on Ascot (UK), Keeneland (USA) and Happy Valley (Hong Kong).

In total, this amounts to an annual revenue of more than a million Euros a year for 2011 and 2012. Should Totilas win Olympic gold this summer, this stud fee could double the following year.

POP VIDEO... Watch Totilas. This could change your view of dressage forever.



opening ceremonies // The lighting of the Olympic cauldron is the most symbolic episode of every Olympic Games. What used to be a simple torch affair has now developed into a monumentally complex stage show involving thousands of participants. Joe Boyle assesses the development of this tradition.


opening ceremonies // let there be light



The Olympic flame may have ancient roots but it’s a wholly invented tradition. Its association with the Hellenic Olympics is slight – a 20th Century re-imagining of flames lit at the temples of Greek gods Hestia, Zeus and Hera. It had no place in Baron de Coubertin’s first modern Olympics in 1896, nor in any of the subsequent six Games. In fact, its first appearance came in Amsterdam, in 1928, when the original plan was to shine a searchlight from the top of a 40-metre tower at the Olympic Stadium. The process by which a flame replaced the beam remains unclear. The introduction of the torch relay required further invention. In both Amsterdam and Los Angeles (1932), the flame had been kindled in the host city. It wasn’t until 1936 that the kindling took place at Olympia itself. The Nazis had already shown the emotional and propagandist potential of torchlight, not least at their Nuremberg rallies. The torch relay offered them a further opportunity.


“The Nazis had been trying to legitimise National Socialism within a longer Aryan tradition,” says cultural historian Professor Mike Huggins. “They were linking ancient Greece with the modern Nazi state. This long torch procession all the way from Olympia to Berlin had a powerful political and cultural meaning.” The impact extended well beyond Germany. “If you read the British and American press,” Huggins adds, “they didn’t interpret the relay in the same way as the Germans. They reinterpret it as part of the long tradition of the Olympics. The meanings invested in it depend on where you’re looking from.” German film director Leni Riefenstahl’s 1938 film Olympia captured the power of the event, even though she restaged the ceremony, using a torch with a different design from the original. Reinvention was laid upon reinvention. Her film won the grand prize at Venice’s 1938 International Film Festival, beating Disney’s Snow White and helping to embed the flame in Olympic tradition.

Beijing 2008

Athens 2004

Sydney 2000

Los Angeles 1984

opening ceremonies // let there be light

As the Nazis proved, the symbols could be manipulated to create social, cultural and political narratives. Hence, for the Mexico City Games in 1968, the relay retraced the route Columbus took on his journey of discovery in 1492. This reference to Mexico’s European heritage was a conciliatory move after a politicised bidding process which saw the USA and the Soviet Union use the Olympics as a weapon in the fight for Cold War cultural supremacy. Even at Sydney, in 2000, Aboriginal athlete Cathy Freeman was chosen to light the cauldron as Australia inched towards apologising for the wrongs inflicted upon their indigenous people. Perhaps most poignantly of all, the final torch-bearer in Tokyo, in 1964, was Yoshinori Sakai, born in Hiroshima on the very day the atom bomb was dropped on the city. The ceremonies were aimed at audiences both home and abroad. Growing television coverage from the 1960s onwards, however, meant attention was increasingly paid to the global impact they would have. At the London

Games in 1948, the chief concern had been keeping the torch’s flame alight long enough for the crowd in the stadium to see it. Nearly 30 years later in Montreal, the torch contained a black top grille designed to ensure the flame would stand out more on a television screen. As television took hold, the days of simply touching the torch to the cauldron faded. The Americans upped the stakes at Los Angeles in 1984, with the torch applied to a wick which transported the flame up a pipe to its destination. Since then, the flame has been fired by arrow (Barcelona, 1992), applied to a bowing cauldron shaped like an olive-leaf (Athens, 2004) and in Beijing, 2008, delivered by gymnast Li Ning as he appeared to run on air, supported by wires high above the stadium. The torch has been to space and travelled under water as the relay has ballooned in scope. In 1948, the flame visited 14 towns in south-east England. This year, organisers claim it will pass within 10 miles of 95 per cent of all Britons. All of which costs money. The London

The flame has been fired by arrow, applied to a cauldron

London’s opening ceremony

shaped like an olive-leaf, and delivered by a gymnast who appeared to run on air, supported by wires.

2012 relay has three official sponsors, with the 8,000 torches used being sold to the bearers afterwards. It can sometimes be hard to see the simple purity of a flame in the midst of surrounding corporatism. Populous works with stage and set designers for some of the world’s biggest sports and entertainment events including the Summer and Winter Olympics, the Super Bowl and the FIFA World Cup.

Right from the start, the organisers of the London Olympics admitted they couldn’t possibly match the grand scale and high-tech effects of the 2008 Beijing opening ceremony. Instead, they’ve opted for a quirkier approach by hiring Oscar-winning film director Danny Boyle (below) – the brains behind the films Trainspotting and Slumdog Millionaire – to put on the show. “It is inevitable that people will compare us [to Beijing], and that is fine,” Boyle said. “I think there is a sea change and we are lucky enough to be setting it. It will be spectacular, but the reduction in scale is inevitable.” With just US$42 million to spend, compared to Beijing’s hundreds of millions of dollars, Boyle has kept his plans shrouded in secrecy. But he has revealed his desire to celebrate everything that is “unique and special” about the British Isles, especially its sense of humour. Calling his ceremony ‘The Isles of Wonder’, a line from the Shakespeare play The Tempest, he has commissioned the biggest ringing bell in Europe to be the centre-piece of the show in the main Olympic stadium. Inscribed on that bell is another line from The Tempest: “Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises.” Many of those noises will come courtesy of Boyle’s 10,000 ceremony performers, including acrobats, tightrope walkers, dancers, London schoolchildren and, more unusually, British nurses. Music will be provided by British electronic band Underworld. It’s expected the show will extend beyond the main stadium to other iconic London venues.

The final torch-bearer in Tokyo, in 1964, was born in Hiroshima the day the atom bomb was dropped. POPULOUS MAGAZINE //


MODERN PENTATHLON // Could this be the ultimate all-round sport? Modern pentathletes must be worldclass at shooting, fencing, show-jumping, swimming and cross-country running. How do they do it?



Goggles, a pistol, a sword, running shoes and a horse. There are few jobs in this world whose tools of the trade are quite so eclectic. Modern pentathletes use them all. Not to be confused with heptathlon or decathlon, the modern pentathlon is a multidiscipline sport featuring fencing, swimming, show jumping, cross-country running and pistol shooting. According to the International Olympic Committee, it’s the event that “most accurately conveys the ideals of the Olympics”. As well as requiring extreme physical fitness (swimming and running), it also taxes the athletes’ technical skills and mental powers (via the shooting and fencing). Finally there’s the large, unpredictable mammal.

Invented by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympic movement, the sport is based on the mission of a fictitious 19th-century cavalry officer, sent behind enemy lines to deliver a crucial message. Against all the odds he has to ride his horse, engage the enemy in sword and pistol fights, before swimming and running for his life. It may sound more like an Errol Flynn movie than a serious sport, yet it has featured in every Olympic Games since 1912. One of the world’s leading modern pentathletes is Heather Fell. The 29-year-old Briton won silver medal at Beijing in 2008. By the time you read this she may know whether she’s qualified for the Olympic event in London.

British modern pentathlete Heather Fell. POPULOUS MAGAZINE //


Heather believes hers is the most wideranging sport there is, certainly in the Olympics. “The heptathlon and decathlon are all track and field,” she says. Consider the athletic demands on a modern pentathlete, and you realise she’s got a point. At the Olympics they must complete all five disciplines in a single day. First up is a round-robin epée fencing competition. “This takes two and a half to three hours,” says Heather. “So it’s a matter of endurance, speed, skill, controlled aggression and being able to react before your opponent does.” Then there’s a 200-metre freestyle swim (“Your physical fitness is really tested,” Heather adds), followed by show jumping over a 12-jump course. The horses are unknown to the riders and randomly allocated by lot. “You’ve got to learn quickly how that horse behaves,” Heather explains. “Whether it’s very balanced in canter, or it doesn’t like to trot, or likes to go on a longer stride or a shorter stride.” Finally there’s the combined run and shoot section where athletes intersperse one-km runs with five bouts of shooting at targets with laser pistols. Heather says the transitions are crucial. And the pressure is really piled on since the scores from the first three events are converted into a time handicap, so that whoever finishes the run first is the overall winner. Although pentathletes of course fall short of the skill level that their single-sport counterparts have, they must work extremely hard to maintain all five disciplines. Heather and many of the other British modern pentathletes train at the University of Bath, in the west of England, where there are on-site facilities for everything except the horseriding which she accesses nearby. Back home on Dartmoor – a huge expanse of moorland further west - Heather’s family keeps horses on their farm. She has been riding since “before she could walk” and uses equestrian centres nearby. In the back garden she has set up a small shooting range. For swimming there’s a pool at a nearby college; for fencing, a centre in the nearest city, Plymouth. A local athletics club lets her train on their track, but there’s no end of crosscountry running on the moor. Heather says she was always an all-rounder in sport. At school she dabbled in dozens of sports, and “struggled to commit to one”. But it’s this multiplicity that has put her in such good stead for the modern pentathlon. “Any sport I do, I always pick up the basics relatively quickly.” So how would she fare against the top Olympians in the individual sports that comprise pentathlon? “I’m a long way off the 30


It’s the event that most accurately conveys the ideals of the Olympics.

POP VIDEO...See the full story of Heather Fell’s success.

best in the world,” she admits. “But I guess that demonstrates how diverse our mix is. I always joke that I do pentathlon as I wasn’t good enough at one sport.” She believes show jumping is the only one of her five sports where she could get close to the world’s elite. “With a very good horse,” she adds. The only pentathlon discipline which can be directly compared to its single-sport equivalent is the 200-metre freestyle swim. In the Beijing modern pentathlon, Heather came third in this discipline, in a time 18 seconds shy of the world record time in the same swimming event. Which proves that even the greatest all-rounders can’t compete with the specialists.

Sport allsorts Other sports which include diverse disciplines: Decathlon and heptathlon: Tested in all the major track and field events, the winners of these competitions are often – and justifiably – called the world’s greatest athletes. Male decathletes contest 10 sports, female heptathletes seven. The current world record-holders are Czech Republic’s Roman Sebrle and USA’s Jackie Joyner-Kersee. Multisports: Triathlon is the best known, but there are dozens of variations ranging from duathlon (running, cycling and running) and aquathlon (swimming and running) to the gruelling ultra triathlons. The latter includes races such as the Deca Ironman where athletes swim 24 miles, bike 1,120 miles and run 262 miles, all back-to-back with sleep snatched here and there. Biathlon: Born out of Norwegian military training, this sport tests both extreme fitness (through the cross-country skiing) and extreme skill (through the rifle shooting). Racketlon: Competitors play 21-point sets in table tennis, badminton, squash and tennis – smallest racket first, largest racket last. Clock up the most points and you win overall. Chess boxing: The ultimate test of brains and brawn, this sport sees competitors interspersing round of boxing with rounds of speed chess. A knockout, checkmate or judge’s decision ends the match.

Heather Fell in action and with her silver medal (below right).



Australia $66,984

Sweden $61,098

Netherlands $51,410

Canada $51,147

Finland $50,090

USA $48,147

Belgium $48,110

Japan $45,775

Germany $44,558

France $44,401

UK $39,604

Italy $37,046

Spain $33,298

Greece $27,875

South Korea $23,749

Russia $13,236

Brazil $12,917

China $5,184

Mexico $10,803

Current GDP of nations that have ever hosted the Olympics

International Monetary Fund’s gross domestic product per capita for 2011

Longitude of host cities

Tropic of Capricorn Equator Tropic of Cancer

Official languages of host cities

2008 medal winners Australia 46 (14 gold)

USA 110 (36 gold)



China 100 (51 gold)

Russia 73 (23 gold)

Great Britain 47 (19 gold)

France 41 (7 gold)

Germany 41 (16 gold)

Italy 27 (8 gold)

South Korea 31 (13 gold)

Japan 25 (9 gold)

All figures relate to Summer Olympics only, up to and including Rio de Janeiro 2016

Number of countries that have hosted the Olympics / Total number of countries in the world (UN members)

Pastures new FUTURE OLYMPICS // Now that soccer’s World Cup is visiting less traditional host nations, isn’t it time the Olympics followed suit? Matt Cutler, from Sport Business International, finds out if the likes of Qatar are in with a shout for the 2020 Games.

The Summer Olympics is something of a closed shop. It may be the greatest show on Earth, but it’s never been staged outside of a major world economy. Every four years it predictably returns to one of the G-20 major economies. The only exception to this rule has been Greece – the original hosts – and Finland. But this could all change. Last year, the Middle-Eastern emirate of Qatar bid for the 2020 Olympic Games. Since they’ve already won the right to stage the 2022 FIFA World Cup, they look to be in with a chance. The other alternative bidder is Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. So far, the Qatari capital Doha, and the Egyptian capital Cairo are the only cities in the Arab world to have mounted serious bids for the Olympic Games. 2020 will be Doha’s second bite at the cherry. They made a pragmatic bid for the 2016 Olympics which would mainly have used existing venues from the 2006 Asian Games. Despite a technically strong and well-supported bid, they failed to make the short list on that occasion. So as to avoid sweltering summer temperatures, Doha had proposed autumn dates for their Games: October 14th to 30th. But this was well outside the IOC-specified dates for the Summer Olympics – July 15th to August 31st – and was a major reason for their failure. However, climate, long the bane of the Middle-Eastern desire to host major summer sporting events, is no longer the obstacle it used to be. Ground-breaking carbon-neutral air-conditioning systems have been developed for Qatar’s FIFA World Cup bid, and would play a significant role in a future Olympic bid.

Doha’s al-Sadd Stadium for example, with a capacity of 17,000, is already one of the few outdoor air-conditioned stadia in the world. Similar technology can be used in open areas such as fan festivals and training pitches. Sensible scheduling would play its part, too. Outdoor events such as the marathon would be staged during cooler mornings or evenings. Nigel Rushman has been closely involved in the planning and delivery of many of the world’s major events over the last 30 years, including three rugby union and three cricket World Cups. “Qatar is, of course, aware of the challenges it faces,” he says. “But the country has proven to be creative and resourceful in providing solutions. And it’s willing to share solutions with other countries experiencing challenges in hosting major events.” Qatar has already shown it is capable of hosting major international sport. In 2006, for example, the Asian Games brought to Doha more than 8,600 athletes from 45 nations. More importantly, however, is new IOC flexibility on the dates for the Summer Olympics. The 2020 Doha Olympics would take place between September 20th and October 20th, instead of the traditional summer period when temperatures in the Gulf nation can easily reach 50°C. Many see this as a significant step-change in the IOC’s attitude towards bidding nations from the Middle East. Rushman suggests the Qatari bid is a very strong one. “The Qataris are talented and resourceful people who have built their knowledge of major events and engage some of the best people and organisations in the world to work with them. They have built good contacts and friends in the Olympic movement and beyond. They were, remember, outsiders with the bookmakers in the bidding

for the FIFA World Cup, but went on to win.” It is not only climate issues that Qatar has to overcome. In some quarters there is a general misconception that Qatar, as a Muslim country, is in some way opposed to Western customs, particularly when it comes to drink and dress. Doha is in fact a modern metropolis and business centre, with all the amenities you would expect. Laws on alcohol consumption are strict – you can only drink in the licensed bars in international hotels – however Qatari laws have already been relaxed to accommodate the Western culture of the many ex-pats who live there. At the 2022 World Cup – and at the Olympics, should they win the bid – designated drinking areas will be set aside. “I don’t believe this will be a problem in Qatar,” says Rushman. “The Qataris have made it clear all along that the consumption of alcohol will be permitted. Drunken or anti-social behaviour will likely be dealt with firmly, as it should be everywhere.” Similarly, there is no strict ruling for Westerners on dress code in Qatar. Although women in particular should be conscious about dressing modestly in certain areas, Qatar has been liberal towards clothing compared to most other Muslim countries. For sport, both in terms of athletes and fans attending, Doha is no different to any other city. Female athletes dress exactly the same as they do in non-Muslim countries. Although, when it comes to skimpily-dressed sports such as beach volleyball, we’re unlikely to see many female Arab teams taking part. At the 2006 Asian Games, for example, only one predominantly Islamic country fielded a beach volleyball team. Climatic and cultural considerations notwithstanding, Doha’s 2020 bid has one real trump card up its sleeve in the form of Mike Lee. Head of Vero Communications, he is lead adviser on Qatar’s bid, and comes armed with a very impressive Olympic CV. Previously he worked on successful bids for Vancouver 2010, London 2012, Sochi 2014 and Rio de Janeiro 2016. “This is an exciting time for Qatar and the Middle East,” he said. “Doha 2020 has made a very strong start with visionary and talented leadership and we are proud to be part of the campaign and team.” Populous has worked on the design of many Olympic bids including London 2012 and Sochi 2014. POPULOUS MAGAZINE //


THE ETERNAL FLAME POPSTAR // Populous senior architect Maddalena Cannarsa has been chosen as one of the official London Olympic torch-bearers. It was her uncle who lit the Olympic cauldron in Rome in 1960.

The torch has been passed to the next generation. Quite literally. In July, when Populous senior architect Maddalena Cannarsa runs a London leg of the Olympic torch relay, her uncle, Giancarlo Peris, will be looking on with pride. Coincidentally, 52 years ago he was the final torch-bearer who lit the Olympic cauldron in the Stadio Olimpico for the 1960 Rome Olympics. Maddalena has a task much humbler than her uncle’s, running one of the legs in the torch’s 70-day journey around the UK in the run-up to the Games. She’s not yet sure of the exact route she will have to take, but she knows it will involve a short run in central London. Nevertheless, she’s taking her Olympic role very seriously. Her uncle, a champion runner in his youth, has given her a training schedule. The idea of running in front of thousands of people makes her a little apprehensive, mainly because she dreads tripping up or – God forbid – dropping the torch. Fitness won’t be a problem since she’s a regular gym-user and dancer. So while she may not complete the relay in record time, you can guarantee she’ll do it with a certain grace.

POP VIDEO... Discover the Olympic torch relay for London.


olympic torch relay // the eternal flame

There were tens of thousands who applied to take part in the UK torch relay, with the list eventually whittled down to the final 8,000 people whose stories most inspired the organsing committee LOCOG. Thanks to their extensive design work on the Olympic venues, Populous were granted two runners from among their staff. (The other is Jerry Anderson, senior principal from the Denver office.) Maddalena believes the connection to her uncle helped clinch her application. Originally from Rome, Maddalena joined Populous three years ago, after architectural jobs in Italy and Spain. She has worked on stadium projects in Madrid, Seville, Valencia and Zaragoza. With Populous she is now designing the new stadium for French soccer club Olympique Lyonnais, and working on the legacy for the London Olympics. Like the projects she has worked on, Maddalena is decidedly international. “I have moved countries for work,” she says. “I arrive in new countries without speaking the language at all, knowing no one. It can be difficult. But I have had great experiences.” One of the greatest will be her torch-bearer run in London. “I feel I’m being rewarded with an incredible experience,” she says. “It’s unimaginable.”

POP VIDEO... Watch Maddalena’s uncle lighting the Olympic cauldron in 1960.

“I would never have thought that my professional experiences would lead to me carrying the torch that will illuminate the Olympic stadium in London.”

Maddalena’s uncle, Giancarlo Peris, was the final torch-bearer at the Rome Olympics in 1960.



AQUATICS // The Olympic aquatic sports have produced some of the most stunning imagery and unforgettable moments over the years.



Left: In a spin (photo by Martin Bureau, AFP/Getty Images) China’s Liang Huo somersaults during his 10-metre platform dive at Beijing in 2008.

Treading water (photo by Daniel Berehulak, Getty Images) The Canadian synchronised swimming team prepares for practice at Athens in 2004.

Take-off (photo by Bob Martin, Sports Illustrated/ Getty Images) Spanish Paralympic swimmer Xavier Torres at Athens in 2004.



In sync (photo by Martin Bureau, AFP/Getty Images) The Japanese synchronised swimming team go upside down at Beijing in 2008.

Sky high (photo by Bob Martin, Getty Images) Great Britain’s Tracey Miles soars above the Barcelona skyline at the 1992 Olympics.

Right: Life in a bubble (photo by Daniel Berehulak, Getty Images) Hungarian swimmer Daniel Gyurta is trapped momentarily beneath the pool’s surface as he competes in the 200-metre breaststroke at Athens in 2004.





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It’s the most important sporting event Great Britain has ever hosted. When all the world’s greatest athletes, and 80,000 spectators – including Queen Elizabeth II, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prime Minister David Cameron and just

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HISTORY // the london olympic opening ceremony


about every world leader you care to mention – fill the Populousdesigned London Olympic stadium for the opening ceremony in July, the eyes of the world will be watching rather keenly. It won’t be as over-the-top as the opening ceremony to Beijing

four years ago (that’s not the British style), but with Oscarwinning film director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionnaire, Trainspotting) in charge, it’s sure to be very different to anything the Olympics has witnessed before.

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POPULOUS - Issue 6  

The magazine of sports venue designers POPULOUS