Bradley Wiggins has described winning Olympic Gold in London as the “defining moment” of his glorious career, as Eurosport prepares to relive that famous summer during Return to London 2012.
We will be joined by a host of top athletes as they revisit some of the most famous moments of the London 2012 Olympic Games across next week. And Return to London 2012 gets underway this Sunday with Danny Boyle’s iconic opening ceremony, at 4pm on Eurosport 2.
Watch Return to London 2012 on Eurosport 2 and Eurosport Player from May 24-31
On Monday it will be time to review a golden games on the bike for Team GB, with Wiggins and Lizzie Deignan joining Orla Chennaoui to look back at success on the road at 2pm, before it’s the turn of Jo Rowsell and Sir Chris Hoy as we look back at the standout moments from the Velodrome.
Wiggins went into London 2012 off the back of his historic Tour de France triumph, but even becoming the first British rider to claim the yellow jersey couldn’t surpass winning Olympic gold in the time trial. Not when it came in his home city.
Return to London: Relive the key moments from London 2012 with the stars who were there
Recalling his first taste of competition at London 2012, Wiggins says on Monday’s Return to London 2012 episode: “We got up at 6am to have breakfast at a Travel Inn in Hyde Park Corner and then driving 10 minutes to the Olympic road race start, just miles away from where I grew up as a kid, around Marble Arch, I got mugged round there once.
“Driving to the start, I think we started just behind Haymarket and then rode up to the Mall. Standing on the Mall to start the race, Prince Charles was there. My mum worked from her flat in Pimlico, it was bizarre really.
It’s only now that I look back and think about that. You normally do Olympics in other people's countries, but to do it on my own doorstep, two miles from where I grew up, I don’t think I ever really considered the impact of that at the time.
“Then to do the TT around Hampton Court, 1.2 million there, in the prime of my career, it was my defining moment to win a London Olympic TT. Twenty years before that, I was trying to get out of a council estate in lycra and I used to wear a tracksuit because I feared for my life because it was such a bigoted, violent time in the late 80’s and early 90’s.
“I couldn’t be seen dead in lycra in a council estate in London. The change in cycling 20 years on, to win an Olympic gold there was phenomenal, I never really considered the social impact of where I came from, that a cyclist could go to those heights in London, it was amazing really.”
#Returnto2012 - Highlights as Wiggins takes time trial gold in London
The summer games of 2012 left an indelible mark on sports fans all across Britain, as well as providing an important legacy for British sport itself.
Lord Sebastian Coe was responsible for helping to bring the Olympics to London as well as organising the event – and speaking on a very special athletics episode on Saturday May 30 - alongside Sir Mo Farah, Greg Rutherford and the man who coached Jess Ennis to gold, Tony Minichiello – he speaks of the impact that London 2012 had.
“I think it was hugely important for British athletics,” Coe said. “If you think back to when we started the bid, it wasn’t the easiest of journeys. Then, we started talking about building an Olympic stadium, we’d never had a stadium that was capable of staging a major championship in the UK.
“We had Crystal Palace that had limped along for years, and the most we had managed was sort of a Europa Cup and a few big nights, but we’d never been able to stage anything on a global level in athletics. Then we had the criticism that track and field wasn’t that strong in the UK.
“For me, the big moment was the opening morning of the track and field. I was actually in Weymouth watching the sailing; everybody wanted to go out on the water but I volunteered to stay and watch the television and I slowly watched that stadium fill.
#Returnto2012 - Looking back on an iconic opening ceremony
“To have a full stadium on the first day of any track and field championships was unthinkable, and there was not a single ticket that went unsold and it was such an important statement that track and field was by a distance, the most important Olympic sport and by a distance, the UK’s most successful Olympic sport historically.”
Return to London 2012 kicks off on Sunday as we revisit Danny Boyle’s iconic opening ceremony from 4pm on Eurosport 2. Hoy was the flagbearer for Team GB on that famous occasion and speaking on Monday’s track cycling instalment, at 4pm, he speaks about what an honour it was to lead the home team out.
"So I really tried to focus on the opportunity," Hoy says. "People thought that being the flag bearer might add excess pressure, but I remember that moment, for me, it was such an overwhelming moment and I remember thinking at that split second, the four years of hard work, the ups and downs, was all worth it just to carry that flag and lead your team in.
"So I guess, that took the pressure off for me, I have had this moment now, what comes beyond this is just an added bonus."
You can watch Return to London 2012 from May 24-31 on Eurosport 2. The Opening Ceremony is live on Sunday at 4pm, and from Monday to Saturday next week we will have daily shows involving some of the biggest names from the Games.
Sunday 24th May (4pm) will see Eurosport 2 screen the widely acclaimed Opening Ceremony from the Olympic Stadium.
Monday 25th May (2pm and 4pm) will focus on cycling with Sir Bradley Wiggins and Lizzie Deignan discussing road cycling before six-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Chris Hoy and Jo Rowsell review the unprecedented Team GB successes in the velodrome.
Tuesday 26th May (2pm, replayed at 7pm) will see Tom Daley join the team to review his medal-winning performance in diving whilst Adam Peaty – ear-marked as a future prospect back in 2012 - and double Olympic gold medallist Rebecca Adlington will reflect on the big stories of the Games from the pool.
Wednesday 27th May (2pm, replayed at 7pm) will feature gymnasts Max Whitlock, Beth Tweddle and Kristian Thomas looking back on a Games that saw Team GB secure four medals for the first time in a single Olympics and kick-start a golden era for the sport in the UK.
Thursday 28th May (2pm, replayed at 7pm) will see rower Helen Glover, winner of the first Team GB gold of the Games, as well as five-time Olympic medallist Kath Grainger and Men’s Eight medallist Greg Searle, discussing the memorable moments from Eton Dorney.
Friday 29th May (2pm, replayed at 7pm) focuses on combat sports with boxing star Anthony Agogo discussing his and Team GB’s impressive performances in the ring, whilst medal-winning pair Jade Jones and Gemma Gibbons reflect on their taekwondo and judo successes respectively.
Saturday 30th May (2pm, replayed at 7pm) will give viewers the chance to relive the iconic night of the games – known ever since as Super Saturday. On a memorable night at the Olympic Stadium, Team GB secured three gold medals with Greg Rutherford, Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill and Sir Mo Farah all topping the podium. Greg and Mo will look back on the historic evening and discuss some of the other seminal moments. Seb Coe and Tony Minichiello also join the chat.
Sunday 31st May (midnight) will see the week come to a close with Boyle’s equally impressive Closing Ceremony to book-end a celebratory period in the country’s sporting history.