By Robert Hardman
PUBLISHED: 18:51 EST, 9 August 2012 | UPDATED: 02:20 EST, 10 August 2012
He didn’t just smash another sporting record and leave the commentators starved of superlatives last night. Usain Bolt may well have set some sort of Olympic record off the track last night. For, when you have the whole world behind you, you can certainly generate some noise.
And who in last night’s capacity 80,000 crowd did not want to see Jamaica’s McNugget-fuelled rocket make history yet again?
There is no question that the atmosphere has been a factor at these Olympics.
Noisy neighbours: The Mail's Robert Hardman struggles to make himself heard as Irish fans gather in the ExCeL arena for the boxing
Fastest man on Earth: Bolt powered past fellow Jamaican Yohan Blake
I'm No.1: Jamaica's Usain Bolt storms to victory in the men's 200m final - holding up his finger to tell his critics to be quiet
Some – mainly Brits – have saluted it for helping them win a medal. Others – mainly non-Brits – have found it all a bit much. But despite a few grumbles that the crowd has been too boisterous (the Australian rowers had a moan last week), it has been a pretty sporting din.
Everyone has been cheered, regardless of their nationality or prospects.
We can safely hand the team gold to the British – both athletes and fans – for overall sound. But the individual medals are harder to place.
So, yesterday, I enlisted the help of leading British sound experts, Campbell Associates. Armed with the very latest in decibel-gathering technology, I set off in search of the biggest din.
My target sound barrier would be the figure of 105 decibels – the noise you hear standing next to a pneumatic drill.
Bolt might be a living legend. But was he worthy of earplugs? And might there be an even louder crowd elsewhere in the Olympic domain?
Roar: Irish fans generated 112 decibels of noise as Katie Taylor won gold in the boxing ring
And away! Bolt's start set the tone for his race, the fourth fastest 200m in history
Fast start: Bolt broke from the blocks with blistering place, building a quick lead
Indoor venues, inevitably, have a huge in-built advantage in the form of a roof so the obvious destination was the ExCeL centre, home of the boxing.
Here I encountered what was, surely, a first at these Games: a British athlete going for gold on home turf – in front of an away crowd.
Not that Nicola Adams from Yorkshire (yes, there they go again) was short of supporters.
She was up against China’s Ren Cancan in front of a 10,000 sell-out crowd – with the winner becoming the first woman in history to win a boxing gold.
But her appearance in the flyweight final preceded that of Ireland’s Katie Taylor in the lightweight event.
And Katie is not just big in Ireland. She is Ennis/Hoy/Farah/Brownlee/Wiggins and all the rest rolled in to one consummate fighting machine. It was no exaggeration to say that her nation’s entire hopes were on her shoulders.
Something to shout about: Ireland had only a solitary bronze medal to celebrate before Katie Taylor won the Olympic title
Trademark: Bolt rewarded the crowd by striking his famous lightning bolt pose
Gold number 2: Usain Bolt admires his second gold medal of London 2012, after winning the 200m final
Ireland’s medal tally consisted of a single bronze yesterday afternoon. Hence the thousands of fans in green shirts, green wigs and Irish tricolours piling in to this cavernous exhibition centre in London’s Docklands.
I estimated that Katie Taylor accounted for 80 per cent of the crowd.
How come, I asked, they had got so many tickets for this match?
It turned out that most of them had singled out this very event a year ago when tickets first went on sale. Such was the faith of the Irish in their four-times world champion.
Little wonder, then, that my noise counter was hovering around the 90 decibel mark before anything started.
First to appear was Nicola Adams, receiving a very generous welcome. My ‘precision sound analyser’ clocked up an excellent 104 decibels as she entered the ring.
Following the final bell, the noise dipped as we awaited confirmation. Blam! Results in: 16 -7 to Nicola.
Yohan Blake, Usain Bolt and Warren Weir celebrate their phenomenal 1-2-3 for Jamaica
Knockout: Noise levels reached 107 decibels as Nicola Adams punched her way to Olympic glory
The indomitable lass with the sweetest smile in boxing history (and one of the few genuine amateurs at these Games) had made boxing, British and Olympic history. My decibel counter peaked at 107.
But that was just the entry noise for Katie Taylor. The Irish superstar was registering 108 in the first round.
After the fourth and final round, the sound went down to a nervous burble as we awaited the final scores. And then off went the roof. Ireland had its golden girl: cue a head-splitting 112 decibels, not far off a plane.
As night fell, I made my way to the stadium. To say they were pumped up was an understatement.
Being in the open air, I never expected the noise to come close to that inside a sealed box. But the very appearance of Bolt on the track sent the sound machine up to 102 decibels.
And then it plummeted down to a mere 52 – half way between a library and an average office. The whole stadium was holding its breath. Bang! Up went the wall of sound to a pneumatic 105 and there it stayed, peaking at 107 as he crossed the line.
So, outdoor gold for Jamaica, indoor gold for Ireland. And earplugs all round when they walk into the victory party back home.
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