For Olympic enthusiasts of a certain age, prepare to feel very old. This year marks forty years since Daley Thompson won his very first Olympic gold medal. July 1980. John Lennon was still alive, Steven Gerrard and Venus Williams were having their nappies changed, there was something to do with a hostage crisis in Iran, and Ashley Cole, Kevin Pietersen, and Christina Aguilera were months away from even entering the world.
The decathlon is seen as the apex of athleticism: gruelling jack-of-all-trades endurance and exceptional ability in the disciplines of 100 metres, long jump, shot put, high jump, 400 metres, 110 metres hurdles, discus throw, pole vault, javelin throw and 1500 metres in order to be crowned the ‘World’s Greatest Athlete’.
And Thompson did it better than anyone. Twice. The British hero, 62, has now granted celebrated podcast The Olympic Channel four episodes in an attempt to encapsulate four decades of athletics from his historic moment in Moscow at the baptism of the eighties. He was the moustachioed menace who had made Montreal then Moscow marvel before claiming his second gold in LA ‘84.
Thompson discusses the double successes that put him literally on top of the world, and is unafraid to confront the disappointment of ‘88 when, going into the Games as favourite, he missed the opportunity to become a triple champ (“If it was a foregone conclusion they’d just post the medals to you!”). Thompson also casts his experienced eye on the stars of today and the future, such as his superlative-defying heir Katerina Johnson-Thompson ("There’s no reason why she can’t be Olympic champion").
In future episodes, which are released every Wednesday, he’ll interview other iconic British Olympians including heptathlon gold medallist Denise Lewis, Team GB’s most decorated female Olympian Dame Katherine Grainger, and Daley’s fellow Bridgestone ‘Chase Your Dream, No Matter What’ ambassador and bronze and silver medallist in taekwondo, Lutalo Muhammad.
However, it’s not all serious sport star soirée. There’s time for a bit of humour with a bit labelled ‘What is Daley’s Daily Routine’ to go along with the reminiscence, though that routine is still blessed with a love of athletics: “There’s nothing that I enjoy more in my life. I don’t enjoy all the kind of razzamatazz.”
The twenty-minute episodes move more swiftly than Daley in the 400m, taking you out of your day, and eradicating the cobwebs of the Olympics absence. Though we have to wait a bit for the 2020 Games, it offers up the opportunity to remind the greats that have gone.
Daley Thompson. Double decathlon winner with a voice for radio. Give this man a knighthood.