The London Summer Olympics start in just under one month and following on Canadians' love affair with the Winter Games in Vancouver, I asked Sports editor Tom Maloney about The Globe's coverage plans.
Will Canadians be more interested in the Summer Games this year?
Tom Maloney: Absolutely. We saw flares of interest during the Beijing Summer Games and an explosion during the Vancouver Winter Olympics. The momentum is going to carry over from Vancouver to a degree, depending how the athletes perform.
Certainly, Canadians tend to favour the Winter over the Summer Olympics. That's only natural, given the climate, the winter sporting traditions and the country's capacity to compete with the best. We favour our hockey on the ice rather than the field. Still, the ratings should be strong and readership high.
And what do you think about the predictions that Canada will move up to 12th or 13th spot overall in the medal count? Does it matter to the readers?
Tom Maloney: Medals matter because they stir up patriotic feelings and help to build interest as the Games progress. I'd just started at The Globe prior to the 2008 Beijing Games and was instantly impressed by the weight of readers' frustration when Canada was being all but shut out in the first week.
It gave me a feel for this newspaper's ability to take the pulse of the country. I remember our coverage changing from an examination of funding shortfalls to anticipating the second week as the athletes came through in sports of strength.
Own the Podium's financial support for the athletes should kick in for the summer athletes as it did for the winter athletes in Vancouver. But Canada's placing on the ladder probably matters more at the Winter Games, when the athletes are vying with Americans, Germans, Russians and Scandinavians for top-three placings.
During the Summer Games, many more countries are able to field legitimate contenders so the difference in medal count between 10th and 20th place in the standings should be relatively small.
Which competitions will be of most interest to Canadian readers and why?
Tom Maloney: Canoe/kayak, rowing, women's soccer, track and field, swimming, equestrian, diving, trampoline, swimming and track and field are the most popular sports universally.
- Whether Donovan Bailey in 1988 or Usain Bolt in 2012, everyone gets jacked up for the 100-metres.
- The men's rowing-8 team is defending the gold medal, and that event is one of the Games' most thrilling. There are multiple medal opportunities in the water, whether the athletes are paddling, rowing or diving.
- The women's soccer team fizzled out of the World Cup last year, but seems to have restored ballast, and it has the opportunity to engage young players across the country.
- Equestrian presents one of those heartfelt stories as defending gold medalist Eric Lamaze competes without Hickstead. The horse died of sudden cardiac arrest during competition just last year.
- Trampoline showcases a pair of medal contenders, Rosie MacLennan and Karen Cockburn, who demonstrate ideal sportsmanship -- friends, competitors and teammates simultaneously.
Tell us about The Globe and Mail's plans for the Games: Who will be covering the sports and who will be watching the news?
Tom Maloney: In line with the industry trend, and due to the time-zone differences, we are definitely stressing digital delivery of our coverage during the London Games. More about that below.
We have eight staff assigned directly to Games coverage, plus two foreign correspondents who are based in London and will be reporting the news and atmosphere surrounding the Olympics. Taking a cue from the overwhelmingly successful Vancouver coverage, we'll have a mix of journalists on scene.
Business writers Eric Reguly and Paul Waldie will be covering the Games with five sports writers -- Allan Maki, Sean Gordon, Jeff Blair, Rachel Brady and James Mirtle. Photographer Kevin Van Paassen will also be joining them in London.
And here's some breaking news -- we'll be introducing a special contributor, Jennifer Heil.
Jenn, a gold medalist in moguls at the Turin Games and a silver medalist in Vancouver, will do several video conversations with athletes, including cyclist Clara Hughes. Jenn is also going to correspond by Skype during the Games, to give readers the athlete's perspective.
When will you start coverage and what will that look like?
Tom Maloney: We've launched the online home for our London 2012 coverage. There's already plenty of content, including Globe-produced video of athletes, with photo galleries and commentary. Rachel Brady's been working incredibly hard to put the athlete vignettes together with the video department (coming soon she'll be delivering a retrospective piece with the Nadia Comăneci, the gymnast who dazzled the world at the Montreal Olympics in 1976).
Leading our web coverage here in Toronto are Darren Yourk, editor of globesports.com, and online editors Paul Attfield and John Marchesan, who came to The Globe from ctvolympics.ca two years ago.
Deputy sports editor Dave Leeder is supervising the entire Olympics digital operation, and he'll be starting his day around 4 a.m. with Darren.
In terms of special content, we launched the weekly Science of Sport series on May 19 and have been gratified by the positive feedback from readers and peers.
Topics have included road bike construction, the assembly of a rowing-8 team, and the biokinetics of synchronized swimming. The story is generally complemented by photos, video and a graphic by Trish McAlaster.
Once the Stanley Cup playoffs ended, we started publishing features and profiles more intensively on the front page of our Sports section, while also aiming for the Folio and Focus sections on occasion along with the front page of the newspaper.
For example, on Father's Day weekend the centrepiece of the front page of the Sports section was a feature from Eric Reguly about Richard Clarke and Tyler Bjorn, a pair of Star-class sailors who spent 300 days away from home last year to prepare for London. On the front of the June 25 Sports section we ran a feature about hurdler Perdita Felicien by Allan Maki, and a piece from Steve Ladurantaye and Simon Houpt on Bell and CBC dissolving their partnership for a 2014/16 Olympics bid.
We have one month to go before the action begins in London, and we have much more content coming.
Will you have special sections during the Games?
Tom Maloney: We'll publish a daily Olympics section, as we did during the Vancouver Games. The difference this time around is our ability to go with full colour photos and graphics on premium paper, thanks to the new printing presses.
Roger Hallett will be the dedicated photo editor during the Games, and David Woodside will be reprising his Vancouver performance as lead designer. There's also a supplement planned for July 20, about the Canadian team.
What will you be doing online and in terms of multimedia?
Tom Maloney: I'm deferring here to Dave Leeder here, as he chronicles the digital lineup:
Dave Leeder: More than any other, London will be the "social media" Olympics, with Twitter and Facebook becoming increasingly dominant platforms people will use as entry points to stories and other content. The Globe team will be turning our social media presences on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram into a rapid way to deliver the latest news and updates to our more than 200,000 followers.
The Globe team will also be liveblogging key Olympic events and we will be involving our community of readers in our coverage. We'll be asking readers for their predictions for the Games, responses to big moments and some of this will be used in the paper and online.
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