By Mike Rowbottom in Copenhagen

As far as the cities bidding to host the 2016 Olympics are concerned, waiting for tomorrow's decision here must feel a bit like waiting for Christmas Day - but a Christmas Day where Santa, in the form of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), will deliver a gift to just one of the Olympic family. 

For the others, it will be a case of empty pillowslips and abundant regret. Four years on, supporters of the London 2012 campaign are re-living the feelings of anxiety, doubt and hope they were experiencing on the eve of the last Games announcement which ended up bringing the Olympics back to England's capital for the first time since 1948.

Dame Kelly Holmes, double Olympic champion at the previous year's Athens Games, vividly recalls her emotions as she awaited the news from the IOC session in Singapore from a position at the centre of Trafalgar Square, where she was joined by several other luminaries of British sport on a stage backed by a giant TV screen showing the crucial action.


"We had got there really early and there weren't that many people around," she recalls. "I remember thinking 'I hope everyone turns up' But as time went on people started coming in from all directions, coming out of the offices all around and filling the Square. It was like watching ants!

"I was standing there biting my fingernails. It took Jacques Rogge so long to open the envelope! When I saw him at an Olympic function a few weeks later, typical me, I asked him: 'Why did it take you so long to open the envelope?'And he said that someone had stuck it down so tightly all the way round that he had a real job opening it. He said someone had timed it, and it had taken him 16 seconds!

"When the announcement was made it was absolutely unbelievable. The crowd were roaring so loudly, and everyone was jumping up and down on the stage. I was standing next to Steve Cram and I nearly broke his back when I jumped on him!

"The reaction was 'Oh my God!' Most people thought Paris was going to get it, especially as it was their third attempt. People are lying if they think there wasn't a feeling of 'Gosh, maybe it's not going to be this time.'

"But we made such a great presentation that we thought we did have a chance. If you compare it to my Olympic wins, it was more like the 800 metres than the 1500 metres. You can see how shocked I was to win the 800 from all those fantastic photos that were taken on the line."

"Sense of relief for losers"

The reverberations of that shock were profound, and they continue now, re-shaping a large section of East London. At the time, Holmes already had a sense of how huge an event it was.

"I was thinking, 'This is going to change thousands of lives. We are going to have the chance of a lifetime.' But I also felt so sorry for all those people who really, really wanted the Olympics to be in their country for all the right reasons. It was really horrible for them.

"But maybe there was also a little sense of relief for some people that they weren't going to have to take on such a massive task."

The kindly donation of a Sheffield steel letter opener by one of its most famous sons, S Coe, meant that Rogge did not have such a struggle to discover the news before he announced Sochi as the host of the 2014 Winter Games at the Guatemala City Session in 2007. Let's hope he still has it about his person - assuming the security scans allow it - when he announces the glad/sad tidings here in Copenhagen.

While Holmes was on tenterhooks in Trafalgar Square, 16-year-old Sutveer Kaur had a grandstand view of Rogge's fumblings as one of the party of around 30 youngsters taken to Singapore by the London 2012 campaign. Sutveer, from Langdon School, East Ham, was present in the far East to embody London's message about the importance attracting the Games would have for its youth, and witnessed the announcement from inside the presentation room itself.

"It was a great trip," she recalls. "We had been selected as young ambassadors for London 2012 by our schools, and when we got out there we had to answer a lot of questions from the media about what giving the Games to London would do for its youth. It was a bit daunting, but I really enjoyed the experience because I felt really passionate about the Games coming to London. I was really lucky to be chosen."

Sutveer was not quite lucky enough to meet that other London youngster David Beckham, who was also adding his efforts to the cause. But she did at least get to see him, which was nearly as good. And she got to feel the same things at the same time.

"You could really feel the tension in the room before the announcement was made," she says. "It was really nerve-racking. And when they named London it was absolutely amazing. People were leaping up and down and screaming."

Olympic flame still burning brightly

While several of the party nursed hopes of taking part in the 2012 Games as competitors, notably basketballer Amber Charles (pictured), who was pictured on the main stage alongside bid chairman Seb Coe and Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell, Sutveer, while sporty herself, was chosen more for being a good all-rounder. 

"The Games isn't just about sport," Sutveer says. "A lot of us who went out to Singapore wanted to be involved in different aspects of the Olympics, like the cultural side, or the organisation."

While Amber could still be on course to achieve her Olympic goal - having moved on from Haringey Angels, she played one season with Manchester Mystics before taking up a sports scholarship at Tennessee Temple University - Sutveer has also kept on track with her own ambitions.

Four years on, she is a member of the London 2012 media team, and she is brimming over with the same enthusiasm she evidenced back in 2005.

"Recently I helped to organise the Open Weekend where sporting and cultural activities took place all over the country," she says. "I also project-managed an event in which 300 members of the public got the chance to look around the Olympic stadium for the first time."

The stadium that is a ten-minute bus ride away from her home in Newham.

It seems the London 2012 message is still holding good. Four other messages will strive to achieve similar clarity by the end of this week.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected].

Mike Rowbottom, one of Britain's most talented sportswriters, has covered the last five Summer and four Winter Olympics for The Independent. Previously he has worked for the Daily Mail, The Times, The Observer, the Sunday Correspondent and The Guardian. He is now chief feature writer for insidethegames and will be reporting regularly from the IOC Session in Copenhagen this week