Atkins’ 2012 project director reflects on the journey from excavating 200 million m3 of soil to watching a gold medal winner in Taekwondo

Mike McNicholas, Atkins

Construction moment

Given the old adage that the biggest risk is always in the ground, remediating the 246ha Olympic Park in under three years, and months ahead of schedule, was a major achievement. From demolishing 200 buildings to excavating 200 million m3 of soil and cleaning huge quantities of it so 80% could be reused, the work had to be perfectly co-ordinated and required everyone working across all disciplines to pull together to deliver. Getting the platform right, and delivering it to time and budget was vital and set the right tone for everything which followed.

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Sporting moment

The inspirational moments that stick in my mind are the pure joy of Jade Jones winning gold in Taekwondo; the resilience under the weight of the nation’s expectation demonstrated by Jessica Ennis; the emotion and sense of achievement expressed by Katherine Grainger to win a gold medal in the rowing after trying for over 12 years and at three previous Olympics; and the sheer determination of Mo Farah to hold on to his lead in the 5,000m. There were others but these are the ones with which resonated most with me and which I believe have helped underpin Team GB’s overall success.


Mike McNicholas, Atkins’ London 2012 project director