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Chariots Of Fire tops sporting classical music list from Classic FM

BLACK AND WHITE ONLY Undated BFI handout photo, taken from the 1924 film Running – A Sport That Creates Both Bodily and Mental Health, of Harold Abrahams.
BLACK AND WHITE ONLY Undated BFI handout photo, taken from the 1924 film Running – A Sport That Creates Both Bodily and Mental Health, of Harold Abrahams.

Chariots Of Fire has beaten sporting anthems Jerusalem and You’ll Never Walk Alone to be named the favourite piece of sporting classical music by Classic FM listeners.

The music, written and recorded by Greek composer Vangelis, was the theme tune to the 1981 film of the same name and was also featured during the 2012 London Olympics opening ceremony, where it was performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, and featured a comic appearance by actor Rowan Atkinson in character as Mr Bean.

It was also used for medal ceremonies at the London Games.

London Olympic Games – Day 0
Rowan Atkinson performed during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium (PA)

The work is part of a Top 20 list voted for by Classic FM listeners, with Giacomo Puccini’s Nessun Dorma in second place and Rugby World Cup theme song World In Union (written by Charlie Skarbek and featuring Gustav Holst lyrics) in third place.

Nessun Dorma was chosen by the BBC as the theme music to its coverage of the Italia 90 World Cup.

Wayne Rooney signs for D.C United Handout Photos
Handout photo from D.C. United Football Club of new signing Wayne Rooney, who has spoken of the importance of music (PA)

According to Classic FM, football is the sport most linked to classical music with eight of the top 20 songs in their list associated with the game.

You’ll Never Walk Alone, which has become an anthem for Liverpool supporters since the 1960s, is in sixth position, while Handel’s Zadok The Priest (which inspired the the Champions League theme music) comes in seventh position and has been revealed to be a favourite of former England footballer Wayne Rooney.

Rooney told Classic FM: “Playing in and winning a Champions League final was something I dreamed of as a kid and a big part of why I left my boyhood club.

“My first game for United was in the Champions League at Old Trafford when I scored a hat trick, but nothing can beat winning the final in Moscow against one of our biggest rivals at the time, Chelsea.

“Every time I hear that music, the memories come flooding back.”

Rugby Union – Rugby World Cup 2015 – Quarter Final – New Zealand v France – Millennium Stadium
ITV Sport rugby pundit, Sir Clive Woodward has said World in Union holds special memories for him (PA/ITV).

Sir Charles Hubert Parry’s Jerusalem, often heard at England cricket and rugby internationals, is ninth on the top 20 list.

World In Union, which also features music taken from Holst’s The Planets (namely Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity) also has special resonance for Sir Clive Woodward.

Sir Clive, who guided England to World Cup glory in 2003, told Classic FM: “My first memories of this are from the Rugby World Cup in South Africa in 1995, which was a fantastic tournament, and it brings back great memories when I hear it now.”

Classic FM presenter Karthi Gnanasegaram (Cliassic FM).

Classic FM presenter, Karthi Gnanasegaram, said: “So much of the world’s favourite classical music, which we play on Classic FM, has become synonymous with the biggest sporting moments and events. They are perfect partners.

“Both take you on an emotional rollercoaster and when you hear the music again, you’re instantly transported back to the terraces or the pitch.

“For almost 40 years, Chariots Of Fire has been doing just that, evoking the memories and emotions of the greatest show on earth, and that’s why I think Classic FM’s listeners have voted it number one.”

The top 20 were broadcast in a special programme, The Classic FM Sporting Music Countdown, hosted by Gnanasegaram and Henry Blofeld on bank holiday Monday.

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