I’m sad that the Olympics are over for another four years. What a great two weeks of competition, sportsmanship, controversy and fun. Off the top of my head, in no particular order, and far from comprehensive, here are some of my favorite moments of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Oscar Pistorius competing & carrying the flag in the closing ceremony. Whatever the arguments for or against his competing, his is a great story of determination, overcoming the odds and the Olympic Spirit– and what a great gesture nominating him to carry the flag.
This was the first Olympiad where each country included female athletes. Finally! Sarah Attar was the first woman to represent Saudi Arabia and received a standing ovation as she crossed the finish line in the 800m.
Ireland’s hero was Katie Taylor, the gold medallist in the women’s boxing. Slightly biased, but for me one of the best moments was the Irish boxing fans taking over the arena and chanting louder than an airplane at 113.7 decibels. It must have been an amazing feeling winning in front of them.
Many of Great Britain’s heroes came and conquered on a bicycle – Bradley Wiggins capping a fine summer with his Olympic Gold medal. He is down to earth, humble, and a great example of an Olympic role model. Apparently, he was also knighted.
Chris Hoy won his 6th Gold medal and shed tears of joy. It’s hard not joining in when you see such tears during the Games. The emotions during the two weeks are something else.
Great Britain is all about cycling at the moment, but their hero, Mark Cavendish was shocked in the men’s road race. He was expected to dominate as he had done in the Tour de France but an underdog came through and spoiled the party. Not only an underdog from Kazakhstan, but a 38-year old! Sadly his win is clouded in an ugly doping past.
Drugs controversies are inevitable unfortunately, and Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen suffered accusations of cheating. Given Chinese swimming’s recent past, it might be fair to cast doubt on their operations and successes, but it is not the place of current coaches and competitors to point the finger. Especially when the US has their own teenage phenoms in Ledecky and Franklin. It smacks of hypocrisy and should not be tolerated at the Games. Let’s leave the battling to the athletes.
Controversy will always follow any sport which relies on judging to determine the winners. Gymnastics is one such sport that awarded medals winners …only to reverse decisions amid appeals. It is unfair on the athletes and opens the sport to human error, bias and corruption. The numerous appeals were anticlimactic for audiences and often appeared to be a last roll of the dice if there was a close finish, rather than being based on anything concrete.
In the triathlon there was a photo finish in the women’s race and medals for the utterly dominant Brownlee brothers in front of a huge home crowd.
There were the heroes Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt. What can I add to all that has been said?
Chad Le Clos surprised everyone and beat Phelps in the 200m butterfly, and his Dad charmed the world.
Another joyful celebration was that of Serena Willams. Was her dance at Wimbledon controversial? Who cares. I hate the dance, but love her joy.
American rower Henrik Rummel’s celebration took on a different form (ahem!). I can’t blame him for being excited at winning a medal.
There were tears for Holly Bleasdale as she finished a disappointing 6th but her day was saved with a marriage proposal. Some things are bigger and more lasting than sport.
There was determination and defiance in abundance. Liu Xiang collapsed injured but hobbled across the finish line and was then helped by his competitors.
Manteo Mitchell of the US suffered a broken leg during the relay prelims but kept on running in order to secure the team a place in the final – talk about putting the team first! Another Olympics hero.
Russian high jumper Ukhov lost his shirt but refused to let it be a distraction and battled on in a t-shirt. The Olympics requires utmost focus and he demonstrated it admirably, winning Gold!
There were tales of longevity with Kim Rhode, a 33-year-old shooter from the USA, won Gold, making it to the podium in five straight Olympics. She won her first medal in Atlanta at 16 years old. Rumour has it she plans to compete in Rio in 2016.
Of course, a shout-out to London for putting on a great show. Yes there were empty seats (shame on you corporate fat cats), but many of the events were held in great settings (Buckingham Palace!) and some were accessible to all (free triathlon in Hyde Park).
And finally, you can buy a piece of the action and decorate your home in the process.
Roll on Rio 2016. I can’t wait.