The games of the XXX Olympiad have been run, swum and won.
After the customary pre games nerves and controversies, including the UK government’s decision to mount surface to air missiles on the roofs of East Londoners, the 2012 Olympic Games began, albeit in front of many empty seats. Those who were watching did not have to wait long for the on field controversies to begin. The inevitable national flag mix up saw the North Korean women’s soccer team presented under the South Korean flag. President Kim Jong-un was reportedry ‘rivid’ at the mistrake. Frankfurry the Orympic sound crew had the correct version of the Kazakh national anthem and further embarrassments were avoided, save for London Mayor Boris Johnson who probably wished he was inside an empty stadium when he became stranded on a flying fox.
Day 5 saw the only true scandal of the Olympics when Chinese, South Korean and Indonesian badminton players were disqualified for trying to lose. The decision merely enabled the next best Chinese players to step up and win gold.
In the pool, Michael Phelps crowned himself as the worlds greatest ever medal winner and again left the games with more medals than anybody, adding nothing to the Olympic spirit of simply competing or sharing. Young Chinese superstar Ye Shiwen injected the first doping controversy to the games, although it soon became clear the only dopes were those who would not celebrate her victory. It was a photo finish for who bombed bigger in the pool, the Australian swim team who left with only one gold, or German diver Stephan Feck who surely needed a back massage after this now infamous effort.
Feck was not alone in the whoops! moments of the Olympics. German weightlifter Matthias Steiner required a panadol or two after dropping 196kg on his neck, Cuban Lazaro Borges suffered every pole vaulters worst nightmare and the aptly named Bulgarian hurdler Vania Stambolova did exactly that in the heats of the 400m.
After the national swimming humiliation, Australia finally broke through for an individual gold in the water when Sailor Tom Slingsby won the Men’s Laser Class. Eventually leaving with their pre games prediction of 35 medals (although only 7 gold), many Australians were left scrambling for excuses as sporting rivals Great Britain came a clear third on the table with 29-17-19. The Brits had further reason to celebrate when they finally became the proud owners of one Andrew Murray. No longer ‘Scot no friends’, Murray finally won at the All England Club. While it may not have been the coveted Wimbledon trophy, Murray reached a level of redemption when he defeated Swiss Roger Federer to claim gold in the men’s singles.
The other green and gold was undoubtedly the story of the Olympics. Jamaican Usain Bolt achieved what no other Olympic sprinter had, when he won back to back gold in the 100m and 200m. For the exclamation mark he added a 4 x 100m gold (and a baton) to his haul and will return to a Jamaican public that have not been this high since Bob Marley was alive.
As always, the games served up many inspiring stories that did not involve a medal.
With both Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia sending female athletes to the games, the latter for the first time ever, London can lay claim to being the first Olympics where every team had a female athlete. Saudi’s Sarah Attar who competed in the 800m and countrywoman Wojdan Shaherkani in the Judoka both wrote their names in the record books without winning a medal.
At Sydney 2000, Eric ‘the Eel’ from Equatorial Guinea (try saying that 5 times fast) became the cult hero of the games. In London, Hammadou Djibo Issaka, aka the ‘Hippo’ won a standing ovation from the 25,000 strong crowd when he finished last in his rowing heat. Even reaching the Olympics was a victory for Issaka, who hails from Niger – a landlocked West African country covered almost entirely by the Saharan desert – and has been rowing for only 3 months.
The Golden Gonads award for the games must surely go to American Manteo Mitchell. Running in the 4 x 400m he heard a ‘crack’ at the 200m mark but pushed on to finish his leg of the race, albeit on only one of them. Doctors later confirmed he had broken his left fibula. Thanks to his effort the US team qualified for the final, however they lost for the first time since 1972, to the Bahamas. Finishing alongside Mitchell in the injury stakes was Latvian shot putter Maris Urtans. Urtans, pictured below, accidentally pushed his own head off his shoulders in this incident. He later reattached it and finished a respectable 15th.
The London Olympic motto of ‘inspire a generation’ hopes to move many young British youth from their Playstations to the sports fields. With England recently ranked as the 5th fattest nation on earth Ricardo Blas Jr was among those to inspire overweight Brits to Olympic success. The Guamanian Judoka fighter gave new meaning to ‘Olympic size’ when he weighed in at a whopping 218kg, the heaviest ever Olympian. He was defeated by Cuban Oscar Brayson who came in at a mere 108kgs.
The face of the games goes hands down to British runner Mo Farah. The Somali born runner claimed gold in both the 5,000m and 10,000m. Only the 7th man to achieve the feat, Farah’s victories earned him a unique tribute from his idol Usain Bolt.
In 2016 the Olympic fiesta will arrive in Rio de Janeiro. A Seleção, the Brasilian national soccer team, will still be searching for Olympic gold there, after again missing out, this time to the Mexicans.
And so it is, that we now look towards Rio. The Brasilians have the unenviable task of following London, which many believe topped Sydney as the best Olympics ever. After Phelps, Bolt, Farah and a sackful of moments to ‘inspire a generation,’ who could argue?