For two weeks, athletes from just about every walk of life gathered for a competition of the ages that celebrates the world’s finest athletes. Billions of us from around the globe gathered around our tellies to watch the fastest man in the world, the most decorated athlete, a “bionic man” and countless new world and personal records.
The 2012 London Olympics have come to an end with the United States leading the medal count with 104, followed by China with 88 and Great Britain with 65.
The athletes brought their game this year, as 30 new world records were set. Jamaica’s Usain Bolt became the fastest man in the world when he ran the 4×100 meter relay with his team in 36.84 seconds. His speed and trademark “bolt arms” helped make him a household name.
A 30-year record held by East Germany was surpassed by USA’s Women’s 4×100 meter relay. Bianca Knight, Tianna Madison, Allyson Felix and Carmelita Jeter made history with their 40.82s record in Women’s Track & Field. Felix and Jeter’s individual performances also earned personal and world records in other running events.
Dubbed the “Blade Runner,” Oscar Pistorius came to the London Games from South Africa after dominating the Paralympics. He is a double amputee and requires prosthetics to walk or run. While his prosthetics were thought to give him an unfair advantage to competitors, further research confirmed his fair spot in the games, leading him all the way to the semifinals. While he didn’t medal, he did become a worldwide phenomenon and an inspiration to fellow athletes and viewers alike.
Diving over to the aquatics, Missy Franklin, Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte and David Boudia made headlines with their skills. Only 17 years old, USA’s Franklin medaled in five swimming finals — setting new world records in the 4×100 meter Medley Relay and the 4×200 meter Freestyle Relay.
Phelps put his mark on the London Games by becoming the most decorated Olympian of all time. He earned four gold medals to equal a grand total of 22. Not far behind was teammate Lochte, who took home two gold medals.
On the diving board, the Men’s 10m Platform ended surprisingly with USA’s David Boudia taking the gold. China’s Qui Bo was expected to dominate the scoreboards yet took home the silver medal, with only 1.80 points separating their scores. Great Britain’s own Thomas Daley had the nation rooting for him in light of his father’s passing and celebrity status and ended up with the bronze medal.
Bounding to gymnastics, 16-year-old Gabrielle Douglas and 17-year-old Aly Raisman, both from USA, medaled and remembered their teammate Jordyn Weiber, who was unable to compete in finals due to number restrictions in Olympic guidelines.
Finally, it’s time to spike the ball over to volleyball. Brazil’s Men took home silver and Brazil’s Women took home gold. USA’s beloved pair, Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh-Jennings, dominated Beach Volleyball. The world watched as the duo competed together in their last Olympic match and won the gold. While May-Treanor calls the London Games her last competition, Walsh-Jennings plans to continue her Olympic journey.
A big part of this year’s Olympics was the surge in social media. During those two weeks, Phelps and Bolt were the biggest trending topics in the Twitter nation, followed by Lochte, Daley and Douglas. When it came to their social media popularity, it wasn’t just because of their athletic abilities — their celebrity status, extracurricular activities, physical attraction and fan response helped create their massive fan base on Twitter and Facebook.
The Olympic Games have been around since Ancient Greek times. They are about athletes — not to be judged by the color of their skin, their religion or their sexuality. That being said, it seemed that the 539 athletes came with respect for one another. There were tears of joy, of pride, even sorrow.
Felix Sanchez of the Dominican Republic found himself in tears on the podium as he held the gold medal for Men’s 400m Hurdles. Only four years ago in Beijing, Sanchez received news of his grandmother’s passing on the morning of the finals. The devastating news hindered his performance in 2008, but now in 2012, it fueled his training and paid off.
The athletes reveled in hearing their National Anthem being played and being wrapped in their nation’s flag. There seemed to be such an immense pride for their heritage and home. This was also evident in the Brazilian athletes as they exuded excitement in their chance to host the Olympic Games in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.
The London Games began and ended with ceremonies that continued the tradition of lighting the flames from all 204 countries competing. They also celebrated some of the best things to come out of Great Britain, including music, literature, industry and fashion. Paul McCartney, Queen, The Spice Girls, J.K. Rowling’s Voldemort, and Eric Idle highlighted the ceremonies.
The 2014 Winter Olympics will be held in Sochi, Russia, followed by PyeongChang, South Korea in 2018.