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On Sunday night, millions of people all around the world were once again glued to the television as London put on a lively Rock 'n' Roll concert to celebrate the end of the 2012 Summer Olympics. Over the last 17 days we have all shared the victories and disappointments of the numerous athletes that had amalgamated in London with one mission - To make their country proud, by bringing home a medal. Here, is a recap of some of moments that will forever be etched in our memories.
Track & Field
While Usain Bolt wowed the world by becoming the first athlete ever to win consecutive gold medals in the 100m and 200m sprints, it was South African runner Oscar Pistorious that kept the audience on the edge of their seats. The double amputee stunned the world by first making it all the way to the semi-finals of the 400 meters and then the finals of the 4x400 meter relay. The fact that he did not medal, did not seem to matter to the world for he, is already a champion!
Track and field excitement is usually focused on the runners probably because that's where the most records are broken. While hard they are not as tough as events like the heptathlon or the decathlon, where athletes have to be proficient in not one but six to ten sports ranging from 100m hurdles to high jump to shot put and even a long distance 800m run.
While gold medalist Jessica Ennis from Great Britain got her fair share of fame in her home country, where fans came in droves to support her, the same cannot be said about the two US men, Ashton Eaton and Trey Hardee, who won gold and silver respectively, in what is often called the toughest Olympic event of all - The decathlon!
At the beginning of the Games the media focused largely on three athletes - 15-time gold medal winner Michael Phelps, the equally talented Ryan Lochte, and teenage swimming sensation Missy Franklin. All three lived up to their expectations, and Michael even earned the title of the most decorated Olympian in history with his impressive 22 medal count.
But what was not expected was South African rookie Olympian Chad le Clos claiming the gold in the 100M Individual Butterfly by beating Michael at his own game - Touching the wall a tad faster! Also not expected was that a 15-year old slip of a girl would not only lead off the 800-meter women's freestyle, but also, win it ! That is exactly what rookie Olympian Katie Ledecky was able to pull off, with complete ease.
The US Fierce Five (renamed since Fab 5 was already taken), were a force to reckon with at the London Olympics. Led by captain Aly Raisman, the girls brought home the team gold for the US for the first time since 1996. And, the victories didn’t stop there. Gabby Douglas, 'the flying squirrel,' claimed a second gold in the individual all-around as did Raisman in floor exercise. Unfortunately, the winning streak did not extend to all of the gymnasts in their individual events. Mckayla Maroney, who was almost guaranteed gold in the vault competition with her mind blowing Amanar vault, suffered a rare fall, earning her a rather disappointing silver. Jordyn Wieber, the 2011 all-around world champion, also fell short of expectations when she did not even make it to the Olympic all-around final.
Although the US Men’s gymnastics team was not favored to win the team competition in London, many fans were hoping that they could at least match the bronze medal they took home in 2008. And after qualifying first for the final, their chances looked good. But with both John Orozco and Danell Leyva struggling considerably on the pommel horse, the team ended up placing a disappointing fifth. Later, in the individual all-around competition, Danell Leyva managed to achieve redemption by winning a bronze medal.
The fact that China dominated diving did not come as great surprise to anyone - What did surprise however, was US Olympian David Boudia topple the world champion Qiu Bo and claim the gold in the men's 10 meter platform, the first time since 1992. The victory was especially special, given that the 23-year old almost did not qualify for the semifinal. And that was not his only medal either - The veteran Olympic diver who came home empty from the Beijing 2008 Olympics, also snagged a bronze in the synchronized 10-meter platform dive, where he partnered with Nicholas McCrory.
Britain's hope Tom Daley did not quite live up to his gold medal expectations - But given that he was still reeling from the tragic loss of his father who died of brain cancer in 2011 and the fact that he was the first British diver to win an individual medal since 1960, made his bronze medal almost as good as gold!
'The greatest beach volleyball team of all time', Misty May Treanor and Kerri Walsh lived up to their expectations by winning their third consecutive gold medal. The surprise however came from the other US Beach Volleyball team. First-time Olympians, Jen Kessy and April Ross staged one of the Game's biggest upsets when they beat the top-seeded Brazilian duo of Larissa Franca and Felisberta da Silva. With Treanor and Walsh retired, will these two be the next formidable US team? Only time will tell!
There are so many victories, disappointments and amazing background stories about many of the athletes that participated in the Games that it is impossible to list them all. However, the one common thread amongst them was that they were all inspired by another athlete - Did any of the 2012 Olympians inspire you to get off the couch and vow to at least try to compete in the 2016 Rio Games? If so, be sure to let us know by adding your comments below.
Resources: kpho.com,desertnews.com,huffingtonpost.com, guardian.co.uk