The Five Best Images from the London Olympics
The 2012 Summer Olympic Games have come to an end in London. And, while Olympic junkies like me look ahead to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, we, thankfully, are left with some powerful and enduring images from the last 17 days of competition. For me, these are my five FAVORITE images of the London Olympics and the ones that will stick with this die-hard Olympic fan forever.
When he was in elementary school in Scotland, Andy Murray survived a schoolhouse massacre. Today, he is Olympic champion. You don't have to be a tennis fan to know Andy Murray's story. He is a great player who just happens to be the 4th wheel of the game's greatest era. He has always been stuck in the shadow of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. But, at the London Olympics, where the tennis competition was staged at historic Wimbledon, Great Britain's favorite son made good on his destiny. He beat the game's all-time great, Roger Federer, handily to claim Olympic gold. He immediately fell to the ground. His nation immediately rose to its feet. This is what it looks like when you carry the weight of your country on your shoulders!
Imagine being a teenager and carrying the weight of a nation on your shoulders. Though his country wanted him to, Andy Murray wasn't supposed to win. These ladies WERE! Team USA entered the Team Gymnastics event the heavy favorites. But, in a sport measured by millimeters, nothing is guaranteed. Nothing is for certain. But Team USA delivered and delivered BIG TIME! They were rock solid, while the world's other top teams crumbled under the pressure administered by Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman, Jordyn Wieber, Mc Kayla Maroney, and Kyla Ross. The end result . . . a margin of victory of over 5 points. That is UNHEARD of in gymnastics, a sport in which spots on the podium are literally measured in tenths, even hundreths of a point!
This was my ABSOLUTE favorite moment of the 2012 Games! While the United States men played second fiddle to Jamaica on the track, the U.S. women refused to. And when they squared off with Jamaica in the Women's 4x100m Relay, the U.S. team didn't just put a smackdown on the Jamaicans, they put the smackdown on a world record that had been in place since 1985! WHAT??? And, when anchorwoman Carmelita Jeter took the baton and "fired" it at the scoreboard at the finish line, chills ran up my spine. It's one thing to shatter a world record, but it's quite another to know deep in your gut that you're doing it. Jeter not only knew it . . . she hammered it home with a giant exclamation point. LOVED IT! Hands down my favorite moment of the Games.
While Carmelita Jeter gave me my favorite moment of the London Olympics, THIS was my favorite story. South African runner Oscar Pistorius won fans from all around the world. With both legs amputated below the knee as an infant, Pistorius has overcome unimaginable odds to achieve his Olympic dream. While he has been a staple of the Paralympics for years, Oscar's true dream was to race against "able-bodied" runners at the Olympics. And he did. And he didn't just run. He ran quickly. Oscar Pistorius made it all the way to the semifinals of the men's 400m event and the finals of the Men's 4x400m Relay. Following his defeat in the semifinals, Kirani James of Grenada traded racing bibs with Pistorius. Though James won the heat that eliminated Oscar and qualified for the final, he knew something more important occured in the race he had just run. Pistorius had shattered preconceived notions about disability and proved that "disability doesn't have to be a disadvantage." Kirani James wanted to take a little piece of that story home with him. And he did.
And what can you say about this guy? Michael Phelps entered the 2012 London Olympics a big question mark. He was supposed to be challenged greatly by his teammate and rival, Ryan Lochte. On day one, Lochte beat him in the 400m IM and Phelps missed the podium entirely. But any questions about Phelps' conditioning and will to win were quickly erased. He racked up 6 medals total in London. 2 silvers and FOUR golds! Many folks felt the pool would tell this story . .. that Michael Phelps was past his prime. But Phelps told a much different story in the London waters. He is not only his sport's greatest champion . . . he's the greatest champion in the history of the Olympics. And he has 22 Olympic medals to prove it. 18 of them are gold.