“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” -Michael Phelps quoting Dr. Seuss
Now that The XXX Olympiad has come to a close, we take a look back at what made London 2012 such a special international spectacle. The marquee names came to play; some surprises emerged. They laughed. They cried. They hurled. They united the world…if only for a few nights. As we count medals and wrap up the Olympics, we may go through a sense of withdrawal, but one thing’s for sure: the Olympics bring out the best in sports, the best in humanity, the best in the art of competition.
Every sports fan owes a debt of gratitude to the original sports geeks, the Greeks of yesteryear, who came up with the concept of The Olympics in the first place (gold medal). Without the foresight and competitive fire of the forbearing Olympians, who knows if modern day sports even exist. Marinate on that. No sports exist. Damn…thanks, Greece! Thanks, Olympians for motivating me to get off my lazy ass. And thanks, London, for an amazing journey in 2012. Rio 2016 can’t come soon enough for my Olympic-fiending ass…
Representing the USA (USA!) as an athlete in the Olympic games goes beyond medal counts, perfect scores, and finish lines though. Representing Team USA (USA!) means more than getting up on that medal stand and holding back tears as The Star Spangled Banner plays. The meaning of it all can’t even be put into words. It’s all about action, action being taken by all of our American athletes who train so hard everyday to get where they’re going. Their actions speak louder than my words ever could.
That being said, these were the actions that spoke loudest to me:
- USA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Dominance
- USA Women’s 4×100 Relay Team Sets New World Record
- USA Women’s Soccer Gold Medal
- USA Women’s All-Around Gymnastics Gold Medal
- Mexico’s First Ever Men’s Soccer Gold Medal
- Jamaica’s Usain “King of the Sprint” Bolt and His Triple Gold
- Michael Phelps’ Record Setting Performance (Apparently, there were still some records to break)
- Misty May and Kerri Walsh Kicking Ass and Taking Names
- Missy Franklin Becoming New Face of USA Swimming
- USA Women’s Water Polo Gold Medal and the Subsequent “Everyone Jumps Into the Pool, Coaches and All” Celebration
The time difference across the pond that allowed those fucked up spoiler alerts to occur pissed people off and needs to be addressed by local news sources going forward. Why would they broadcast the winners like that?!? Watching the events, not knowing the outcome, the super suspense: these are the things that make sports worth anything. Yet there I am. After Jeopardy!, scrambling for the remote to turn off the TV before Linda Yu blurts out some random winner. No sports fan wants to know the outcome when they are for sure going to watch it later. Trust me. Knowing Gabby Douglas won the overall gymnastics gold medal while watching kind of took any and all fun out of watching that night. As much as I loved the outcome, knowing that Phelps beat Lochte in the 200m individual medley kind of ruined it a little. Nip that in the bud for Rio. No one wants to hear your revelations. What we want to hear about are the stories from London.
Few have the time or reputation to garner a following for the games, let alone the worldwide anticipation such as that for Usain Bolt, Phelps, USA Men’s and Women’s Basketball, Oscar Pistorius of South Africa, The United States vs. Russia in Women’s Gymnastics, Bob Costas and his infinitely brilliant broadcasting (God, for everyone’s sake, I hope they translate him around the globe!), the last run by Misty May and Kerri Walsh on the beach volleyball circuit, and the return of an Opening/Closing Ceremony, no matter how weirdly awkward it might’ve gotten during the former.
Usain Bolt is the undisputed king of the sprint, and his larger-than-life personality endears him to fans and wins over critics in one lightning-fast swoop. I remember thinking in ’08: “Who is this asshole who doesn’t even sprint the whole race, jogs and lollygags his way to wins?” But over the last few years, he has become my favorite Olympian, one of my favorite athletes in the world. Those iconic images of him nearing the finish lines, looking around as if to say with his eyes, “Is ANYONE going to challenge me?” will define him as the greatest sprinter to ever lace them up, although his teammate and training partner Johan Blake is champing at the bit. That Jamaican team setting a new world record in the 4×100 relay, breaking 36 seconds (36.84 to be exact), Usain Bolt actually sprinting through a finish line for the first time in a long time capped the track and field events with a bang. Bang bang plays on the track show how close track and field events can be, as USA tied the world record in the same race and finished second and took home a silver medal.
Michael Phelps, he of the most decorated Olympian in history one-man kin, somehow came into these Olympics as an underdog to teammate Ryan Lochte. Mainstream media and fans seemed to prematurely anoint the unproven Lochte as the new poster boy for swimming. The Olympics separate the boys from the men though, and Michael Phelps’ last hurrah and (another?) record-setting performance cemented his legacy, put an exclamation point on his career, and kept Lochte at bay.
Try to as he may, Dan Patrick during the day just does not stack up to the Primetime expertise that Bob Costas provides. Background stories, statistics, and interesting information are interwoven with segues for days, as Costas commands your attention and makes you proud to be an American just by hearing him speak.
The United States of America offers opportunity unseen in most other places on our complex globe. Not to ignore the injustices being done day to day, but on the grand scale, this place is pretty fucking sweet. I try to thank anyone who represents our country well on a national level, whether it be athletes, soldiers, or ambassadors. So thanks, gang!
“That’s why you play the games.” You never know what could happen…unless some stupid TV station spoils all your fun.