I’m not sure where you were this summer, but from July 27 to August 12, I was glued to my computer/TV for any coverage of the Summer Olympics. In case you missed any important moments, I’ll do my best to highlight some key events of the Games.
We all remember the Beijing Olympics and its extravagant opening ceremony. Countless performers created beautiful illusions in perfect sync, reminding us all of China’s conformity. As such, the London ceremony was highly anticipated, especially since it was directed by Danny Boyle, who did Slumdog Millionaire and Trainspotting. The ceremony took us on a journey through British history, and met mixed reviews. I most enjoyed the “Happy and Glorious” segment that included James Bond and the Queen jumping from a helicopter and an appearance by the Queen’s corgis.
Fittingly, Great Britain dominated the Olympic cycling events in London. Bradley Wiggins, who had just won the Tour de France, won the gold medal in the Men’s Olympic Time Trial event. In the Velodrome, Great Britain won 9 medals, 7 of them gold. Chris Hoy earned two gold medals in the Team sprint and Keirin, which makes him the most decorated British Olympian ever. Kristin Armstrong from the United States defended her Olympic gold in the Women’s Time Trial.
It was another great year for the U.S. Olympic swim team. Katie Ledecky, the 15-year-old from Maryland, won the gold medal in the women’s 800-meter freestyle to become the youngest U.S. gold medalist in London. 17-year-old Missy Franklin also shined at the Games, winning five medals (four of them gold) and breaking the world record in the 200-meter backstroke. Another hot topic was Ryan Lochte’s attempt to dethrone the king-of-swimming Michael Phelps. Lochte started out with a huge upset in the 400 IM, but his lead was stripped as Phelps won four gold medals (100m butterfly, 200m IM, 4x200m freestyle relay, and 4x100m medley relay) and two silver medals (200m butterfly, 4x100m freestyle relay). Phelps became the most decorated Olympian of all time.
Track and Field
Usain Bolt shocked the world when he crushed his competitors in Beijing’s 100-meter dash. He was the favorite coming into these games, and ended up winning both the 100-meter and 200-meter races for the second Olympics in a row. Jamaica swept the 200-meter race with Yohan Blake taking silver and Warren Weir earning the bronze.
Another highlight of the London Track and Field tournament was the performance of Great Britain’s own Mo Farah. He won the gold medal in the 10,000-meter and 5000-meter races alongside his American training partner, Galen Rupp, who took the silver in the 5000. It was the first time that Great Britain had won a gold medal in the 10,000-meter race.
The United States women dominated the 200-meter, with Allyson Felix taking gold and Carmelita Jeter ending up with the bronze. Jeter also won the silver medal in the women’s 100-meter final in between Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in first and Veronica Campbell-Brown in third.
One of the most remarkable moments of the Games was when Oscar Pistorious, the South African sprint runner, became the first double leg amputee to compete in the Olympics. He won second place in the first heat of the 400-meters race, and finished eighth in his heat of the semifinals.
Brazil was upset in the men’s final when they lost 2-1 to Mexico. They had dominated the games up to the finals, racking up 15 total goals, but Brazil was overtaken as they attempted to win their first gold medal in the event. Mexico’s Oribe Peralta scored in the 29th second of the game, which is the fastest goal in FIFA history. We can all expect Brazil to come back with a vengeance as they play at home in the FIFA World Cup in 2014.
The United States won its third gold medal in a row, defeating Japan 2-1 in the women’s final. This was Japan’s first appearance in a final match. Carli Lloyd scored both goals for the U.S., and Yuki Ogimi scored once for Japan. This is the second time Lloyd has scored the winning goal for the U.S. Olympic team, the last time against Brazil in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
It’s always stressful for me to watch gymnastics. For one thing, NBC does a lot of build-up on the athletes and the rivalry between the U.S., Russia, and China. After the routines are done, you sit there waiting for scores that can seem completely random. This year, the U.S. women’s team won the Team event for the first time since 1996 and Gabby Douglas took the All-Around title. The Russian women’s team was close behind with silver in the Team event and silver and bronze in the Individual All-Around. China won the men’s Team event and Kohei Uchimura of Japan won the Individual All-Around title with his stunning technique.
The United States won the medal count with 104 total medals including 46 gold, 29 silver, and 29 bronze medals. China came in second with 88 total medals, and Great Britain third with 65. With the London Olympics at a close we can look forward to the 2014 winter games in Sochi, Russia and the next Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.