Gabby Douglas won gold in the team competition and became the first African-American gold medalist in the individual all around. She endured absurd and spiteful commentary on her hair, her purportedly un-American leotard and her mother’s financial situation, handling it with the same immunity she deployed against the laws of physics.
He is the first Michael Phelps. The American rallied after a disappointing start, capturing four gold and two silver medals. He fought off a challenge at the mountain top by Ryan Lochte and became history’s most decorated Olympian. Part-man and part-seal, we display him in his natural element.
Usain Bolt remained the world’s fastest man. He won the 100m, the 200m and contributed to a world record time in the 4x100m relay, despite a penchant for slow starts off the blocks and coasting to finish lines. His times may be too good to be clean. It may be time for a reevaluation of what “clean” really means.
NBC left no crevice unexplored with its wall to wall coverage of “Misty and Kerri’s” epic quest for a third gold medal in beach volleyball. It was a story of teamwork, determination and attire that can’t possibly have been comfortable. “Misty” has decided to retire, from hanging out on the beach all day.
Here’s Serena Williams with her sister Venus smiling, waving to the crowd and happy to be an elite athlete who just won her second gold medal. Dwell on this if you wish.
London’s eccentric, silly-looking mayor Boris Johnson was a ubiquitous presence throughout the Games. He leered at glistening otters. He got caught on a zip-line. He also busted out some boss dance moves during the closing ceremony.
McKayla Maroney provided your meme of the 2012 Olympics with her facial expression after only winning a silver medal in the vault. Fortunately, the 16-year-old had a sense of humor about it and found time to teach Jenna Bush how to dougie.
Lolo Jones is a perky, attractive virgin who likes to tweet. She’s also only the world’s fourth fastest women in the 100m hurdles* at age 30. To jealous teammates she became a laughing stock. To media members she became a fraud and a failure. To the IRS she probably made a fair amount of money, so, well played.
Liu Xiang may be China’s most famous athlete and, his second-straight Olympics ended in tragedy. Liu won gold in the 110m hurdles in Athens, but was forced to withdraw from Beijing after an achilles problem. His achilles felled him again in London as he pulled it and crashed into the first hurdle. He was removed from the track in a wheelchair and handed the definitive death sentence from Darren Rovell.
David Beckham was not selected to compete for Team GB at the London Olympics, but that did not stop him embracing his role as the London Games’ designated spectator. Whether it was diving, cycling, beach volleyball or distance running, Beckham was there, looking like David Beckham and having his picture taken.
As Michael Phelps departs, American swimming has its next great star in 17-year-old Missy Franklin. She delivered in the pool, winning four gold medals. She delivered outside the pool, with a dorky smile and a genuine, infectious personality. If only the NCAA would give her the freedom to capitalize on it…
London’s Olympic mascots were Wenlock and Mandeville. Inscrutable origin, undefined sexuality and one, seemingly impractical eye. These were the perfect, “what the f**k?” emblems for an Olympics that brought you an interpretative dance tribute to the National Health Service and Fat Boy Slim atop a giant, inflatable octopus.
[Photos via Getty]