Now that the 2012 London Olympics has closed its curtains in spectacular fashion, now’s the time to acknowledge the three athletes that not only made a name for themselves in their respective sports, but also became the three biggest talking points of the past two-and-a-half weeks. Two of them showed their dominance in their sport while one just showed the unyielding power of the human spirit in the face of adversity.
Rest assured, the stories from London 2012 will go down in lore as some of the finest moments of the modern Olympics, highlighted by two men who staked undisputed claim to being two of the greatest athletes we’ll ever see in our lifetime and one man who became a world-wide inspiration for the rest of us.
Michael Phelps’ unrivaled medal haul
22 medals, 18 of which are of the gold variety. If there was every any lingering skepticism surrounding Michael Phelps‘ Olympic dominance before the 2012 London Games, all that was squashed one stroke at a time as Phelps cleaned up yet again with four gold medals and two silver medals in London. With his latest medal haul, Phelps wrestled the title of most decorated Olympian in history from Russian gymnast Larisa Latynina. It’s hard to imagine one dude being so absolutely dominant in his sport the way Phelps seemed to accomplish in his Olympic career. Now that he’s announced – or claims to, at least – his retirement from Olympic competition, there’s no denying that his legacy as the most decorated Olympian in history will last for generations to come.
Lightning strikes twice for Usain Bolt
If there’s one man that can claim co-billing opposite Michael Phelps as the headline during the 2012 London Olympics, it’s the fastest man in the world, Usain Bolt. Heading into the 2012 Olympics, a lot of people, including the person writing this piece, had doubts about Bolt’s chances of defending his 100m and 200m titles. The Jamaican sprinter certainly didn’t help his case at the Jamaican trials when he finished second in both events to countryman Yohan Blake. But just like his record-setting performance in Beijing four years ago, Bolt once again overpowered his competition, including Blake, to win both the 100 m and 200 m events. In doing so, Bolt became the first man to defend his Olympic crowns and as a final exclamation point to his mind-blowing showing at the Olympics, Bolt helped his team win the 4×100 meters relay to complete his three gold medals at the Games. Dominance, thy name is Usain Bolt.
“Blade Runner” inspires
Oscar Pistorius will forever be remembered as one of the most inspiring stories of the 2012 London Games. And he didn’t even win a medal. The South African sprinter became the sixth handicapped athlete to complete in the Olympic Games, and together with South Korean archer Im Dong-hyun and Polish table tennis player Natalia Partyka, became the symbol of what we all try to grasp when we’re asked to describe the power of the human spirit. Forgive the cliche and the downright cheesiness, but when you watch a dude with carbon legs, a legally blind archer, or a table tennis player with no right arm, all compete for the glory of their countries, you can’t help but feel a little lump on your throat in appreciation of what these three “differential abled” athletes managed to accomplish despite the obvious handicaps they were facing.
You want to talk about inspirational athletes? Pistorius belongs on top of that list.