VARIOUS/FILE: OLYMPICS Review of the Year 2012/ YEARENDER PART 1 - Round-up of the London Olympics
VARIOUS/FILE: OLYMPICS Review of the Year 2012/ YEARENDER PART 1 - Round-up of the London Olympics
- Title: VARIOUS/FILE: OLYMPICS Review of the Year 2012/ YEARENDER PART 1 - Round-up of the London Olympics
- Date: 7th December 2012
- Summary: INCHEON, SOUTH KOREA (AUGUST 14, 2012) (REUTERS) **CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY** SOUTH KOREAN OLYMPIC ATHLETES ARRIVING AT INCHEON INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT / FANS SCREAMING FANS WATCHING ATHLETES STANDING IN LINE AND WAVING THEIR HANDS FOR FANS AND POSING FOR PHOTOGRAPHS
- Embargoed: 22nd December 2012 12:00
- Location: United Kingdom
- Country: United Kingdom
- Topics: Sports
- Reuters ID: LVA4J9AJHTXL2KXGWIEB4SU6W9FS
- Story Text: British organisers spent nine billion pounds to create a magical and ambitious wonderland of London venues for the 2012 Olympics, where fans were thrilled across a capital whose grime and grandeur got a makeover of global glamour.
It proved a timely shot in the arm, spiritually if not financially, for a nation struggling with an economic recession.
As for sport, the cash delivered a rush of 29 gold medals for the hosts - placing them third behind the table-topping United States and China, which returned to the number two spot after dominating its home Games in Beijing.
More importantly, though, it gave Britain - and Britishness - a reputational boost, at home and abroad. London 2012 showcased a new, modern capital as a tolerant, welcoming and multicultural city that simply works.
What the investment did leave behind was an unforgettable sporting tapestry of tears, drama and raw emotion - played out against backdrops from Buckingham Palace to a grand new stadium where factories once blighted the East End.
These Olympics were a party for the world, marshalled by Britain's soldiers, sailors and airmen, after a private security contractor caused a scandal two weeks before the start by announcing it would not be able to provide enough guards.
The military solution heightened fears of a grim Games of bomb fears and guns; but it proved a masterstroke, as 18,000 troops flooded Olympic venues, leaving fans comforted by their professionalism and impressed by their cheerful good humour.
Oscar winner Danny Boyle's quirky opening ceremony, featuring a playful - and first ever - cinematic performance by the Queen herself, alongside James Bond actor Daniel Craig, captivated the world and set the stage for a spectacular Games.
The ceremony concluded with seven young, unknown athletes lighting the famous cauldron and had as their motto "Inspire a Generation".
The 2012 Olympics proved the perfect stage for Usain Bolt whose warp-speed performances saw him become the first man to defend the 100 and 200 metres double.
The moment where Bolt and fellow-Jamaican Yohan Blake caught each others' eyes as they crossed the finish line in the 200, with the winner putting his finger to his lips to silence the young pretender, was a classic moment of theatre.
With his team-mates, Bolt went on to a "double treble", breaking the world record to retain the 4x100 metres relay title.
"I came here to become a legend and I am now," Bolt told Reuters before an early-hours turn as a nightclub DJ. "I've got nothing left to prove. I've showed the world I'm the best."
In the pool the supremacy issue was resolved emphatically when Michael Phelps swam to a status as the most decorated Olympian with 22 medals, 18 of them gold. His victory set off a debate about whether that meant he was the world's greatest.
Phelps' final Olympics started badly when he finished fourth in the 400 metres individual medley behind compatriot Ryan Lochte.
Lochte was immediately, and prematurely, hailed as the new face of American swimming but he began to fade while Phelps started to flourish.
Ending the Games with four gold and two silver medals - modest only by his own standards - Phelps had nothing left to prove and promptly quit the sport.
Apart from Phelps, the most successful competitor in London was Missy Franklin. The 17-year-old American swimmer won four gold and one bronze medals in the pool.
Ye Shiwen won two golds in London but her smashing of the 400 metres individual medley world record, with a time five seconds faster than her personal best, was astonishing.
Suggestions from a top American coach that it was, in fact, altogether unbelievable and might be a result of banned substances triggered a firestorm in China where many saw the accusations as biased and racist.
"If you think about it, we have never challenged athletes who win gold medals from other countries, even those who won several of them," Ye said in an interview with CCTV.
"Why do I get questioned after just winning one?
"Because our training, I believe, is harder and more tiring compared to swimmers from other countries. In the very least, we really have made a huge effort to prepare for the Olympic Games."
Lithuanian Ruta Meilutyte was relatively unknown before the Olympics but she returned home to Vilnius, a hero.
The 15-year-old became the country's first Olympic swimming gold medallist when she won the women's 100 metres breaststroke.
Meilutyte lives in England where she studies and trains but the teenager received a rapturous reception in Lithuania as she returned for a few weeks to rest and relax before the new school year.
Kenya's David Rudisha smashed the 800 metres world record to win gold in 1 minute 40.91 - a run that Games chief Sebastian Coe, himself a former Olympic middle-distance champion, called the "stand-out performance" of London 2012.
The last three Olympics had been a comedy of errors for the United States women's 4x100m relay team, with botched baton exchanges keeping them off the top of the podium, but they got their act together in style this time. Their record, a sizzling 40.82 seconds, smashed the world mark of 41.37 set by the old East Germany way back in 1985.
It also saw IAAF female athlete of the year Allyson Felix complete the hat-trick of the 200m, 4x100m and 4x400m titles.
Fresh from Britain's first win in the Tour de France, Bradley Wiggins, a fashion throwback to the 1960s Mod era, won the men's cycling time trial early on. His gold gave him a total of seven Olympic career medals.
Early British success snowballed. Jessica Ennis dominated the heptathlon and became a national heroine overnight, along with Somali-born 5,000 and 10,000 metres double winner Mo Farah. His hands-on-pate "Mobot", an M-for-Mo victory salute, rivalled Bolt's arrow gesture for the most emulated pose in souvenir snaps.
Mogadishu-born but proudly British, Farah's feat was hailed as the greatest in the country's athletic history. The first Briton to win a long-distance gold, he was only the seventh man to do the Olympic 5,000/10,000 double.
The 'Hoy Wonder' that is Chris Hoy shed tears of joy after winning his sixth Olympic cycling gold to become Britain's most decorated Olympian.
At 36 years of age Hoy won both the keirin and team sprint gold medals to take his Olympic medal tally to seven.
British sailor Ben Ainslie also entered the history books after winning his fourth successive gold medal. Ainslie won a silver at Atlanta in 1996 and since then has won a gold medal at every Games.
Andy Murray put Wimbledon heartbreak behind him to win tennis gold with a breathtaking thrashing of Roger Federer. The Briton, partnered by Laura Robson, also won silver in the mixed doubles.
Another British gold went to Nicola Adams; with a dazzling smile and down-to-earth Yorkshire grace, the 29-year-old gave the performance of her life to win women's boxing's first ever Olympic final.
The women's version of the sport was making its Olympic debut at what were also the first Games to feature women from every nation, as the remaining Arab states who had resisted abandoning their all-male team rosters relented under pressure.
Judoka Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shaherkani, a painfully shy teenager with no international experience and wearing an ill-fitting suit and headcovering, made a brave debut for Saudi Arabia in front of a global audience of millions. She lasted only 80 seconds but won plenty of applause nonetheless.
Sarah Attar, meanwhile, competed in the 800m but did not qualify from her heat.
"Such an amazing experience just having that much support, to be one of the first women for Saudi Arabia and to have that many people supporting me was just truly empowering," Attar said.
Italian fencer Valentina Vezzali became one of only four athletes in the history of the Summer Olympic Games to have won five individual medals in the same event when she took bronze in the women's foil.
Vezzali also made it six Olympic golds by helping Italy win the foil team gold.
America fell in love with gymnast Gabby Douglas, the 'Flying Squirrel' who became the first African American to win an Olympic title in the women's individual all-round event.
"I can go home and say I'm still the Olympic champion, the first African-American to win the all-round individual medal so I still went down in history," Douglas said. "I can go home thinking of that. I gave it my all I put a lot of effort into it so I can say I finished strong, I finished like a champion."
Other tears were shed in bitterness. South Korea's Shin A-Lam wept for an hour on the fencing piste after a timing quirk denied her the place in the final she thought she had secured. A special medal for "respect of the rules" may not heal the pain.
Top-seeded Chinese badminton player Yu Yang quit the sport altogether in despair after being send home following a tactical "play-to-lose" scandal: "You have heartlessly shattered our dreams. It's that simple," she said. "This is unforgivable."
Eight players were thrown out of the Games for throwing badminton matches in a bid to secure more favourable draws later in the tournament.
"As chief coach I really feel I must say sorry to fans and viewers nationwide. It's true that we really didn't display the fighting spirit of China's outstanding badminton team," said Li Yongbo, chief coach of the Chinese badminton team.
Regardless, China completed a sweep of all five badminton golds, but the treatment of the women, and a whispering campaign about doping against Ye Shiwen angered the Chinese.
South Korea's women extended their archery domination by winning their seventh consecutive Olympic team title and took the individual gold for the seventh time in eight Olympics. The Games saw South Korea's best Olympic performance ever. Only hosts Britain and the sporting superpowers of the United States, China and Russia won more golds.
Another constant, at these Games at least, was the British monarchy; the royals popped up at venues everywhere - none more so than at the equestrian where the Queen's grand-daughter Zara Phillips won silver in team eventing. She was then was presented the medal by her own mother, former Olympic rider Princess Anne.
The war on doping was fought fiercely; 11 were expelled for violations and Belarussia shot putter Nadzeya Ostapchuk was stripped of her gold. The athlete's coach later claimed he had added forbidden substances to her meals without Ostapchuk's knowledge. The gold medal was later awarded to defending champion Valerie Adams of New Zealand.
Beijing Olympic 50 km race walk champion Alex Schwazer was excluded from the London games for doping five days before he was due to defend his title.
The Italian wept before a packed room of reporters as he described how he purchased and took EPO.
The athlete said he had continued to race walk despite wanting to give up because of external pressure, and that he probably decided to take the drug because he was worried about being able to perform.
"With the Olympics ahead of me I was no longer lucid, the pressure that I felt, coming above all from myself, the expectations I had, of returning, I was not able to say no to this decision to use doping for the 2012 Olympics and I made this great mistake," Schwazer said in an hour-long news conference.
Britain's spectacular summer of sport ended with the Paralympic Games as London once again hosted a memorable sporting event for athletes and fans alike.
The London Paralympics sold 2.7 million tickets in total, almost 900,000 more than Beijing four years before and the unprecedented sales brought in nearly 45 million pounds (72.12 million U.S. dollars), exceeding the organisers' original target of 35 million.
The ramped-up coverage and interest was felt everywhere, especially when 'Blade Runner' Oscar Pistorius appeared on the track.
Having made history a few weeks earlier by being the first double amputee to compete in the Olympic Games Pistorius was the big name in a hugely successful Paralympic Games.
In the Olympics the South African reached the semifinal of the 400 metres and was part of the team that reached the 4x400 metres final.
The Paralympics saw him take golds in the 400 metres (T44) and 4x100 metres relay (T42-46). However, he caused controversy when he questioned the legality of the length of the prosthetic legs worn by Brazilian runner Alan Oliveira who beat him to gold in the 200 metres.
Pistorius, an inspiration for Paralympic athletes, apologised for the timing of his remarks but insisted that the issue needs to be looked into.
The most successful competitor at the Games was Jacqueline Freney. The Australian swimmer, who was born with cerebral palsy, won eight golds in the pool.
Twenty one years after competing at the motor-racing circuit as an F3000 driver, Alex Zanardi returned to Brands Hatch to strike double gold in the hand-cycling events.
The 45-year-old Italian won the men's Individual T4 road race and time trials. He also took silver for Italy in the road team relay.
Zanardi - who also raced in Formula One - lost both his legs in an accident while racing in Germany in 2001.
David Weir rounded off a great Paralympics for the hosts with victory on the streets of London in the men's marathon on the final day of the Games.
Weir's victory gave the British wheelchair athlete a clean sweep of four distance gold medals after earlier winning the T54 800 metres, 1500 metres and 5000 metres titles.
China finished top of the medal table, bagging 95 golds in their 231-medal haul with Russia (36 golds, 102 overall) and hosts Britain (34 golds, 120 overall) in second and third respectively.
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