By Leland Stein III
Triumph and tragedy. Stars were born, and legends were toppled. But in the end the superstars were indeed super.
The 2012 London Olympic Games, lived up to the hype and even more. What makes the Olympic Games so intriguing and captivating is that it happens only once every four years.
Just think an Olympic athlete has to peak at every four years. There is no room for mistakes and/or I‘ll get it done next year attitude if an athlete has a bad day – simply put there is no tomorrow. In the sports genre . . . the Games are the ultimate do it now or never opportunity for many.
Sure there are always a few superstar men and women that have the gift of ability, tenacity, courage, commitment and single mindedness that are all necessary to just compete in the Games let along win more than one title.
Well, superstar swimmer Michael Phelps became the most decorated Olympian of all time with 22 medals. Phelps also holds the all-time records for Olympic gold medals (18, double that of the next highest record holders). In the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Phelps won four golds and two silver medals.
Maybe even greater was the effort of Jamaican phenomenon sprinter Usain Bolt. He made himself a true legend of sport with his unprecedented second gold triple triple – winning the 100-, 200- and 4x100- meter relay.
The 25-year-old Bolt in the face of stronger competitors than in Beijing, unleashed that intrinsic determination and drive that only a superior athlete processes.
USA gymnast Gabby Douglas, 17, became the first African-American to win the all-around Olympic gymnastics title in London. She later was chosen The Associated Press female athlete of the year. Her autobiography, “Grace, Gold and Glory,” became No. 4 on the New York Times’ young adult list. She, along with her gold medal teammates recently completed a 40-city gymnastics tour, in which she got to meet President Barack Obama.
Another women’s star that rocked the sports world was Serena Williams. She won Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and the London Games two years after her career was nearly derailed by health problems. She and her sister Venus won their third Olympic doubles title and she also won her first single’s gold medal.
Also high on my memory list is how the American women rocked the Olympic Games. Douglas and her gymnastics squad won the team gold medal.
Swimmers Missy Franklin and Allison Schmitt were multiple golden. There were track and field stars Spectacular 2012 London Games USA Women Dominate 2012 Olympics & Sports News By Leland Stein III Allyson Felix and Sanya Richards-Ross that chewed up the track.
There was the beach volleyball team of Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Jennings Walsh. And of course there were the USA soccer and basketball teams. When the Olympics were over, the American women had won 29 gold medals. Only one country had more gold than they did: China with 38.
The London Games were the first for women referees and Middle Eastern countries sending females to compete. The Games also had its first women boxers. Only four weight classes competed. USA and Michigan boxer Claressa Shields won the gold in the women’s toughest division.
One of my favorite athletes had to have been the 800-meter runner from Kenya, David Rudisha, who set a world record in winning the gold medal.
I have never seen anyone with a more beautiful stride and running gait.
Also with the Games being in London, being in the stadium to witness Great Britain’s Mo Farah win the 10,000- and 5000-meters in thrilling style, as well as watching British darling Jessica Enis win the heptathlon . . . at both events if there had been a roof on the stadium it would have come off as 80,000 people roared both to victory while waving the Union Jack.
The Olympics are a celebration of humanity and people, where for close to a month all of this earth’s brothers and sisters come together in a friendly spirit of competition that challenges not only their opponents, but themselves and us to keep the spirit of peaceful integrated humanity alive.
Leland Stein can be reached at email@example.com or Twitter at LelandSteinIII.