August 14, 2012
The U.S winning the most overall and gold medals at an Olympic Games certainly isn’t anything new, but what is a little surprising is how well Britain did at the 2012 Games which were held in their backyard. It was Britain’s best performance and medal haul at an Olympic Games in more than 100 years. The Games impressed many people from all over the world right from the opening to closing ceremonies with International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge claiming they were absolutely fabulous.
When all the blood, sweat, and tears finally came to an official end on Sun. Aug. 12, the Americans stood the tallest with a total of 104 medals with 46 of them being gold. It was the nation’s biggest medal win at an Olympics held outside of the USA. China came in second place with 38 gold medals and 87 in total. Russia won the third-most with 82 overall and 24 of them being gold. The British were next with 65 medals overall, but were third in gold medals with 29.
Grenada won its first gold medal ever when Kirani James took the men’s 400 meter race and six other countries won medals for the first time in their history. Overall, a total of 85 different countries won at least one medal during the Games. Scott Blackmum, the CEO of the American Olympic Committee, said the nation is very proud of all of its Olympic athletes. The country’s 46 gold medals were one better than their performances in 1968 in Mexico City and 1924 in Paris, France.
Sebastian Coe, the head of the London Games, said the Olympics were energizing and uplifting and he hopes the event can change the city and the nation for the better now that they’re over. However, not all was well with the Games. There were several controversial decisions in boxing and about a dozen athletes were expelled for various reasons including trying to lose on purpose and failing drug tests. A boxing referee was also booted out of the Games for incompetence after completely mishandling a bout.
Some sports fans have also renewed the years-old debate about allowing professionals to compete in the Games. In soccer, there is an age limit for male teams as all players must be 23 years of age or younger with three overage players allowed. In basketball, there isn’t any type of age regulation and anything goes. This means the NBA championship team could represent the U.S. as long as they all qualify as American citizens.
But these Games proved that money can’t always buy a winner. The Brazilian soccer team was filled with international players who are reportedly worth a collective $385 million. The members play for teams all over the world, but couldn’t manage to beat Mexico in the gold-medal game at Wembley Stadium. Mexico, with 17 of its 18 players earning a living by playing in their homeland, beat Brazil’s millionaires 2-1.
They also set an Olympic record with the fastest ever goal, which came after just 28 seconds. For the record, the only Mexican soccer player who plies his trade outside of the country is 23-year-old Giovani dos Santos, who is signed by Tottenham Hotspur of the English Premier League. Dos Santos missed the final against Brazil though due to an injury.
There was also some controversy in the soccer tournament involving the South Korean men’s and women’s teams. The women were set to kickoff against Colombia at Hampden Park in Glasgow, Scotland a couple of days before the opening ceremonies in London. However, when the team took to the field, organizers showed the north Korean flag on the stadium’s giant screen instead of the South Korean flag. The women left the pitch and headed back to their dressing room. After some sweet talking they emerged and the game started about an hour late.
There was also an incident after the South Korean men beat Japan 2-0 in the bronze-medal game in Cardiff, Wales on Aug. 10. One of the South Korean players took a sign from somebody in the crowd and paraded around the field with it. However, it turned out the sign was a political statement written in Korean. It had to do with an ongoing territorial dispute between Japan and South Korea regarding a small group of islands in the Sea of Japan. Political signs are forbidden by both the IOC (International Olympic Committee) and FIFA and the player wasn’t allowed to attend the medal ceremony. FIFA and the IOC are currently investigating the matter and will soon decide if he’ll be given his bronze medal.
It didn’t come as a surprise that the U.S. won the men’s basketball gold medal over China on Aug. 12 with its team full of NBA stars. LeBron James said the medal means a great deal to him since the name on the front of the team’s uniforms mean a lot more than the names on the back of them. The 104 medals won by the Americans doesn’t come anywhere near the 174 they won in Los Angeles in 1984, of which 83 were gold. However, there is usually an asterisk next to those Games since most of the former Soviet bloc nations boycotted them. But the all-time best Olympic haul came in St. Louis back in 1904 when the Americans won a total of 239 medals, with 78 being gold.
Of course, athletes and sports have progressed and developed over the years and it’s hard to compare eras. But this year’s medal count by the U.S. is impressive in any era, especially when many experts predicted China would win the most in 2012. American swimmer Michael Phelps won six medals, which makes him the all-time Olympic medal winner with 22. He’s won 18 gold, two silver and two bronze in his career. His six medals in Britain were a record for 2012. Four other competitors won four medals with three of them being American swimmers. Seventeen-year-old Missy Franklin was one of them.
Some traditionally strong countries didn’t fare so well though. Australia won just seven medals after winning 14 in Beijing, China four years ago. The Australians didn’t manage to win a single gold medal for an individual swimming event. This was the first time they’ve gone home without gold in one of those events, usually an Australian strong point, since 1976.
Brazil will be hosting the next Summer Games in 2014. The nation won a best-ever 17 medals in Britain, with three being gold. These were in women’s gymnastics, judo, and volleyball. They want to put on an even better showing for their home fans in four year’s time and will be building an Olympic Training Center in Rio de Janeiro with more money being pumped into sports. This is what the British started to do several years ago and it’s paid off handsomely for them.