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The London Olympics 2012 "The greatest games ever?"

Updated on June 21, 2013

A look back at London 2012

Olympic Dream – Reflections on London 2012

Let the Games begin!

Decided I did not want to get sucked into the whole Olympic hype after spending a lot of time watching the Tour de France the previous month.

Goodbye sleep, hello London! I am working like crazy during the mornings and late at night so that I can watch the afternoon and evening events.

Many dreams are dreamed and some become reality! In the final of the 200m Butterfly, Chad le Clos, in a last grasp effort, touched the timing pad .05 of a second before Michael Phelps the greatest swimmer of all time. Phelps was going for his 15th gold medal, while le Clos, the young 20 year old South Africa, was attempting to win only the second gold ever by a South African male swimmer.

We sat on the edges of our seats as did many other South Africans, and collectively willed the young man on. Many of us had not even heard of him a week ago, but now we were with him 100%. The Olympics have a way of bringing people together and making countries proud. Two days ago we had felt the first taste of success when Cameron van der Burgh won his gold in the 200m freestyle.

While the USA and China desperately battle it out for top spot with 17 medals each after only 4 full days, we rejoice at our first and second gold. Meanwhile Audrey and I, together with millions of others all over the world, watch in amazement at the skill and beauty of the competition! The Olympic motto; “higher, further and faster” is alive and well. How many young people will be inspired to achieve what Chad le Clos and Cameron van der Burgh have achieved, or perhaps like most of the athletes, just to make it to the games and share in the excitement?

Two weeks into the Games.

What an amazing two weeks it has been. This is the first time that I have been able to watch an Olympics Games so regularly. London being in nearly the same time zone as South Africa has meant the time of viewing has been convenient. The swimming events every evening in the beautiful Aquatic Complex kept us spellbound. First gold medals by South African men swimmers ever, had us cheering and high fiving. Then the light weight fours sneaking home for an unlikely

Watching the amazing Michael Phelps set the record of 18 Olympic medals with 15 gold, a record that will probably never be broken, got us on the edge of our seats. Young Chad le Clos joking about his Dad’s wonderful interview, receiving over 40 000 hits on U-tube, brought tears to our eyes.

Every medal had a story of courage and determination. Yet there was drama and disappointment lurking around every corner and it did not disappoint. The commentators were generally well informed and gave us snippets of information about the background of athletes, and how they had not only dreamed the Olympic Dreams but had lived them.

Last night Jennifer Suhr from the USA won the Pole Vault, with much smaller Cuban competitor Yarisley Silva failing in a moment of great drama to snatch it from her grasp. In the stand was Jennifer’s coach and husband. As a young girl growing up in Rochester, New York, Jennifer had been an outstanding young sportswoman, achieving at a high level in several different disciplines. Then she was taken under the wings of her coach who mortgaged his house to sponsor her athletic career.

As they hugged and cried after the event came to an end I wondered about what story the young Cuban Yariskey Silva brought to the Olympics?

The end has come.

As the final evening of the Athletics program came to an end the commentator, who had attended the last 10 Summer Olympics over a period of 40 years, called these the “greatest Olympics ever”. As an Englishman he was obviously prejudiced. He was also swept away with the excitement of world records and a fellow country man, Mo Farah winning the 10 000m, completing the sweep in the two men’s long distance events. The excited crowd roared its approval, especially when a British competitor’s name was called out or made a move in any event.

At the same time they applauded excitedly and waved flags when the Jamaican 4x100 men’s team won in style and broke the world record, as the USA men had done in the 4x400 and the USA women in the 4x100. In my opinion this Olympics was indeed a great event, and a spectacle well worth watching. Usain Bolt undoubtedly stole the show as the fasted man in the world. Combining his speed with his showmanship, we could only smile and applaud in amazement.

My personal highlight as a South African was the success in the swimming pool where Chad le Clos and Brendan van den Burgh won gold. Chad beating his hero Michael Phelps and Brendan setting a new world record .I am certain every one of the millions worldwide had their own “magic moments”. It was however seeing Michael Phelps becoming arguably the greatest Olympian ever that stand out in my mind. He brought his total medals won to 22, that included 18 gold. That provided a moment in Olympic history that will probably never be equaled.

We found ourselves watching some events that were fascinating, sometimes beautiful and always interesting. Diving, weightlifting, gymnastics, cycling, show lumping, archery, soccer and rhythmic gymnastics, to mention just a few.

Another factor that needs to be considered in assessing the success of these Olympics was the great crowds who filled the stadiums and lined the roads and waters of London to watch the cycling, rowing, sailing, walking, swimming, and running events. As the 2012 London Olympics come to an end we have seen the motto of higher, faster and further coming to life. Perhaps beauty and courage should be added. One commentator called this the “feel good Olympics”. What a privilege it has been!

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    • Johan Smulders profile imageAUTHOR

      Johan Smulders 

      5 years ago from East London, South Africa

      Thanks for the comment.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      The Olympics is the only time that I regret not having a television. Thanks for the commentary. It helped, even though I could not see the high points.

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