The Olympics came to a close last night, thus ending my two week binge of watching NBC constantly, caring deeply about diving, water polo, and equestrian, and tearing up every time an athlete with a difficult past won a medal. Here are my favorite moments from week two.
Best Male Athlete: Andy Murray
I have said it before, but almost nobody cares about tennis at the Olympics except me. Nonetheless, it was good to see Britain’s own Andy Murray take home the tennis gold. Though it’s not the same as winning a Major (which Murray has yet to do), it was a special moment. Good for him.
Best Female Athletes: Alex Morgan & Abby Wambach
I chose Morgan and Wambach, but really I could list any of the women from USA soccer (except Hope Solo, who kills it at goalkeeping but often fails at being a likeable human being). I went with Morgan and Wambach, however, because Alex Morgan scored the goal that beat Canada in an incredible semifinal match and because Abby Wambach seems like an amazing leader and all-around cool person. Also: I dare you to watch this video of Julie Foudy interviewing Alex Morgan and not tear up (you have to watch to the very end).
Best Commentary: Cynthia Potter
She is perhaps the least showy of NBC’s expert announcers (so low-key, in fact, that I couldn’t even find a good photo of her!), but diving’s Cynthia Potter is the best. She never shouts (cough Rowdy Gaines cough) and never goes over the top (cough Tim Daggett cough) but rather is professional, informative, and interesting.
Most Oddly Mesmerizing: Trampolining
Last weekend, I caught the finals of women’s trampoline. I was vaguely aware that this was an Olympic sport, but once I started watching I was kind of mesmerized. I love that there are people who dedicate their lives to training for such a seemingly random event.
Most Amusing Medal Ceremony: Women’s Tennis
During the women’s singles medal ceremony, the crowd let out a gasp: it was windy, and it turned out that the US flag had fallen. Ironically, though the anthem said that “our flag was still there”…it wasn’t. It could have been an awkward moment, but Serena Williams had a great reaction. In her words: “It was probably trying to come hug me, because it was so happy.”
Best Hometown Heroes: Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis
I root for the American athletes, but when they can’t win an event, my next pick is always a Brit – there’s something special about seeing athletes do well in their home countries. Two of my favorite British winners were from track and field – Mo Farah winning both the 10,000m and 5,000m and Jessica Ennis taking gold in the heptathlon. Good on them.
Best Brush Off: McKayla Maroney, Post-Vaulting Disappointment
McKayla Maroney delivered an epic vault during the team competition but struggled in the individual finals, only scoring a silver. Afterwards, the other gymnasts attempted to hug McKayla, who was clearly not having any of it. Poor sportsmanship? Probably, but I’ll give her a pass because her icy glares amuse me so.
Best Bronze: Juan Martin Del Potro
Juan Martin Del Potro was devastated after losing to Roger Federer in the semifinals, so it was nice to see him pull himself together and take home a bronze. Del Potro has struggled with injuries for the last few years, making his win in London particularly meaningful.
Most Terrified-Looking: Prince Harry
Is it just me, or did poor Prince Harry look terrified when he was announced as the representative for the Royal Family at last night’s closing ceremonies? Thankfully, he loosened up over the course of the show and could even be seen singing along (quite adorably) to “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.” Awww!
Best Farewell: Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings
I was so happy to see Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings win their third gold, a story that I thought might have been a little “too good to be true” to actually happen. I loved watching them celebrate and the interview they gave to Bob Costas after winning gold was ridiculously endearing. These two made me a big fan of beach volleyball.
Cutest Moment: Andy Murray Hugs a Little Kid after Winning Gold
After winning his gold medal, Andy Murray ran into the stands to hug his family and friends. On his way back down to the court, a little kid called out to Murray, who promptly gave the kid a hug. All together now: awww!
Best Athlete Names: Dong Dong, Fabian Hambuechen, and Ranomi Kromowidjojo
One of my favorite things about getting athletes from a bunch of different countries together is hearing all of the amazing names. At these Olympics, there were a lot of fabulously-named athletes competing, but my personal favorites were Dong Dong (trampoline), Fabian Hambuechen (gymnastics), and Ranomi Kromowidjojo (swimming).
Best Hair: Japanese Male Gymnasts
I cannot believe I forgot to mention this in my Week One recap – the Japanese male gymnasts have the absolute best hair. I mean, they look like they could form their own emo Japanese boy bond. Love it.
Most Inspirational: Oscar Pistorius
I think the picture above says it all, but Oscar Pistorius’s story is wonderful. He also seems like an all-around good guy. My one complaint? I got so sick of NBC’s commentators saying that Pistorius was competing against “able-bodied athletes.” Couldn’t they find a better phrase? Pistorious seems plenty able to me!
Most Adorable: Epke Zonderland
After he nailed his high bar routine to win a gold, I decided Epke Zongerland, a gymnast from the Netherlands, was basically the most adorable human being ever. That smile, that hair, that ridiculous name.
Best Reunion: The Spice Girls
As a child of the ’90s, no moment from last night’s Closing Ceremonies was quite so exciting as the Spice Girls performing. Say what you will, but they are still fabulous in their own ridiculous way.
Best Match: Women’s Soccer – USA def. Canada, 4-3 in Overtime
This is one of those sports moments I’ll always remember – where I watched, who I watched with, how exciting the whole thing was. Though it would have been nice to score an easy win over Canada, having to come back from behind several times made this crazy exciting game a win for the ages.
Most Exciting Finish: David Boudia, Qiu Bo, and Tom Daley Dive for Gold
I love Olympic diving, and the sport really saved the best for last in these Olympics, with the final round of men’s 10m platform providing a thrilling finish. Going into the final dive, the USA’s Boudia, China’s Qiu Bo, and Britain’s Daley were basically tied. Boudia came up with the win and Daley and his team jumped into the pool in celebration of bronze. And the Chinese diver who won silver? He wept, naturally.
Most Well-Deserved Swagger: Usain Bolt
I find showboating annoying and, as such, generally do not enjoy most of track and field. However, if there’s one man who ever earned his crazy ego, it’s Usain Bolt. I know a lot of folks did not think he could repeat his success from Beijing – boy, did he show them. So, if the guy wants to act a little over-the-top, I give him a pass. He’s nothing if not entertaining.
What were your favorite moments of the London Olympics?
(Image sources: Andy Murray via Birmingham Mail, Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach via All Voices, Trampolining via Federation Internationale de Gymnastique, Serena Williams via News One, Mo Farah via The Telegraph, Jessica Ennis via Sky Sports, McKayla Maroney via Barstool Sports, Juan Martin Del Potro via M24 Digital, Prince Harry via What Kate Wore, May and Walsh via NBC Olympics, Andy Murray via Daily Mail, Dong Dong via Meckz Tumblr, Fabian Hambuechen via Tumblr, Ranomi Kromowidjojo via FanPop, Japanese gymnasts via Kyodo News, Oscar Pistorius via Twitter, Epke Zonderland via London 2012, Spice Girls via Victoria Beckham Twitter, USA Soccer via LA Times, Boudia and Daley via Entertainment Weekly, and Usain Bolt via The Daily Telegraph)