The Olympics have been held preciously in London in 1908, 1948, and now 2012, making London the city to have hosted the games more than any other location.
The history of the Olympics is a long and glorious one.
It is believed that the Olympics began in 776 BC in Olympia, Greece. These games in part are what were to become the modern day Olympics which began in 1896.
The Olympic games were played every four (4) years from 776 BC, until 393 CE, when the emperor of Rome at the time abolished the games as they had a Pagan influence.
It wasn’t until the late 1800’s that a Frenchman, Pierre de Coubertin, suggested what was to become the modern day Olympics.
And so as it was in the past with the beginnings of the Olympics, to this day athletes from around the world meet every four years to see who is the best in their sport. The only years to not see the Olympic games is 1916, 1940, and 1944, due to WWI and WWII.
All the athletes that compete in the Olympics are the best in their field, and have trained for years, however, over the years there have been a few Olympiads that have not just won the gold medal, but also captured our hearts. Some of the more famous Olympiads have also broken world records, or the sheer volume of how many medals they ave won.
Jesse Owens: Jesse Owens was an American track and field star, who at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, won four (4) gold medals. Not only was this an astonishing feat, it was also witnessed by a one Adolf Hitler, who was Chancellor of Germany at the time. Jesse’s gold medals did not go well with Hitler’s views on Aryan supremacy.
Mark Spitz: Also know as “Mark the Shark”, is an American swimmer, who won a total of nine (9) gold medals, a silver medal and a bronze medal, between the years 1968 and 1972, all for his speed in the swimming events. One of his finest hours was in the 1972 Olympic games in Munich, Germany, when Mark won a total of seven (7) gold medals. This was unheard of at the time, and immediately made Mark a star.
Michael Phelps: While we are on the subject of winning a lot of gold medals for swimming, we must mention Michael Phelps. Phelps is an American swimmer, and the most “decorated Olympian of all time”. He has won a total of 22 medals, including eight (8) gold medals he won in 2008 at the games in Beijing, where he broke Mark Spitz’s record.
Nadia Comaneci: Nadia Comaneci was a Romanian gymnast who in 1976 at the Olympic games in Montreal, won three (3) gold medals. It wasn’t just the winning of the three gold medals that was so great, but she became the first female gymnast to be given a perfect score of 10. This all at the age of 15.
Usain Bolt: Unless you have been living in a cave the past few years, just about everyone knows who Usain Bolt is. Usain is a Jamaican sprinter, who is considered by most to be the fastest man alive! He has won six (6) gold medals in sprinting. You also may know him from the Virgin media adverts he does with Sir Richard Branson.
Muhammad Ali: Ali, born Cassius Clay, is an iconic American boxer know for many feats, one of which is winning he boxing gold medal in the 1960 Olympics in Rome. He also has been the World Boxing Heavyweight Champion three times, 1964, 1974, and 1978. He also carried the American flag in the opening ceremony of the 2012 games in London.
Memorable Olympic Moments
Mexico 1968: In Mexico at the 1968 Olympics, American sprinter and gold medallist Tommie Smith, and bronze medal winner John Carlos, during their medal ceremony, raised their arms and fisted hands to give the “Black Power” salute. It was later stated the salute was not a Black Power salute, but a human rights salute. There was an aftermath, and both athletes went on to have sports careers, even with the controversy.
Munich 1972: The summer games of 1972 held in Munich, Germany were marred by the hostage taking of 11 Israeli Olympic team members by the Palestinian group calling themselves “Black September”. Unfortunately the rescue attempt failed, and all 11 hostages were killed, as well as those that took them hostage.
Los Angeles 1984: Zola Budd was a women’s sprinter and her and Mary Decker, another Olympic sprinter, were in the women’s 3000m. During a moment when all the runners were grouped, or “packed” together, Mary decker fell. Many at the time felt that Zola Budd had tripped her. Zola did not go on to win the race, and both women have spoken about the incident since stating it was an accident and Mary was not tripped.
Atlanta, Georgia 1996: It was at the 1996 summer Olympics that a bomb went off in the Olympic Park, killing one (1) person, and inuring 111 others. Much of the controversy was due to the FBI looking at a security guard, Richard Jewell as a suspect. While Jewell was never officially charged, the media frenzy took on a life of its own. Once exonerated, Jewell was hailed as a hero, as it was he who had found the bomb and evacuated people from the park.
Opening Ceremonies London 2012
Enough history and reminiscing, let’s get back to our look at the legacy and highlights of the 2012 Olympics held in London.
Why not start at the beginning!
Who can forget that amazing opening that was directed by Academy Award winning, and British director Danny Boyle. The opening was a spectacular history lesson of Britain through the ages. It was so lifelike in its presentation.
Not only did the opening have a cast of thousands, it literally had a crew that was more than a thousand as well.
Technically the opening ceremony was a marvel.
A million watt sound system, with over 500 speakers was used to fill the stadium with sound.
There were 15,000 square metres of staging and some 12,956 props were used. The opening ceremony was more on par with a huge stadium rock show!
It will be some time before we see anything like it again.
Then there are the games themselves. More than 10,000 Olympic athletes from 204 participating countries, all gathering in one spot. All going for the gold medal showing their competitive nature and hard years of training. Only the best make it to the Olympics.
As for the events themselves, you had everything from cycling, to gymnastics, to tennis, to swimming and wrestling.
Who cares if you couldn’t get a ticket or get to London to see the Olympics. You could watch it all on the television. There were thousands of hours of broadcasting allowing us to view the games and events.
It was said that 90% of the UK population at some point watched part of the 2012 Olympics. That’s 51.9 million people! It was the “largest national television event”, since they began recording such events. It was all we were talking about.
And what about all our own medal winners!
Overall, Great Britain came in third for overall medal winners. We grabbed 29 gold medals, 17 silver medals, and 19 bronze, for a total of 65 medals.
Some highlights of the games:
- Mo Farah taking the gold in the Men’s 500m and the Men’s 10,000m.
- Jessica Ennis winning the gold in the Women’s Heptathlon
- Bradley Wiggins, gold medalist in the Men’s Cycling Time Trial
- Andy Murray, who won the gold medal for Men’s Singles tennis
These are just a few of the Olympians who won gold medals for Team Great Britain. All contributing to the legacy of the 2012 Olympics!
So as we look fondly back at the 2012 Olympics, and at previous Olympics, keeping in mind the sacrifices, and challenges made by the athletes, we can put it in perspective, the humble beginnings of the games, thousands of years ago.
However, is there a curse on the London 2012 Olympics???
London 2012 Olympic “Curse”
There are those that believe in curses, and those that do not. The non-believers may state it is all coincidence or bad luck.
According to a French TV channel, BFMTV, there may be such a curse on some 2012 Olympic athletes as 18 of them have died since competing in London.
18 deaths is some coincidence. The latest death was Yuliya Balykina, who was a Balarusin sprinter. He was found dead and covered in plastic in a forest. A man has been charged with her murder.
While 18 deaths sounds like and is a lot, especially if you consider these were young people, and athletes, if you look at rough mortality rates, Rob Mastrodomenico, who is a sports statistician at Global Sports Statistics, states, “you would expect 7.89 people in 1,000 to die.”
Since there were 10,568 people who participated in the 2012 Olympics, the basic math would mean 333 would die over a four (4) year period.
So 18 deaths seems on the low side, but it still a bit shocking.
A full list of the athletes who have died can be found here, and their deaths have occurred in many different ways, from natural causes, to cancer, to accidents.
,It has been almost four years since the Olympics visited us here in London. Thinking back to 2007, when we began watching the Olympic Stadium being built, and the years it took to complete, who could