LONDON -- As these Olympic Games come to a close, my observations on the final days here in my Self-Professed Bloody Brilliant Blog, Part III! Here is Part I and Part II of the BBB, in case you missed it:
11. The Women's Games
Officially, we call it the London Games, but perhaps we should call it the Women's Games. This was the first Olympics in which every country had a female Olympian representing their country. But the U.S. women rocked it in London, in particular. The American women's 29 gold medals, on their own, are tied with Great Britain for the third most of any country. Their 58 total medals places them fifth overall behind only the U.S., China, Great Britain and Russia.
It is hard to name all the great American women who have competed here during the Games, but let's name a few: the U.S. women's basketball team winning its fifth straight gold; women's soccer winning its third consecutive gold; Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor with their third consecutive gold in beach volleyball; women's water polo winning its first gold after two silvers and a bronze; and Kim Rhode, the American skeet shooter who became the first American Olympian to win individual medals at five consecutive Games. Thank you, Title IX.
12. Medal envy
I have held, touched and benched a few medals here at the Games, and they are beautifully and spectacularly large. The Daily Mail says, "they are the largest Olympic medal ever in both size and weight." (Note: If The Daily Mail writes it, I believe it.) So much so, I think neck-strengthening exercises would have been a good idea before coming to London. I know it is not the size of the medal that matters, but my 2004 Athens gold medal is feeling a Napoleonic sense of injustice.
13. A celebration of diversity
We often talk about how the Olympic Games unite people, unite countries, unite factions within countries. The Games are so diverse, but so united at the same time. They allow different races and cultures to wave one flag and, for that special moment, cheer as one chorus. That unity was wonderfully evident as I watched these Games in London, a city of many immigrants.
Moments after Mo Farah's 10,000-meter gold-medal victory, the Somali-born Briton was asked by a journalist if he would have preferred to run as a Somali. He replied: "Look mate, this is my country. I am very proud to be British."
English musician Billy Bragg captured the moment best in a tweet midway through Olympics:
Tonight, our society was wonderfully represented by a ginger bloke [Greg Rutherford], an immigrant named Mohammed [Farah] and a mixed race woman [Jessica Ennis]. #proudtobeBritish
Ahh, I love sports.
14. A celebration of authenticity
There are those Olympians (and their agencies) who carefully plan every single marketing move, tweet and minute on their path toward the Olympics. In the end, we may know who they are and see them on billboards, but we know them as images, rather than people. Then, there are those Olympians who just embrace the challenge, shrug at the obscurity, smile at the possibilities, rejoice at the opportunity, celebrate the journey and give us fresh, raw, unbridled passion. These Olympians are why I love the Olympics.
I love that U.S. swimmer Missy Franklin did not take the path most traveled and instead chose to stay with her local club and coach coming into these Games, even though many thought that was a bad idea. I love that Oscar Pistorius chose to keep fighting for a chance to represent his country of South Africa, even if he was born without two legs. I love that Sarah Attar, the first woman to represent Saudi Arabia in the Olympic Games, has just inspired a generation. I love that they grind each and every day, simply because they love what they do. For them, the journey is not about having it all, but loving what you have. A great lesson for us all.
Thank you, London. Thank you, Great Britain. Thank you for sharing your sunshine (yes, sunshine) and wonderful country for three weeks. What a treat for us all.