On August 12, 2012, London bade a flamboyant and madcap farewell to the Olympic Games with a romp through British pop and fashion, bringing the curtain down on more than two weeks of action that ended with USA topping the sporting world with 46 gold medals.
Actor Timothy Spall read from Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” dressed as
war-time Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and after a London “rush
hour” featuring real cars and trucks, Prince Harry entered to represent
his grandmother Queen Elizabeth.
The Spice Girls, Take That and George Michael were among the acts
taking part in an exuberant finale that sought to sum up Britain’s
enthusiasm for the Games despite reservations about the 9 billion pound
During a special eight-minute segment, the stadium was bathed in the
colours and sounds of Brazil, as the Olympics looked ahead to 2016 when
Rio de Janeiro is the host city.
The Olympic flag was handed to Eduardo Paes, Rio’s Mayor, before
International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge described the
London Games as “happy and glorious” and declared them closed—the words
taken from Britain’s national anthem to the queen.
The main stadium was the setting for some of the most spectacular
moments of the Games, including Jamaican sprint king Usain Bolt
defending the 100, 200 and 4x100 metres titles he won in Beijing, the
latter in a world-beating time.
British supporters will also cherish memories of the venue, where
Somali-born runner Mo Farah won the 5,000 and 10,000 double to deafening
roars and was celebrated as a symbol of the capital’s
The hosts won 29 golds to take third place in the rankings, their
best result for 104 years, helping lift a nation beset by severe
spending cuts and worried about social stability a year after violent
riots swept parts of the capital.
Many will remember London 2012 for the record-breaking exploits of
American swimmer Michael Phelps, who took his life-time medal haul to 22
including 18 golds, making him the most decorated Olympian in history.
His tally helped the United States to the top of the Olympic table with
46 golds to second-placed China’s 38, reversing the order of the Beijing
Games in 2008.
There was, of course, Bolt, the biggest name in athletics and a
charismatic ambassador for sprinting. After winning the 4x100 he went on
to a London nightclub to delight dancing fans with a turn as a DJ,
shouting out “I am a legend” to the packed dance-floor.
On July 27, 2012, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth declared the London
Olympics open after playing a cameo role in a dizzying ceremony designed
to highlight the grandeur and eccentricities of the nation that
invented modern sport.
Children’s voices, intertwining from the four corners of her United
Kingdom, ushered in an exuberant historical pageant of meadows,
smokestacks and digital wizardry before an audience of 60,000 in the
Olympic Stadium, and a probable billion television viewers around the
Many of them gasped at the sight of the 86-year-old queen, marking
her Diamond Jubilee this year, putting aside royal reserve in a video
where she stepped onto a helicopter with James Bond actor Daniel Craig
to be carried aloft from Buckingham Palace.
A film clip showed doubles of her and Bond skydiving towards the
stadium and, moments later, she made her entrance in person.
More than 10,000 athletes from 204 countries competed in 26 sports
over 17 days of competition in the only city to have staged the modern
Games three times.
Most of them were there for the traditional alphabetical parade of
the national teams, not least the athletes from Egypt, Tunisia, Libya
and Yemen competing in their first Olympics since their peoples
overthrew autocrats in Arab Spring revolutions.
Brunei and Qatar were led in by their countries’ first ever female
Olympians and so, along with Saudi Arabia, ended their status as the
only countries to exclude women from their teams.
At the end of a three-hour extravaganza, David Beckham, the English
soccer icon who had helped convince the IOC to grant London the Games,
stepped off a speedboat carrying the Olympic flame at the end of a torch
relay that inspired many ordinary people around Britain.
Past Olympic heroes including Muhammad Ali, who lit the cauldron at
the 1996 Atlanta Games, and British rower Steve Redgrave, the only
person to win gold at five successive games, welcomed the flame into the
Yet it was not a celebrity but seven teenage athletes who lit a
spectacular arrangement of over 200 copper ‘petals’ representing the
participating countries, which rose up in the centre of the stadium to
converge into a single cauldron.
India’s tally of two silver and 4 bronze medals was its best tally
in Olympics. 81 athletes from India had competed in 13 sports.
Sushil Kumar became the
first Indian to get back-to-back Olympic medals. He won silver medal in
66kg Freestyle Wrestling. He had won a bronze medal in the Beijing
Subedar Vijay Kumar Sharma of 16 Dogra Regiment bagged silver medal in 25m rapid fire pistol event.
Yogeshwar Dutt, 2010 CWG gold winner, won India its fourth Bronze medal in 60kg freestyle Wrestling.
Five-time world champion MC Mary Kom
won a bronze medal in women’s boxing (51 kg) event. Rajiv Gandhi Khel
Ratna (2009), Arjuna Award (2003) and Padamshree (2006) awardee, Mary
Kom is the first Indian women boxer to qualify for Olympics. The
29-year-old boxer from Manipur came back from a two-year sabbatical
after the birth of her twins to clinch her fourth successive world title
in 2008, a feat that got her the sobriquet ‘Magnificent Mary’.
Ace marksman Gagan Narang
opened India’s account in London Olympics by clinching a bronze medal in
the men's 10 meter air. The burly Indian, who narrowly missed the final
in Beijing, raised his gun above his head as his many compatriots in
the crowd cheered loudly at the country's first medal of the Games.
Beijing Games gold medalist Abhinav Bindra, however, could not defend his title and crashed out of the event.
Saina Nehwal won women’s
singles bronze in badminton when her opponent Wang Xin of China broke
down with a knee injury after taking the opening game. Nehwal, ranked
fifth in the world, became only the second Indian woman to win a medal
in an individual Olympic sport.
22-year-old Irfan from Kerala did not win any medal but produced the
best effort by an Indian in an Olympic walking event, finishing 10th in
the 20km race, with a national record to boot.
In Hockey, India finished last in their group. This was the first
time in Olympic history that India lost all their group matches.
History of India in Olympics
The first authentic Indian team took part at the 1920 Antwerp
Olympic Games in athletics and wrestling. A National Olympic Committee
was finally formed in 1927.
India's greatest successes at the Olympics have come in men’s
hockey. They won every men’s title from 1928 to 1956. In 1960 they
reached the final but lost to Pakistan to end the sequence. India were
an ever present on the men’s hockey medal podium until 1976 and their
last gold medal success in this sport came at the Moscow 1980 Olympic
Indian shooters have challenged for medals in the new millennium.
Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore won silver in the men’s double trap in Athens
2004. Shooter Abinav Bindra became India’s first individual gold
medalist when he won the 10m air rifle at the Beijing 2008 Olympic
At the 1900 Olympic Games in Paris, Norman Pritchard had won silver
medals in the men’s 200m and the now discontinued 200m hurdles. He was
the first medal winner born in India but confusion surrounds his
nationality as India was then under British rule.
Jamaica's Usain Bolt won the
men’s 100m race in 9.63 seconds—a new Olympic record. Yohan Blake ran
9.75 for the silver. Justin Gatlin got the bronze in 9.79. With the
exception of former world record holder Asafa Powell everyone finished
under 10 seconds.
Bolt sealed his
status as the greatest sprinter of all times after retaining the men’s
Olympic 100m title. The world’s fastest
man and his Jamaica relay team mates provided three of the enduring
moments of the Games. The showman opened his campaign with a Games
record in the 100 metres, followed up by becoming the first man to
retain his titles in the 100 and 200m—where Jamaica finished 1-2-3—and
then anchored the 4x100 relay to a world record time.
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of
Jamaica won the women’s 100m race. With the victory, she became the
first woman to repeat in the 100 since Gail Devers of the US in 1992 and
Michael Phelps became the
first male swimmer to win the same individual event at three straight
Olympics, capturing the 200-meter individual medley for his 20th career
medal—and 16th gold. He touched in 1 minute, 54.27 seconds, just off his
winning time in Beijing, but still good enough for gold. His final
tally: 18 career golds, 22 medals.
Tahmina Kohistani was the sole Afghani female athlete at the London Olympics.
Mexico got first Olympic football gold. It beat 5-time world champion Brazil in the final. South Korea beat Japan to win the bronze.
Germany won the gold in
men’s hockey. The women’s gold was won by Netherlands, who became only
the second team, after the great Australia side of the late 1990s,
to win back-to-back Olympic titles.
Mo Farah won 5,000 and
10,000 meters gold. Mogadishu-born but proudly British, Farah’s feat was
hailed as the greatest in the country’s athletic history. The first
Briton to win a long-distance gold, he was only the seventh man to do
the Olympic 5,000/10,000 double.
US women win 4x100 meters
relay gold. Their record, a sizzling 40.82 seconds, smashed the world
mark of 41.37 set by the old East Germany in 1985.
Saudi Arabia sent female
athletes for the first time, ensuring every country competing was
represented by both sexes. Judoka Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim
Shaherkani, a painfully shy teenager with no international experience
and wearing an ill-fitting suit and head-covering, made a brave debut in
front of a global audience of millions. She lasted only 80 seconds but
won plenty of applause nonetheless.
After years of battling for
Olympic inclusion, female fighters finally had their moment. The first
to take gold in the ring was 29-year-old British flyweight Nicola Adams
whose previous jobs included tiling and working as an extra in
Kenyan David Rudisha’s world record-breaking time in 800 meters race was hailed as the standout performance of the Olympics
USA fell in love with
gymnast Gabby Douglas, the “Flying Squirrel” who became the first
African American to win an Olympic title in the women’s individual
Kirani James's 400 metres
gold was the first Olympic medal for Grenada. However, equally memorable
was the moment after the semi-final heat when he and South African
“Blade Runner” Oscar Pistorius, the first double amputee to compete on
the track at a Games, exchanged name bibs.
After one hour 59 minutes
and 48 seconds of swimming, cycling and running, Switzerland’s Nicola
Spirig and Sweden’s Lisa Norden crossed the line together in women’s
triathlon. It took a photo-finish to separate them. The men’s race also
stood out for the sight of British winner Alistair Brownlee winning
Ye Shiwen, the 16-year-old
Chinese swimmer, won two golds in London but her smashing of the 400
meters individual medley world record, with a time five seconds faster
than her personal best, was astonishing.
A huge crowd packed the
streets of central London to see Kiprotich win Uganda’s first medal of
the Games. Running side by side with Kenya’s world champion Abel Kirui
and Wilson Kipsang, the 23-year-old shook off his rivals and crossed the
finish line draped in his national flag. He was Uganda's first gold
medalist since John Akii-Bua 40 years ago in the 400m hurdles.
Wenlock was the
official mascot of the Games. The mascot was created and designed by
iris, a London-based creative agency. Wenlock is an animation depicting
two drops of steel from a steelworks in Bolton. It was named after the
Shropshire town of Much Wenlock, which held a forerunner of the current