Over the past 17 days, The Globe and Mail’s Olympic staff have witnessed the very best from athletes around the world. Each one has shared their favourite moment from the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Watching men’s and women’s wrestling was enjoyable, but their trips to the magic cylinder were top-notch entertainment. At the end of a scoreless round, a wrestler was chosen to go to a cylinder and chose a ball. That ball opened and produced either a red or blue second ball. The wrestler wearing the appropriate coloured singlet then got to go on the attack. Next Olympics, they should use a Magic Eight ball. A wrestler can ask, “Will I win a medal?” And the Eight Ball can reply, “My sources say no.” That would be even more memorable.
You’ve got to hand it to the Oldershaws. They never give up even if it takes them years, decades, generations. Bert Oldershaw paddled in the 1948 Olympics in London, did well, but missed the podium. Three of Bert's sons also went to the Games, returning to Canada without Olympic hardware. Mark Oldershaw, Bert's grandson, did the family proud by winning the Oldershaw's first paddling medal, a bronze, in the 1000-metre canoe race. He told us that he took Bert's fragile old paddle to London with him, for good luck. It worked. Mark's medal was not gold but it felt like one to him and his coach father, Scott. He radiated pride as he stood before us, his medal around his neck. "I'm going to wear it for a while," he told us.
Until I saw Mo Farah win the men’s 10,000-metre race, the loudest I'd ever heard a crowd was the 2001 World Series at Yankee Stadium. But Olympic Stadium stood and roared as one for the former asylum seeker, and there isn't a father out there who didn't weep when Farah's daughter ran out on the track to hug him. We've all been there.
KEVIN VAN PAASSEN (photographer)
That heartbreaking image of Christine Sinclair and her teammates exhausted and deflated, walking from the pitch after such a dramatic loss to the U.S. at Manchester’s Old Trafford, was one that will stick with me for a while. Thankfully though, the team's chance at redemption would come only a few nights later in the bronze medal match versus France. After being badly outshot by France, Canada’s Diana Matheson scored with less than a minute remaining in added time, winning the bronze for Canada. It was a huge win and a great Canadian moment.
There is nothing like a good scandal and badminton at the Olympics served up one of the best. I won't soon forget standing in a packed room with dozens of reporters from Asia demanding explanations from badminton officials as to why eight players were ejected and allegations were flying about cheating by others. Then Thomas Lund, who heads international badminton, gave what may be the understatement of the Games: "We live in the world and the world is full of very good things and, sometimes, we have to deal with problems and issues."
The most compelling story in London for me was the debut of Olympic women’s boxing. It was the last Summer Games sport not to include women, and while there were still great gender inequities to be seen, the female boxers really made an impression. This tournament made heroes of the first-ever female boxing Olympic champs, like 17-year-old American Claressa Shields from Flint, Mich., the smiling Nicola Adams from nearby Leeds, and Katie Taylor, who drew a World-Cup-like atmosphere as she won Ireland’s first Olympic gold medal in 16 years.
It's not a medal, it's not a record, it's the Canadian women's 4 x 200-metre freestyle relay. Made up of two 18-year-olds, a 20-year-old, and a 23-year-old, they finished fourth, but beat powerful Italy and China. And they did it with smiley faces drawn on their hands - sports is supposed to be fun, after all.
My favourite Olympic moment was the incredible buzz in London each and every time Usain Bolt ran. With all of the heats, semis and finals in the 100, 200 and relay, that was often - and every time, the 80,000 seat stadium was just electric. Bolt's post-race press conferences were always can't miss, too.