he London Olympics came to a spectacular end on Sunday with the world powerhouse United States reasserting its superiority on the final medals table, surpassing one-time Beijing Games champions China.
Over 10,000 athletes from 204 countries participated in 36 disciplines during the 16-day quadrennial spectacle.
As many as 85 nations appeared on the final medals table which, among others, included Iran (4-5-3), Ethiopia (3-1-3), Kenya (2-4-5), Turkey (2-2-1), Uganda (1-0-0), India (0-2-4), Qatar (0-0-2), Saudi Arabia (0-0-1) and Afghanistan (0-0-1).
Curtains finally came down on the extravaganza when the IOC chief Jacques Rogge officially declared the London Games closed and handed over the Olympic flag to the Mayor of Rio de Janeiro Eduardo Paes.
In the end, the US, who were for the first time relegated to second place by China at the Beijing Games, finished in three figures on the medals table fetching a total of 104 medals (46-29-29).
Challengers China secured a total of 88 medals (38-27-23), 12 less than Beijing Games where they amassed 51-21-28. Taking the advantage of home conditions, hosts Great Britain leaped one step to finish behind the two world giants securing 65 medals (29-17-19). The figure shows an enhancement of 18 medals including 10 golds.
The US amassed 60 of their 104 medals in track and field and swimming while China swept table tennis and badminton besides excelling in couple of other disciplines namely weightlifting, swimming, diving and artistic gymnastics collecting 49 medals.
There were some notable performances from Great Britain in the Games. They ruled track cycling, taking seven gold medals out of 10 with record breaking performances, besides dominating rowing and equestrian. Mohamed Farah did Great Britain proud by capturing a long distance double in 5,000 and 10,000 metres besides Jessica Ennis success in women’s heptathlon and Greg Rutherford triumph in men’s long jump.
Great Britain’s Andy Murray, who is yet to win a Grand Slam, also surprised all and sundry by landing the men’s singles crown and getting better of tennis ace Roger Federer in straight sets final 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 in front of a capacity crowd chanting for his success.
Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang, one of the many star attractions in the Olympics and the first person to win the 110 metres hurdles under 12.90s, had a repeat of his possibly worst nightmare (in Beijing Games) when he pulled his hamstring and smashed his right foot into the first hurdle of his heat.
Gold medalist in Athens Games, he limped on his left foot to the final hurdle before being helped by his fellow competitors.
For three-time Olympic hockey champions Pakistan, it was another unfruitful attempt as they returned empty-handed for the fifth time in succession. Pakistan’s last medal, a bronze in hockey, came at the Barcelona Games in 1992. The performance of greenshirts has opened a debate at home and the former stalwarts of the game are demanding a complete overhaul at the PHF.
Apart from the 18-member hockey team, Pakistan was represented by five wildcard athletes in athletics, swimming and shooting — Liaquat Ali (100m), Rabia Ashiq (800m), Anum Bandey (400m individual medley), Israr Hussain (100m freestyle) and Khurram Inam (skeet).
There were many star performers in almost every discipline who caught the eye with their brilliance, but Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt and US swimmer Michael Phelps delighted with their exuberance as millions of viewers remained glued to their television sets across the world to watch them in action.
Bolt, who is unarguably the greatest sprinter, repeated his Beijing feat by defending 100 and 200 metres titles besides leading his team to victory in 4 x 100m relay in a record time of 36.84 seconds. He set a new Olympic record in the 100m dash clocking 9.63 seconds to win the “Fastest Man of the Games’ title. He also holds the world record of 9.58 seconds in 100m which he had set in the world championship held at Berlin three years ago.
Phelps also went into the annals of the game by picking up four gold and two silver medals to dominate the swimming. All in all, he has a total of 22 medals (18-2-2) under his belt in three Olympics — Athens, Beijing and London. Earlier, he made his Olympic debut at Sydney at the age of 15 where he had to be content with fifth place in 200m butterfly. He also eclipsed the 18 Olympic medals record held in the name of Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina.Phelps and Latynina are the only athletes having won six medals apiece in a single Olympics thrice. Phelps also holds a record of securing most gold medals (eight) in a single Olympics which he achieved at Beijing.
He called it a day while at his peak and at the age of 27. He was feted with a life achievement award by the world body of the sport, FINA.
In the only doping incident to date, Nadzeya Ostapchuk, an athlete from Belarus, was stripped of her women’s shot put gold after she was tested positive. Following her disqualification, defending champion Valerie Adams of New Zealand was awarded the gold medal.
The London Organising Committee of Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) did a commendable job for staging the incident-free games for the third time.