Another summer Olympics has come and gone, leaving us with stories of heroic efforts of all sorts. From tragedy to triumph and overachievers to underdogs, the 2012 London Olympics were one to remember. Now that Olympic afterglow has begun to wear off, we decided to take a few minutes to share some of our favorite stories of this year's games. While we may be a little biased towards the USA headlines (and our 104 gold medals), we can't say enough about all the tremendous athletes from all over the world who showcased their talents for their respective countries.
#15] Opening & Closing Ceremonies
2012 London Olympics Closing Ceremony (Wally Skalij)
While one could say that the opening and closing ceremonies in London weren't as amazing as those in Beijing, they still certainly were spectacular. The opening ceremony focused on the UK's contributions to the world and weaved in some of it's most notable fictional characters such as Mary Poppins and Lord Voldemort; even James Bond dropped in - who made aparachute entrance alongside Queen Elizabeth II*. The closing ceremonies were centered around the UK's long history of pop idols and fashion icons showcasing artists like The Who, Spice Girls, One Direction, Jessie J and many others along with models such as Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss.
#14] Felix Sanchez's Tribute to His Late Grandmother
Felix Sanchez (Martin Meissner/AP Photo)
After winning the gold in the 400m hurdles in 2004, Dominican Republic hurdler Felix Sanchez was coming off a Beijing Olympics where he ran horribly after receiving news that his grandmother, who had raised him, had passed away. After that he vowed that he would win the gold medal for her in 2012. He ran with a picture of them pinned to his racing bib, "Abuela" written on his spikes and proceeded to accomplish exactly what he set out to do.
#13] Boudia Brings Back Gold to USA Men's Diving
David Boudia (NBC)
After not-so-impressive performance in the preliminaries, David Boudia was able to secure the 18th and final slot in the last semifinal of the 10-meter platform competition. He continued to improve each round after that, passing up notables Qiu Bo (China) and Tom Daley (UK) on his way to winning gold. Boudia's gold medal was the first for USA men's diving in 20 years, proving that this team is headed in the right direction.
#12] The Story of Oscar "Blade Runner" Pistorius
Oscar Pistorius (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
South African runner Oscar Pistorius was born without fibulas and by the time he was 11 months old he had already had both of his legs amputated below his knee. Despite all that, Pistorius overcame adversity and qualified for the Olympics. This turned out to be quite the story.
#11] Despite Broken Leg, Mitchell Keeps Running
Manteo Mitchell (AP Photo)
USA Sprinter Manteo Mitchell heard a loud pop while running in his leg of the preliminary leg of the 4x400-meter relay. The sound turned out to be that of a complete break of his left fibula. With 200 meters left to go, Mitchell decided to fight through the pain and finish for his team and his country.
#10] Mo Farah Makes London Proud
Mo Farah (Wally Skalij)
There's nothing like the roar of a home-crowd.... Britain distance runner Mo Farah now knows that to an extent very few do. Farah put together amemorable final lapto take gold in the 10,000 meter race which caused Olympic Stadium to erupt. Farah also added a gold in the 5K meter run, solidifying his role in a very successful Olympics for Great Britain.
#9] As Expected, USA Hoops Grabs Gold
USA Mens Basketball (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Highlighted by an 83 point win against Nigeria (156-73) and a fantastic gold medal game against Spain, it seemed that the biggest competition for this year's USA Men's Basketball team was the legacy of the 1992 Dream Team. The team led by Durant, James and Bryant did exactly what was expected of them by taking home gold and now only time will tell how they will be compared alongside the Dream Team (who was composed of 11 eventual hall of famers).
#8] USA vs USA in Beach Volleyball Finals
Jennifer Kessy and April Ross (Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
For us, the worst thing about the Volleyball finals was deciding who to cheer for... It's was two USA teams facing off for gold when Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings took on Jennifer Kessy and April Ross who were coming off an upset win over a top-ranked Brazil team. Unfortunately Kessy and Ross couldn't keep up with the two-time gold medalists who added a third to their legacy.
#7] USA Women's 4x100 Sets World Record
USA Women's 4x100 Team (Bermd Thissenepa)
It's great to win gold, but to do it with the fastest time ever on your way to breaking one of the longest standing Olympic records has to be a great feeling. The USA Women's 4x100 team, made up of Carmelita Jeter, Tianna Madison, Allyson Felix and Bianca Knight, did just that when they shattered the old record by over half a second.
#6] USA Women's Soccer Gets Revenge
Womens Soccer (Stanley Chou/Getty Images)
After losing to Japan in the 2011 World Cup, the USA Women's Soccer team got their shot at revenge during the gold medal game after an epic win over Canada in the semifinals. This victory make it the 4th Olympic gold for USA Women's Soccer in the last 5 attempts.
#5] Mexico Upsets Brazil in Men's Soccer Gold Match
Mexico Soccer Team (Wally Skalij)
Mexico took down the heavily favored Brazil soccer team on their way to winning the country's first gold medal. The 2-1 victory was exciting to watch and will undoubtedly be heralded as one of the most significant moment's in the history of Mexican soccer.
#4] USA Men & Women Rule the Pool
USA Men's Swim Team (Karl Mondon/Mcclatchy Newspaper)
The London Olympics were full of storylines inside the pool for men and women American Swimmers. Headlined by Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte the men's team dominated, scoring metals in numerous events including gold in the 4x100 medley relay and the 4x200 freestyle relay - something the women's team also accomplished.
#3] The "Fierce Five"
USA Women's Gymnastics Team (Alex Grimm/Getty Images)
Composed of Aly Raisman (18), Jordyn Wieber (17), McKayla Maroney (16), Gabby Douglas (16) and Kyla Ross (15), this squad will go down as one of the best USA Women's gymnastic teams of all time. They dominated individually (Douglas won the All-Around competition, Raisman won the Floor Exercise and Maroney took Silver in Vault) and as a team on their way to winning the coveted women's artistic team all-around competition.
#2] Bolt is Lightning Fast
Usain Bolt (Michael Steele/Getty Images)
We saw Usain Bolt win 3 gold medals in Beijing and expected him to do it again in London, but watching it happen was still so incredibly exciting (though you really better not blink or you'll miss it). With this performance Bolt locked his place in history as the best track star of all-time.