Defining moments of London 2012

The London Olympics were always going to bear two great similarities to Beijing four years earlier - Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps.

Neither disappointed.

Phelps became the greatest Olympian of all time and Bolt declared himself the greatest athlete ever.

But there were many great moments of the 2012 Olympics ...


Phelps was given a trophy to go with his 18 Olympic gold medals, and 22 in all. It was garish and not very attractive, but it simply said what he is: "Greatest Olympian of All Time."

After six gold medals in Athens and eight in Beijing, he won a relatively modest four in London, as well as two silver. His third medal took him past Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina as the most decorated Olympian of all time with 19 medals.

But when he anchored the US home in the 4x100m medley relay on the final night of swimming, the world saw the last of the greatest, fittingly with another gold.


It wasn't just the double-double, Bolt won a magnificent double-triple, taking gold in the 100m, 200m, and 4x100m relay for the second Games in a row. As the only person to achieve the feat, it's hard to argue with his boast that he's a legend and the greatest athlete of all.

His gold in the 100m was dominant, the 200m was supreme, but his role in Jamaica's world record relay win summed up his brilliance. With Ryan Bailey taking the baton for the US perhaps centimetres in front of him in the final leg, Bolt swallowed him up in no time and set sail into history.


Rudisha's 800m world record was described by Sebastian Coe as the greatest run he's ever seen and is probably the best individual performance of the Games. The Kenyan dominated the field in a way that even Bolt didn't, leaving them in his wake with a lightning first lap of 49.2 seconds to win in a world record of 1:40.91.


The Somali-born Brit became the face of the Games for the home team. And the noise. The deafening din of 80,000 cheering him through the last two laps of the 5000m brought him home to follow his 10,000m gold a week earlier. He's the seventh man in history to do the double.


On the water of Lake Dorney men's rowing pair Eric Murray and Hamish Bond were the hottest of favourites for the Olympic title and duly delivered the win on August 3. Forty minutes later and Mahe Drysdale was able to forget the pain of Beijing to claim the gold medal he craved.


The Chinese 16-year-old sparked unfounded speculation after swimming the last 50m of the freestyle leg in her world record breaking 400m individual medley faster than American male gold medallist Ryan Lochte. She also won the 200m individual medley.


The 29-year-old Briton is part of Olympic history as the first women's boxing gold medallist. Her sparkling grin and giggly personality couldn't hide the fact she was capable of a lightning combination of punches which she used to destroy Chinese world champion Ren Cancan in the final.


Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei finally sent women to the Olympics, making London the first Games to have female competitors from every participating nation.

Saudi runner Sarah Attar came a distant last in her 800m heat, nearly a minute off the world record, while her teammate Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shaherkani was out of her depth and lost her first round judo match, wearing a modified hijab, in less than 90 seconds.

But Attar said her run wasn't about winning, it was for all Saudi women and she hopes it will make a difference and that "it sparks something amazing."


The British domination of track cycling summed up the London Games. A passionate and deafening home crowd cheered Britain on to seven of the 10 gold medals on offer. Royals, rock stars and politicians all needed to be seen there.

But perhaps the single greatest moment at the track was Chris Hoy's sixth gold medal of his career when he put on a display of raw sprinting to rewrite how the keirin can be won.


When Oscar Pistorius, the double-amputee from South Africa with carbon-fibre blades for legs, finished last in the semi-final of the 400m, Grenada's eventual gold medallist Kirani James went to him, exchanged bibs and shared an embrace. "Oscar is special. It's a memorable moment for me to be out there competing with him."


Badminton rarely hits the Olympic headlines, but did when eight players from China, South Korea and Indonesia were sent home in disgrace after deliberately trying to lose matches. They threw their games in a bid to gain a better draw in the next round, in violation of the Olympic spirit.