LONDON -- It seems to happen every four years, doesnt it? Locals in the Olympic host city fret for months, whine about traffic congestion, gripe about ticket distribution, and yes, many of them flee. Visitors worry about security and transportation. Then, the Opening Ceremonies come along and all the anxiety seems to disappear amidst the pageantry. By the time the endless Parade of Nations gets going, everyone is in party mode and ready for the athletes to take over the spotlight.
By the end of the first week, those pre-Olympic worries seem like ancient history. That certainly is the case at these Games.
The 2012 Opening Ceremonies were deemed a huge triumph as more than a billion viewers around the world tuned in to see Oscar-winning director Danny Boyles $42 million tribute to Britishness Shakespeare, James Bond, Mr. Bean, the Beatles, Mary Poppins, and, of course, The Queen.
As the Games reach the midpoint Sunday, Londoners are in a fairly jolly mood. There have been some glitches, to be sure. But organizers could not have asked for a better first week. After record-rainfall for months, the weather has held up nicely. The javelin speed train is running on schedule. Buses are running on time. The 70,000 volunteers have been perky and helpful. The venues many of them set at historic sites such as Horse Guards Parade, Lords Cricket Ground, Wimbledon, and Wembley are picture-perfect. If there have been security issues, they havent been big enough to make headlines.
And the sports competition has provided plenty of drama.
Heres a look back at the first seven days
• The Medal Race: Team USA took over the top spot on the medal chart Saturday with its 24th gold. Along with 11 silvers and 14 bronzes, the Americans had 49 medals heading into the evening competitions. China was second with 23 gold, 16 silver and 11 bronze (50 total). Host Great Britain, after hang-wringing for four days awaiting its first gold medal, was up to 11 golds, seven silvers and eight bronze. Their goal coming in was fourth place, so they are ahead of schedule with much success in rowing and cycling.
Korea sits in fourth with nine gold, two silvers, five bronze (16 total) and France is fifth with eight golds, six silvers, eight bronzes (22).
• Best U.S. performances: The U.S. swim team and U.S. womens gymnastics teams dominated as expected, as did Serena Williams, the womens soccer team and the two basketball teams, although the NBA star-studded mens team got a scare from Lithuania on Saturday before escaping 99-94.
Going into the final night of competition, American swimmers had won 14 of the 28 available golds and 28 medals total. Superstar Michael Phelps became the most decorated Olympian of all time with five medals, bringing his total to 21. His rival and relay teammate Ryan Lochte also won five medals, though he was hoping for more than two golds. Bubbly 17-year-old Missy The Missile Franklin was the fresh face among the U.S. stars with four medals.
Gabby Douglas was the biggest winner on the gymnastics team, taking team gold and all-around gold, the first black athlete to win an all-around title. The rest of the U.S. team was very strong, and Danell Leyva of Miami wowed the crowd with a daring and perfect bars routine to clinch bronze in the mens all-around.