LONDON -- After 17 days glued to the TV, the post-Olympics hangover surely has set in. No more track and field in prime time. No more swimming. No more gymnastics. No more BMX or rowing. Back to regularly scheduled programming (read: NFL training camp and Major League Baseball).
But before we tuck away our Olympic memories, here is a quick review of some of the biggest winners and losers of these 2012 Games.
• Winner: Weather forecasters. After months of record rainfall, Olympians expected to be competing in puddles and waterlogged venues. Visitors packed galoshes, slickers and brollies (umbrellas). The weather changed just in time. It was unseasonably hot and sunny in the days leading up to Opening Ceremonies, and other than the occasional rain shower during the Games, the weather held up nicely.
• Loser: Ticketless tourists. There was huge demand for tickets, but if you arrived here without tickets in hand, you were out of luck. Scalping is illegal, and they really enforce those laws. When they did release some tickets after British fans were outraged at the sight of empty seats on TV in the opening days, those tickets were sold online only to British and European fans.
• Winner: Michael Phelps. The most-hyped story entering the Olympics was the rivalry between Phelps and Ryan Lochte. But that story line faded, and Phelps wound up getting most of the headlines after winning four golds and two silvers to bring his career total to 22 (18 golds, two silvers, two bronzes). He became the most decorated Olympian of all time, and if he were a country, he would rank 47th all time in medals.
• Loser: Australian swimming. Oi! Oi! Oi! The Aussies usually rule at the pool, but they had their worst showing in 20 years. They won 10 medals in swimming, half of what they won in Beijing. For the first time since 1976, they didnt win a single gold. James Magnussen, who came in with much fanfare, left with a silver and a bronze. The joke Down Under was that the team was going to change its colors from green and gold to green and silver (ouch!).
• Winner: Usain Bolt. Once again, the Jamaican sprinter stole the show with golds in the 100 meters, 200 meters and the 400 relay. He also declared himself a living legend, and who can argue? He is, arguably, the greatest sprinter of all time. And, he certainly is the greatest showman.
• Winner: Volunteers. They were the 70,000 unsung heroes of the Games. They were unfailingly cheerful and helpful. One woman controlling the crowds became a YouTube sensation when she shouted through a megaphone: We will be telling our childrens children about this day. Some of you will say, I worked for the Olympics. Some of you will say, I watched the Olympics. Ill tell them I listened to it outside, and I heard a bit.
• Loser: Cab drivers. Many Londoners left town for fear of predicted chaos and huge crowds, and visitors were urged to use public transportation, leaving the cabbies with less work than usual for this time of year.
• Winner: Women. This was the first Olympics in which every delegation included at least one female athlete. Saudi Arabia entered women, and the U.S. team had more women than men. The U.S. women won team golds in soccer, basketball, water polo, gymnastics, rowing eights and dominated at the pool and track. Claressa Shields, 17, won a gold in womens boxing.