10 Olympic moments you may have missed
The list of memories from this Olympics was richly layered, with deeply emotional and historically significant moments taking their place amid the popular ones that many saw.
08/12/2012 12:01 AM
08/12/2012 8:25 AM
Chances are, if you were watching NBC during the past 17 days, you saw The Queen jump out of a helicopter with James Bond, and you caught Usain Bolt’s races and victory poses, Michael Phelps’ fantastic swims, the U.S. women’s soccer team gold-medal win over Japan and the gravity-defying gymnastics acts of Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman and Danell Leyva.
No doubt you saw the inspirational South African, Oscar “Blade Runner” Pistorius, and Great Britain’s golden girl, heptathlete Jess Ennis, whose abs and megawatt smile have been plastered all over this city for months.
If you were lucky, you saw Somali-born and London-raised Mo Farah’s emotional win in the 10,000 meters, and his heartwarming celebration with pregnant wife Tania and their 7-year-old daughter, Rhianna.
But with 16,000 athletes competing and 302 events, it is impossible to witness all the feel-good moments.
Here are 10 you might have missed:• The Sculling Sloth: Oftentimes, the last-place finishers are as interesting as the gold medalists. That was the case with Niger rower Hamadou Djibo Issaka, who finished nearly two minutes behind the leaders in the heats of the single sculls.
Issaka comes from landlocked Niger and just picked up rowing three months ago.
He had no rowboat, so he trained in a fishing dinghy.
He was allowed to enter the Olympics under a special program for developing nations.
When the 35-year-old crossed the finish line in 8:53.88, far behind the winners of his heat, the crowd at Eton Dorney roared, and his smile was as brilliant as a gold medal. The British media nicknamed him The Sculling Sloth.• Proud Pop: It isn’t easy being an Olympian’s parent, which is why they twist and writhe in their seats, and cover their eyes and scream and pray. When South African swimmer Chad Le Clos stunned Phelps to win the 200-meter butterfly, his burly father Bert’s reaction was priceless.
A BBC crew happened to be near the proud dad at the moment and pulled him aside for an interview.
He shouted the word “unbelievable” over and over, and the look on his face spelled pure, unbridled pride in his baby boy.
“He’s the most down-to-earth, beautiful boy you’ll ever meet in your life. Look at him! He’s crying like me. I love you! ... Is this live?” he said in his hoarse voice. He became an instant YouTube sensation.• Quick thinking: Dutch judoka Edith Bosch won a bronze medal, but her work was not over.
She wound up making a huge tackle at the track and field stadium a few nights later.
Bosch saw a drunken fan throw a bottle at the sprinters lining up for the men’s 100-meter final. It fell behind Jamaican Yohan Blake in Lane 5.
Bosch ran over and tackled the unruly fan. Police arrived shortly thereafter and escorted him out.
She tweeted: “A drunken guest throws a bottle on the track! I have beaten him unbelievable!”• Special souvenir: World champion Kirani James of Grenada eased into the 400-meter final with a ho-hum run in his semifinal heat. But that semifinal will forever be engrained in James’ memory because among the runners on the track with him was Pistorius, who had made history by becoming the first double amputee to run in the Olympics.
Pistorius finished last in the semifinal.
When it was over, James embraced the South African and swapped his race name tag with him.• Historic women: She finished in last place in her 800-meter heat, nearly 44 seconds behind the winner, but Sarah Attar got a rousing ovation from the Olympic Stadium crowd.
Attar, the daughter of an American mother and Saudi Arabian father, was competing for Saudi Arabia — the first woman to represent that country in track and field.
She ran in black leggings, long sleeves and a white head covering.
“It was such a unique opportunity to make that first step for women, [it] is just the most amazing feeling ever,” she told reporters. “For women in Saudi Arabia, I think this can really spark something to get more involved in sports, to become more athletic. Maybe in the next Olympics, we can have a very strong team to come.”
Another Saudi female athlete who made a brief but significant Olympic debut was judoka Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shaherkani.• The Kiss: British cycling champions Laura Trott and Jason Kenny were caught smooching while watching beach volleyball.
Photographers were taking photos of David Beckham, who was sitting in front of them, and they unknowingly locked lips just at that moment.
They have since admitted they are dating, and the tabloids are going crazy over the new First Couple of Cycling.• Controversial edit: TV viewers in the United States missed a moving part of the Opening Ceremonies because of an editing decision by NBC.
Network executives chose to omit the haunting performance by Scottish singer Emeli Sande, who sang a hymn called Abide With Me, as part of a memorial to the 52 terrorist victims who died in the London bombings of July 7, 2005.
NBC spokesman Greg Hughes’ explanation: “Our programming is tailored for the U.S. audience.”• Pocket Hercules II: One of the smallest men at the Olympics made the biggest statement.
North Korean weightlifter Om Yun Chol, who is 5-feet tall and 123 pounds, won a gold medal by lifting an Olympic-record 370 pounds in the clean and jerk.
That is more than three times his body weight. Very few athletes have ever done that.
The last one who did at the Olympics was Naim Suleymanoglu of Turkey, who was known as the “Pocket Hercules.”• Para Abuela: One of the top Kleenex moments was the celebration of the Dominican Republic’s Felix Sanchez when he won the 400-meter hurdles gold. Sanchez, a USC graduate, lifted his bib and pulled out a picture of his late grandmother and then wept on the medal podium.
He also had written “Abuela” on his sneakers.
Just before the 2008 Olympics, Sanchez found out his grandmother had died. He ran poorly and was determined to come back in four years and win for her.• For the ages: Japanese dressage rider Hiroshi Hoketsu, 71, proved that there is no age limit to dreams. He first competed in the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo. Believe it or not, Hoketsu is not the oldest Olympian ever.
That distinction belongs to Swedish shooter Oscar Swahn, who was 72 years and 10 months old when he competed in the 1920 Antwerp Games.
Asked if he might try to break the record in four years, Hoketsu said: “My horse is now 15 and would be too old for Rio.”
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