If you know me or have been following me on twitter, I think you are well aware of my
unhealthy obsession love for the Olympics. I LOVE THE OLYMPICS. There, I said it. I could do a whole separate top 10 list on why I love the Olympics, but I’ll spare you (unless you demand it and then, I mean, I’ll do it). I had originally planned for this to be a top 10 list, but I honestly couldn’t even whittle it down to 15, much less 10 (17 days of 24-hour coverage? Cut me some slack!). I’ve had a week (or as I call it, a half-Olympics) to dry my tears and regroup, and I’m finally ready to present my absolute favorite moments of the Olympics. Let’s dive in! (Tom Daley style or Stephan Feck style, your choice)
20. Mini Coopers Getting Even Cuter
If you missed the somewhat slower-paced action out on the field of Olympic Park, you missed out on the greatest part of the Olympics that no one’s talking about—the tiny remote control Mini Coopers used by officials to transport javelins, discuses, and shot puts back from their landing. Weren’t sure what to get me for Christmas? I’ll take two.
19. Sam Mikulak for Miss Congeniality
Most Olympians are probably secretly hoping their opponents have a meltdown mid-routine, but good-natured Sam Mikulak from the US men’s gymnastics team instead chose to cheer on South Korean gymnast (and clear favorite) Yang Hak Seon during the vault final, and giving him a huge, smiling hug when Yang came out on top. The commentators were raving over Sam’s sportsmanship, and home viewers raved over his
biceps personality. (video)
18. Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings’s Three-Peat
I don’t think anyone doubted that Team USA’s “Golden Girls” would come out winning gold for a third time, but that didn’t make the win any less great. America’s favorite BFFs still reigned supreme. (video)
17. Mo Farah Wins Gold for GB
England’s resident tiny-person-that-runs-really-fast, Mo Farah, beat all those other fast, skinny people to win gold and, more adorably, repeatedly smack his bald head in excitement. I give him an A+ in properly celebrating an Olympic gold medal. (video)
16. The Real Dream Team: Women’s 4x100M Relay
Listen, people—our men’s basketball team is great and all, but let’s get down to the real dream team here. Not only did Allyson Felix, Carmelita Jeter, Tianna Madison, and Bianca Knight beat out the rival Jamaican team to win gold, they shattered the 27-year-old world record in the process. The best moment was seeing Carmelita crossing the finish line and pointing at the time clock like she’s about to lose her mind with excitement—she knew they were gettin’ it DONE. (video)
15. James Bond Escorting Queen Elizabeth II
This was probably my favorite moment from the Opening Ceremony (certainly the most excitedly unexpected). The video opens with Daniel Craig as James Bond flanked by two Corgis—already great. We follow 007 through Buckingham Palace to discover his real mission: to escort the Queen to the Opening Ceremony. OF COURSE the Queen is escorted by James Bond; only the best for QE2. I loved all of it. (video)
14. Oscar Pistorius and Kirani James: A Bromance in the Making
We’ve been bombarded with the story of South Africa’s Oscar Pistorius, and—I’m gonna speak on behalf of all of America here—we could not get enough. Pistorius made it as far as the semifinals in the 400M (still an amazing feat; I can’t even make it to the gym), and in a display of respect, race-favorite Kirani James (who went on to win the gold and earn his home country of Grenada their very first Olympic medal) asked to swap name bibs with Pistorius, and all the world wept. In an interview James said, “[He’s a] very courageous individual, I admire him a lot. Not for what he does on the track, he’s also a great person.” No, I’m not crying, it’s just raining on my face. (video)
13. Michael Phelps and Chad Le Clos: Idol and Prodigy
Not to be outdone by the bromancing on the track, the pool has given us perhaps and even more heartwarming tale. South African Chad Le Clos has apparently grown up as the ultimate Michael Phelps fanboy, idolizing Phelps’s outstanding career. On the flip side, Phelps has always dreamed of bringing swimming into the forefront of the sports landscape, and no one better personifies Phelps’s influence than Chad Le Clos, and Phelps knows it. The two had nothing but respect and admiration for each other, even when Le Clos actually beat Phelps for the first time in the 200M butterfly this year. They even plan on extending their friendship outside the pool—Phelps told Bob Costas that they plan on shark diving in South Africa in the future. It’s not every day you get to become friends with your idol.
12. Spice Up Your Life
There are barely words to describe how excited I, and essentially every person my age I know, was for this reunion performance, and it did not disappoint. The Spice Girls came out looking fierce and fabulous and delivered easily my favorite performance of the night. (video)
11. British Royalty Out on the Town
William, Kate, and Harry were practically everywhere during this Olympics, and being the royalty-lover I am, I loved every second. From watching their cousin Zara Phillips compete in the equestrian events, to cheering on Great Britain’s men’s gymnastics team, to Wills lifting and hugging Kate at the velodrome, the royals really showed their support for their country’s athletes (and took time to meet other countries’ athletes as well) in a big way. If the monarchy was worried their image was growing stale and boring, this should put those worries to rest. (video)
10. Ryan Lochte Exists
No other athlete has single-handedly given America as much pure entertainment as Ryan Lochte has. His twitter feed is a gold mine of bizarre nuggets of wisdom (“ball till u fall” is my new life motto), and his whole life seems to be punctuated by his made-up catchphrase “jeah.” Add in an apparently unauthorized American flag grill and an admission of peeing in the pool, and the media basically found its new king of the internet. Luckily, he’s a good sport and willing to make fun of himself, as displayed in a Funny or Die video.
9. Missy Franklin Wins Gold, Hearts
Missy Franklin won a total of 5 medals on her first trip to Olympics, and was incredibly adorable the entire way. Her first individual medal—a gold, no less—in the 100M backstroke was perhaps the most exciting, especially since she had to swim a semi-final heat a mere 13 minutes before the race started. Her huge smile after she won is enough to warm my heart for the next 4 years until we get to see her compete in the Olympics again. (video)
8. US Women’s Soccer Team Takes Gold
I had the misfortune of listening to the US women’s soccer team win gold while I was at work, so for the last hour of work I had to pretend I had bad allergies and that I wasn’t crying over how wonderful that win was. The girls were all so proud of how each other played, Hope Solo had some amazing saves, and Carli Lloyd made two incredible goals, earning the women their third straight gold and a victory over Japan, who beat them last year in the World Cup final. (video)
7. Nathan Adrian Is So Excited
Nathan Adrian competed in a relay the Beijing Olympics, but it wasn’t until this year’s 100M freestyle race that he competed in, and won, his first individual final. Not only did he win his first individual medal, but he won a gold medal and by one one-hundredth of a second, beating out Australian favorite James Magnussen. At the end of the race he kept looking at the results in disbelief, with the biggest, adorable smile on his face. I love the joy every athlete feels the first time they win gold, and no one showed that better. Believe it, Nathan Adrian—you’re a gold medalist! (video)
6. Sarah Attar Receives a Standing Ovation
We keep hearing that this year was a huge year for female Olympians—this Olympiad was the first time the US Olympic team had more women than men on the team, and the first Olympiad to feature women athletes on every single country’s team. Sarah Attar was Saudi Arabia’s very first female track and field athlete. Attar competed in the 800M race, finishing last in her heat, but still received a standing ovation from the crowd as she crossed the finish line. (video)
5. The Fierce Five Win Gold
The US women’s gymnastics team won team gold for the first time since the Magnificent 7 in 1996 (PS if you didn’t watch NBC’s profile on the 1996 gymnastics team, you need to). Some sort of spell was cast over Kyla Ross, McKayla Maroney, Gabby Douglas, Jordyn Wieber, and Aly Reisman, and the five could do no wrong. Every single one of them gave their best performances: Kyla on balance beam, McKayla on vault, Gabby on uneven bars, and Jordyn and Aly in the floor exercise. The second Aly nails her final stunt in the floor routine and you see her start to choke up because she knows they’ve won the gold…I’m tearing up just thinking about it right now. (video)
4. Epke Zonderland’s Incredible High Bar Performance
Dutch gymnast Epke Zonderland became the very first gymnast from the Netherlands to medal in gymnastics ever; and not only did he do that, he brought the house down to win gold. Zonderland had the highest difficulty routine for any gymnast in the entire competition, male or female, that featured an astonishing three huge releases in a row, and he nailed it. AND stuck the landing! The crowd erupts—everyone knows there’s basically no need for anyone else to perform, Epke’s got the gold. (video)
3. Michael Phelps’s Last Race
This whole Olympics was an emotional one for Michael Phelps: starting out the games with a disappointing fourth place, coming back to win his 19th medal (the most in Olympic history), and then going on to win a career total of 22 medals by winning gold with the help of his teammates in the 4x400M relay. From Athens, to Beijing, to London, Michael has forever elevated excitement for the sport of swimming, and maybe even the Olympics as a whole. I’m so glad he got to go out with a gold. (video)
2. Jordan Burroughs Has the Best Tweet of the Olympics
US wrestler Jordan Burroughs won gold in freestyle wrestling, beating out an Iranian wrestler. After the match he sent out probably the most heartwarming tweet of the Olympics that so perfectly demonstrates what the Olympics is really about. We may all be competing against each other, but we can at least embrace each other along the way.
1. McKayla Maroney’s Perfect Vault
I am not ashamed—I get goose bumps literally every time I see a clip of McKayla’s vault during the gymnastics team final. There was not a single flaw in that whole routine; I feel like I’m watching magic when they show that vault. I’m still astonished how the judges found any room for deductions (even though McKayla famously made their jaws drop). The height, the twists, the stuck landing…it was perfect. Even if she earned the individual silver, McKayla is my queen. (video)
What were your favorite moments?
All images property of NBC.