Olympics 2012: Top 5 Moments in Track & Field
The London 2012 track and field meet gave us some stunning moments of sporting brilliance.
We witnessed Usain Bolt's "double-treble," Mo Farah's double, Allyson Felix's treble and David Rudisha's historic 800-meter win.
We had tears of joy and tears of disappointment as athletes came to terms with the culmination of four years of hard work, pain and sacrifice.
All athletes from the great Usain Bolt to the athlete who trails home last in the marathon contributed to making the Olympics what they are—a celebration of youth, fitness and the human spirit.
Picking a top five wasn't easy and some great moments were excluded.
Memorable moments that didn't make the cut were the men's 4x400-meter relay win for the Bahamas, the women's 4x400-meter relay dominated by the US women and the delightful Jessica Ennis's heptathlon win. All are deserving of credit in their own way.
Also, there may be criticism as to the lack of field events but unfortunately the events in the field were overshadowed by events on the track. The long jump final proved particularly disappointing.
Nevertheless, here are the top five track and field moments from the London Games.
5. US Women Smash the 27-Year-Old 4x100-Meter Relay World Record
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World records were recorded in both 4x100-meter relay finals.
The Jamaican men and US women were utterly dominant in their respective events. So much can go wrong in a sprint relay with split-second handovers, but these teams were a joy to watch. I decided to pick only one team for the highlights.
The quartet of Tianna Madison, Allyson Felix, Bianca Knight and Carmelita Jeter get the nod as they erased a dubious 27-year-old record set by the East Germans, in scintillating fashion, crossing in 40.82. Not only was this a sensational time—more than half a second quicker than the record set in 1985—the sprint relay team did athletics a great service.
4. Allyson Felix Lands the Elusive Individual Gold in 200-Meter
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Normally when we mention sprinters, we speak of their power and strength. With Felix, the power is there but there is also finesse, grace and elegance. After winning silver in 2004 and 2008 in the 200, she might have doubted her technique and indeed ability to win gold. Instead, she never wavered and finally won a well-deserved gold in the 200-meter final in London.
Remarkably, she is adept at running the 100, 200 and 400. She contributed to victories in the 4x100 and 4x400-meter relays, running impressive legs in both finals. An absolute joy to watch—she was the stand-out female star of track and field and was the star of the US track and field team, period.
3. Mo Farah Wins the 5,000-Meter Run to Complete the Long Distance Double
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Mo Farah had the weight of expectation of an entire nation resting on his shoulders when he lined up for the 10,000-meter final. Like Jessica Ennis, he was the host nation's great hope for track and field gold and he delivered, twice.
The way he held on to win the 5,000 will live long in our memories. First he held off Thomas Longosiwa, his teeth gritted with determination. Then down the finishing straight he conquered the challenge of Dejen Gebremeskel. The wonderful hosts were in raptures watching this athlete and the rest of us looked on in admiration.
2. Lightning Bolt Strikes Twice to Make History: Bolt Wins the 200-Meter
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What can we say about this charismatic star of sprinting? We need new superlatives to put what he has achieved into context. The first sprinter to win the 100 and 200 in two consecutive Games. There were doubts about his fitness prior to the Games. Yet, he completed a historic double-treble in London (100, 200 and 4x100-meter relay).
Bolt felt he had to win the 200 to cement legendary status for himself. He had serious competition this year in the shape of compatriot Yohan Blake. Yet, he won the 200 so comfortably that he was able to ease up before the line. Such brilliance and such showmanship. Athletics is lucky to have him.
1. David Rudisha Breaks the World Record in the Greatest 800-Meter Ever Run
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A very difficult choice and many will argue with it. However, consider the facts: When Rudisha crossed in 1:40.91, he was the first man to run faster than 1:41, smashing the world record in the process. The 800-meter world record hasn't been broken in an Olympics since 1976.
All eight finalists finished under 1:44, meaning all the times set by the finalists would have won gold in Beijing.
The winning time in 2008 was 1:44.65. Two of the finalists ran national records and four others posted personal bests. In other words, Rudisha carried the field to produce optimum performances.
Best Celebration: Robert Harting Celebrates Winning the Discus
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Special props to Robert Harting. The winner of the discus gold ripped his shirt off and then hurdled a topless lap of honour, using his German national flag as a Superman cape.