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What Were The Best Moments Of The London 2012 Olympics?

08/12/2012 04:14 EDT | Updated 08/12/2012 04:40 EDT
AP
Jamaica's Usain Bolt strikes his signature pose as he celebrates his gold medal win in the men's 200-meter final during the athletics in the Olympic Stadium at the 2012 Summer Olympics, London, Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

That's a wrap! After 17 days of swimming, running, jumping, riding and other Olympics tomfoolery the world's best athletes get to fly home with their medals and their memories of London.

We give you our 10 favourite moments (we may have cheated with a few of these) from these Olympics. From Team Canada's heartbreak in triathlon and on the soccer field to Usain Bolt's and Michael Phelps' legendary performances, these are some of the things we'll remember from these amazing Games. Thanks for the memories, London.

Our Top Five Canadian Olympic Moments:

Canada’s First Medal

It was a bronze but it was Canada’s first bronze and one of 18 medals Canadian Olympians would eventually bring home from the London Games. Canada’s first medal went to Emilie Heymans and Jennifer Abel who won bronze in the women’s 3m synchronized springboard diving event. The Quebec duo battled back against a shaky start to land a final score of 316.80 after five dives, enough to secure a third-place finish. It was also a historic moment for Heymans who became the first female diver and the first Canadian summer Olympian to make the podium in four consecutive Olympic Games.

Canada's Women's Soccer Team

They weren’t supposed to make it that far. But when Canada’s women’s soccer team squeaked out of the round-robin and knocked off hosts Great Britain in the quarter-finals, a funny thing happened. We started to believe. Nevermind that Canada would be facing the United States, the best team in the world, a team that they had only beaten three times in international competition. This team, and those of us watching at home, believed this team, led by a legend who has toiled in relative obscurity, could win. We believed for almost 120 minutes during that emotional game against the United States. But in sports, refereeing trumps belief 100 per cent of the time. So a nation and the team howled and complained and set their sights on bronze. And this time belief, and a lucky bounce, were enough.

Gold For Rosie MacLennan

All the haters who have insulted Canada for getting the first Canadian gold medal on the trampoline can leave us alone. Rosie MacLennan’s bounce to the top of the podium was not only an amazing performance but had an amazing story, a passing of the torch of sorts. Competing with her long-time inspiration and friend, Karen Cockburn, MacLennan showed just how deep Canada's trampolining program is. A medal well deserved and we hope not her last.

Paula Findlay’s Last-Place Finish

Only a Canadian would cross the finish line saying "I’m sorry." Paula Findlay’s last-place finish was not only heartbreaking to see because she burst into tears after a tough triathlon. There were also questions about whether Findlay had properly recovered from an injury she suffered a few months before the Games. But Findlay's darkest hour allowed Canadians to show their true colours. Instantly, Canadians took to the Internet telling Findlay to stop apologizing and be proud of her accomplishments. Win or lose, we’ll still love you. It was a true Olympic moment.

Derek Drouin Wins Bronze In Men’s High Jump

At first glance, Derek Drouin’s bronze in the men’s high jump looks to be just another part of Canada’s ‘bronze bonanza’ at the London Games. But this medal stood out for a number of reasons. First off, the bronze marked Canada’s only medal in the track and field category. While athletes in the decathlon, triathlon, shot put, hurdles, and marathons all fell short, Drouin delivered after clearing three 2.29m jumps to tie in third place with Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar and Britain’s Robert Grabarz. Second, his medal ended Canada’s two-day drought. Finally, Drouin became the only Canadian to medal in the high jump since Greg Joy won silver in 1976, ending a 36-year void for Canadian high jumpers.

Canada’s Gymnasts Make It To The Final

Taking home a medal at the Olympics is nice, but making history is even nicer. While most teenagers read about history, five Canadian girls made their way into the books by advancing to the finals in women’s team artistic gymnastics. It showed that Canada's gymnastic programs have the chops to compete with the likes of Russia, China and the United States, world gymnastic powerhouses. It was also the first time Canada found itself in the finals of team artistic gymnastics -- men or women’s -- in a non-boycotted Games. The last time Canadian feet were on the gym mats was during the 1984 Los Angeles’ Games but Russia, then under the label of the USSR, boycotted the game due to Cold War tensions.

Our Top Five International Olympic Moments

Usain Bolt's Dominance

First, let’s mark the history: Gold medals in the 100m and 200m sprints -- consecutively, outdoing previous record-holder Carl Lewis (who had only medalled in the 100m). Then, the legend: A signature move that can’t help but be imitated by people around the world, a jokester attitude that leads to taking a photographer’s camera and snapping shots of his own, and quotes like “I’m the greatest athlete who ever lived!” Last, but not least, the rumours about where we might see him next -- could it be playing for Manchester United? Flying through the air in the long jump event? Looks like we’ll have to wait and see.

Andy Murray's Golden Day At Wimbledon

Could there be better vindication after losing at Wimbledon than facing your rival exactly one month later on the same court -- and winning? Murray’s sweat-drenched victory over Roger Federer may have kept the Swiss world champion athlete from his career Golden Slam, but watching the faces and hearing the roar of Murray’s countrymen as he won the country's first Olympics singles gold medal since 1908 -- not to mention the kid who ran through the stands to hug him -- was enough to make everyone cheer along.

The Fierce Five

The Americans are generally the ones to watch during women’s artistic gymnastics, and this year was no exception. But what this batch of young girls brought was a whole lot of attitude and some epic smiles. Gabby Douglas, the gold medal winner of women’s all-round, was touted as one of the world’s best gymnasts, but by the time individual events happened, she choked -- on the beam and the bars. We also met the Regina George of gymnastics, McKayla Maroney, who happened to also choke on her best event, the vault. Her pout on the podium with her silver medal became an Internet meme and an instant Buzzfeed sensation.

Britain's Best Games Of The Century

They will win them on the water. They will win them on the track. They will win them in the velodrome. They will win them on horseback. If there were any doubts or whinging about the Olympics, and before the Games there were plenty, they’ve evaporated with every single medal the athletes from the host nation have won. Twenty-nine gold medals and 65 in all. It’s hard to pick a favourite moment: Mo Farah’s inspired last lap of the 10,000 metres, Jessica Ennis’ crowning as queen of the track in the heptathlon, Bradley Wiggins’ gold just weeks after conquering the Tour de France. We could go on. Rule Britannia, indeed.

Michael Phelps Retires On Top

One of the most-hyped stories before these Games started was the showdown between Lochte and Phelps. In the end, it wasn’t even close. Phelps isn’t the unstoppable, eight-gold-medal juggernaut he was four years ago. He’s going home with four gold medals and two silvers. But at these Games he was better than his much-hyped U.S. rival and better than just about everyone else in the pool. Phelps enters the history books as the most-decorated Olympian ever (22 medals, 18 of them gold). There was something awe-inspiring about watching Phelps outswim everyone in the world these last few years. His retirement is a bittersweet moment. We won’t have to see Phelps beaten and humbled, but we also won’t ever see him leap off those blocks and power his way to touch the line again. The sport is poorer for it.

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2012 London Olympic Highlights