London's top five heroes

As the last firework pops and the competitors return home, Andrew Binner picks his inspirational athletes of the Games.

    London's top five heroes
    She may have finished last and more than half a minute slower than her nearest competitor in the 800-metre heats, but Saudi Arabia’s first female Olympian received a standing ovation as she crossed the finish line, earning a place in the history books [EPA]

    London 2012 came to an end on Sunday night and thus ended one of the greatest shows ever seen.

    It was a triumph not only given the act it had to follow after a superb Beijing Olympics in 2008, but also given the much stricter budget and last-minute obstacles (threats of strikes, security staffing issues etc.) thrown in the London Organising Committee’s path.

    After such a fortnight during which nothing else seemed to exist, the globe will continue to rotate and the countdown to Rio 2016 has begun.

    But as the dust settles, let’s pay homage to five outstanding heroes that will go down in Olympic history.

    Usain Bolt

    Finally a legend, and not too many can complain.

    Having retained his gold medals over all three of his disciplines, there is no sprinter that can hold a candle to him. He seemed to thrive on the doubt that the world’s media attached to him and came out to London in blistering form – setting another world record in the 4x100 relay. For all the bravado that has become synonymous with the Bolt show, he performs with disarmingly charming swagger and never with a “told you so” attitude.

    The Jamaican’s antics quite simply lit up the Games. The longer he stays with the sport the better as he continues to enhance the global profile of athletics in an age where drug-cheats do their best to tarnish its reputation.

    Sarah Attar

    With Sarah Attar heading down the final straight, trailing the penultimate athlete by almost a full lap in the woman’s 800m, she received a full Olympic Stadium standing ovation.

    The crowd was not handing out consolatory cheer but was instead applauding a significant point in Saudi and Olympic history. Attar, wearing the hijab, became the first woman to compete for her country ever and has hopefully set a precedent for more female talent from the region to compete for their country on the global stage. The same significance can be attached to the other athletes who became the first female representatives for Saudi Arabia and Qatar in Olympic history.

    Manteo Mitchell

    American runner Manteo Mitchell deserves special praise for his role at London 2012.

    Everybody do the Mo-bot [EPA]

    Despite running the last half of his 4x400m relay lap with a broken leg, his efforts ensured the USA would qualify for the final after securing second place. When asked how he found the strength to finish his lap he replied, “I didn't want to let the three guys or the team down, so I just ran on it.”

    Whilst such heroics are by no means expected, it is a supreme display of true Olympic spirit and courage.

    His feat however perhaps served as the remedy to Taoufik Makhloufi’s antics in the 800-metre race previously. The Algerian runner limped out of his heat in order to preserve himself for the 1500-metre final the next day (which he won) under the guise of a knee injury.

    Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah

    Finally to the home crowd favourites Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah.

    Whilst the scale of their achievement was equally magnificent, they also provided the perfect faces for British athletics. Not only is Ennis a supremely talented athlete (claiming a gold medal in the grueling heptathlon) but also she is modest.

    The Yorkshire-born athlete would serve as the ideal role model to “inspire the next generation” for David Cameron in an age of ever-increasing soap celebrities in Britain.

    Humble and hard working, Mo Farah showed the world the reward that comes from discipline and that an underprivileged upbringing shouldn’t be a barrier to competing at the top level. Now everyone do the Mo-Bot.

    Do you agree with Andrew's choices? Let us know your outstanding London heroes in the comments section below or by tweeting us @DianaOB_Sport

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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