The London Olympics may now be over, but the memories, tweets and soft-focus NBC recaps will likely live on for several more news cycles. Here is a rundown of some of the top spectacles and showdowns:
Biggest diss: North Korea gets called “naughty”
A small Australian paper labeled North Korea “Naughty Korea” on a lighthearted medal-counts infographic it published. The paper’s editors may have overestimated the hermetic nation’s sense of humor.
North Korean government news agency KCNA responded that the term “naughty” was “a bullying act little short of insulting the Olympic spirit of solidarity, friendship and progress and politicizing sports.”
Most politically charged game: North Korea vs. South Korea in table tennis
Speaking of North Korea, South Korea defeated its neighbor, 3-1 at men’s table tennis on Aug. 4, which sent them to the quarterfinals. The two countries are technically at war — in more ways that one.
”On the court we are at war — table tennis war,” South Korea’s Ryu Seung-min, the 2004 Olympic champion, told the AP.
Though their interactions in the Olympic Village were cordial, any matchup between the two countries is tinged with political tension.
“We are the same people and speak the same language, but politically we are not very friendly at the moment,” [South Korean coach] Yoo Nam-kyu said. “From the history we felt we have to win against North Korea — because it’s North Korea.”
Most entertaining public official: Boris Johnson
Let it never be said that Boris Johnson didn’t get into the Olympics spirit. London’s ebullient mayor strapped himself to a harness and wafted through the air on a zipline, two mini-Union Jacks in hand. Unfortunately, his flight went awry, and he was soon calling for a ladder as Londoners picnicked below.
“Suddenly, the mop-topped mayor’s special brand of slapstick politics is no longer London’s little secret,” the Post’s Anthony Faiola wrote.
Best wardrobe malfunction: Ivan Ukhov can’t find his uniform
Russian high jumper Ivan Ukhov somehow lost his uniform midway through the competition, so he instead jumped in a T-shirt with a number pinned to it.
He won the gold medal for jumping 2.38 meters.
This might just top Ukhov’s antics during a 2008 competition, during which he attempted a jump while completely drunk.
Ezekiel Kemboi, Kenya
After taking home the gold medal in the 3000 meter steeplechase, Kenya’s Ezekiel Kemboi erupted in celebration — and rightfully so. His victory brought him back on top of the Olympic podium after finishing 7th in Beijing. After collapsing on the ground, Kemboi took off his shirt, jumped on France’s silver medal winner, Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad, and capped it all off with an improvised dance routine.
Robert Harting, Germany
Germany’s 6-7 Robert Harting channeled his inner Incredible Hulk last Wednesday at Olympic Stadium. After winning discus’s highest honor, Harting tore the shirt right off his back in celebration.
Biggest confession: Cyclist said he fell on purpose.
British cyclist Philip Hindes admitted to crashing his bike on purpose during the team sprint final on Aug. 3. Hindes reportedly had a poor start, so he fell intentionally in order to force a do-over.
“I just crashed, I did it on purpose to get a restart, just to have the fastest ride. I did it. So it was all planned, really,” British media reported Hindes saying immediately after the race. The British team won that race and later the goal in the final race.
Greatest dance lesson: McKayla Maroney Teaches Jenna Bush How To Dougie.
Presented without comment:
Biggest disappointment : Roger Federer
The stage was set for Roger Federer, tennis’s king on grass for the past decade. But after defeating Andy Murray at Wimbledon last month, Federer fell to the Briton on the same turf in straight sets, costing him the Olympic tennis singles gold medal.
Biggest medical mystery: the Kinesio tape
The neon tape that adorned the bodies of countless Olympians “was designed by Kenzo Kase, a Japanese chiropractor and acupuncturist, to support injured muscles, increase range of motion, and decrease muscle pain,” writes NPR.
It looks cool, but does it actually improve performance?
“Amy Powell, an associate professor of sports medicine at the University of Utah School of Medicine, says she thinks the tape can be useful, but it probably isn't the miracle worker Kinesio claims it can be. ‘This is one of those Band-Aid kind of things; it will allow [athletes] to do their physical therapy to get back to their athletic activities more quickly,’” she told NPR.
Perhaps it’s more of a good-luck charm, then.
Best Olympic underdog: Grenada
Sure, the United States and China may have racked up the most medals, but Grenada has arguably the most proportional Olympic glory. The tiny island has the most medals both per capita and per gross domestic product. How many wins does it take to earn such a distinction? One.
Worst Olympic double-standard: Nearly every event involving women
Brittney Reese and Janay DeLoach won gold and bronze, respectively, in long jump, and were summarily asked by NBC’s Lewis Johnson, “Okay, ladies, where’s that Olympic smile?”
“Would Johnson have asked two men who just finished a grueling race to give him a smile? Unlikely,” writes the Post’s Lauren Taylor.
Then there’s the uproar over Gabby Douglas’s hair, which seemed inadequately coiffed to some Twitter critics.
The jibes prompted Douglas, the first African-American woman to win the individual all-around gold, to retort, “Are you kidding me? I just made history. And you're focusing on my hair?”
Several commentators have also pointed out broadcaster’s overuse of the word “diva” to describe the Russian gymnasts, despite the absence of true diva-like behavior.
At least the female boxers weren’t made to wear skirts, as was a fleeting suggestion by the Amateur International Boxing Association.
Most ardent devotees of a seemingly obscure sport: the Danes
Think no one watches handball? Not even sure what handball is, exactly? You must not be from Denmark:
“The Danes bleed handball.,” writes the Post’s Anthony Faiola. “Almost a mating of soccer and basketball, or water polo without the water, this contact sport so feverishly grips Denmark that 3.1 million viewers tuned in to see the Danish national team play France in the finals of the 2011 World Championship. There are only 5.4 million people in the country.”
Have your own gems we might have missed? Share them in the comments.
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