Memories can be a fleeting thing. Any moment, or any experience, or any event starts losing its vividness in our minds starting the second it ends. In sports, there might not be a better example of this phenomenon than the Olympic Games. The 2012 Games in London were by all accounts a success, a 16 day extravaganza of competition that left behind many memorable moments and athletes.
Two days later, how much of it do you remember?
I've always considered the Olympic binge followed by four years of forgetting to be a feature, not a bug. It's one of the reasons I like it so much, but it takes a toll on my memory. All I remember from Atlanta is Ali lighting the torch, Michael Johnson, and Kerri Strug. I have basically no memory of Sydney and Athens (save for trying to fall asleep at 3 am watching rowing during the latter), and most of Beijing can be summed up by Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt. My memory of the Winter Games held the last 16 years isn't much better.
This time I wanted it to be different. After watching at least a few minutes of almost every sport these Games, after following results at work and streaming video when I wasn't, and after dealing with NBC, I wanted to take something away from these Olympics. To use cruder language than I should, I wanted to binge on the Olympics like usual, but not have it all purged within a week. That's why I wrote those recaps of each day. It wasn't for outside readers (although many thanks to all who read), it was for me, so I could look back and remember what I obsessed about for two weeks in early August.
So, what will I remember? First the obvious two: Phelps and Bolt. Phelps was more human this time around, but showed his the meddle of a champion by rebounding to yet again be the most decorate athlete of the Olympics. Bolt, meanwhile, was superhuman yet again, repeating the 100, 200, and relay triple gold from Beijing, and despite it all, leaving us with the feeling that he could do more. Simply put, these are two of the greatest athletes ever, and we will be telling our grandchildren we saw them compete.
Upon further reflection, the theme that ties most of what I'll (hopefully) remember from London was noise, lots of noise. There was the noise at Olympic Stadium the night when Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah became national heroes, then again a week later when Farah won again, the sound just building throughout the last lap of the 5000. There was the noise at the velodrome, which Team GB made its personal playground. Maybe that sound is why I enjoyed track cycling as much as I did.
There was the sound at Wimbledon Sunday morning, when Andy Murray finally broke through and became 100% British. There was the even the sound at the final event of the Games, as a British athlete moved into second in the women's modern pentathlon. It wasn't all British related noise. There was also the noise through the men's handball gold medal match. I watched it online without commentary, but none was necessary. The crowd noise was all that was needed to follow the action.
That wasn't everything of course. There was also Alex Morgan's header, Serena Williams's dominance, and Tiruensh Dibaba's finishing kick. There was Missy Franklin's youthful exuberance, Gabby Douglas's grace, and McKayla Maroney's stare of death.
The 2012 Olympic Games gave us much to remember. Here's hoping we actually do, but if not, then we'll do it all over again in four years in Rio.