Olympic winners and losers: Bolt, Twitter, taxpayers

Every Olympic Games has its winners and losers, not just among the athletes and competing nations.

By REUTERS
August 12, 2012 14:07
Olympic Rings with moon in London.

Olympic Rings with moon London 2012 390. (photo credit: Luke MacGregor / Reuters)

 
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LONDON - Every Olympic Games has its winners and losers, not just among the athletes and competing nations, who stand out from the crowd and take the praise or punishment as the host city steps into the limelight.

Here are seven of those who came away from London 2012 with a golden glow and seven others who might be wishing they had done things differently - or had never got involved in the first place.

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THE WINNERS:

Volunteer Lady

"I listened to the Olympics from outside and I heard a bit. It was faint but I still heard it. I heard them having fun and celebrating and I felt happy inside. I felt a warmth in my heart and I carried on".

Sitting on a chair directing spectators, armed with a megaphone and a deliciously deadpan delivery, Volunteer Lady proved a YouTube sensation as she intoned "I cannot contain my excitement". More than 1.6 million people clicked on the clip. The exceptional volunteers were a feel-good story of the Games.

Michael Phelps



Winner of a record eight golds in Beijing four years ago, the man with the Midas touch heads into retirement with another haul to take his tally to 18 golds and 22 medals. The greatest swimmer can now lay claim to be the most-decorated Olympian.

Phelps left London knowing the President of the United States has his mobile number on speed dial. He achieved everything he set out to do. Did he pee in the pool? Of course he did.

Usain Bolt

He talked, he danced, he ran and he made friends with the Swedish women's handball team - three of whom were photographed with him in the early hours after his 100 metres gold.

'Lightning' Bolt, the great showman of the track, entered the history books as the only man to do the double-double after defending his 100 and 200 metres crowns. He then made it a three-peat with relay gold. The gangly 25-year-old may get faster and will definitely get richer. He has every chance of banking in excess of $20 million a year.

Twitter

The first Twitter Olympics, with the highs and lows and everything in between, all chronicled in 140 characters or less.

Click for full JPost coverage

Women Athletes

Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shaherkani. You may struggle to remember the name, and she lasted just 80 seconds on the judo mat, but the shy 17-year-old's presence was felt around the world as the first Saudi woman to compete at an Olympics.

London was the first Games with women in every national team and competing in every sport. Women's boxing was such a success on its debut that there may be double the medals next time.

Royalty

"Good evening, Mr Bond". Rarely can four words uttered by Queen Elizabeth have caused such delight. Her Majesty had a good Games, appearing in her first film role and then formally opening the show. One had fun.

Her daughter and grand-daughter got in on the act, the former presenting the latter with an equestrian silver medal, while Princes William, Harry and the Duchess of Cambridge never seemed to have any problems getting tickets for the main events.

Flag sellers

In fact the sellers of anything to do with Team GB, as the host nation celebrated its most successful Games since 1908 with a medal bonanza and more golds being racked up than even the oldest of citizens could remember. Even 101-year-old torch relay runner Fauja Singh was not born last time that happened.

THE LOSERS:

G4S

The failure of the world's largest security firm to provide a promised 10,400 guards caused a political storm and wiped $1.1 billion off its market value as well as losing it up to 50 million pounds ($78.45 million) on the 284 million pound contract.

"Many would take the view that the reputation of the company is in tatters," one parliamentarian told company chief executive Nick Buckles. "I think, at the moment, I have to agree with you," he replied.

Australian swimmers (and the Brits too)

'The Missile' missed its target. James Magnussen had the celebratory tattoo of Olympic rings all planned but the 100 metres freestyle title slipped through his fingers by 0.01 of a second.

The Australians won 10 medals in the pool and immediately ordered a review into what went wrong. Britain, with a far greater population, took just three but masked that failure by crowing about all their other successes elsewhere.

Nay-Sayers and doom-mongers

Remember how they said the trains wouldn't work, traffic gridlock was inevitable, the opening ceremony would make Britain a laughing stock, London would be turned into Siege City and chaos was guaranteed? Hands up if you were one of them.

Badminton

The expulsion of eight Chinese, Indonesian and South Korean players for deliberately throwing away their matches to secure a better run to the medal rounds will leave a sizeable scar on the sport. Those kicked out after the farcical scenes included China's world champions Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli.

The British Taxpayer

The Games cost Britain around 9 billion pounds ($14.12 billion) and were still talked of in terms of austerity. The main stadium has yet to find a tenant for after the Games and there is still the possibility of a White Elephant lumbering into view. The citizens of Montreal called their Olympic Stadium 'The Big O'. It turned into 'The Big Owe'. Enjoy the party.

London's shopkeepers and cab drivers

Shops in central London and the West End, usually chock-full of shoppers, reported empty aisles while restaurants lamented vacant tables as locals and tourists avoided the area in the first week of the Games and commuters worked from home. The arrival of thirsty swimmers, rowers and others who had finished their events provided a late boost for nightclubs, however.

The drivers of London's famed black cabs, never short of an opinion or three, were unhappy with 'Zil Lanes' for VIPs hitting their earnings. One dived off Tower Bridge in protest, which will give him plenty to talk about to future passengers.

Umbrella Vendors

The sun actually shone some of the time. After fears of torrential downpours, following one of the wettest months on record, and worries about the opening ceremony being a washout, Londoners enjoyed their own golden moments. Yes, it did rain - it would not be London without - but Andy Murray won at Wimbledon with the roof open.

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