As the fireworks settled on the
London 2012 Olympic Games last night, the US was crowned the biggest winner of
the tournament with a haul of 104 medals.
When the totals were counted, the
Middle East will take home 24 medals, with Iran topping the rankings for the
region and coming in 17 with a total of 12 medals, including four
gold, five silver and three bronze.
The next big regional winner was
Turkey, which was ranked 32 overall and won five medals. Qatar was
the biggest Gulf winner, with two bronze medals, while Afghanistan, Bahrain,
Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Morocco all tied for 79 place with one
bronze medal each.
As the Olympic flag was handed to
Eduardo Paes, Rio's mayor, before International Olympic Committee president
Jacques Rogge described the London Games as "happy and glorious" and
declared them closed - the words taken from Britain's national anthem to the
As the Olympic Flame was
extinguished, some of the highlights of the main stadium included Jamaican
sprint king Usain Bolt defending the 100, 200 and 4x100 metres titles he won in
Beijing, the latter in a world-beating time.
British supporters will also
cherish memories of the venue, where Somali-born runner Mo Farah won the 5,000
and 10,000 double to deafening roars and was celebrated as a symbol of the
The hosts won 29 golds to take
third place in the rankings, their best result for 104 years, helping lift a
nation beset by severe spending cuts and worried about social stability a year
after violent riots swept parts of the capital.
US President Barack Obama called
British Prime Minister David Cameron to congratulate the country on what he
called "an extremely successful Olympic games, which speaks to the
character and spirit of our close ally".
Many will remember London 2012
for the record-breaking exploits of American swimmer Michael Phelps, who took
his life-time medal haul to 22 including 18 golds, making him the most
decorated Olympian in history.
His tally helped the United
States to the top of the Olympic table with 46 golds to second-placed China's
38, reversing the order of the Beijing Games in 2008.
Despite concerns about the creaky
transport system and a shortfall of private security guards, which forced the
government to call in thousands of extra troops to help screen visitors, the
Games passed by fairly trouble-free.
A furore over empty seats at several
Olympic venues blew over, especially once the track and field showcase kicked
in and drew capacity crowds for virtually every session.
Even the weather improved as the
Games wore on. Bright sunshine graced the closing weekend of a festival that has
helped to lift spirits in Britain.
It was not all about triumph,
however. Many tears shed by athletes and the public were of sorrow, not joy, as
medals were narrowly missed and controversial decisions left athletes convinced
they were wronged.
At the closing ceremony, a
highlights video reel included images of South Korea's Shin A Lam alone and
distraught on the fencing piste after a timekeeping error contributed to her
defeat in an epee semi-final.
China's hero Liu Xiang suffered
heartache again after crashing into the first barrier of the 110 sprint hurdles
four years after he withdrew from the heats in Beijing due to injury.
Eight Asian badminton players
were controversially expelled from the Games after not trying hard enough to
win matches, having broken the spirit, but not the rules of their sport.
And China bowed out of the Games
with a swipe at the critics who accused teenage swimming sensation Ye Shiwen of
doping after her times rivalled the top U.S. men.
Aged just 16, Ye set a world
record, a Games record and won two gold medals in the women's individual
medleys, but her victories were overshadowed by questions and insinuations of
cheating. There was no evidence that she had broken any rules.
The head of the Chinese
delegation to London, Liu Peng, said the accusations were totally unfounded.
"This is really unfair. This
is groundless," Liu told a news conference on Sunday. "There are
individuals and media that are accusing, unfounded, our Chinese athletes."
* With Reuters
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