Fifty thoughts from London 2012 (cont.)
Alexey Shved, the 23-year-old point guard who will make his NBA debut with the Minnesota Timberwolves this season, overcame an up-and-down tournament to make big shots in Russia's victory over Argentina for the bronze medal. When Ricky Rubio comes back from knee surgery, 6-foot-6 Shved will have a tremendous opportunity to come off the bench as both a playmaker and scorer -- the perfect low-pressure role for an international rookie. -- Ian Thomsen
Yao Ming, former China basketball god, now a commentator for CCTV, on his nation's advantage over the rest of the world going forward: "China has so big a population: We must have a lot of talented athletes -- either still athletes or future athletes -- to compete in high-level. You cannot avoid that. You cannot avoid that 1.3 billion public right there; that's a huge resource."
And the positive impact of new faces like swim stars Ye Shiwen and Sun Yang? "Those players look very sunshine, very healthy," Yao said. "They're very strong, they're fast, they talk and they act very positive. And the people will follow those models. I always think people will follow the good side, and they provide that stuff -- and not only for the sports fan." -- S.L. Price
The question I was asked most often after my story about Kerri Walsh holding her kids while celebrating the beach volleyball gold medal was, Did she name her kid Sundance for the obvious reasons? The answer is yes. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is her husband Casey's favorite movie. Kerri held out at first, but eventually found it touching that the name meant so much to Casey, so she agreed. -- Phil Taylor
If the last two Olympic cycles are any indication, U.S. gymnast Kyla Ross could become a star very quickly. The 2005 and 2009 world championships were won by young women who did not compete in the preceding Olympic all-around. With Jordyn Wieber's future a bit unclear, Ross, who turns 16 in October, is the real potential riser from the Fierce Five. Also keep an eye on 15-year-olds Lexie Priessman and Katelyn Ohashi. Ohashi hails from the same gym as 2004 and '08 Olympic champions Carly Patterson and Nastia Liukin. -- Nick Zaccardi
The purple and red polyester brigade were everywhere. At tube spots. At stadium gates. Always grinning, always upbeat. An Olympics is often judged by the quality of its volunteers, and London's crew was the best of my six Olympics. On the final morning of the Games, I read this inspiring piece on volunteer Andrew Hartle, and later that evening walked by a two dozen or so volunteers, mostly in their 20s, humming the music to Chariots of Fire as they made their way to the closing ceremonies. The Olympics are a grind, you survive them as much as experience them, and this 70,000-strong army never wavered with its cheerfulness. In the Volunteer Olympics, it isn't close. London gets gold. -- Richard Deitsch
"How," they asked -- cab drivers, waiters, the man in the cue at Pret -- "can we possibly compete with Beijing?"
That worry -- along with traffic and terrorism and tickets -- seemed to be the biggest concern of the Brits before the Games began. Beijing had been flashy, staged with an unlimited budget. How would they ever top it?
By being themselves, that's how. By being British and welcoming and funny. By keeping calm and carrying on. By loving sports with a rich, wild, self-amused fervor.
There was no Bird's Nest or Watercube here. The actual Olympic Park wasn't much to look at and will probably be dissembled like a five-year-old's Lego structure in a matter of months. However, the rest of the city, a place of towers and bridges and palaces and history around every corner -- certainly was something to look at. The beauty of the bike race and marathon, Big Ben peeking over the beach volleyball -- that topped anything they built in Beijing.
The Olympics isn't about fancy venues. Most of them become white elephants anyway. It's about tapping into the soul and passion of a country, about a love of sports and a welcome to the world.
And that's how London topped Beijing. -- Ann Killion
If Wambach, 32, follows through on her goal to play through the next Olympics, it'll be interesting to see if the U.S. moves to a three-forward lineup with Wambach and talented youngsters Alex Morgan (23) and Sydney Leroux (22). A lot will depend on who's the coach. If Pia Sundhage extends her contract, a 3-4-3 formation could be a real possibility moving forward. -- Grant Wahl
I think the most incredible statistic coming out of these Games is the 65 medals won by the United Kingdom, 29 of them gold.
That's a medal per 958,000 citizens; one gold per 2.15M, compared to the USA's one medal per 3 million people (and one gold per 6.82 million). In Atlanta in '96, the Brits won a single gold. -- Austin Murphy
I've never felt worse for an athlete than for 1,500-meter runner Morgan Uceny after her fall in the final on Friday night. Same thing happened in Daegu at last year's world championship. Slow race, lots of bodies. Stuff happens. But she was in position to medal. Watching her kneel with her forehead on the track, as if praying, was just brutal. -- Tim Layden
Who knew there was a penalty box in triathlon? It figured prominently in the men's event, held at Hyde Park. Britain's Johnny Brownlee got on his bicycle too quickly at the start of the cycling phase, incurring a 15-second stay in the sin bin. He won bronze, but finished 20 seconds out of silver. His older brother, Alistair, took gold. In the women's race, Nicola Spirig of Switzerland beat Lisa Norden of Sweden in a photo finish. (A two-hour race decided by a smaller margin than the men's 200-meter dash.) -- Jon Wertheim
Ethiopia needs to man up. The distance-running hotbed lived up to its reputation by winning the women's 5,000, 10,000 and marathon, but the men won just two track and field medals and no golds. The land of legends Abebe Bikila and Haile Gebrselassie had zero men's marathon finishers for the first time in its Olympic history. -- Nick Zaccardi
Ryan Lochte's sister, Megan Torrini, was in Chicago orchestrating an awards presentation for painters the night Lochte won the 400 IM in London. Anxious about the outcome, she kept stealing glances at her cell phone while on stage. When the crucial text from her husband came through -- "He crushed him!" -- Torrini started shouting and jumping up and down. Said Torrini later, "People at the ceremony said, 'Wow, you must be really excited about this award!'" -- Kelli Anderson
This will be remembered as the greatest British sporting display since the English team won the World Cup at home in 1966. Britain's decades of enduring a roiling sporting inferiority complex will take a lot to get over. Witness this pre-Games assessment of it by a London schoolteacher named Glyn Bowen:
"It is fueled by the notion that Britain used to be the world's biggest overachiever: A small island, master of an empire on which the sun never set, who dominated the world culturally [rightly or wrongly, mostly wrongly]. Failing at sports and sporting events that we, at least, contributed to the invention of is just a symptom of lost greatness for this country. This is not a sob story and I don't think we want the world's sympathy. It's just that no one seems to be prepared to admit that we're quite good, but not the best, at sports and many other things that might evoke national pride. Some people believe that Britannia should still, intrinsically and automatically, rule the world. I know: Crazy, right?"
Midway through the Games, Bowen emailed this update on the national psyche:
"I don't think anyone in the country dared to believe it would be as successful as it has been -- not just from the perspective of the medal count for this country, but in the wider, and much more important phase of putting on a wonderful event. The Olympic Games are not the possession of the country in which they are staged. We are merely, both figuratively and literally, the keepers of the flame. It really has unified and captivated the nation. ..." -- S.L. Price