Really great, Britain

Really great, Britain

August 18th, 2012 in Opinion Free Press

Every now and again people should use "great" as an adjective when discussing the British and their sceptered isle - not only as part of a geographical designation. Just every now and then, like during the London Olympics.

Well played, good show and all that. Talk about an Olympian performance.

Yes, we colonials, too, did rather well across the pond. Did you see the U.S. team storm back against Canada in the women's soccer semis? That match was even better than the gold medal round. Wow.

NBC did a fine job covering the spectacle, tape-delay or no. It's hard to remember now why tape-delay from London to American prime-time had our mediacrats all in a tizzy. You can't hold back the news! If we don't who'll watch a match in which the outcome is known? In this day of the Internet and Twitter, you can't expect people not to know who won a competition held six hours ago! We have advertisers to think about!

Those people just had their knickers in a twist. Most of the rest of us didn't much care about the delay -- even if we already knew the outcome of a given event. There's such a thing as appreciating art/sport for art/sport's sake. We the People just wanted to see the game/match/heat for ourselves.

When it comes to gymnastics, everybody will remember the Fab Five-the American girls who took gold in the team event.

In the years to come, anybody who talks about the Fab Five will recall the Flying Squirrel's performance. The New York Times has already dubbed Gabby Douglas this country's new sweetheart. For once, the Times is right. In the first week of the Games, she came out of nowhere (Gabby who?) to win the gold medal in the individual all-around. Young Miss Douglas became the first American to win both the all-around and in the team events at the same Olympics -- and only the fourth American woman to win the all-around title.

Here's what we love most about this young lady: She giggles the way 16-year-olds are supposed to. And even Googled herself after her victories, the way you'd expect a teen would do after making the papers.

Serena Williams added a gold medal to her major victories in tennis. The so-called Dream Team did what it was supposed to do. Some of the badminton teams didn't. The Americans couldn't lose in ladies beach volleyball. (Both teams in the final were from these shores.) Imagine the practice it takes to dive in sync. The most grueling event of all had to be the water polo -- we were worn out just watching it.

Michael Phelps became the most decorated Olympian of all time. He now has 22 -- twenty-two -- medals. Most of them gold. (Eighteen gold, two silver, two bronze). He's been the talk of three summer Olympics now. He says he's retiring. We'll see. His fellow American swimmer, Mark Spitz, accumulated a mere 11 medals over his Olympic career. (Nine gold, one silver, one bronze.)

This might be hard to believe, but the Olympics weren't all about the Americans. Tiki Gelana is a runner from Ethiopia. And she runs a lot. That is, farther than you probably commute to work every day.

Ms. Gelana was about halfway through the marathon in these Games when she was accidentally knocked down by another runner. She bloodied her arm, and thought about quitting. Instead, she got back on her feet, and about an hour later won the race. Just another Olympian moment. A scraped and cut and banged-up golden moment.

A sprinter from China, one Liu Xiang, had something pop in his leg when he fell at the start of the 110-meter hurdles. He pulled up to one of the obstacles, kissed it, and hopped toward the finish line. He completed the race on one leg, burning his finish into the world's memory.

Despite the politics, despite the commercialism, despite the fakery, the Olympic flame still lights the world at such moments.