PHOTOS | 50 Memorable Olympic Moments

11:19 AM, Aug 14, 2012   |    comments
  • 50. Morgan Uceny's fall from grace: As everyone went into their final kick during the women's 1500, Ethiopia's Abeba Aregawi clipped Uceny's left leg, causing her to tumble to the track. She pounded her fist into the ground and sobbed uncontrollably as the rest of the runners finished, then finally got up, held her hands over her face and disappeared beneath the stadium. (Jamie Squire, Getty Images)
  • 18. Lochte wins round one: Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps built up quite a rivalry before the Olympics, and Lochte took round one when he beat the legend to gold in the 400m IM, cementing the first victory for Team USA. Sadly, the Lochte Olympics were not to be; his paltry two golds and five medals weren't enough to usurp Phelps as the face of Team USA. Better luck in Rio, Ryan. (Al Bello, Getty Images)
  • 17. MoBot doubles in distance: There was huge pressure for Team GB to come through at their hometown Olympics and Mo Farah didn't disappoint, winning the 10,000m to join Jessica Ennis and Greg Rutherford on a memorable night that saw three British track golds within an hour. A week later, he won the 5,000m to complete the double, becoming the first British man to win two track golds since Albert Hill in 1920. (Jamie Squire, Getty Images)
  • 19. Maroney vaults team to gold: During the first rotation of the team gymnastics competition, McKayla Maroney attempted the Amanar vault. And when it counted, she nailed it better than anyone ever has, scoring 16.233 out of 16.5 to start the U.S. off right. The girls took that adrenaline all the way to a gold medal a few hours later. (Ronald Martinez, Getty Images)
  • 16. Royals, royals everywhere! They may not be competing (well, Zara Phillips won silver in equestrian), but the Royals were everywhere during these Games. The queen made her appearance at the pool, Prince Charles was seen at badminton, and William, Kate and Harry were at all the other venues, passionately rooting on their athletes as the No. 1 fans at swimming, tennis, track and beach. (Pascal Le Segretain, Getty Images)
  • 15. Hoy becomes most golden Brit: In his last Olympics, track cyclist Sir Chris Hoy surpassed rowing great Sir Steve Redgrave as the Briton with the most Olympic gold medals. He won his sixth and final in the men's keirin, putting a triumphant stamp on his team's performance in the sparkling new Velodrome: Team GB won gold in seven of 10 track cycling events at these Games. (AFP, Getty Images)
  • 24. No one within shouting distance: Kenyan David Rudisha winning 800m gold was the surest thing to a lock in the Olympics, so no surprises here. But we were worried he wouldn't gun for the record when he stayed in third gear during his first lap. Then Rudisha was gone. He ran a 51-second final lap to finish in 1:40.91, breaking his own world record. No one was close. (Alexander Hassenstein, Getty Images)
  • 23. America's first judo gold: Kayla Harrison came to London ranked fourth in the world for 78kg lady judokas, and beat top competitors from Russia, Hungary and Brazil to become the first American woman to reach an Olympic final. Then, in front of a raucous British crowd, she beat hometown hero Gemma Gibbons to win the first judo gold in American history. (Franck Fife, Getty Images)
  • 22. Aly in the spotlight: Aly Raisman was always trapped in the shadow of her more popular teammates, even after she earned a spot in the all-around, finishing fourth. But Aly earned her day in the sun when she won bronze on the beam in a tie-break, then flipped her way to gold on the floor. She left London the most decorated member of the Fierce Five. (Ronald Martinez, Getty Images)
  • 21. James and Pistorius exchange bibs: Kirani James sped to victory in the 400m to win Grenada its first Olympic medal, becoming the first non-American to break the 44-second mark in the process. But in the semis, James out-paced the field, including South African double amputee Oscar Pistorius. In a touching moment following the race, the two men exchanged race bibs as a show of respect and friendship. (Phil Walter, Getty Images)
  • 20. East German record falls in 4x100: The U.S. women's relay team of Tianna Madison, Allyson Felix, Bianca Knight and Carmelita Jeter ran 40.82 seconds to break a 27-year-old record held by a squad of East Germans. Jeter screaming as she points at the time is one of the top pictures of the Games. (Streeter Lecka, Getty Images)
  • 14. Gymnastics wins first team gold since '96: Team USA came to London expecting to compete for gold in the team competition, but after Jordyn Wieber was stunningly shut out of the individual all-around, many wondered if she would regain her focus in time for the team event. She quickly put those questions to rest; she and teammate Gabby Douglas helped lead the Americans to their first team title since 1996. (Alex Grimm, Getty Images)
  • 25. Adrian wins gold by 0.01: Nathan Adrian might have lapped the field as the cutest male swimmer, but he needed a win to really make it count. So Adrian dove in for the 100m freestyle against James Magnussen, fell behind late, then sprinted to the wall, out-touching the Aussie by 0.01 seconds. Then Adrian smiled and every woman in America fell in love. (Al Bello, Getty Images)
  • 13. Boudia dives into elite company: Diver David Boudia was shaky in the preliminary round of the 10m platform competition, sneaking into the semifinals with the last qualifying spot. Then he found his A-game, winning gold with a huge score of 102.60 points on his final dive and becoming the first American to win gold at the event since Greg Louganis did it for the second consecutive time in 1988. The U.S. won four total diving medals in London. (Clive Rose, Getty Images)
  • 5. Gabby becomes America's princess: Early in 2012, no one outside the gymnastics world knew who Gabby Douglas was, but all 4-feet-11-inches of her was ready for the big stage. She finished second to Jordyn Wieber at nationals, then won Trials over the world champ. When Wieber failed to qualify for the all-around, Gabby didn't hesitate to grab the title, becoming the first African-American to win the Olympic event. (Emmanuel Dunand, Getty Images)
  • 4. Pistorius runs for those who can't: Oscar Pistorius won a battle for Paralympians in 2008 when his appeal fighting for the right to compete in the Olympics was upheld. Four years later, Pistorius walked into the Olympic Stadium as a member of the South African team and finished second in his 400m heat to qualify for the semis. (Julia Vynokurova, Getty Images)
  • 6. Misty and Kerri sign off in style: Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings both took time off after winning their second straight beach volleyball gold in Beijing. But they decided to make one last run at Olympic glory. They overcame a tough Chinese team in the semifinals, then knocked off fellow Americans Jen Kessy and April Ross in the final to become the first women to win three straight beach volleyball gold medals. (Jamie Squire, Getty Images)
  • 3. Morgan's miracle: The U.S. women's soccer team was expected by some to waltz over the Canadians and into the gold medal final, but our neighbors to the north did not go quietly into the night. Instead, star Christine Sinclair scored three goals, each one answered by Americans. Abby Wambach put the U.S. into extra time with a penalty kick score, then Alex Morgan headed into a miracle on a cross by Heather O'Reilly to secure the victory with 30 seconds left. (AFP, Getty Images)
  • 2. Bolt becomes a legend: Usain Bolt said he would become a legend in London. After a disappointing performance at the Jamaican Trials, he proved naysayers wrong at the Games, becoming the first man to win the 100m/200m double, then running a record-shattering anchor leg in the 4x100m final as the Jamaicans became the first team in history to dip below the 37-second mark. (Alexander Hassenstein, Getty Images)
  • 12. Jessica Ennis breaks through: She's not a household name in the States, but Briton Jessica Ennis was billed as the U.K.'s face of the Games. The heptathlete used the energy of her hometown crowd to dominate her competition through all seven disciplines of the event, and capped her victory by winning the 800m, then holding aloft the Union flag to the delight of 80,000 screaming fans in Olympic Stadium. (Harry How, Getty Images)
  • 11. Missy Franklin rises: On the penultimate night of Michael Phelps' career, Missy Franklin put the world on notice that America's next swimming superstar has arrived. She preceded Phelps' final 100m butterfly victory with an unforgettable performance of her own: winning gold and setting a new world record in the 200m backstroke. She broke another world record in the 4x100m medley and finished the Olympics with five medals, including four golds. (Paul Gilham, Getty Images)
  • 10. #notimpressed: McKayla Maroney was a virtual lock to win the individual vault competition, and after her first attempt, she was on pace for gold. But the second attempt didn't go quite as well; she landed on her rear end. She still took silver, but her twisted grimace on the podium said it all: McKayla Maroney is not impressed. Her look of seething dissatisfaction became an instant Internet meme. (Thomas Coex, Getty Images)
  • 9. Felix refuses to settle for silver: After taking silver in the 200m in Athens and Beijing, anything less than gold would've been a huge disappointment for Allyson Felix. She pulled away on the home stretch of this year's race, winning gold at 21.88 seconds. She added gold in the 4x100m and 4x400m to make her the most decorated American track athlete of the Games. (Adrian Dennis, Getty Images)
  • 8. Andy Murray pulls through: A month after he lost the Wimbledon final to Roger Federer, Murray again faced off with Federer on Centre Court. This time, Olympic gold was on the line, and this time Murray wasn't going down. The Scotsman blew past Federer in straight sets, 6-2, 6-1, 6-4, then celebrated by climbing into the stands to hug his family. (Julian Finney, Getty Images)
  • 7. Stephan Feck's brutal back flop: Sometimes there are big consequences for small actions. Never was that more true than for Stephan Feck. The German diver's right foot slipped as he launched during his second attempt in the 3m springboard preliminary round and it was all downhill from there. His form was destroyed by the bad jump and Feck's plans for a highly technical dive ended up a lot closer to what happens when kids dare each other at summer camp. (Al Bello, Getty Images)
  • 45. Weightlifter drops 322 lbs on her chest: There have been several mishaps in weightlifting this year, but the one by Egyptian Khalil Mahmoud K Abir Abdelrahman is probably the most watchable. In her third attempt in cleaning and/or jerking 151 kg, she popped the weight onto her shoulders in a squat position -- but that's as far as she got. As she fell over, the weight dropped on her chest. She was sent to the hospital. (Rob Carr, Getty Images)
  • 43. The best gymnastics routine you probably didn't see: Epke Zonderland of the Netherlands turned in a jaw-droppingly acrobatic performance on the high bar that he capped with a perfectly stuck landing, earning him the victory among an intensely competitive field. He became the first Dutch male to ever win gymnastics gold. (Emmanuel Dunand, Getty Images)
  • 42. Rhode shoots, scores an all-time American record: Skeet shooter Kim Rhode may not have the highest name recognition among American Olympians, but that could change. She blasted an Olympic-record 99 of 100 targets on her way to winning gold, becoming the first American to win an individual medal at five straight Olympics. (Lars Baron, Getty Images)
  • 44. Liu Xiang collapses on first hurdle: Chinese track star Liu Xiang won gold in the 110m hurdles in Athens in 2004, becoming a hero in his home country, but injuries kept him out of the Beijing Games and have generally hampered his career. He hoped to make a triumphant Olympic return in London, but at the start of the 110m final he crashed into the first hurdle and tumbled to the ground with a torn Achilles tendon. (Ezra Shaw, Getty Images)
  • 41. Fencer refuses to leave the piste: With 0.01 left in overtime of her semifinal bout, South Korea's Shin A-Lam thought she had earned a trip to the gold medal match in women's epee. Questionable time-keeping led to what proved to be a very long 0.01, and A-Lam lost. She sat crying quietly on the piste for over an hour in protest. It was for naught: Her loss was upheld and she went on to lose the bronze medal match. (Ezra Shaw, Getty Images)
  • 40. Lighting of the Cauldron: Debate raged and wagers were made about who the honorary Cauldron lighter at the Opening Ceremony might be. Everyone from Roger Bannister to Steve Redgrave to Daley Thompson was named, but in the end the Brits quite literally passed the Torch to the next generation, letting seven teens light 204 petals that rose to form the Cauldron. (Leon Neal, Getty Images)
  • 49. Vos wins gold in the road race: The world's best female cyclist, Marianne Vos, won silver at the last five world championships on the road, but as the rainy streets of London claimed victims all over the course, including American gold medalist Kristin Armstrong, the Dutch wonder pulled away with the lead pack, then held off Great Britain's Elizabeth Armitstead in her final stretch to gold. (Mike Hewitt, Getty Images)
  • 48. Le Clos beats Phelps to the wall: South African Chad le Clos was expected to medal in the men's 200m butterfly, but he defied all expectations when he out-touched the legendary Michael Phelps by 0.05 seconds in the decorated swimmer's signature event. Chad's father, Bert, was so ecstatic that he gave a heartwarming, albeit nearly unintelligible interview to the BBC that went viral. (Al Bello, Getty Images)
  • 47. Ledecky wins gold in the 800m free: Katie Ledecky, 15, came to London as the youngest member of Team USA, so just making the 800m final was good enough. Then she won the gold. Ledecky out-paced the field by four seconds, breaking the American record and nearly the world record in the process. She adorably shouted "Oh my God!" when she saw her time. Now back to high school. (Fabrice Coffrini, Getty Images)
  • 46. Wu wins gold after horrific news: The family of Chinese diver Wu Minxia waited until after she won 3m springboard synchro gold to tell her that her grandparents had died ... a year ago. And that her mother suffered with breast cancer for eight years. Wu shook off the devastating news to win gold in the individual 3m springboard event, her sixth Olympic medal, then announced her retirement. (Al Bello, Getty Images)
  • 39. Attar runs for Saudi women: She finished 30 seconds behind her nearest competitor, but Sarah Attar became the first female Saudi track athlete ever when she ran 800 meters around the track at Olympic Stadium. Attar, who joined wrestler and fellow Saudi Wojdan Shaherkani in breaking barriers for women from their country, received a standing ovation as she crossed the finish. (Fayez Nureldine, Getty Images)
  • 38. Mitchell breaks leg, keeps running: After 400m gold medalists Jeremy Wariner and LaShawn Merritt went down with injuries, Manteo Mitchell knew he needed to power through to help the U.S. 4x400m team. One problem: Mitchell broke his leg midway through his turn around the track. Spurred on by teammates, Mitchell ran his split in 45 seconds to help his team qualify for the finals. (Eric Feferberg, Getty Images)
  • 26. Serena dances on Centre Court: Serena Williams lost just 17 games in six matches as she tore through the women's singles tennis competition en route to dispatching Maria Sharapova with ease in the gold medal final, 6-0, 6-1. She celebrated by doing a jig on the famous grass court, then going out that same afternoon and winning the women's doubles title with her sister Venus. (Elsa, Getty Images)
  • 37. E-Rupp-tion in American distance: It had been nearly 50 years since an American even medaled in the 10,000m, but Galen Rupp, who broke two of Steve Prefontaine's U.S. Trials records a month earlier, grabbed silver by keeping pace with British friend and training partner Mo Farah. Three nights later, Leo Manzano won the first U.S. medal in the 1500m since 1968. (Stu Forster, Getty Images)
  • 30. The happy Olympic worker: The world was introduced to dry British humor by one particularly sarcastic Olympic volunteer whose bullhorn speech to passersby in Olympic Park went viral. In classic English deadpan with no intonation in her voice, Rachel Onosanwo urged the masses to take part in the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of the Olympics. (User ollygourley, YouTube)
  • 29. Dead-even triathlon finish: The women's triathlon ended in a photo finish that took days to sort out. Switzerland's Nicola Spirig and Sweden's Lisa Norden crossed the finish line simultaneously and each had a final time of 59 minutes, 48 seconds. Judges gave Spirig the gold after reviewing photo evidence, but Swedish officials appealed, saying both women should have gotten golds. The appeal was denied and Norden kept silver. (Adam Pretty, Getty Images)
  • 31. Shields punches her way into history: In the first year that women's boxing was an Olympic event, 17-year-old American Claressa Shields thundered her way to a gold medal behind a strong right hand and an aggressive style befitting a brash teenager discovering her immense natural ability. The pride of Flint, Mich., became the youngest boxer to win Olympic gold since 1924. (Scott Heavey, Getty Images)
  • 28. Jordyn Wieber doesn't qualify: In one of the earliest upsets of the Games, American gymnast Jordyn Wieber failed to qualify for the finals of the women's all-around despite being an odds-on favorite to win the event. The gymnastics world was up in arms that Aly Raisman qualified instead, railing against Raisman and the system that lets only two athletes from each country qualify. Wieber went on to help win the all-around team competition. (Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY Sports)
  • 27. Women's soccer wins gold: After losing to Japan in the 2011 World Cup, the U.S. women's soccer team got its revenge in the gold medal match. Carli Lloyd scored twice and goalkeeper Hope Solo made a couple of brilliant saves as the women won their third straight Olympic gold medal and fourth overall. (Khaled Desouki, Getty Images)
  • 36. Soni breaks world record ... twice: Dressed to impress in her pink swimsuit, Rebecca Soni waltzed into the 200m breaststroke semis as the favorite, and then broke the world record. The next night she did it again, swimming a half-second faster and winning gold in the process. She added another world record in the medley relay two nights later, because why not? (Ezra Shaw, Getty Images)
  • 35. Burroughs backs up the swagger: American Jordan Burroughs was the favorite to win gold in 74kg freestyle wrestling, and the man who tweets at @alliseeisgold lived up to this billing. In a rematch of the 2011 world championship final, Burroughs launched quick takedowns of Iran's Sadegh Goudarzi at the end of the first and second rounds to secure the title. A Twitpic of Burroughs holding up his medal followed soon after. (Feng Li, Getty Images)
  • 34. The endless discus celebration: Germany's Robert Harting was so excited by his win in the men's discus that tearing his shirt off in front of his cheering section in Olympic Stadium wasn't quite enough. So he draped himself in the German flag and ran down the track, half-leaping over hurdles to the crowd's delight. (Alexander Hassenstein, Getty Images)
  • 33. Scandal rocks badminton: Almost as soon as the Games began, a scandal in badminton rocked London. In an effort to get easier draws during round robin play, two teams from South Korea and one each from Indonesia and China deliberately tried to lose matches, making little attempt to hide their intentions. The four teams were expelled, but it didn't matter to China -- the country won gold in all five badminton events. (Michael Regan, Getty Images)
  • 32. Eaton becomes 'world's greatest athlete': A month after setting a new world record in the decathlon, Ashton Eaton became the 12th American to win Olympic decathlon gold. He led the competition from start to finish to claim the title of "world's greatest athlete." Teammate Trey Hardee, who won silver, summed up Eaton's accomplishment: "Eaton is the greatest athlete that's ever walked the planet, hands down." (Jewel Samad, Getty Images)
  • 1. Phelps is history's greatest Olympian: London was supposed to be the swan song for Michael Phelps. It didn't start that way when he failed to medal in his first race, but he won silver in the second, and went on to take home more medals than any other athlete for a third straight Games. Phelps' eyes welled up as he heard the national anthem play once again. He finished his career with 22 medals, including 18 golds. (AFP, Getty Images)
    
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NBC's Matthew Kitchen and Aaron Stern compiled a list of their 50 most memorable moments of the 2012 London Olympics. See them all here.

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