Kara and Shalane representing the U.S. in the women's marathon. I guess this one goes without saying. That marathon course was tough. Anyone that has ever run a marathon could tell you that. There were lots of turns, the humidity was high, and the terrain was a bit uneven. Kara and Shalane gave it everything they had, coming close to their PRs and really ran fantastic races. I don't care that they didn't medal or didn't come in the top 10. I just know they did all they could and gave their very best to represent the USA.
Kim Conley in the 5k semi finals. I don't know why but I really love her story. I was first inspired by Kim during the Olympic Trials in Eugene where she came from about 6th or 8th place in the final 200m to lean for the 3rd place spot. Not only did she run a PB that day, but she also beat the London Standard at the same time. She earned a spot to represent the US in London! When the day came to race in the semis (btw, I don't like how the 10k doesn't have a semi but the 5k does. What's up with that?), Kim gave it everything she had. She didn't make the finals, but she got a new PB by 5 seconds and ran a great race. (I can't find the video. NBCOlympics.com only has video of the men's 5k semis, not the women's.) I mean, not everyone can say they've gotten 2 PBs in 2 months, especially at the pro/elite level. I think Kim is just getting started and we'll be seeing more of her in the years to come. 2013 world championships? Rio perhaps? I'm hoping for Kim either way!
There was a TON of coverage on the swimming events this year. Missy Franklin, Michael Phelps, and Ryan Lochte were all over the TV on any given time of day. I love all those three, but I feel the need to mention Katie Ledecky in the swimming 800m freestyle (the highlights reel doesn't do it justice--you have to watch the full here, but the commentary is by Brits, not Americans 43:06-53:15). At 15 years old, she is the youngest Olympian on the entire US squad. She was up against the big favorite and current world record-holder of Great Britain, Rebecca Adlington. When the race started, Katie went out quick. The announcers continued to doubt her. They said that she was going to fast and didn't have enough experience. They'd go to commercial only to come back and see that Katie was still leading. She was keeping her pace. They'd continue to repeat the same thing and at every commercial break, yet, Katie was still leading. And she wasn't just leading by a little; she was leading by a full body length. Towards the end of the race, you could hear the US announcers not believing what they were seeing. When the announcers, crowd, and media doubted Katie, she didn't doubt herself. She kept on going and she got the gold medal (winning by that same body length that she maintained the whole race), and missed a world record by tenths of a second. (She did get the American Record which had been held by Janet Evans since 1988.) When she looked up after the race was done, you can see her say "Oh my gosh!" (time 52:53 on the full feed) and I could barely fight back the tears. I always love when someone does what isn't expected, and they win by overcoming so many other thoughts and believing in themselves. Congrats to Katie Ledecky who has been deemed part of the "future of US swimming."
Speaking of swimming, I gotta say that I absolutely LOVE this Call Me Maybe parody done by the US swim squad. I'm not yet sick of this song and I don't know if I'll ever get sick of this video. It is so "of the times" and I love it. Ryan Lochte's "contribution" makes me laugh every time!
Who have you been inspired by during these Olympic games?