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LONDON -- Following Sunday night's Olympic closing ceremony, NBCNews.com takes a tongue-in-cheek look at those who struck gold at London 2012 -- and some others who were left in the starting blocks.
London's tousle-haired mayor provided a moment of comedy gold when he got stuck on a zip wire at the city’s Victoria Park. For any other politician in charge of a major city, being caught on camera for several minutes dangling in front of a crowd of children like a sack of potatoes would have been career-ending. Not for Boris, whose self-deprecating style and easy charm convinced many pundits that he'll one day be elected prime minister.
London mayor Boris Johnson attempts to make a dramatic entrance at an Olympic party—but gets stranded on a zip wire instead. NBCNews.com's Dara Brown reports.
The Paralympic Games
Maybe it’s the "Blade Runner" effect: Since South African double-amputee Oscar Pistorius made Olympic history by competing alongside able-bodied athletes in the 400m race, sales of tickets for the Paralympics Games have broken records. Some 2.1 million tickets have already been sold for the London 2012 Paralympics, which begin on August 29 – already well ahead of the 1.8 million total four years ago in Beijing.
Oscar Pistorius from South Africa became the first double amputee to compete in the games by running the men's 400-meter race. He says that having the opportunity to represent his country in the Olympics "far surpassed" his expectations.
Around the most security-conscious Olympic Games in history, you’re nobody without a lanyard. The 11,000 athletes, 11,000 coaching or IOC officials, 21,000 media and 200,000 on-site workers all need laminated credentials with a barcode ID strip attached to a lanyard -- an orange-and-purple ribbon worn around the neck. Then you need 12,200 soldiers and 7,000 civilian security workers to check those credentials. And they need credentials, too. That’s at least a quarter of a million people needing lanyards. And once you’re inside the Olympic Park, you need a separate lanyard to get into individual offices and venues. It was a business opportunity on a plate.
Al Bello / Getty Images
U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps shows off his Olympic credentials -- and the lanyard holding it -- on July 24.
Westfield shopping mall, Stratford, East London
It opened its doors in the pit of Britain’s worst post-war recession and is located in a former industrial zone in one of London’s crime hotspots. Yet for the past two weeks, Westfield shopping mall, adjacent to the Olympic Park, has been the must-visit destination of the Games as athletes from around the world wander between the Apple Store and the Abercrombie & Fitch, posing for pictures and signing autographs for fans. The Cow, a bar at the end of the shopping center nearest the park entrance, is making more than $47,000 a day, according to one worker.
East London, which will host the Olympic Games, boasts a colorful history. NBC News' Jim Maceda reports.
The 17-year-old's four gold medals and a bronze propelled her to a whole new level of fame. According to a sports marketing expert and two agents, this could be worth between $1 million and $5 million a year in endorsements, The Denver Post reported. "She's got a great smile," Andrew Stroth, a sports attorney specializing in endorsement deals, told the paper. "Her story's fantastic. She seems like an all-American girl, a young lady who really cares about people inside and outside the pool."
Seventeen-year-old Missy Franklin is taking home four gold medals and one bronze from the London Olympics and tells TODAY's Savannah Guthrie that while she has a lot to discuss with her parents and coach, she'd still love to swim on a college team.
Of all the national hospitality houses that sprang up in London – the work of tourism agencies seeking to promote their country to the millions of Games visitors – Austria House, near the Tower of London, has been the most surprising success. Crowds regularly lined up around the block to buy beer at $6 a pint and sauerkraut at $12. How Austria managed to turn an overpriced temporary beer patio in the financial district into a to-be-seen-in venue remains a mystery, but Tower Hill has been alive with the sound of music since the Games began.
Jim Seida / NBC News
Julia Sailer pours two-liter beers as fast as she can sell them at Austria's national hospitality house on Tuesday.
London tube train and bus drivers
By threatening strike action during the Games, London’s underground train drivers -- already paid almost double the U.K. average wage -- secured a bonus payment of $1,400 to compensate for temporary changes in shift patterns. Angry at being left out, bus drivers used the same tactic to win themselves $900 regardless of whether their route was affected by the Games.
Traveling around traffic-plagued London can be a hassle at the best of times -- never mind during an event such as the Olympic Games. NBCNews.com put the city to the test in a race to the Olympic Park.
Britain’s soldiers stepped up to the plate when private contractor G4S failed to supply enough security workers. Despite concerns at the militarization of the Games, their placatory presence and application of much-needed courtesy and common sense at the airport-style searches was welcomed by spectators. The experience has left some Brits secretly wishing the military would also run the London Underground, most major sporting events and Heathrow Airport.
Dave Martin / AP
British troops cheer along with the crowd as they get a break from security duties to watch the Brazil vs. Great Britain beach volleyball match on July 30.
Greedy hotels and landlords
In February, NBCNews.com revealed that landlords in Britain's capital were evicting tenants in order to cash in on the Games by charging tourists many times the usual rent. Hotels also began charging exorbitant rates for rooms even in mediocre locations. However, up to one-third of those rooms were left unsold, according to The Daily Telegraph, while volunteers helping at the Games stayed at a temporary campsite rather than pay over-priced rates for accommodation. On top of that, Londoners have embraced the spirit of the Games by opening up their own homes free of charge to athletes’ families and spectators from around the world.
Around London, alternative Olympic viewing sites offer locals and tourists a cheaper, crowd-free version of the Games.
It was meant to be the "greenest" Summer Games in history, but although Britain won a slew of cycling medals London 2012 hasn't been much fun for the city's ordinary cyclists. Part of a popular route for cyclists down the east side of London -- a path along the River Lea -- has been closed for security reasons because it runs close to the Olympic Park. And cyclists were also not allowed to use many of the Olympic Lanes set up for officials, athletes and others involved in the Games. To cap it all, a man cycling home to help avoid traffic congestion during the Games was knocked over and killed by an official London 2012 media bus.
Jim Seida / NBC News
A cyclist uses his phone to help navigate around the security gate blocking the bike path along the western edge of London's Olympic Park on July 21.
British soccer players
The good grace and sportsmanship of Olympic athletes has thrown into sharp contrast the behavior of Britain’s highly-paid but mostly charmless professional soccer players.
This Olympics is basically a three week long PR disaster for football and footballers in this country.— Olly Barratt (@ollybarratt) August 5, 2012
Visitor numbers at London's traditional tourist attractions such as the Tower of London and St Paul’s Cathedral fell by up to 40 per cent during the Games as dire warnings about likely transport chaos, congestion and long lines turned the city center into a ghost town.
Jim Seida / NBC News
Street and graffiti artists have been satirizing, celebrating and making jokes about the Olympic Games in London.
Many local businesses suffered too. Traders at a food market close to the Olympic Park face financial ruin, according to local reports, after paying up to $25,000 for market pitches on streets that turned out to be deserted. One spent more than $30,000 on rent, stock and equipment for his Thai food stall and failed to sell a single meal.
Great Britain has been struggling to find a way to recovery from deep, grinding double-dip recession. Could recovery be sparked by the Olympic Games? NBC's Stephanie Gosk reports.
The U.K. government spent some $14.5 billion on hosting the Games, according to organizers LOCOG, although experts suspect that cost could be considerably higher when all factors – such as public employees’ time – are taken into consideration. British Prime Minister David Cameron said before the Games that he was confident London 2012 would provide a $20 billion boost to the economy over the next four years. But that figure has been met with some skepticism. Professor Richard Jackman, of the London School of Economics, told NBCNews.com the financial benefits of the Olympics were always “grossly over-estimated” and “unfortunately our taxpayers are funding this.” He suggested the Olympics might make "a few billion." And Jackman is not alone. A poll of economists by Reuters found that 23 out of 27 thought the Games would not provide a lasting economic windfall.
Oda / Getty Images
From Wimbledon to Wembley Stadium to The Dome, a look at the venues for the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Athletes in disgrace
Swiss soccer player Michel Morganella, 23, was stripped of his Olympic accreditation for posting a racist message on Twitter after his team lost 2-1 to South Korea. Swiss officials said the message was offensive and threatening. Triple-jumper Voula Papachristou was also cut from the Greece team after posting a comment mocking African immigrants. Eight badminton players, from South Korea, Indonesia and China were disqualified after they tried to lose games in order to get an easier draw in the next round. The crowd booed the competitors when it became obvious they were not competing. Sebastian Coe, chairman of Games organizers LOCOG, said the spectacle was "depressing," adding "who wants to sit through something like that?" However, disgruntled fans were not given their money back.
Tullio M. Puglia / Getty Images
Swiss soccer player Michel Morganella lost his accreditation after sending a racist tweet.
As the Olympics come to an end in London, there are the 2014 Sochi Games in Russia to look forward to. NBC's Jim Maceda reports.