TV Review - Athletes from London Olympics Who Impacted

Ashton Eaton in ESPN Magazine
Now that the London 2012 Summer Olympics are over, most people can go back to ignoring NBC and ignoring the so-called sports that they brought to prime-time or mainstream TV in general like water polo or rhythm gymnastics. How many people honestly cared about dressage? How many even knew it was an Olympic sport? For me, it's no different, except there are a number of individuals who for one reason or another will continue to be in my consciousness from now until the foreseeable future, certainly until the Rio 2016 Olympics. Gabby Douglas and Missy Franklin are two who I think are beautiful and amazing and who definitely made an impact on me, but I limited my list of athletes to just ten, so they were shut out but deserve an honorable mention. I'm not an athlete but I like stories and in a lot of ways it's the stories of these guys to which I relate.

10. JOHN OROZCO - We hold up those athletes who win gold or have great successes, but what about those who don't. It's not that John Orozco failed but he made a lot of mistakes during his gymnastic events, specifically the Pommel Horse. It was an emotional blow for the 19-year-old, Puerto Rican kid from the Bronx who came from poverty and who was teased for wanting to be a gymnast, even when it was obvious his 5'5" frame was perfectly suited for it. Despite his loss at London, it's still amazing that he can call himself an Olympian. Considering where he came from, nothing embodies his spirit better than the music video in which he appeared, "Fighter" by Gym Class Heroes.

9. TEDDY RINER - Orozco is the smallest male athlete to impress me. The largest in size is Teddy Riner from France, nicknamed "Teddy Bear." He's cuddly but he's also a whopping 6'8" and weighs over 280 lbs. He's only 23 but he won the gold in heavyweight judo.

8. TONY AZEVEDO - The 30-year-old captain of the U.S. men's water polo team has been described by Jeff Beckham of Wired as "a beefed-up Bradley Cooper." He's all over YouTube describing how he got so beefed up. He even does so to a bunch of kids. He's now the face of U.S. water polo, showing off that face and body to ESPN. Azevedo's father was a Brazilian water polo player and Olympic coach who inspired Azevedo into the sport. From a near-death experience as a child, he went to Stanford and earned the Peter J. Cutino Award. He led the U.S. team to silver at Beijing 2008 but fell short this year. Aside from the decathlon, I'm just really impressed by water polo because it incorporates abilities from so many other sports like swimming, wrestling and rugby. He also has a pretty cool trick shot.

7. TROY DUMAIS - He now shares with Greg Louganis the fact of being a four-time Olympic diver. Like Azevedo, he comes from a family that's been to the Olympics once or twice before. Dumais has brothers who are also divers. This year marks the 32-year-old athlete's first medal ever. He got the bronze in the 3m synchronized springboard.

Danell Leyva in Lifestyle Miami
6. DANELL LEYVA - The Cuban-born and Miami-raised gymnast won the bronze in the Individual All-Around event. He's a world champion in the parallel bars. His parents' immigration story is what was initially compelling to me. He had a little bit of a kerfuffle when nude or semi-nude photos were leaked on the Internet, but honestly they're no worse than his fully naked pictures in ESPN magazine.

5. BRENDAN HANSEN - I admit I'm probably impressed by this swimmer because he's from the Philadelphia area, which is my hometown. I'm also impressed because he's younger than me, at 30, but yet he apparently had a semi-midlife crisis when after competing in Beijing, he considered not competing in London. Thankfully, his wife changed his mind and he added a bronze medal in the 100m breaststroke and a gold one in the 4 x 100m medley relay, making his total of six Olympic medals.

4. JORDAN BURROUGHS - He's 24 and his twitter handle is @alliseeisgold or "all I see is gold." He grew up in New Jersey. He went to the University of Nebraska and by way of social media was guaranteeing that he was going to get the gold. He had to wait until the last Friday of the games but he did it. Using his signature, double-leg take down, he beat his Iranian adversary to win the gold in freestyle wrestling and earn a $250,000 bonus.

3. RYAN LOCHTE - He doesn't have as many decorations as Michael Phelps but he did beat Phelps in one of the early races. Because of which, he has just been catapulted into stardom. He was already gracing magazine covers like Vogue, but unlike Hansen, the media attention around the so-called Lochte Nation has been overwhelming. Not all of it has been in reverence, even though Lochte did bring home two additional gold medals, two additional silvers and one bronze, making him an 11-time medalist. Some of the attention he's gotten has been in mocking. Check out his Funny or Die video for one example.

2. SERENA WILLIAMS - The only woman on my list this year is Serena Williams. She deserves to be here for introducing the British masses to the crip walk alone, but the fact that she won a career Golden Grand Slam isn't bad either. A career Golden Grand Slam is when a tennis player wins the Australia Open, the US Open, the French Open, Wimbledon and the Olympic gold medal.

1. ASHTON EATON - Ashton is the Barack Obama of this year's Olympics. Besides having a black father and a white mother, he is now like the president of these united states that I like to call Olympics. He won gold in the decathlon events. If you're not familiar, the decathlon is ten events of running, jumping and throwing, including the 100m, the 110m hurdles, the 400m, the 1500m, the shot put, the javelin throw, the discus throw, the long jump, the high jump and the pole vault. To win the gold meant he had to be faster, higher or longer than anyone else. This distinction also qualifies him with the title of being the "world's greatest athlete." At the age of 24, that's quite a distinction.


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