London 2012 Olympics: the best moments of a golden Games

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In the weeks before these Games, the West Yorkshire brothers Alistair and Jonny Brownlee dreamed of crossing the line together in the triathlon, though they knew the Olympic rules prevented such a finish. As it turned out they both found a way to triumph. When Jonny, the younger brother, was hit with a 15-second penalty on a technicality in his changeover between the swimming and cycling it seemed his chance of a medal was gone. His brother had other ideas. Leading from the front Alistair set out at a brutal pace on the first two laps of the 10k run around the Serpentine, stretching the field and carrying only his brother and the world champion Javier Gómez with him. The tactic, which the brothers had discussed during the cycle ride, established for the breakaway trio a 30sec lead over the rest of the field, and allowed Jonny to take his penalty and still win bronze, while Alistair strode out magnificently for gold. Watching on, it seemed the closest sport has ever got to a "two little boys had two little toys" moment. Tear-jerking brilliance. Tim Adams

My personal highlight was probably, in pure sporting terms, the least worthy moment of London 2012. Saudi Arabia's Wojdan Shaherkani has achieved only a blue belt in judo and it was probably thanks solely to sportsmanlike politesse that she was allowed to stay on her feet for 82 seconds before being floored by her opponent in the women's 78kg contest. As she left the mat, she did not even know which way to bow. But if it was negligible as a contest, as an act of courage it was heart-stirringly impressive – a 16-year-old girl who has never before been permitted to compete internationally, defying the hateful abuse she has received and daring to become the first woman from her country to take part in the Games. Her appearance in London was never going to win her anything but who knows, it may just inspire others to do something so shockingly transgressive as to participate in sport. Esther Addley

It was day three in the Aquatics Centre and the big fish of US swimming, Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte had been circling each other. The pool had yet to come to life but on to the deck strode a little-known 15-year-old from Lithuania in a green swim cap. Ruta Meilutyte hit the front in the 100m breaststroke and her last 25m brimmed with the confidence of a youngster never having tried and failed. She pushed to go faster and surged to gold. Grinning wildly, Meilutyte perched on the lane rope and lifted her arms wide to the 17,000 roaring fans in the steeply raked wings of seating. It was a gesture that crackled with realisation of what she had achieved despite or perhaps because of her youth and in that electrifying moment the champion and the crowd connected. Robert Booth

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