With more than 10,000 athletes competing during the London Olympics in just over 300 events, the vast majority of Olympians were always going to go home without a medal. For many, that was just fine, as simply reaching the Olympics was prize enough. When Hamadou Djibo Issaka of Niger belatedly finished a single sculls repechage at the Olympics there was no conflating his result with his accomplishment.
"It went well," he told The Associated Press, after a last-place finish that could rightly be described as triumphant. "I passed the finish line. It was great."
Of course, not every defeat came under such glorious circumstances. As is the case with any sporting event, there were some cringe-worthy fails at least as likely to elicit a laugh or gasp as applause. During the 2012 Summer Games, we realized just how fragile those vaulting poles can be and approximately how long it takes for an Olympic dive to become an Internet sensation.
Without further ado, here are some of the moments that found a spot on the lowlight podium.
Pole Vault Fail
Thanks to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/10/lazaro-borges-pole-vault-snap_n_1764389.html?utm_hp_ref=sports" target="_hplink">Cuban pole vaulter Lazaro Borges</a>, we will never again overestimate the strength of the fiberglass poles used in this event.
Andre Iguodala's dunk attempt ended up not counting after bounced off his chest and back and went back through the hoop.
Just before airing the women's 100-meter backstroke final (tape delayed, of course), NBC showed a promo for the next day's episode of "Today" that touted an appearance by the winner of the upcoming race, Missy Franklin, who was posing with the gold medal she won. It's one thing to tape delay events for primetime but another thing entirely to be your own spoiler.
Stephan Feck of Germany probably didn't want to become a viral sensation this way. The German diver came in last in the men's 3-meter springboard diving preliminaries after landing on his back for what is now known as <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/07/stephan-feck-video-worst-olympic-dive_n_1752738.html" target="_hplink">the "Worst Olympic Dive."</a>
Eight female badminton doubles players were disqualified from the Olympics after <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/01/badminton-olympics-disqualified-lose-matches_n_1727640.html" target="_hplink">trying to lose on purpose</a> to get better placement in the tournament.
Trash Talk Fail
Canada head coach John Herdman said the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/05/us-womens-soccer-john-herdman-canada-illegal_n_1744516.html" target="_hplink">U.S. women's soccer team used "illegal" tactics. </a>Then the U.S. beat Canada 4-3 in the semis.
NBC came under fire for this slow motion video titled <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/10/nbcs-bodies-in-motion-video-backlash-objectifying-female-athletes_n_1764876.html" target="_hplink">"Bodies In Motion" on NBCOlympics.com</a>. The video featuring predominantly white, thin women wearing revealing uniforms was widely panned for objectifying female athletes.
Mexico's Tamara Vega fell from her horse during the jumping stage of the equestrian events. Alone this would hardly have been of note. However, the the horse wasn't interested in continuing on with the race, forcing the rider to chase the horse through the course.
Even before the Opening Ceremony, the Olympics included a major gaffe. During team introductions for the women's soccer match between North Korea and Colombia organizers accidentally displayed the South Korean flag. North Korea protested by refusing to start the game, delaying kickoff before returning an hour later.
Zip Line Fail
London Mayor Boris Johnson got himself stuck above the crowd in a memorable off-field Olympics fail.