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.