Alex Zanardi (Italy, cycling): Nobody can forget the moment the former Formula F1 driver slid out of his handcycle at Brands Hatch after winning the road race. He lifted the handcycle over his head with one hand and raised his other arm, fist clenched, to the sky. It was, for many, the iconic image of London 2012.
Marlou van Rhijn (Netherlands, athletics): Following her victory in the women’s 200m T44 sprint, the delighted Dutch double-amputee threw her arms up in the air multiple times, ecstatic that she had beaten her arch rival Marie-Amelie Le Fur of France. She then went over to hug a teammate before doing a full lap around the Olympic stadium with the Dutch flag around her shoulders.
Australia’s women’s 4x100m medley relay 34 points swimming team: When Jacqueline Freney touched the wall just three hundreths of a second before Great Britain’s Louise Watkins, all three of her teammates stood on the pool deck going nuts to the sound of the booming crowd in the Aquatics Centre. The anticipated celebration had been building throughout the entire race, and Freney, Ellie Cole, Katherine Downie and Annabelle Williams followed through in putting on a show for the crowd.
Russia football 7-a-side team: The final event of London 2012 on 9 September was concluded with a joyous celebration by Russia’s football 7-a-side team after Eduard Romanov’s winning goal in the 44th minute. The team stormed the field and the crowd went wild, making for a great finish to the Paralympic competition.
Jody Cundy (Great Britain, cycling): The British cyclist “lost it” across television screens worldwide after being disqualified from the C4/5 1km time trial for a false start. He stormed off cursing at cameras and raging at officials, which exposed just how much time and effort he had devoted to training for this time trial over the last Paralympic cycle.
Oscar Pistorius (South Africa, athletics): After losing out on 200m T44 gold to Brazil’s Alan Fonteles Oliveira, South Africa’s Oscar Pistorius erupted, saying his rival’s blades were too long. While Oliveira had not broken any rules, Pistorius vented and the stadium went silent, not knowing how to react to the result of the race.
Both celebrations and meltdowns
Yohansson Nascimento (Brazil, athletics): The double arm-amputee sprinter captivated the crowds with a triple cartwheel to celebrate winning gold and setting a new world record in the men’s 200m T64 with a time of 11.01. He then proposed to his girlfriend via the television cameras at the finish line, unfolding a handwritten note while still on the track.
But in the 100m T46 final, Nascimento had to limp to the finish line after falling down injured. Despite the dire pain that hit him in his left hamstring, he ushered away the officials who tried to help him.
With the 80,000-strong crowd applauding, he hobbled his way to the finish line in tears, sinking back down to the ground when he clocked in at 1:30.79.
Will Bayley (Great Britain, table tennis): One of the most memorable moments the British public will always recall from the London 2012 Paralympic Games is when Bayley jumped onto his coach and pumped his fist into the air following his dramatic semi-final win in the table tennis singles class 7 competition against Ukraine’s Maxym Nikolenko. His emotional reaction to the match point was replayed over and over again on Channel 4 and tugged at the hearts of live stream viewers around the world.
Bayley wore his emotions on his sleeve once again when he lost the final to Germany’s Jochen Wollmert, falling to the ground in tears. Wollmert came over to console him and raised Bayley’s arm for him for the home crowd.