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It was a summer of historic moments for the U.S. women's gymnastics team, thanks to Douglas and her teammates, Jordyn Wieber, McKayla Maroney, Kyla Ross and Aly Raisman. Dubbed the Fierce Five, they won team gold – something that hasn't been done since the 1996 Atlanta Games. Even more impressive: Douglas became the first African-American female to capture the top prize in the all-around event, the most coveted medal in the sport.
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You're never too old to be a Bond girl – just ask Queen Elizabeth II. The 86-year-old monarch got the Opening Ceremony off to a memorable start by taking part in a skit alongside James Bond (portrayed by Daniel Craig). While she nailed the art of stoic expressions, a stuntman stepped in for her grand parachute entrance into Olympic Stadium.
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Finishing off his career with a total of 22 medals, the swimmer broke a bevy of records during his final Olympics. Winning gold with his teammates Conor Dwyer, Ryan Lochte and Ricky Berens in the 4x200m freestyle relay earned Phelps his 19th medal of the London Games and the title of the most decorated Olympian in any sport.
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Team G.B. looked to the track and field superstar, who was dealt a devastating injury during the 2008 Beijing Games, for a gold medal victory – and she delivered! "I told myself at the start that I'm only going to have one moment to do this in front of a crowd in London and I just wanted to give them a good show," she said about taking the top honor at the heptathlon event.
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KERRI WALSH & MISTY MAY-TREANOR
Walsh and partner Treanor came into the XXX Olympiad as Team USA star veterans, dominating the beach volleyball competition with back-to-back gold medal victories since Athens 2004. The pair went on to defend their title – a victory all the more sweet for Walsh, who was pregnant with her third child at her final Olympics.
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They don't call her "Missy the Missile" for nothing! At 17 years old, the Aurora, Colo., native made a splash at this year's Games, bringing home a total of four gold medals and one bronze. Topping off a personal best, Franklin also set a world record during the 200m backstroke relay with a time of 2:04.06.
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Following a gutting loss at Wimbledon to Roger Federer a month earlier, the Scottish tennis star bounced back during a rematch, this time defeating the Swiss ace in three straight sets to win the men's singles finals in front of a rapturous crowd. "It's the biggest win of my life, that's for sure," Murray said moments after winning gold.
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PRINCE WILLIAM & DUCHESS CATHERINE
Thanks to the royal couple, the athletes weren't the only ones making headlines: From doing the wave to rooting on their cousin Zara Phillips, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge got into the spirit of the Games, even surprising fans with some unexpected PDA while cheering on Great Britain's cycling team.
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U.S. WOMEN'S SOCCER TEAM
Before claiming the gold medal over Japan (who narrowly beat them at last year's World Cup), Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Hope Solo and the rest of their teammates had to close out a nerve-wracking game against Canada in the semi-finals. "It's just so exhilarating," Morgan told Sports Illustrated of making the game-winning goal that moved Team USA into the finals.
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The South African Paralympic – who lost both his limbs to a bone disorder as a child – embodied the spirit of the Games when he competed against able-bodied athletes in this year's track and field competition. He failed to qualify for the 400m finals, but Pistorius has no regrets. "I didn't come here to prove a point. I wanted to do the best I could do and push myself as hard as I can," he said.