Athletes of the Year : Alexandra Raisman and Kayla Harrison
Aly Raisman and her U.S. Olympic gymnastics teammates entered 2012 London Games with the eyes of the world upon them and expectations that they should contend for a gold medal. There were no Duckboat parades in Massachusetts this year, but Raisman captured two championships during the most-watched television event (that being the Summer Olympics) in history.
She not only won team gold with her fellow Fab Five members, but the 18-year-old Needham native danced, flipped and tumbled her way to gold in the floor routine. Raisman's parents even got into the act with their angst-ridden reactions during her winning routines.
Harrison became the first American—male or female—to win an Olympic judo gold medal. While Harrison is from Middletown, Ohio, she trains in Wakefield, Mass., so we'll happily claim her on our year-end list.
Harrison, who went public with her story of being sexually abused by a judo coach as a young teenager in the wake of the Penn State scandal, sought refuge while training in Wakefield during the years following her abuse and its aftermath. Her attacker is currently in prison. Harrison used her stature as an Olympian to help other abuse victims.
Her Olympic gold medal, which came after four hard-fought victories in London, gave her a world-wide microphone. “This is exactly what I wanted,” she told USA Today. “I can’t wait to help grow the sport of judo, to help victims overcome things and hopefully change somebody’s life, make a difference.”
Well done, ladies.
For Boston sports fans, all that gold came at the perfect time, in the wake of a winter and spring that saw early, heartbreaking and/or excruciating playoff exits.
Meanwhile, a day after the Olympics ended, the Red Sox were at or above .500 (55-55) for the final time in 2012, before going 14-38 the rest of the way.