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Year in Review: Murray takes Centre Court

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OlympicTalk’s writers recount some of their favorite moments from the 2012 London Games.

In a way, the All England Club was a quieter, more subdued version of Wimbledon during the 2012 Olympics in London. The total number of fans on the grounds was kept lower that the month prior, for security purposes, and Centre Court had lost just a speck of its luster as swaths of seats went unclaimed from match to match during the Games.

But that wasn’t the case when Andy Murray took to the court. Britain’s favorite tennis son is always a crowd darling at Wimbledon, but his star power, his draw, and the plainly non-club, non-tennis-clap-polite fans came to life during Murray’s matches, carrying roars into Centre Court each round that were saved more for occasions like the 2008 Federer-Nadal Wimbledon final.

While Murray’s decisive triumph over Federer in the Olympics final will go down as one of the great breakout performances by a tennis player at any major event, it was his semifinal win over Novak Djokovic that truly brought the house down.

Djokovic had won two of their last three meetings, including another overlooked gladiatorial clash: a 7-5 in-the-fifth semifinal victory at the Australian Open back in January.

But in a 7-5, 7-5 victory, Murray had shed any demons of faltering against Djokovic and moved to a place he could hardly believe he was in: the gold medal match. After raising his arms in the air, Murray sat down for a minute in his chair letting the win sink in. It was then when he got up again, walking to the middle of the court and leaping into a jump-kick of a fist pump. Centre Court exploded.

“The atmosphere is unbelievable,” Murray told reporters after the win. “Different to pretty much anything I’ve been in before. I obviously played in big matches, night matches US Open we always said was the best atmosphere, but it’s not even close to what it was today. Obviously playing with the home support, that helps the atmosphere.

“But, yeah, that was unbelievable.”

Watch Real Sports trailer on Peter Norman of 1968 Olympic podium protest

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HBO’s “Real Sports” will profile Australian 1968 Olympic 200m silver medalist Peter Norman in an episode premiering Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET.

Norman finished between Tommie Smith and John Carlos in the 200m final at the Mexico City Games.

Largely forgotten, Norman’s story is chronicled by “Real Sports,” with the help of Smith and Carlos.

Norman died of a heart attack in 2006, and Smith and Carlos flew to Australia to serve as pallbearers and deliver eulogies at his funeral.

Smith and Carlos reflected on the role Norman played in their famous raised-fists podium gesture in this transcript from “Real Sports:”

Tommie Smith: “I had my gloves. And there was some discussion in the tunnel between John and myself.”

John Carlos: “Peter was there and he was kinda curious as to what we were doing, what we were talking about. And I turned to Peter and I asked him. I said, ‘Peter,’ I said, ‘Do you believe in human rights?’”

Real Sports: “You said– you expected to see fear in his eyes. Instead–”

John Carlos: “I didn’t see nothing but love, man. He looked at me and he smiled. He said, ‘Of course.’ And I said to him, I said, ‘Would you like to wear Olympic Project for Human Rights button?’ And he said, ‘Yeah.’ And he started reaching for mine. And I pat him on his hand. I said, ‘Whoa, you can’t have this. But I’ll get you one.’”

Real Sports: “He didn’t hesitate?”

John Carlos: “Mr. Norman never flinched.”

MORE: Smith, Carlos honored at White House

Russian wrestler who died in 2013 not stripped of 2012 Olympic medal in doping probe

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 11:  Silver medalist Besik Kudukhov of Russia, Gold medalist Toghrul Asgarov of Azerbaijan, Bronze medalist Coleman Scott of the United States, and Bronze medalist Yogeshwar Dutt of India in the Men's Freestyle 60 kg Wrestling on Day 15 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at ExCeL on August 11, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
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MOSCOW (AP) — Russia says the International Olympic Committee has dropped an investigation into a deceased wrestler who allegedly tested positive for a banned steroid when an old sample was retested.

Besik Kudukhov won the silver medal in the men’s freestyle 60-kilogram class at the 2012 Olympics and died the following year in a car crash.

The Russian Wrestling Federation says in a statement his sample from the 2012 Games was retested this year and found to be positive for the steroid turinabol. The case was passed to an IOC disciplinary commission, which ended its investigation last week with no action taken, the federation says.

The IOC, which has not acknowledged any positive test by Kudukhov, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Kudukhov also won bronze at the 2008 Olympics.

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