The London 2012 Summer Olympic Games began a few days ago with all of the pomp and circumstance that we have come to expect from the host city. Every Olympic games has its own unique character and stories, and London is no exception. Who knew the Queen could parachute? The London Olympic games, what do you know? T or F:

The London 2012 Summer Olympic Games began a few days ago with all of the pomp and circumstance that we have come to expect from the host city. Every Olympic games has its own unique character and stories, and London is no exception. Who knew the Queen could parachute? The London Olympic games, what do you know? T or F:

1. Maurice Mitchell is the only homegrown Eastern Jackson County kid in the Games.  

2. This is the first Games to include female athletes from the Middle East.

3. This is the first time London has hosted the Games.   

The Games have only just begun and already they have created some memorable stories. The U.S. team looked great entering London stadium in their Ralph Lauren designed and Chinese made uniforms. Look for the “Made in the USA” label for the Sochi 2014 Winter Games or there will be a new CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee.

A tip of the hat to small town butcher Dennis Spurr of Weymouth, England, who, caught up in the Olympic spirit (the IOC prefers the term “Olympism”) configured sausages into the iconic Olympic rings and placed them in his storefront. Clever. He was visited by IOC  authorities who demanded the removal of the delectable rings or be subject to a $30,000 fine.

The sausages were a clear and present danger to, umm, whom? Well, if not plainly clear to you (or me) it is very, very clear to the IOC. These sausages were a threat to sponsors who have spent about $1 billion in advertising. OK, now I get it. I think I could really get into this “Olympism” thing if my capitalism wouldn’t keep getting in the way. Undaunted, the butcher made squares out of the sausage instead of rings. The IOC authorities returned with all the humor of a British nanny. Ahh, Olympism.  

Brunei, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are all sending women to compete in London. This marks the first time Muslim women from any Arab country will be participating in the Games. It would take a miracle for them to medal, but the real miracle is that they were allowed to go in the first place. Saudi Arabia does not allow women’s sports, which drives women’s recreational and competitive athletics underground. Bahiya al-Hamad of Qatar was bestowed the high honor of carrying her country’s flag in the opening ceremonies. Some say the Arab spring has spilled right over into Olympics summer.

Hugh McCutcheon guided the U.S. men’s volleyball team to the gold medal in Beijing. In London he returns to the Olympics as head coach for the U.S. women’s team. McCutcheon’s wife and in-laws were sightseeing at the Forbidden City when a deranged man attacked and murdered his father-in-law. Under unimaginable stress, McCutcheon led the men’s team to the top of the podium. The U.S. women are ranked No. 1 in the world heading into London and McCutcheon’s story will be prominently featured. If he wins the gold he will make history, becoming the only coach in volleyball to lead both men’s and women’s teams to the gold medal.

Maurice Mitchell is not our only homegrown Olympian. Matt Tegenkamp, a Lee’s Summit High School graduate, will run in the 10,000 meters on Saturday. In 2008 in Beijing, he finished 13th in the 5,000. He holds the current American record for the two-mile run of 8 minutes, 7.07 seconds set June 10, 2007.

I am thrilled that Mitchell’s parents will be in London to watch him race thanks to an outpouring of financial support from the community. He is scheduled to run the 200 meters Aug. 7 at 5:50 a.m. CST. Don’t sneeze or you will miss him.

From parachuting queens to sausages to Maurice Mitchell and Matt Tegenkamp, London is proving to be a cool refreshment in a summer of blistering heat.

Answers: 1. F; 2. T; 3. F, twice before in 1908 and 1948.