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A London Finale

Aug 10, 2012, 10:38 PM EST

7965015 AP

After burning bright for 17 days, the flame was extinguished last night at Olympic Stadium. From Michael and Missy in the pool to Usain and Oscar on the track, it was an unforgettable ride.

It’s impossible to put into words all that we have witnessed over the last two-plus weeks of world-class competition. And while Phelps, Franklin, Bolt and Pistorious provided us with many of the lasting images from London, the Games of the XXX Olympiad were also a historic event for Notre Dame Athletics.

The Fighting Irish wrapped up competition on Friday, with Molly Huddle (’06) running in the 5,000-meter final.

The Elmira, N.Y. native finished 11th in 15:20.29, two places off the best U.S. finish ever. In her Olympic debut at Tuesday’s preliminary heat, Huddle ran the 3.1-mile race in 15:02.25.

Friday’s final, however, was a slower and more strategic race, with Ethiopia’s Meseret Defar taking home the gold in 15:04.25.

Huddle was the school-record 11th Notre Dame athlete who competed in the 2012 Olympics, and the Irish return from across the pond with five medals, also a Notre Dame best.

In soccer, Shannon Boxx (’99) earned her third gold medal with the United States, while Melissa Tancredi (’04) and Candace Chapman (’05) brought the bronze home to Canada.

On the fencing piste, senior Courtney Hurley and her sister, Kelley Hurley (’10) helped the United States win bronze in the women’s team epee competition.

In other Notre Dame highlights…

  • Incoming freshman Lee Kiefer reached the individual foil quarterfinals, before losing to eventual silver medalist Arianna Errigo of Italy.
  • In the men’s team foil competition, senior Gerek Meinhardt helped the United States to its best finish in the event in 80 years.
  • Nigeria’s Selim Nurudeen (’05) made his second straight Olympic appearance, finishing fifth in his semifinal heat of the 110-meter hurdles (13.55 sec).
  • In six games, junior Natalie Achonwa averaged 7.2 points and 3.8 rebounds, helping guide Canada to its best women’s basketball finish since 1984.

And while she came up short in her quest for a third consecutive sabre gold medal, no Irish fan will ever forget fencer Mariel Zagunis carrying the flag and leading team U.S.A. at the Opening Ceremonies on July 27.

Who will be the next Notre Dame athlete to make us proud on sports’ biggest stage?

We’ll see.

Only 542 days until Sochi…and 1,452 to Rio.

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