LONDON -- Great Britain is the source of some of our most cherished stories, from "King Arthur" and "Robin Hood," to "Oliver Twist" and "David Copperfield," to "Winnie the Pooh" and "Harry Potter." Fittingly, the 2012 London Olympics provided us with more astounding stories, beginning with the Queen parachuting into the stadium next to James Bond.
And on their final afternoon, the 2012 Games gave us one last story, a tale of Dickensian strife and Shakespearean inspiration. As America's basketball players were adding gold to combined salaries exceeding $100 million, 25-year-old Adrien Niyonshuti of Rwanda was gasping for air and pedaling his mountain bike furiously up the final dusty hill of the Hadleigh Farm course.
As Philip Gourevitch detailed in a fine New Yorker story last year, Niyonshuti lost 40 family members in the 1994 genocide, including six brothers and sisters. He began riding six years ago on a borrowed bike and soon came in contact with Jock Boyer, the first American to ride in the Tour de France. Under Boyer's coaching, Niyonshuti steadily improved as a cyclist and qualified for these Olympics. He carried the Rwanda flag during the opening ceremonies and waved it proudly again for all the world to see Sunday evening during the closing ceremonies.