You may not have made it to the Olympic Games in London this summer; instead, you chose Hawaii as your destination of choice. But let’s face it, there’s no doubt the Olympics found its way into your vacation whether you liked it or not. It’s been the buzz around town for the past 17 days, with people making small talk about it on the bus or at the beach; restaurants showing it on the big-screen to hungry customers; and nightly news reports highlighting athletes with a link to the islands.

All over the world, the Olympic Games bring people together, when “Bolt” doesn’t refer to the normal chit chat about weather but rather a lighting-fast Jamaican who dominates the track. It’s this sense of camaraderie that helps us make new friends in unfamiliar places. A buddy of mine watched a basketball game between the US and Argentina at a local bar the other day while sitting next to someone from Serbia. In most cases, they wouldn’t have paid each other any attention, but on that day, they instantly had something in common.

Every place has its participating athletes; some go over the top and host their own Olympic opening ceremony. Hawaii has its fair share of athletes that have made it to the Olympics. While there were no official Olympic parties in Hawaii, I’m sure families and friends of those participants celebrated in their own way. You might have seen the television commercials during the past month, featuring several locals who made it to the games.

One such local was 30-year-old Clarissa Chun, who won a bronze medal in freestyle wrestling. A former University of Hawaii swimmer Melanie Schlanger won gold in the 4×100 freestyle relay, while Azad Al-Barazi, another UH alum, swam in the 100 breaststroke for Syria. Punahou graduate Lindsey Berg and Kalani High School alum Tamari Miyashiro represented the U.S. for women’s volleyball and beat South Korea 3-1.

The Olympic closing ceremony is today and will be streamed live online around noon, Hawaii time, and later at 7 p.m. on primetime television. You’re sure to see a lot of UK talent, such as the Spice Girls and a British music symphony to showcase music as one of Britain’s h3est cultural aspects over the past 50 years. The ceremony will end with a handover to Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympic Games and the ultimate signal to the end of the games – extinguishing the Olympic Flame.

Photo Credit: London 2012

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