OLYMPICS: Inspiring stories will be Olympics' true legacy
SINCE its beginnings in ancient Greece the Olympic Games has provided a stage for tales of hope, glory, drama and despair.
But often the best remembered and most inspirational stories of all are those of courage in the face of adversity.
With the world's eyes on the Berlin Olympics in 1936, Hitler wanted to prove to everyone the superiority of his beloved 'Aryan race'. But his blonde-haired runners were outpaced and outclassed by American Jesse Owens, who won gold in the 100-metre sprint, the long jump, the 200-metre sprint and the relay race.
But over the years the challenges have changed for athletes. For black South African Caster Semenya, it was not her race that nearly saw her stripped of gold in the 800-metre race at the 2009 World Championships, but questions around her gender.
Subjected to humiliating tests by officials trying to determine if Semenya was a man, she was kept off the track during 2010, and only started coming back to her best form towards the end of 2011.
Now, at 21 years old, Semenya is hopeful of breaking the 800-metre world record after support throughout her ordeal by Nelson Mandela.
She will be joined in London by fellow South African Oscar Pistorius.
The double amputee, who runs on prosthetic legs, faced a battle to compete in the Olympics after his artifical limbs were said to give him an unfair advantage over other able-bodied athletes.
He won his battle to have the decision overturned in 2008 after disputing the way his perceived advantage was assessed, and has now qualified to be included in the South African team of athletes.
With the spotlight on London this summer golds will be won, records perhaps broken by the stars among the 10,000 participating athletes.
But most importantly of all, people will be inspired by the men and women who have overcome obstacles to make the competition at all.