Rio 2016, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Sunday brought to a close 17 days of competition at the 31st Olympiad. It was a games that was full of highs, lows and something in between. Here's a look back at this year's Olympic Games.
* We are all witnesses! Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt showed themselves to be other worldly. Phelps, at age 31, competed in six events, garnering five gold and one silver medal. For his career, he now has 28 medals, 23 of which are gold. In the 2008 Olympics in Bejing, Phelps when 8-for-8 in getting gold medals, but I think his 2016 Olympics, which came eight years later after a furious comeback, might be more impressive. He's the greatest Olympian in American history, and maybe ever. He is simply incredible. But equally as impressive is Bolt, who won the 100 and 200-meter individual events, and anchored the gold medal-winning 4x100 relay. Bolt is now 9-for-9 in Olympic finals, dominating in the running events for three straight Olympics. The debate will doubtless rage for years about which is greater, but we're just lucky to have seen them.
* The Future is Bright for USA Swimming. A bunch of young swimmers won medals in Rio, too. While Phelps prepares to exit the Olympic stage, the U.S. appears to be in good hands. The new face of USA Swimming should be Katie Ledecky, who won four golds and one silver in her five events. And she did it in dominant fashion. Just 19-years-old, Ledecky may keep getting better, which is scary for her opponents.
* Dominance in Gymnastics. The U.S. women were phenomenal. They won nine medals total, including a team gold and an individual all around gold for Simone Biles. Biles won five medals in Rio in all, including four golds and one bronze. She is in the discussion for being the greatest U.S. gymnast of all time. Another all time performance seen at these games.
* Felix tears up the track. Alyson Felix didn't shine as brightly as she hoped in the individual events, but she anchored two team relay golds and ran her Olympic medal total to six. That's an impressive tally.
* The United States took the gold, and all the other medals. The United States finished with 121 medals. The next closest nation was China with 70. That's a 51-medal spread. The United States finished with 46 gold medals. The next closest was Great Britain with 27. That's a 19-medal advantage. That is straight dominance, and the sixth straight Olympic games we've led in the medal count.
* It's all about the ladies. The American women produced 27 Gold Medals in the Rio games. That's an incredible testament to the diversity and strength of our team. The U.S. women won as many gold medals as the next closest nation.
* The conditions in Rio. Leading up to the games, this was all people could talk about. The games went as well as could be expected under the circumstances, but conditions were far from ideal. And we'll never forget the green water in the diving pool. Yuck.
* The Opening Ceremonies. Does anyone remember this now? Perhaps not. That's a testament to the quality — or lack thereof — of the Opening Ceremonies, which were too long and too weird to hold anyone's attention.
* NBC's Coverage. Two words here — tape delay. It sucked all the joy out of everything. Oh, Simone Biles won gold at 2:45 p.m. local time? You'll get to see it on TV at 10:45 p.m. America deserves better. At least start the events for all time zones when they go to the East Coast. The Olympics are a communal event, but they can't be shared that way if everyone sees it at a different time. Imagine if they did that with the Super Bowl.
* U.S. Men couldn't follow the women's lead in gymnastics. In 2012 in London, the U.S. Men's team was great in qualifying and fell apart in the finals, finishing fifth and out of the medals. The Rio games were supposed to be a redemption tour. Instead, the first two men to compete landed out of bounds and the team landed out of the medals again, in fifth place. There's always Tokyo in 2020!
* Hope Solo. After losing in the quarterfinals to Sweden, ending the U.S. Women's chance at a medal, goal keeper Hope Solo called her competition "cowards" who didn't deserve to win. She was roundly criticized, but it still makes us look like sore losers and ugly Americans.
* Ryan Lochte. Unless you've been living under a rock, you know by now that four U.S. swimmers, led by 12-time medal winner Lochte, falsely claimed they were robbed at gunpoint in Rio. Worse than the lie has been the non-apology tour from Lochte. He was a good competitor in the pool, but his career will now be remembered for this — and his hideous haircut.
That's all from Rio. See you February 9, 2018 for the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.