Olympic Observations From The Margin

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - CIRCA MARCH 2015: Flag with Rio 2016 Olympic Games

-My first memory of the Olympics was the 68 summer games in Mexico City. The 100, 200, and 400 meter world records were set at these Olympics. Americans won 7 of the 9 possible medals in these three events. It was also the Olympics where Bob Beamon set his other worldly world record in the long jump. I was hooked on track and field and the Olympics from that point on. I like the Olympics for a few reasons. 1)I like to see individuals who win because they are far superior to their competition. 2)I like to see an underdog win. 3)I like to see an individual crush a world record. These Olympics had all three.

-Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt, Katie Ledecky, and Simone Biles were the stars of these Olympics. They dominate their sports. They far exceed their fellow competitors best efforts. It is mind-blowing to watch them perform. Not only do these four athletes know they are going to win, their competitors know it. Winning is one thing, Winning when it is expected is difficult. But winning while making it look so effortless is what puts these four in a special category. Every time I watched them all I could think is, “The people they’re competing against are the best in the world. You can’t be consistently that much better than them.” I enjoy seeing greatness perform in their given fields. These four gave me great joy.

-One of the underdogs that caught my eye were Maya Dirado. She beat heavy favorite Katinka Hosszu, of Hungry, in the 200 backstroke. Hosszu had a big lead in the last 50 meters but Dirado caught her in the last 10 meters and out touched her to win by .06 of a second. She was in disbelief when she saw that she had won (click here to watch). (Click here to see interview). The other underdog who stood out was Matt Centrowitz. The US hadn’t won a 1500 meter gold medal since 1908. Centrowitz had the lead in the last lap and wouldn’t allow anyone to pass him. He held off the rest of the field down the stretch to become the first American to win the 1500 in over 100 years. The reaction of his dad and family was great (click here to watch). (Click here to see reaction).

-For me, the performance of the Olympics was Wayde Van NieKerk from South Africa beating the past two Olympic 400 meter champions and crushing the world record in the process. Michael Johnson’s world record of 43.18 hadn’t been challenged since he set it in 1999. Van NieKerk won the 400 at the world championships last year so he was one of the pre-race favorites along with James and Merritt. He didn’t tie up in the final 100 meters, like the other two, and flew to the world record. (Click here to watch the race). If you want to see Van NieKerk’s and Johnson’s world records side by side, (Click here to watch the video).

-You have to like a guy like Irish boxer Michael Conlan for calling out the power elites in his sport like he did in Rio. After losing to a Russian boxer that Conlan apparently beat up badly, (Click Here) The Irate Irish Boxer Flips Middle Finger To Judges After Controversial Loss. Not only did he flip off the judges, he ripped the Amateur Boxing Association in his interviews. He also made a tweet toward Putin that asked “how much did they charge you bro“. Watch the videos in the article above. He didn’t cry or whine, he blew up. He wanted a big piece of everybody involved, and he wanted it right now.

-Conlan must have been correct in his assessment of the judging, because (Click Here) Boxing Judges Were Sent Home From Olympics After Controversial Decisions. Even though the Amateur Boxing Association wouldn’t say there was a fix, their actions spoke clearly.

-World record holder and defending Olympic Pole vault champ, Renaud Lavillenie of France, was booed (click here) on his final attempt to surpass home crowd favorite Thiago Braz da Silva of Brazil who was leading the Pole vault final in Rio. How Lavillenie reacted to the booing belied the mentality of a world record holder. He cried and whined like a wussy. If Lavillenie wants to hear booing, he should try to make a foul shot, up one with 30 seconds left in the game to Duke at Cameron Indoor. Here is what bronze medalist American Sam Kendricks had to say about the crowd,”Brazil is an emotional place, a place that has a culture around football (soccer), it’s not necessarily against the other man. I took it with a grain of salt that they were booing.” You have to be mentally tough to break a world record and win an Olympic gold medal. I can’t believe he reacted the way he did. How would Michael Conlan have reacted?

-The two most impressive things about Usain Bolt are: 1) His world records in the 100 (9:58) and 200 (19:19). I can’t see either of these times being broken for a generation (25 years) or maybe longer. Although I thought Michael Johnson’s 200 world record would last the rest of my lifetime. 2) The distance between him and the second place finisher. Olympic sprints are won by inches of feet. He has won Olympic sprints by margins that might as well be miles. That consistent domination sets him apart from other Olympic sprint champions.

-Lets end with this article, 28 Incredible Facts About Michael Phelps’ 28 Olympic Medals (click here). It is hard to wrap your head around 23 gold medals, and 28 total. No one will ever match this total. The only person who could match this record would be another swimmer from the US. A swimmer, because they can swim multiple individual events. An US swimmer, because the US always medals in the three relays. I can’t think of another sport that provides the number of events that would allow someone to approach this number. Phelps swam in 30 Olympic finals to win 28 medals. No one will ever compete in 28 Olympic finals which would be the minimum to tie Phelps total. Here is a fact from the article the will give you a better understanding just how many medals Phelps has won. From the article: “If Katie Ledecky stayed at her current medal rate she wouldn’t pass Phelps Until the 2036 Olympics. She would be 39 years old“. We are lucky to have seen the greatest swimmer, and Olympic medal winner, of all time. I say we’re lucky because we wouldn’t have seen this greatness if he had chosen lacrosse or hockey over swimming. Choices have consequences.


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