The Newsroom recaps the Rio 2016 Olympics.
It was an Olympic games marred by rumours – and more – of drug cheats, athletes being robbed, cameras falling and pools turning green, but you’d be forgiven for ignoring all the shortcomings of Rio at least for a little bit as you watched Bolt cross the line for his triple-triple, or pole vaulter Silva vault his way to Brazil’s first gold, or the dogged determination of Yohann Diniz who literally shat himself, fainted, started to bleed, and still finished eighth in the 50km walk.
It certainly wasn’t the best games for Australia: our team fell short of their 35-medal haul in London to finish with 29. But amid all the discussion of what we didn’t do right, what we need to do better, we’re forgetting to actually celebrate our athletes. Instead of singing the praises of Kim Brennan we’re condemning Cate Campbell, instead of celebrating a maiden rugby sevens gold we’re berating our hockey squads.
First and foremost the Olympics is not solely about winning.
We should celebrate how many Aussies made it to the finals of their respective sports as it’s naive to think that we will magically win everything when the competition is the entire world.
But aside from all the dramas involving our athletes, who I believe deserve praise for their efforts, Rio did prove to be rather magical. Of course we all thought it would be a disaster but I’m glad we were wrong. It was fantastic watching the Boomers demolish the competition up until a tragic semi-final and then the bronze medal match. Remember, we went toe-to-toe with the Yanks and almost came out on top. There was an overwhelming feeling of pride as our women’s rugby sevens team pulled apart the competition to reign supreme, and nothing could beat watching Mack Horton take home the gold and throw shade on the drug-compromised Sun Yang.
After the banning of the entire Russian track and field team from the Olympics it was amazing to see athletes stand up to drugs in sport. American swimmer Lilly King was a perfect example, calling out not only her Russian opponent Yulia Efimova but also her fellow American, sprinter Justin Gatlin. She then went on to win the women’s 100m breaststroke against Efimova, earning the praise of Michael Phelps for doing so.
Speaking of Phelps, his haul of golds this Olympics was the stuff of legend. No-one else can boast a total of 23 swimming gold medals. So great is Phelps’ total that he has entire nations beat for gold medals across all Olympic games. We won’t see someone like him for some time. It was fitting that it fell to Joseph Schooling to take the gold from him in the 100m butterfly – a boy who had looked up to Phelps, and and aspired to be just like him, since he was a child.
Phelps is the king of the pool, but surely Usain Bolt is now king of the track, completing his historic triple-triple with golds across the 100m, 200m, and 4x100m relay over the course of three Olympics. The sprinter’s years of dominance is sadly about to come to an end; Bolt plans to retire after the world championships in London next year. But judging by the ability of his cohort, Jamaica’s golden age of track dominance is far from over. Japan’s silver medal effort in the 4x100m relay also hinted that the host mation will be one to watch on the track when Tokyo 2020 comes around. With the home crowd behind them, who knows what they can do?
There was more magic on the track as Britain’s Mo Farah took out the double-double, winning both the 5000m and 10,000m across two Olympics. We also got to see his other side, that of a passionate Arsenal fan (Good on him too!), when he misheard a question asked about his beloved club and asked “Arsenal signed who?!” only to be let down when there were no signings to be discussed – the usual reaction for most Arsenal fans during the summer transfer window. We’re all pretty desperate for signings, even world-class Olympic champions.
Brazil finally got revenge on Germany in the football when Neymar found the net after Germany’s previous shot was blocked in a penalty shootout. The golden goal gave Brazil its first Olympic gold medal in football, completing the checklist of football titles that had eluded it for so long. The Barcelona phenom stepped down as captain of Brazil afterwards, his job done. The victory is likely the of all for Brazil these Olympics and will go down as one more golden Olympic memory.
World records were smashed, by among others the South African Wayde van Niekerk in the 400m and Adam Peaty in the 100m breaststroke. Records weren’t the only things broken, sadly. Many of us winced as we saw French gymnast Samir Ait Said snap his leg on landing a vault, and Armenian weightlifter Andranik Karapetyan dislocate his elbow while lifting 195kgs.
But back to Adam Peaty… Who could forget his adoring Nan back in England? She made a twitter account specifically to cheer on her grandson and was absolutely adorable. She’s been behind Great Britain the entire Olympics, and I honestly can’t wait for her running commentary of the Paralympics.
— Mavis (@Mavise42Mavis) August 21, 2016
These Olympics really were wonderful, as they usually prove to be. Rio 2016 was special as it heralded the end of an era for many of us and our heroes: Phelps is now retired, Bolt will soon follow suit.
But a new age is dawning. The 2020 Olympics will see more athletes elevated to legend status, more world records smashed. I can’t wait! – Matthew Buchanan
Final Medal Tally: