Farewell Rio: Brilliant Bolt, American Dominance and Great British Golds
The Olympics concludes on Sunday 21st August, 16 days after it began. In that time, it hasn’t been without its controversies and complications. However, the main talking points of the Summer Games are remarkably bright. For an Olympics dubbed the “most difficult” Games ever by the IOC Vice-chair, John Coates, there has been plenty to cherish in this, the 29th Summer Games.
The continued dominance of Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps has been, understandably, the most common headline so far. Bolt galvanised his place as “The Fastest man on Earth” for a third consecutive Olympics, completing the unprecedented sprint double yet again, under perhaps the heaviest scrutiny of his career. Meanwhile, Michael Phelps’ retiring from the Olympic podium was topped off with 5 gold medals, equalling an unmatched 28 Olympic medals. This broke a record of 12 individual titles previously held by Leonidas of Rhodes, over 2,000 years ago. Just for some perspective.
The new blood on display at this Summer Olympics has been dramatically successful. The US Gymnastics’ “Final Five”, was spearheaded by a 4ft 8, 19 year-old Simone Biles, who personally won 5 gymnastic medals, one of less than 10 to do so. Katie Ledecky, also 19 , was able to win 5 Olympic medals of her own, breaking 3 world records in the process. The 16 year-old British Gymnast, Amy Tinkler, took a bronze at her first Olympic games, a week before receiving her GCSE results. At 21 years of age, Andre De Grasse was able to compete against the likes of Gatlin and Bolt, holding his own for a silver and bronze in the 100 and 200 metre finals. The future certainly looks bright for the 2020 Tokyo Games.
The dominance of the American team is obvious beyond doubt. Winning 106 cumulative medals, they are 3 medals under achieving double the second place medal total, that of the UK, with 58. With several finals still to go, the American eclipse has yet to conclude. In contrast to the immense size of the American talent pool, it is therefore all the more commendable to remark on the British performance, sitting above the likes of China, Russia and Germany in the standings. It is a testament to the high quality of British athletics to see this level of achievement against staunch competition. A total of 61 Olympic and 19 World records were broken at these Games, these Games have been a notable for many positives, in a backdrop that wrote headlines before the Games had even begun.
The Rio Olympics have never been far away from the news, sometimes for the wrong reasons. As the closing ceremony draws ever closer, it’s interesting to remind ourselves of this Games’ motto, “Um Mundo Novo” (“A New World”). In many ways, this might be more apt than ever. The challenges presented by these Games, hosted in a country with numerous social and political problems proved that, at the very least, the experience of competition and celebration of these athletes at the pinnacle of their disciplines is more than capable of overshadowing the many difficulties hosting the Olympics Games can present. Tune in at midnight on the 22nd August to see the Rio closing ceremony.