All Hail Team USA in Rio
The US’s performance at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil was as good as it gets. Team USA finished on 121 medals. That total includes 61 won by American women, who would have finished fourth on the medal table if they comprised their own country. Yes, it’s to be expected from such an affluent nation, but impressive all the same.
Team USA also tallied the most gold, the most silver and the most bronze.
Simone Biles Olympic legacy – aside from the five medals – suggests that we will never see another gymnast like her ever again.
Simone had been preordained as individual all-around champion from the beginning of last year, casting one of the Olympics’ prestige competitions as essentially a race for the silver. That she would come home with a fistful of golds, barring injury or an unimaginable meltdown, was the working presumption. But then she still had to, you know, go out and do it.
Her performance under that pressure is unbelievable. Clearly it made an impact on her team-mates, who voted the smallest member of the 554-person delegation to be the flag-bearer at Sunday night’s closing ceremony.
Michael Phelps is the greatest swimmer of all-time and it’s not even close. Phelps closed out his incredible Olympic career by adding five golds and a silver, upping his career totals to 23 gold and 28 overall. It was a real pleasure watching a local hero become one of the greatest athletes of all time, on the biggest stage, and rep his City with Pride!!!!
Brianna Rollins was the first to cross the finish line, followed by fellow U.S. hurdlers Nia Ali and Kristi Castlin. It was the first time U.S. women went 1-2-3 in an Olympic track event. Excellence.
We need to talk about the dominance of the US women’s basketball team. They won their sixth straight Olympic gold this weekend and have now won 49 straight games. Almost none of them have been close. They don’t get enough attention for what they have done.
This year’s US women’s basketball team might end up being remembered as one of the greatest collections of talent the sport has ever seen. They made the insanely stacked but occasionally rudderless men’s team look like amateurs in comparison. It’s especially impressive since they weren’t just competing against other teams, but the legacies of the previous gold medal winning US teams.
Katie Ledecky completed the first 200-400-800 treble in 48 years. The world’s most dominant swimmer is now a perfect 16 for 16 in individual events in international competitions and has effectively supplanted Michael Phelps as the face of the sport.
Ledecky won the 200m, 400m and 800m freestyle with ease. In the 400m and 800m she had already made her final turn when the rest of the swimmers were still swimming the other way. She won another gold in the 4x200m relay, and only a silver in the 4x100m kept her from a perfect five golds.
Simone Manuel, made history of her own when she became the first African-American woman to win individual swimming gold, claiming victory in the 100-meter freestyle. Out of everything that happened over the past two weeks, this win was the most impactful to me personally. Her reaction when she saw she won, the tears of joy and the gratitude was just infectious. She broke a barrier, eliminated the myth that black people can't swim, and rose to the occasion. I loved this. My father, who was a great swimmer, would be proud.
There may have been complications along the way, but by the end, it wasn't close. USA basketball won its third-straight gold medal on Sunday. The Rio Olympics were ultimately another reminder that order has been restored since the Team USA debacle in 2004. If anything, the gap with the rest of the world is widening. The state of the union is strong.