Olympic Good And Olympic Bad…

Marc Elliott

CHICAGO…. The 2016 Rio Olympics have come to a conclusion and I am thinking that for the most part they were good. As athletic training and thus skills and abilities have gone into the stratosphere, we have seen the phenomena of a handful of athletes winning multiple medals in competitions where that is pretty hard to do. The USA Team won 121 medals, a record, with 46 Gold, 37 Silver and 38 Bronze. Team USA won each medal category doing so for only the 7th time in Olympic history and for the 1sttime since 1948. Only five countries have ever accomplished this in the Summer Games. To contemplate the utter domination of the games by the USA consider that they won the medal count by a whopping 54 medals! Great Britain had 67 medals in total.

 And…. To the best of our knowledge our athletes won their medals cleanly. No doping scandals have come forth and I have to say that probably the United States Olympic Committee is simply the best organized and have gathered the necessary sponsorships and funding to pull off such a feat as this. You know right before the games began, there was talk of banning most of the Russian athletes due to doping concerns. There are question marks regarding the Chinese competitors as well. Could it be that our training techniques, all things considered are just that superior to everyone else’s?  Well, it just could turn out that way. In the end I am quite proud of what our athletic ambassadors have done. I could never tire of it.

 That doesn’t mean the games were void of problems. I am not sure if we ever got the full story regarding the water quality at the venue of many of the water sports. I am talking about reviews of actual tested samples with explanations of what the results meant. There were crimes committed near some of the athletes, heck, there were crimes committed BY some of the athletes. Sadly, they belonged to us. You have most assuredly heard by now of the faux gunpoint robbery reported by the American swimmer and his teammates. And they were medalists to boot. Ryan Lochte, Jack Conger, Gunnar Bentz and Jimmy Feigen were out to blow off some steam and par-tay after their competitions in the games had ended.

 They were at a filling station, apparently broke a restroom door, were confronted by a security guard there and one thing led to another and they ended up telling authorities there that they were accosted by a robber wielding a handgun and that they handed over billfolds, money and the like. The whole story was fabricated to cover for an alleged drunken night on the town and for not beating the next mornings sunrise to the teams accommodations. The recurring theme was that Lochte couldn’t come clean to his mom. Holy Schnikees Batman! The Dude is 32 years old. Anyway, he got out of the country before the authorities could get their hands on him, so they did the next best thing and sweated his buddies and they caved in faster then a gangster facing 30 to life.

 They are facing worldwide ridicule and rightfully so, Lochte himself, had all of his major sponsors pull the plug on him this morning and all I can say is that I hope you already had padded your bank account son, because whatever financial windfall you may have received from these games is down the drain now because of YOUR games. In all likelihood they will receive fines and suspended sentences or a form of probation. You only had to behave a few more hours and then you could have gone home and acted like an idiot if you wanted. Man oh man….

The good of the Olympics, in fact the best story of all in my book happened in Track and Field and ended up in two athletes receiving the Pierre de Coubertin Medal for Good Sportsmanship. This medal has only been awarded 17 times in the history of the Games. In a 5000m race involving New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin and the USA’s Abbey D’Agostino, early in the race they both experienced a fall and Hamblin was aided to her feet by D’Agostino. Later in the race D’Agostino fell again and was actually injured badly when Hamblin stopped and stayed with her until medical help arrived forfeiting any shot at a medal she may have had. The remarkable thing is that D’Agostino continued and was later found out to have torn her ACL and meniscus.

 They finished last but were advanced by a Judges decision citing that their first dual fall was indeed caused by another runner. Hamblin raced, and lost, and D’Agostino, on crutches cheered her on from the stands. A remarkable friendship had begun. But you know, the Lochte and homeboys beer night gone bad, that wasn’t the end of the world. For cryin’ out loud, I have better stories then that. It was real dumb timing though wasn’t it. He embarrassed his team and his country. He will be paying a huge price for that. Hope the beer was real cold and real tasty bro.

 You can have those guys though, and Michael Phelps? The guy is a freak. Simone Biles, Katy Ledecky, Allyson Felix and more, you guys are awe inspiring. But the Hamblin-D’Agostino story is the one that will stay with me the most. Two athletes who put personal gain and possible triumph on hold to help each other out, that is the epitome of sportsmanship and we don’t see enough of it today, here or elsewhere. Lets face it; the Games are a bloated, over-produced, over-commercialized hot mess of stuck in your toenails horse manure.   

 The Rio opening and closing ceremonies weren’t the total all out glitz we have seen in recent games and that is actually a bit refreshing. With the challenges the Brazilians are facing these days, an epic production wasn’t in the cards. At the end of the day though, give me a games with a handful of Hamblin-D’Agostino type of stories and I will tell you that I just saw one of the greatest events ever. When we allow things external to our humanity commandeer our opinion about something real to life, we all lose. To witness that situation and it’s outcome made all of us medal winners on that day…. PEACE