The 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio have reached their end. After two weeks of devotedly following swimming, gymnastics, track and field, and the myriad other events that the Summer Games offer, it’s time for a little bit of withdrawal.
What are we going to do without our Olympics to entertain us during the day and into the night? What are we going to talk about with people? Do we have to go back to politics? Hey, football starts in about a week, so we’ll be OK. In the meantime, however, you can avoid the shakes by reminiscing about the Rio Olympics with us. Here are the 10 things we’ll remember most from the 2016 Olympics.
— Copper Pepper (@CopperPepp) August 21, 2016
10. Mongolian wrestling coaches protest losing bronze medal to Uzbekistan
This might not be among the finest Olympics moments ever recorded, and it happened very late in the Rio Games. But any time you have a coach — or anyone involved in competition, for that matter — strip off his clothes for everyone to see and cameras to record, there’s a good chance we’ll remember that moment. What we likely won’t remember is how to spell the coaches in question, Tserenbaatar Tsogtbayar and Byambarenchin Bayaraa, nor Ganzorigiin Mandakhnaran, the wrestler who was penalized a point and thus deprived of a bronze medal.
— PalestineNotForSale (@Pray4Pal) August 13, 2016
9. Egypt’s Islam El Shehaby refuses to shake hands with Israel’s Or Sasson
Unfortunately, it’s sometimes impossible for competitors to put aside bitter feelings that exist between nations. During the men’s 100-kg judo competition, that ugliness was on full display when El Shehaby was defeated by Sasson in a match, then refused to shake hands with his opponent. El Shehaby further violated judo etiquette by opting not to bow, as is the sport’s custom, but merely nod his head. Refusing to bow was viewed as a more egregious gesture than not shaking hands. The International Judo Federation tried to put a good face on the incident, saying an Arabic country competing against Israel was progress. But there is obviously plenty more progress to be made in diplomacy.
8. The green diving pool which irritated swimmers, smelled bad and had to be closed
One of the prevailing stories during the first week of the 2016 Olympics didn’t concern an actual competitive event, but rather the state of an Olympics facility. Going into the Rio Games, much was made about the state of water in the area, which was heavily polluted with waste and debris. Presumably, that wasn’t going to affect any of the indoor water events, since the pools were chemically treated to keep the water clean and safe. Nonetheless, one of the diving pools soon turned green. Not only was the color different, but the water itself became cloudy and according to several athletes, caused itchy eyes and just smelled bad. Eventually, hydrogen peroxide was blamed as the culprit and the pool was filled with new water. But it was a huge embarrassment that confirmed many fears about Rio’s ability to stage Olympics-caliber competiton.
7. U.S. swimmer Lilly King wags her finger at Russian rival Yulia Efimova
It’s like the Cold War all over again! The swimming version of Rocky Balboa vs. Ivan Drago! King showed that she and her fellow U.S. swimmers resented competing against rivals who had been caught for doping. Efimova had served a 16-month suspension for doping and tested positive again earlier this year, yet was allowed to participate in the Rio Olympics. While watching Efimova win in the 100m breaststroke final and hold up her finger in victory, King watched on a monitor and wagged her finger at her competitor. She backed that up by winning gold in the 100m final, in addition to the 4×100 medley relay.
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) August 16, 2016
6. U.S. runner Abbey D’Agostino helps New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin to finish line in 5,000 meters race
Though national pride, doping and money have often corrupted the spirit of the Olympics, the Games are ultimately supposed to be about competition and sportsmanship. There was no better example of that than during the women’s 5,000 meters event. With five laps remaining in the semifinals race, Hamblin fell after clipping the heel of the runner in front of her. D’Agostino, who had also fallen as a result of the collision, saw Hamblin on the ground and helped her fellow runner — despite injuring her knee in the fall — to the finish line. D’Agostino was diagnosed with a torn ACL, torn meniscus and strained MCL in her right knee, but her moment of compassion and display of determination is what will be remembered more than her finish in the race.
5. Bahamas’ Shaunae Miller dives across finish line to beat Allyson Felix in women’s 400 meters
It wasn’t against the rules, but in the view of many athletes — especially runners — what Miller did to win gold in the women’s 400 meters violated the spirit of competition. Trailing the United States’ Felix in the final few yards of the race, Miller lunged forward and dove across the finish line for a photo finish and a victory by 0.07 seconds. Miller didn’t break the rules, which state that the athlete whose torso “reaches the vertical plane of the closest edge of the finish line is the winner.”
Still, that didn’t sit right with many viewers, who felt that diving — rather than running through — was an unethical tactic. But other runners have dove before in international competition to win. So unless the rule is changed to outlaw such a practice, we’ll surely see it again.
4. Ryan Lochte falsely claims to be robbed at gunpoint in Rio
You know what? Enough of Ryan Lochte and his lying. We’re with Al Roker on this one. For many people, this will be the most memorable story from the Rio Olympics. It’s certainly the most disgraceful, and drew all of the attention during the final days of the Rio Games. (To be fair, the story did generate an awful lot of #content for us here at The Comeback, so perhaps we should show a bit more gratitude.) Lochte and his three teammates involved in the supposed robbery that turned out to be drunken vandalism at a Rio gas station affirmed many “ugly American” stereotypes and overshadowed the athletes whose achievements should have received more recognition.
So we’re drawing the line here. Lochte will not be No. 1 on this list (even if it can rightfully be argued that he should). Is concocting a story about being robbed going to be what we remember most about the Rio Olympics four years from now? Let’s hope not, and shine the spotlight on those who excelled during actual competition and represented their countries well.
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) August 17, 2016
3. Simone Biles wins four gold medals for the U.S. in women’s gymnastics
Many will argue that Biles should be higher, perhaps most notably everyone who wanted to take a selfie with the 15-year-old phenom during the Closing Ceremonies. She could very well be the name we remember most months and years from now, especially when she is certain to be one of the top U.S. athletes to follow during the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Biles also crossed over to the mainstream for many people who may not have watched the Olympics due to her stated crush on actor Zac Efron, and NBC’s efforts to introduce the two of them in Rio.
But her near-flawless athleticism on the balance beam and during her floor routine will be events we may watch repeatedly during the next four years while we’re going through gymnastics withdrawal (though interest in U.S. and international competition may spike)
2. Usain Bolt smiles for the camera as he wins the men’s 1oo meters
Bolt certainly provided the most memorable image from the Rio Games, surging ahead of the United States’ Justin Gatlin to once again win gold for Jamaica and maintain his status as the world’s fastest man. But how many sprinters would also have had the presence of mind and sheer confidence to turn to the photographers alongside the track and smile for the cameras.
Sure, there was some luck involved for Getty Images photographer Cameron Spencer, who captured the already iconic picture. He was literally in the right place at the right time, though some good fortune allowed him to separate from the pack. Yet the photo also felt as if it was meant to be taken. It so perfectly captured Bolt’s dominance in the 100 meters, his third consecutive Olympic gold medal victory in the event, and his swagger from knowing that he’s the best in the world. This will be an internet meme for years to come.
Shot of the Olympics, from Katie Ledecky’s 800m win. pic.twitter.com/nbrUwxsVaj
— Nick Bove (@NickBoveOnAir) August 13, 2016
1. Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky rule the pool with historic victories
You can rightfully take issue with putting Phelps and Ledecky in the same place on this list. Both deserve individual recognition for their excellence in Rio. But how do you choose one over the other?
Ledecky, 19, won four gold medals and a silver, leaving the competition far behind in each event. But her victory in the 800m freestyle was the most eye-opening of her awe-inspiring wins. She shattered her world record and finished nearly 12 seconds ahead of the silver medalist, Britain’s Jazz Carlin.
When Ledecky made her turn for the final 400 meters, her fellow swimmers were still half a length away from the wall. It looked like she was on fast-forward while everyone else was swimming at normal speed. Ledecky could have eaten a sandwich by the time the runner-up finished. She seemed to be racing an entirely different event from her rivals.
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) August 18, 2016
As for Phelps, his trophy case speaks for itself. The 31-year-old won five gold medals to bring his career total to 23, a record that will very likely never be broken. And if someone does eventually overtake Phelps, that cyborg may not achieve such greatness in our lifetimes.
Phelps also brought some entertainment value beyond his athletic spectacle, making things personal between him and South Africa’s Chad Le Clos, embodied by a pre-race glare that could have burned holes through metal. Oh, and maybe some of us will take up cupping as a form of therapeutic massage after seeing its success with Phelps. You probably don’t need to show everyone the purple circles it creates on your torso, however. Let’s leave that to Phelps.