Rio2016 — A look back

This Olympics was like none other. It was the closest an event could come to a Bollywood film.

For, it had all the ingredients to make it the perfect entertainer without being short of emotions and twists.

The event in itself was against most odds, thanks to the growing concern over the epidemic thy name Zika which has over 1.5 million in Brazil infected by it. The name itself had caused so much a negativity that Tata had to rebrand its car by its homonym (zica) as Tiago. Some big names across the sporting globe withdrew off the fear of the virus: Milos Raonic, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Simona Halep, Tomas Berdych, Tejay van Garderen, Stephen Curry and Jessica Ennis-Hill to name a few.

Zika wasn’t Rio’s only worry. It had to face the challenge of Pollution in Rio’s Guanabara Bay where the windsurfing and sailing events were to happen. Also, Brazil (is)was facing the worst drought in 40 years causing huge water and energy crisis. Plus, Street crime and public security has always been a tough nut to crack for the developing country.

However, Rio’s recent experience of hosting an event of a near matching magnitude- The fifa 2014 World Cup, helped it pull all strings together to give an Olympics that would have the world remember it for all the good reasons.

Looking back at some ever-lasting moments at Rio 2016:-

1. Phenomenal Phelps:

The Greatest Olympian ever, if not the greatest sportsman ever, managed to go 1 up in the number of golds compared to London2012, by winning 5 Golds and a silver.

His performances this time were beyond everyone’s expectations as he was relatively fresh from retirement and sub-sequent rehabilitation from Alcoholism.

Two contests that he was involved in this games made it to the top media trends: One was his sweetest revenge over his South African 200m butterfly rival, Chad Le Clos. Having scored a surprising victory over Phelps in London, Close wasn’t found to be a humble competitor. His continued boastful statements even irked Phelps at times. While all eyes were on who would reach the touchpad first, Phelps won the event hands down. But what was more the talking point was that Clos fell short of even a Bronze.

The second talking point was also in the fly event (100m), where a 21-year-old Singaporean, Joseph Schooling, beat his idol with an Olympic Record. With Clos and two others joining Phelps for the silver, the medal podium gave a look of poetry, symbolizing the passing over of the Swimming Baton from a retiring idol to his student.

His 28 Olympic medals including 23 golds is a pinnacle of human achievement, and something every human being should look up to and thank Phelps for.

2. Katie “The Mermaid” Ledecky:

If Phelps was the story in Men’s swimming, Ledecky wasn’t far behind in the women’s arena, grabbing 4 golds and a silver. It was not just the medals, but the sheer dominance in getting them that has made her a true swimming icon. Her 800m freestyle win which broke her own World Record, was a show of dominance that wasn’t seen in the swimming pool for a long time, with the second placed finish coming more than 11 seconds later.

3. Bolt strikes thrice-thrice:

The rock star that he is, Usain Bolt made it a perfect three for the third time in a row by securing the glittering medal in 100m individual, relay and 200m. WIth Yohan Blake and Asafa Powell’s performances fading away in the recent past, the only serious rival for Bolt’s glory was Justin Gatlin of the USA. The 2004 Athens champ had the best timing in 2016 coming into the Olympics (He still has it). While he managed to take the silver, it was the effortless Usain who bettered him with a 9.81s finish. Bolt’s 200m win was largely unchallenged, and his closest rival (if we could call so), Andre De Grasse came 0.34s behind him. Guyana’s success in relay didn’t raise the faintest of eyebrows as the win was the most expected thing this games.

With Bolt slated to retire next year, this Olympics would remain etched in history as the last of the medals won by the self-proclaimed and established “Greatest of all”.

4. Mo’s swan-song:

5k and 10k are such grueling events that the general TV viewership itself takes the back stage to the more appealing shorter events that the likes of Bolt dominate. But, if there is one man who has managed to break free from it with his dominance and determination, it is Mo Farah.

The 33 years old Brit was understandably, not seen as a clear favorite at Rio, contrary to his home Olympics 4 years ago. But, he proved everyone wrong by winning both his pet events in quick time. With age not on his side, this Olympics would most likely be the last that we have seen of his performances.

5. Gymnastics’ new golden girl- Simone Biles:

Such has been this Olympics. We have seen some equally great performances from retiring Olympians as well as from Olympic debutantes. One such first timer who has captured the world’s imagination is the gymnast Simone Biles. With 4 golds and 1 bronze to her kitty, she has rightly been branded the Numero Uno in Gymnastics.

There were many a more memorable events and people that this games would be remembered for. While Tennis has its own role in it with many scoring points like Andy Murray retaining the gold, Rafa Nadal’s determination giving him a double’s gold, Djoker’s and Serena’s shock early exits, Cycling gave us the beautiful memories of the Golden Couple: Laura Trott & Jason Kenny taking their combined golden tally to 10. Badminton too was not left behind in creating history this Rio, with the Women’s individual podium sans a Chinese athlete for the first time in many years. Lee Chong Wei’s victory over his longtime nemesis, Lin Dan is also a story of ever-lasting reminiscence, as much as the latter’s losing the bronze to the 22-year old “next big thing” Viktor Axelsen. In the end, Great Britain upstaging China in the medals tally is one of the surprises of this Olympics. Not that the USA leading them all is not a highlight. It is just taken for granted every Olympics.

This Olympics also had its fair share of controversies with Ryan Lochte’s “robbed at gunpoint” topping them all. The Russian track and field contingent being banned also dented the competition considerably.

But, such controversies are no more than momentary sensations that cannot compare to the crowning moments created by stupendous sportspersons across the globe.

Let us congratulate and thank Rio and everyone else involved in making this games one of the most watched and cherished sporting events in the history of mankind.


Sankara Subramaniam.B.S

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