Rio sets gold standard
Now that the curtains have come down on the Games, it is time to reflect on the highs and lows and the spectacular feats to the bizarre comedowns.
By all accounts, the XXXI Summer Olympics that was to be held at Rio de Janeiro was expected to be the worst in the spectacle’s history. The run-up was anything but heartwarming. Everything that was negative was associated with the Games, this time around giving the prophets of doom a field day. Today, as one looks back at the Rio edition that began on August 5 and came to a grand finish on Sunday, there is a sense of déjà vu as it ranks among the best ever conducted Games, both in terms of organisational acumen and superlative on-field performances.
Fears of outbreak of Zika virus, incomplete stadia, allegations of political kickbacks, price-fixing and bribery charges against Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and a near-impeachment threat to her, prevalence of rampant corruption and the country caught in the grip of its worst recession since the 1930s, have all been brought to a naught, thanks to the successful manner the extravaganza was conducted and helped the world see the South American nation in a new and respectable, light. Added to this was the blanket ban on Russian track and field athletes because of doping charges.
Now that the curtains have come down on the Games, it is time to reflect on the highs and lows and the spectacular feats to the bizarre comedowns. A remarkable feature came when two Muslim women got the opportunity to don the Olympic colours. There is no denying that the star performer was Jamaican Usain Bolt, who lived up to the fastest man billing for 12 years on-the-trot. The ‘triple triple’ that he accomplished along with Mo Farah’s middle distance ‘double double’ have added new chapters to their already legendary status. It was ditto for the teen sensation Simone Biles, who captured the hearts of billions of people with her elegance and high-five in gymnastics.
United States of America cemented their position as the best in the business by taking the top spot in the medal tally. For all its fame and multi-talented image, a huge let down was the Chinese contingent. The performances were anything but inspirational. That they trailed even Great Britain must cause a huge worry for a nation that produces talent through a system, which is generally presumed to be the most scientific one in the world.
Shame came in the form of swimmer Ryan Lochte, who fabricated a story of being robbed. Referees were blacklisted and thrown out when foul-play was suspected during the Vladmir Nikitin and Michael John Conlan bout. Even more painful was Egyptian Islam El Shehaby’s refusal to shake hands with his Irish opponent Or Sasson.
However, the best of Olympic spirit was exemplified by New Zealander Nikki Hamblin, who helped her American competitor Abbey D' Agostino, in the women 5,000m race. That was Olympic spirit at its glorious best and fully deserved the Pierre de Coubertin medal, which has been awarded only 17 times in Olympic history. Wish this spirit runs in every sportsperson on earth!