Friday, August 19, 2016

2016 Olympics Watch- Watching Legends Win

I've been watching the Olympics since the 1968 Summer Games in Mexico City, and have been fortunate to be around to see some legendary athletes and performances on the Olympic stage along with all the drama as well.

From Jim Hines breaking the 10 second barrier in the 100m to Edwin Moses dominating the 400m hurdles in 1976, (1980 we boycotted the Moscow Games) 1984 and winning 122 straight international races along the way to Flo Jo in 1988, I've gotten to see some amazing legendary athletes in not just athletics (track and field to us Americans) but across all sports.

The Rio Games hasn't been any different, because we have gotten to witness Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt cement his legacy as one of the greatest of all time with threepeats in the 100m, 200m and can tonight with a threepeat win in the 4x100m relay to capture his ninth gold medal since his world record setting 2008 Olympic debut in Beijing.

Michael Phelps has done the same thing in the pool by bumping up his gold medal total to an incredible 23 golds (3 silvers, 2 bronze medals) 28 medals won over an Olympic career that started with him winning zero medals in Sydney in 2000 but being they youngest qualifier for an Olympic team at age 15 in 68 years.

He is now the most decorated Olympic athlete ever, and one of the greatest US swimmers since Mark Spitz in 1972.

There is also the sustained excellence of the USA women in basketball, who are FIBA's number one ranked squad and the defending world and Olympic champions.  

The Team USA women ballers have won five straight gold medals since the 1996 Atlanta Games and will play for their sixth consecutive gold medal tomorrow against a Spanish team they demolished in pool play 103-63.

They beat FIBA fourth ranked France in the semis 86-67 to advance to the gold medal match and win their 48th consecutive game in Olympic play since the 1992 Barcelona Games bronze medal game.

But since Team USA played Spain already in pool play and blew them out, I'm thinking that with much higher stakes in this match, Spain will step up their level of play.  Hopefully Sue Bird will be back in the Team USA lineup after missing the semifinal game with a strained knee

There was also a surprise medal from another legendary athlete in Venus Williams.  After shocking losses in the Rio Olympic singles and doubles tournament, Venus made it to the mixed doubles gold medal final with her partner Rajeev Ram, but fell to fellow Americans Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Jack Sock.

The silver medal she earned with Ram was Venus' fifth medal in Olympic tennis competition dating back to the 2000 Sydney Games.  Williams won gold in the singles and in the doubles competition with little sis Serena in Sydney, Beijing (2008) and in London (2012).  

But it's also a time to watch potential Olympic stars and legends emerge as well.  One of those is Ashton Eaton, who became the first man to repeat as the Olympic decathlon champion since Daley Thompson of Great Britain won back to back decathlons in 1980 and 1984.   Will he attempt the decathlon threepeat that no one has ever accomplished in Tokyo?

We'll have to wait until 2020 to find out.   But it sure has been fun to watch legends win.

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