or the past two weeks, the sports world has turned its collective eyes to South America, where the country of Brazil has been hosting this year’s Olympic games.
Yes, we are in that place that comes around once every four years where everyone cares about track and field, gymnastics, swimming, water polo and all the other interesting sports that don’t draw too much attention at any point other than when the Olympics are going on.
It has been the same for yours truly. While I certainly have not given up watching my nightly dose of baseball, I have given some time to the Olympics and have enjoyed what I have seen.
When talking about this year’s games, I think you have to start with swimmer Michael Phelps. The most decorated Olympic athlete in history brought home six more medals this year, including five golds, running his career total to 28 total and 23 golds. I’m not sure what else to say about Phelps. The guy is to swimming what Babe Ruth was to baseball or Michael Jordan to basketball. He says this will be his final Olympics, but he has retired before, so who knows? Maybe in four years we will see him going for a record 30 Olympic medals.
The American women swimmers had their own version of Phelps this year. Katie Ledecky, just 19-years- old, won five medals, including four gold, leaving us all to wonder what might come in the future for her. Phelps won his first medals when he was 19, so could Ledecky eventually equal his mark? If she continues to swim the way she did this year, that certainly seems within the realm of possibilities.
The gold rush did not just happen in the pool for the Americans. Gymnast Simone Biles also won four gold medals, and a bronze as well, setting herself up for a future Wheaties box appearance I am sure. It is pretty amazing to see the things Biles could do in the gym. Certainly a lot different than the things I see my daughter doing at her weekly gymnastics class.
Any column on this year’s Olympics would be remiss without mentioning Jamaica’s Usain Bolt. As I sit down to write this column, the world’s fastest man has already won gold in the 100-meter dash and has qualified for the finals in the 200. Bolt is simply amazing with how fast he is and how long he has been doing it. In fact, he’s a lot like Phelps in that way. It’s too bad they can’t race each other. Well, I guess they could, but I feel like one of them would have a distinct advantage, depending on the event they were competing in.
It would take me forever to mention all the great athletes at this year’s Olympics, and I’m guessing you would get tired of reading about it eventually, so I will stop there. With the Olympics over, we turn our eyes back to baseball and then to our true national pastime, football.
But for the past couple of weeks, it has been nice to focus on the athletes who are just as amazing as the professional ones who pop up on our TV screens on a regular basis. The Olympians truly deserve their time in the spotlight — even if it only happens once every four years.