It feels like only yesterday that we were eagerly awaiting Rio 2016 (and its athletes), but the Olympic Games are already winding down. In preparation for its grand finale, let's revisit some* of the best -- and worst -- moments from the past two weeks.
*Aka the ones I followed the most, there are obvs many omissions, etc.
Bem-vindo ao Rio!
Sure, the Opening Ceremony was a spectacle to behold, but two enduring memories (well, three) stand out. Tonga flag bearer and taekwondo competitor Pita Taufatofua was the subject of a social media frenzy, a thirst that the cast of The Today Show was also not immune to. (Like, yes -- I understand the urge, but I'm not a paid professional pawing at an interview subject like a slab of meat, either.) For a different kind of touching, the goosebumps of the night undoubtedly go to the Refugee Olympic Team, the recipients of the loudest cheers outside of the Brazilian team.
OH HAI, Katie Ledecky. Or should I say: Katie of the House Ledecky, First of Her Name, Five-Time Olympic Gold Medalist, and Breaker of World Records. (Thirteen so far, if you're counting.) And she's still just a teenager! We have her incredible speed to thank for the introduction a new term to pop culture lexicon via this parody account:
I am the Katie Ledecky of parties. I'm ready to go home before you've even arrived.— Jill Biden (@JillBidenVeep) August 13, 2016
For north of the 49th parallel (more or less), the Canadian swimming program made a huge comeback, with the Rio swimming medal haul greater than that of the past four Olympics combined, largely on the strength of four-time Olympic medalist Penny Oleksiak, its Olympic record-setting 100 m freestyle champion (an honour shared with USA's Simone Manuel!). Oleksiak is both the youngest Canadian gold medalist and the first Olympic gold medalist born in this century (she's 16).
Also owning the pool were Hungary's Katinka Hosszú (3 golds, 1 silver, and 2 broken records), USA's Simone Manuel (2 golds, 2 silvers, 1 Olympic record, and history made), Great Britain's Adam Peaty (1 gold, 1 silver, and breaking his own world record), and China's Fu Yuanhui (1 bronze, but more for being an internet darling who's unafraid of period talk).
So just how good was the U.S. women's gymnastics team? No team in the history of the Olympics has ever won the women's team final by as wide a margin as the Final Five, aka Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Laurie Hernandez, Madison Kocian, and Aly Raisman. Superstar Simone Biles also became the first woman to win 4 gymnastic golds at a single Olympics, as well as American's newest sweetheart. (Like, seriously -- her social media is a treasure trove of gems, incl. appearances by gold medalist teammates, Brazilian gymnastics heartthrobs, and American celebrity heartthrobs.) The Final Five sent longtime national-team coordinator Martha Karolyi into Olympic retirement in style.
Yes, I've already talked about them, but yes, let's never stop talking about them.
Green with... Algae?
With all the pre-Olympics concerns over the quality of the waterways in Rio, surely the water in the pools would be fine, right? Until the diving pool started turning green and caustic, because "chemistry is not an exact science", WUT. It was eventually disclosed that hydrogen peroxide had been erroneously added, thereby cancelling out the effects of chlorine and causing the green murkiness. (The water has since turned back to clear blue.)
The Best Sport You've Never Watched Before
Rio 2016 marks the inaugural rugby sevens Olympic tournament, and holy shizz, is it exciting to watch. Fast paced and action packed, the games are only a brisk 14-minute long (two 7-minute halves, with a 2-minute halftime break). I still know, like, next to nothing about rugby, but I was endlessly entertained by how anything goes in this sport. (Examples include holding up teammates' shorts For Reasons, presumably; lifting each other like Simba; and piggybacking an injured player off the field as play continues without missing a beat.)
More Like Sore Loser
USA's domination in women's soccer (winners of 4 of 5 all-time Olympic golds) is at least taking a pause this summer, with the gold medal favourites eliminated in the quarterfinals by Sweden. With stakes running high and and emotions even higher, it's impossible not to feel the sting of a disappointing loss.
But then U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo had this to say:
I also think we played a bunch of cowards. The better team did not win today. I strongly believe that.
Oh -- OK, Hope. Says the goalie who tried and failed to ice the kicker on the game-winning penalty conversion.
The cowardly Swedes will be playing in the gold medal match tomorrow, by the way.
Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger
*Record scratch*— ben/lil boat fanboy (@a7xweeman) August 15, 2016
Yup, that's me. You're probably wondering how I ended up in this situation. pic.twitter.com/TXU6T6iM3B
Pictured above is the perfect encapsulation of the fastest man alive thrice over, Usain Bolt. He'll be continuing his quest for an unprecented third set of triple Olympic golds (100 m, 200 m, and 4 x 100 m relay) -- and bromance with Andre De Grasse of Canada -- later tonight.
Setting the track & field world on fire were South Africa's Wayde van Niekerk (gold and world record in 400 m), Jamaica's Elaine Thompson (double gold in 100 m and 200 m), the Bahamas' Shaunae Miller (gold in 200 m, in dramatic fashion), and Brazil's Thiago Braz Da Silva (gold and Olympic record in pole vault, as an unlikely underdog whose story couldn't be better scripted).
Congratulations to the following countries for earning their first Olympic gold medals!
Bahrain: Ruth Jebet, women's 3000 m steeplechase
Fiji: men's rugby sevens (first Olympic medal ever)
Kosovo: Majlinda Kelmendi, women's 52 kg judo (first Olympic medal ever)
Puerto Rico: Mónica Puig, women's singles tennis
Singapore: Joseph Schooling, men's 100 m butterfly
Vietnam: Hoàng Xuân Vinh, men's 10 m air pistol
Independent athletes: Fehaid Al-Deehani (Kuwait), men's double trap
Also trailblazing for Team USA are Simone Manuel (first African-American woman to win gold in an individual swimming event), Michelle Carter (first American woman to win gold in shot put), Ibtihaj Muhammad (bronze medalist for women's team sabre who is the first American athlete to compete wearing a hijab), and the trio of Brianna Rollins, Nia Ali, and Kristi Castlin (100 m hurdlers that completed the first podium sweep for any country). #SHEROES
As Seen On TV
Watching local news:— Parker Molloy (@ParkerMolloy) August 15, 2016
Oh! Women are getting lots of prime time coverage: ��
The reason why: �� pic.twitter.com/hz7Fs80W2a
For as long as NBC has held the Olympic broadcasting rights, the rite of passage for each Games seems to be complaining about NBC's coverage. They'll occasionally strike gold (heh) by sending Leslie Jones to Rio, but then whiff at airing events live (incl. a historic medal ceremony) and just not being racist and sexist garbage.
Canadian coverage on CBC has had its share of mishaps, too. In addition to a couple of swimming commentary gaffes, "tired, regressive, paternalistic, arrogant and sexist" attitudes are still prevalent.
And on that note...
CAN WE JUST
Very much appreciate the commentary on "People say she swims like a man; she doesn't swim like a man, she swims like Katie Ledecky."— Linda Holmes (@nprmonkeysee) August 8, 2016
This headline is a metaphor for basically the entire world. pic.twitter.com/5WpQa04N0o— Nancy Leong (@nancyleong) August 14, 2016
John Inverdale (BBC) says to Murray that he's the first to win 2 Olympic tennis golds. Murray's response:"Venus and Serena have won 4 each."— Shane Thomas (@tokenbg) August 15, 2016
In what world would gold medal-winning two-time Olympians be accused of being unpatriotic? Oh, wait -- it's this one! CUE CRY-LAUGH EMOJI.
People got mad at U.S. decathlete and 2012 Olympic champion Ashton Eaton for wearing a Canada cap in support of his wife, Canadian heptathlete Brianne Theisen-Eaton. Because, what, it says "and Boo USA" in invisible ink? Oh, no -- it doesn't? He's proudly representing his country, as he's done so for his entire career and will continue to do so? YOU DON'T SAY.
Have I not represented USA well? Yet u demand more. Ur respect is hard earned. I support the country that produced my wife;who ru2 shame me?— Ashton Eaton (@AshtonJEaton) August 13, 2016
Are your grandparents from another country? Will your grandchildren be? What then? Hopefully you'll adopt a more reasonable view.— Ashton Eaton (@AshtonJEaton) August 13, 2016
(FYI: Theisen-Eaton won bronze in the heptathlon and Eaton has been leading the field in the decathlon, which will finish later tonight.)
As further proof of the internet being a dumpster fire, its nitpicking drove three-time Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas to tears after the conclusion of her Olympic gymnastic career. The offences: her hair, not placing her hand over her heart during the national anthem, and not appearing happy enough while cheering on her teammates. Which totally justifies tearing apart a highly accomplished 20-year-old young woman, right? LEAVE GABBY ALONE, FFS.
Oh, Look -- Puppies
Romance in Rio
True Olympic Spirit
Above all else, the Olympic Games celebrate the best of humanity -- often in more than athletic excellence. Like the refugee team's Yusra Mardini, who swam for over three hours to push a dinghy full of people to safety after fleeing from her homeland of Syria. Ethiopia's Etenesh Diro, who completed the final third of the steeplechase semifinal with only one shoe and still advanced to the final. The Netherlands' Adeline Cornelissen, a two-time Olympic medalist who dropped out of her dressage event for the well-being of her horse. And New Zealand's Nikki Hamblin and USA's Abbey D'Agostino, who helped each other finish the 5000 m race after colliding together and were both rewarded with berths in the final. Win or lose, these Olympians have already demonstrated that within each of them lies the heart of a champion.
What will you remember most from these Summer Olympics? Share it in the comments below!