During the past two weeks, we witnessed some incredible moments during the Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. I did a fair amount of watching the Games live (or whenever NBC believes "live" is supposed to be) on TV and got to thinking about the top moments. Since there are five Olympic rings*, we'll share five Olympic thoughts.
(*I'm not sure if I'm allowed to say "Olympic rings" due to trademark issues. So if anyone from the government asks, I always write "five thoughts" columns. Be cool about this.)
1. It truly was Maryland's Olympics, thanks to the 18 medals. Unfortunately, the Free State also had a connection to the championship-level embarrassment at a Rio gas station
Medalists who were born or grew up in Maryland included Baltimore swimmer Michael Phelps, Bethesda swimmer Katie Ledecky, Bel Air swimmer Chase Kalisz, Baltimore basketball players Carmelo Anthony and Angel McCoughtry, Suitland basketball player Kevin Durant, Woodbine wrestler Kyle Snyder, Rockville wrester Helen Maroulis, Arnold runner Matthew Centrowitz and Ellicott City volleyball player Aaron Russell. They also included Rockville swimmer Jack Conger, whose gold in "allowing your idiot friend to turn minor vandalism into a major international incident" proves truly nothing happened during the Olympics without Maryland being involved.
(Conger also won a gold as part of a swimming relay. Was that victory overshadowed by his drunken antics and teammate's absurd exaggerations? "Jeah!")
It's not just that Americans won medals in Rio. Their dominance included Ledecky breaking a record by so much it could only be measured by Vanessa Carlton songs. Phelps not only became the first swimmer to win an event four straight times, he also broke a 2,168-year-old record for the most individual golds. But the others might be even more incredible. Snyder became the youngest gold medalist in U.S. wrestling history. Maroulis defeated a wrestler (Saori Yoshida) who was one win from four consecutive undefeated Olympiads and who hadn't surrendered a single point to any of her opponents until the gold medal match. And Centrowitz? All he did was become the first American man to win the 1,500 meters since the last time the Cubs won the World Series (1908).
By the way, it could have been more. Capitol Heights' Gary Antuanne Russell
was the victim
of a rather questionable decision in the boxing quarterfinals. Had he won (as many believed he should have), he would have clinched at least a bronze.
2. From the "dumbest sport at the Olympics" file, move over steeplechase and race-walking. I give you "modern pentathlon."
Are you guys familiar with this? Russia's Aleksander Lesun is bringing home a gold medal because he was the best in an event that combines fencing, swimming, pistol shooting, horse jumping and cross country running. Zorro had to settle for the bronze.
Seriously, how is this even possibly a thing? At least the decathlon is a combination of the track and field exercises. This is absolutely insane. Maybe in Tokyo they could try the "Modern Octathlon" and give the gold to the guy who is the best at the combo of sailing/beer pong/ice sculpture carving/the game "Excitebike" from the original Nintendo/
/synchronized dabbing/long division and playing air guitar along to the song "Save Tonight" by Eagle Eye Cherry. I'll start training Tuesday.
3. While Ryan Lochte and Hope Solo were the biggest losers of the Olympics, congratulations to the biggest winners -- Zac Efron and
shirtless Tongan guy
It probably isn't appropriate to make any more Lochte jokes at this point. We've made them all. It's over. The guy just kind of needs help. Solo's postgame comments after losing to Sweden were petulant and stupid. But, hey, talk show hosts have grilled her over them similar to how they would if they came from a whiny male athlete, so ... equality?
Real talk -- does anyone know if Tongan flag-bearer Pita Taufatofua was actually an athlete? Did he compete in anything? I hate it when I get all oiled up, and then realize I have nowhere to go.
4. Golf's return to the games proved to be far more successful than you would have expected for a sport whose 30 best players somehow all had other plans.
Six different countries claimed golf's six individual medals, including Matt Kuchar's bronze for the U.S. The Americans probably would have won more medals, but for some stupid reason, the team forgot to pack the Sunday outfits John Daly
designed for them
Most people seem to think a more star-studded field will show up in 2020. Tiger Woods will only be 44, so if someone invents back-transplant surgery before then, I'd give him a great chance of being there.
5. Much has been made about whether Phelps or Usain Bolt might be the greatest Olympic athlete of all time. The correct answer is "yeah, sure, probably ... I dunno, man."
They've both been unbelievably good. Phelps has been so good he's managed to
twist Ray Lewis' mind
and leave him Tweeting bizarre, absurd things about him. Bolt so good he's ... never lost at the Olympics. Nine for nine.
This is an impossible argument. There's no correct answer. They're both among the greatest.
However, if the question of "who is the greatest Olympic coach?" comes up, there is an obvious answer. No, it isn't Mike Krzyzewski. It isn't even former North Baltimore Aquatic Club coach Bob Bowman. It's Mongolia's Tsenrenbataar Tsogtbayar. You know, the guy who
stripped down to his underwear
to protest a wrestling judge's ruling. That's how you protest.
Well, that's that. Oh, and fair warning, there's a zero percent chance I don't go as Tongan guy or the Mongolian wrestling coach for Halloween. Let me know if you need my address to send your party invites.