Now that the closing ceremony is over and there’s something like six months before my next Olympics binge (heh), here are my favorite moments from the 2020(1) Summer Olympics, in no particular order:
1. Ahmed Hafnaoui, the 18-year-old underdog from Tunisia who won the 400m freestyle, plus the priceless reaction of his family
2. Mutaz Barshim of Qatar and Gianmarco Tamberi of Italy choosing to share the gold rather than do a jump off to determine a winner in the high jump – if you haven’t seen the videos of these two, who were apparently long-time friends, screaming and crying and hugging each other, it’s worth looking up
3. Rebeca Andrade from Brazil winning silver on gymnastics all-around behind Suni Lee, and then getting gold in the vault
4. Tatjana Schoenmaker from South Africa realizing that not only had she won gold, she’d broken the world record – her jaw-drop was priceless
5. all of Caeleb Dressel’s emotional reactions to winning with his relay team, talking with his family, etc
6. Karsten Warholm of Norway’s reaction to breaking his own world record in the hurdles – mostly because he tries to rip his shirt open and the collar refuses to let him finish the motion, ha!!
7. the absolute incredible job Ashleigh Johnson did as goalie for the US women’s water polo team – she was the star and needs an MVP award
8. Quan Hongchan, the 14-year-old diver from China – completing two perfect dives (10s from all judges) as well as a third dive that had six 10s and a single 9.5. She obliterated the olympic record in the event, and afterwards, seeing her coach pick her up by the armpits and jump her around like a little kid, a giant smile on her face, warmed my heart.
9. watching Abdi Nageeye (Netherlands) encouraging and waving forward Bashir Abdi (Belgium) to get them both over the finish line of the marathon in 2nd and 3rd place when they’d both been behind the 2nd place in line only a minute before
10. The mixed relays in swimming and triathlon were incredible and not anything I expected to ever see. I wish I’d seen the track mixed relays but missed them.
On the reverse side, I’m going to call out a few things that felt like poor sportsmanship. Thankfully, only three of these come to mind!
The Over-the-Top: I’m not a fan of the kind of coach Ariarne Titmus has – he seems to be a “yell and insult to inspire” kind of guy – and I didn’t appreciate his reaction when Titmus won one of her early races. I’m totally happy for Titmus that she won, but her coach was hopping all over the stands, going crazy, shaking and humping the bars, going outside of his designated quarantined area and scaring the crap out of some poor Japanese woman who was trying to keep everyone where they belonged. Dude, I know you’re excited, but please don’t harass the employees who are just trying to do their jobs…
The Cringe: I didn’t see a lot of the weightlifting competitions, but there was one woman from South Korea who was struggling with a particular move, and every time the judges said she didn’t complete it, she started screaming and crying and yelling, why, why, why, and when she dropped the weight on her last attempt, she literally fell to the ground and started throwing a tantrum. It was embarrassing and very bad sportsmanship.
The Sorest of Losers: And then there was the worst. Dina and Arina Averina of Russia are identical twin sisters who compete in rhythmic gymnastics. They’re generally hailed as the best in the world. Arina messed up in her last routine, so with only her sister left to perform, she was sitting in bronze medal position. After Dina’s performance – which went well, and was sure to land her on the podium, knocking Arina out altogether – Dina fell to the ground sobbing when her score put her in second place. There was an immediate inquiry called – this seems to be common in rhythmic gymnastics – but the score wasn’t changed and Dina was hysterical. Right in front of her sister, who didn’t get any medals at all, she fell apart. When the gold-medal winner came to give everyone in the competition hugs, Dina refused to even look at her, much less hug her. Then I found out that the head of the ROC claimed that the judges were biased and he wanted an inquiry into their judging practices for the whole event. Talk about sore losers!! Further statements from Dina came out: “I don’t feel that it was fair today and it was obvious from the very first apparatus when… I got a lower score, so I can’t say that it was very fair,” and “My conscience is clear, I still believe that I won.” Ugh.
Okay. So the Olympics are over. Maybe I’ll get back to, I don’t know, reading and podcasts and walking and blogging and that sort of thing again?
The mixed relays were a lovely idea – and a great success for Team GB! You get mixed doubles in tennis, but it’s unusual to see mixed events in other sports.
Especially in the triathlon! No one even came close! I actually missed most of the first leg, coming in right as they were transitioning to the run portion, but there was just no contest. GB was out front from the get-go!
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