I realise I told you my next blog was going to be about my time on sports camps in Macedonia and Jersey but, given Rio 2016 has recently finished, that is going to have to wait until next time. In this blog I am going to give you my view on the highs, lows and controversies of the Olympics. Clearly that is a massive topic and therefore I am simply going to summarise my opinions and some of them will be expanded into individual blogs in the future. I should point out that the sports covered will be the ones I am most interested in and that this is in no way a complete summary of what went on – I can only apologise to all the followers of basketball, fencing, handball etc!
First, the successes of Rio 2016:
- For me, the highlight of the games was when the GB women secured their first ever gold medal in hockey. Maddie Hinch, quite probably the best goal keeper in the world, is a new heroine for British sport and this victory has made me even more excited to hear Alex Danson (GB’s top goal scorer) speak at an event next month. Hockey is an often ignored sport, and when the England women won the European championships last year it didn’t even make it into the newspapers. This made it all the more exciting to see pictures of hockey players on the front page! Perhaps the national profile of the great sport will finally receive the boost it deserves!
- Bolt gaining the triple triple has to make this list. That he has managed to dominate sprinting for eight years is a hugely impressive achievement and it is highly possible that is a feat no one will ever repeat.
- Farah’s double double has also reached the history books. I have to admit I was concerned after the 10k as Farah hadn’t made it look as easy as he sometimes does and, to me, he looked tired. The 5k was closer than in the past but Farah’s kick once again secured him victory!
- Adam Peaty breaking the 100m breaststroke world record
- Nick Skelton finally getting a gold medal in show jumping during his seventh Olympics – if at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again!
- I ended up watching quite a lot of gymnastics during the games and was incredibly impressed with Max Whitlock. He ended GB’s 108 year wait for a gold medal by winning two within the space of two hours – one on the floor and one on the pommel horse. The raw strength and flexibility needed for gymnastics is incredible! I also really enjoyed watching the American gymnast Simone Biles perform. At the age of 19 she won four gold medal and one bronze! Indeed, gymnastics seems to favour the younger competitors, Amy Tinkler of GB winning a bronze on the floor at the age of 16, having missed the European Championships last month in order to sit her GCSE’s.
- The success of Team GB’s cycling squad
- The Brownlee brothers achieving a 1-2 in the triathlon
- While clearly some athletes did not perform as well as might have been hoped, the overall success of Team GB was outstanding, becoming the first nation to increase their medal haul following a home games, even if the number of gold medals did slightly decrease.
The problems and controversies at Rio 2016:
- My main issue with Rio was the number of empty seats. I have memories of every stadium being packed out for London 2012 and the lack of crowds at many venues was disappointing. Perhaps a criterion for being awarded the games should be the host nation’s ability to attract spectators?
- The behaviour of the spectators who did turn up was then questionable at certain points – the difficulty in getting the tennis crowd to be quiet and the booing of Renaud Lavillenie being two obvious examples.
- The infamous green pool
- The anti-Christian bias of the media was noticeable. I realise many of you will disagree with what I have just said, but how many of you knew Bolt was a professing Christian? For a fuller discussion of this, see this article – https://theweeflea.com/2016/08/20/the-bbc-usain-bolt-and-anti-christian-bias/
- When discussing controversies at Rio 2016 it is necessary to mention Caster Semenya. My opinion on her has been flip-flopping around a lot, largely because my understanding of biology etc simply is not good enough to create a properly informed opinion. I am currently of the belief that she is not taking any drugs so should be allowed to compete. Farah, Bolt etc also have ‘unfair’ biological advantages, and my over-riding emotion in the whole debate is pity for Semenya. At the end of the day she is just an athlete trying to compete in something she loves and is very good at.
- The doping scandal also deserves a mention. The IOC made a mess of deciding which Russian athletes should have been allowed to compete, and I feel that they got it wrong because a blanket ban would have sent a stronger message about intolerance towards doping. However, when watching sport I operate on the basis of innocent until proven guilty. The governing bodies of various sports must have felt the athletes were clean and therefore I am going to give them the benefit of the doubt. I know this is naive, but without this attitude it becomes impossible to enjoy the great performances that occurred, as seen in the debate around the incredible performance of Almaz Ayana in the 10,000m (http://www.reuters.com/article/us-olympics-rio-athletics-doping-idUSKCN10V0R7).
- There was definitely some dodgy umpiring in the boxing and hockey, as well as some errors at the cycling and athletics.
Sorry for the long blog! Watch out for several of these topics being expanded into their own blogs in the future. See you next time, Liz 🙂