You’re probably wondering why hasn’t the team here at The Sports Fan Journal said much about the Summer Olympics outside of the US Men’s Basketball Senior Team, which despite the entitled criticism of who isn’t on the roster, is still a very good squad. The truth is that just about every single day in the summer solstice has been some story about Rio Gone Wrong. If you haven’t asked yourself “why are we having the Olympics again?” at least once in the last two months, color us impressed.
BUT, just because the IOC is downright terrible or Brazilian officials have been pretty awful at preparing for another global event such as the World Cup two years ago, doesn’t mean that the Games themselves will be a total disaster. In fact, we still believe that the Games have something to offer for everyone. After all, the beauty in the two-plus week event is that there are a bevy of sports, athletes and even nations (for those of us who would fail high school geography exam) that we will see on the grandest stage of athletic competition, many for the very first time.
So outside of the US men’s hoops squad, which is expected to lap the field once again in entertaining fashion, here are a few things we here at TSFJ think you should enjoy from the quadrennial event.
You ever tried to shoot an arrow? Probably not. In fact, when you think of archery, you are envisioning The Hunger Games or perhaps any adaptation of Robin Hood (hopefully Men in Tights because it’s funny as hell). That’s all well and good, but truthfully, the two hardest athletic attempts in my entire life involve sports you may not consider very athletic on the surface. The first was hitting a golf ball 250 yards straight ahead without tearing any rib muscles. The second was properly positioning a bow, balancing physical tension with mental calmness and firing ten straight arrows at a target. (Shoutout to Gotham Archery in Brooklyn for the great beginner’s experience last summer.)
Archery is fascinating because you don’t realize it’s a sport until you see these stronger-than-you-think, eagle-eyed sharpshooters just firing with impeccable precision and phenomenal stamina in a stationary position. Seriously, look at the two shots from the French J.J. Redick at the 1:13 mark! (Kidding! His name is Thomas Faucheron.)
Bad. Ass. – Jason Clinkscales
Claressa “T-Rex” Shields
Dating back to the 1900s (except for in 1912), the sweet science called boxing has been a staple in the Olympic Games. This year, Claressa “T-Rex” Shields’ is the star spearheading Team USA. In her second Olympic appearance, she is attempting to ascend her name in Olympic lore by becoming the first American fighter (male or female) to win back-to-back gold medals.
Shields won her first gold medal in 2012 in London at the young age of 17. Four years later, T-Rex is the No.1 fighter in the world. With a record of 69-1 and in her second Olympic appearance, she is fighting for more than her teammates and native country. Although, she will be throwing punches in Rio, she is fighting for her hometown of Flint, Michigan. The Flint native will look to give her city exhilaration in midst of tragedy.
With the steady increase in unemployment, gun violence, and of course the lead poisoning water, the Vehicle City hasn’t had much to beam about. With her fight for history, Shields looks to be a twinkle of sunshine for those residing in Genesee County over the next few weeks. – Ronnie Hampston
It’s hard to imagine that a guy like Michael Phelps, arguably the greatest Olympian of all time, would need some type of redemption. However, after being photographed smoking out of a bong just months after his domination at the 2008 Beijing games, and then a DUI in 2014, the American swimming hero has seen his infallible begin to crumble.
The weed smoking was largely glossed over, resulting in a three-month suspension by USA Swimming. The DUI, on the other hand, was his second one and much harder for some people to forgive. The DUI got him a six-month ban from USA Swimming and kept him out of the World Aquatics Championships in 2015. Phelps had elected to retire from swimming, and it looked like the 2012 Olympics would be his last. But now he’s back with a chance to redeem himself on some level.
There’s no taking back the DUIs or the drug use, but in sports, winning cures all. His eight gold medal performance in Beijing 2008 was the pinnacle of Olympic achievement. He “fell off” in London 2012 with four gold and two silver. He could come back in a big way in 2016.
Phelps hasn’t done anything abrasively unlikable, so he’ll still have people rooting for him. He’s swimming in three events – the 100 meter butterfly, 200 meter butterfly and 200 meter individual medley. If he comes out of retirement to win all three of these events, he will go out on top and the indiscretions away from the pool will be forgiven. The greatest Olympian ever will have been redeemed. – Kyle Madson
The Williams Sisters
Serena Williams is as dominant an athlete as there is in the world at the moment. But she’s also a younger sister to Venus, whose career is in its twilight. At this Olympics, Compton’s own Williams sisters will take to the court in singles and doubles. If they meet, Serena should beat Venus, but I’m more interested in the doubles competition. This is Venus’ best shot at one last honor on her way out, and what better way is there to go out than beside your sister.
Go Venus. Go Serena. Go America. – Carden Hedelt
USA Women’s Basketball
While U.S. men’s national team has seen the ups and downs of the FIBA universe over the last 20 years, their female counterparts have been a model of dominance and consistency. Since 1976, the squad has finished no less than 3rd place in Olympic play and haven’t lost a game since 1992, winning a record five straight gold medals in the process.
While stars Brittney Griner, Maya Moore and Elena Delle Donne will garner most of the attention from the casual fan, the tournament will be won with the performances of the team’s “role” players like Angel McCoughtry, Simone Augustus and WNBA MVP candidate Tina Charles. The squad will be coached by UConn’s Geno Auriemma, who will be coaching in his second Olympics after guiding the women’s team to gold four years ago in London. Auriemma’s influence looms large as five former Huskies will play prominent roles on the team, including rookie forward Breanna Stewart.
The addition of Stewart, combined with the snub of Los Angeles Sparks forward Candace Parker brought criticism of Auriemma’s pull within the selection process. Controversy aside, the team should wash through the competition, while celebrating the farewells for Sue Bird and Tamika Catchings on the way to their sixth straight gold medal. – Logan Murdock
I wasn’t ready.
The words RIO DE JANIERO, BRAZIL appeared in front of a tropical landscape. Before I could blink, that peaceful beachfront became a daytime party. Ja Rule owned the entire beach, cruised through the city in a drop-top, took the nightclub over, and kept yelling “Holla Holla”. I knew nothing about Rio before this, but it looked like heaven. At least the Hype Williams’ music video version did. (Editor’s note: HEADPHONES!)
Despite my initial desires, Williams is not the director for the opening ceremony. My 1999 dreams are crushed. But the committee found the right person in Fernando Meirelles. In City of God, he portrayed vivid images of the reality and beauty of Rio de Janiero. I am confident his opening ceremony will be a festive showcase for the first Olympic games ever hosted in South America. Meirelles is on a tighter budget than past ceremonies, but he can do a lot with a little. City of God only cost $3.3 million to make. Hype Williams music videos have cost over $2 million. I think the committee got the right guy for the job.
I am ready for Rio. – Dan Runcie
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