Last week – the world came together (figuratively speaking of course), as hundreds of Olympic athletes from around the world converged in the beautiful city of Rio in hopes of making of history.
Not without its share of controversy (AKA the Zika virus, polluted H2O – ; the impeachment trial of the Brazilian President; and most noted – Russia’s state-sponsored doping scandal) the 2016 Rio Olympics, marks the first time in history, the Olympic games are being hosted by a South American country.
With over four million indigenous people now living in Brazil; the creators of the XXXI Olympiad Opening Ceremony paid its people a worthy homage. It was a night that literally shined a light (or shall I say ‘lights’?) on culture, humanity, the environment, divisions, and politics. . . And if that didn’t do it for you – perhaps leggy Gisele Bundchen’s long cat walk across the Olympic Stadium did!
WHAT TO WATCH AND WHO TO FOLLOW
Track and field, followed by swimming are the top sports and most popular for team USA. Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympic athlete of any nation will complete with (well) Michael Phelps! . . . With 22 medals under his ‘briefs’ (18 of them gold) – he is the most decorated Olympian of all time. But, teammate Ryan Lochte (competing against Phelps in a medley) is also a force to be reckoned with.
On the women’s side, 19-year-old Katie Ledecky is the one to watch. Rivalry will continue between Team USA’s track and fields superman, Justin Gatlin and Jamaica’s Usain Bolt, who has been the face of the games and already dons six gold medals . . .
And expect US sprinter Allyson Felix to add some more medals to her collection.
The US women’s gymnastics team won the London 2012 games, and are the favors to win in Rio. Watch for Simone Biles, the 4 feet 8 powerhouse (favored to win all-around), Laurie Hernandez (youngest US gymnast at age 16 and the first Latina) and Gabby Douglas (the 2012 Olympic all-around).
World leader and record holder in decathlon, Ashton Eaton is looking for a repeat of his London heroics.
Golf re-enters the games missing many but Korean-born, New Zealander, Lydia Ko will tee off for gold – she is already number 1 in the world.
My personal favorite (Hometown Glory), Ibtihaj Muhammad, has already made history in the games, as the first American woman to compete in fencing while wearing a hijab.
Speaking of history: Iranian archer, Zahra Nemati, is the first person in 20 years to make both the Paralympic team (where she is the defending gold medalist) and the Olympics.
Over 200 countries will be represented over the next 17 days and nights; but a team of 10 athletes (The Refugee Team) will bring some much needed attention to the refugee crisis. . . And just by completing the preliminaries – have already made history.