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Rings of Glory – Rio 2016

It has been an exciting 16 days of the 31st Olympic Games held in Rio de Janeiro. Ever since the torch was lit and the flag flew high, we sat peeled in front of the TV, either excitedly watching a nail-biting heats or a record-breaking final. Of course, we also waited for at least one Indian to bring home a medal.

The Olympic games are considered the foremost sporting event. This year it had 207 participating countries in 28 sports with a total of 11,303 participants! Owing to the refugee crisis in Europe, the International Olympic Committee allowed a new team of independent athletes, the Refugee Olympic Team to participate as well, proving the inclusive nature of this mega-sporting event!

Rio was transformed in preparation for the games. The entire West Coast was converted to the Barra Olympic Park. Urban infrastructure was improved around the area and nine exclusive venues were constructed. Moreover, technology aided by robots was used to capture every event continuously with different cameras and angles!

The IOA sent the largest contingent since 1920 to the Rio Olympics. A total of 117 athletes participated in a range of sports! What stood out were the increased number of women participants and the range of sports they trained in. Finishing off with one silver and one bronze medal, Indians seem to be satiated that our sportspersons haven’t returned empty handed. The result proves that sports and the system surrounding it needs to change in India. Lack of appropriate respect for the game, the sportsperson and the coach, coupled with inadequate support leads to a demotivated community of sportspersons. Beating these difficulties, young Indians have challenged themselves to represent the nation  whole-heartedly. 

The women were India’s pride. Sakshi

Malik, 23-year-old, won the first medal, an Olympic Bronze, in the 58 kg freestyle wrestling! Before that, Dipa Karmakar of Agartala became the 5th woman in the entire world to complete the Produnova vault, known as the death vault in gymnastics, just missing the bronze by a whisker! P V Sindhu created history by becoming the first Indian woman ever to win a silver medal in the Olympics. The success of these three women goes to the  coaches who have worked just as tirelessly to bring them to this level.

While these Indian superwomen scripted history, we should not forget the hard work of the remaining 114 Indians who put India on the Olympic map. A bad day, injury, wrong strategy or inadequate support could have been one of their reasons for not succeeding.

Records were broken in unexpected ways. Joseph Schooling beat Michael Phelps record in the 100m butterfly stroke (swimming), while Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia created a world record for the women’s 10,000 metres race completing it in 29.17.45 minutes! Young 19 year old American, Simone Biles won 4 golds in gymnastics in her Olympic debut! Overall, USA clinched the first place with 121 medals with Great Britain following with 67 medals.

Going beyond the competition is the true spirit of sportsmanship. Mardini had to flee her war-torn nation by swimming for her life. She participated as a refugee in Rio 2016 and though she didn’t win, her undying spirit is what lives on. The women’s 5000m athletics final witnessed the ultimate in sportsmanship when New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin stumbled and fell while accidentally bringing down American Abbey D’Agostino. D’Agostino helped Hamblin back to her feet twisting her ankle in the process. Hamblin didn’t move on alone, both helped each other to ensure that they finished the race together! Both have not won any  medal in the contest but instead have got the Fair Play award, the only award of its type this Olympics!

Rio 2016 ended with men’s basketball final, with the USA clinching their last gold for the season! The closing ceremony was spectacular and the Olympic flag was handed over to Japan’s representative. Japan is already ‘warming up’ for the 2020 games, both as a participant and a host.

This year’s results just prove that much potential is yet to be tapped! Will this Olympic buzz fade soon enough or will it live on to Tokyo 2020 is something we will have to wait and watch!

 

 

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