A Stones Throw 8-25-16

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The Olympic Games of 2016 are history.

I have to admit I didn’t watch a lot of the games, but what I did watch I really enjoyed. It would be easy to write a column about Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt, Simone Biles, or many of the over 11,000 athletes who participated in the Games. It would be easy to write about either the U.S. men’s or the U.S. women’s basketball team, the Brazilian soccer team, or the Jamaica relay teams.

Instead, I want to write about some of my thoughts on the good, the bad, and the ugly of the 2016 Olympic Games.

THE GOOD

1. Brazil/Rio: After a barrage of media attention, none of it good, concerning disease infested water, the rampant Zika virus, the unfinished venues, and the lack of security, the 2016 Games were expected to be a disaster. Instead, the Olympic Games were the Olympic Games. I don’t remember hearing or reading about the polluted waters – only about winners and near winners. I don’t remember reading about the Zika virus, unless having the crowd chant “Zika” at American soccer goal keeper Hope Solo counts. The venues – the only thing I saw missing were spectators – a lot of empty seats. As for security, there were no terror attacks, no mass violence, no safety problems for athletes or spectators.

2. Medals: The U.S. won 121 medals – 46 gold, 37 Silver, and 38 bronze – the most of any country – China was second with a total of 70.

3. Medals (2): More important than the 121 medals won by American athletes or the 70 won by Chinese athletes is the fact that 87 different countries won at least one Olympic medal. Eighty seven countries with at least one Olympic medal makes the Olympics the world event they are supposed to be.

4. It was a touching moment when the US women’s water polo team gave Coach Adam Krikorian their gold medals. Coach Krikorian’s brother died unexpectedly two days before the start of the Games. The women dedicated their efforts – and their medals – to their coach, Adam Krikorian.

5. While the purpose of the Olympic Games is for athletes from every corner of the world to compete with one another with one purpose in mind – to show who is the “best of the best,” one of the highlights of this year’s Games involved two women who finished last.

It started when American runner Abbey D’Agostino clipped Australian runner Nikki Hamblin from behind and they both went sprawling.

As reported by Fox News Sports, “Hamblin fell heavily on her right shoulder. D’Agostino got up, but Hamblin was just lying there. She appeared to be crying. Instead of running in pursuit of the others, D’Agostino crouched down and put her hand on the New Zealander’s shoulder, then under her arms to help her up, and softly urged her not to quit.

“That girl is the Olympic spirit right there,” Hamblin said of D’Agostino. “I’ve never met her before. Like I never met this girl before. And isn’t that just so amazing. Such an amazing woman.”

Hamblin and D’Agostino walked across the finish line last.

Last – but, winners each. This is what the Olympics should represent. This is sportsmanship at its best.

THE BAD

1. America won 46 gold medals. ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ played as the American flag was center stage as it was raised to the ceiling signifying each American gold medal. While most American athletes honored their flag and their country by standing at attention with their hand over their heart, some showed total disrespect of the flag, and the country, by looking away from the flag, lowering their heads, slouching with hands in their pockets, and otherwise ignoring the symbol of America.

If you are not going to respect America – don’t pretend to represent America. Stay home next time.

2. I love Hope Solo – at least I use to. Without question she is the best woman’s soccer goal tender of all time. She is beautiful. She is an American icon. At least she should be. Unfortunately, instead being a role model for young girls, Solo is anything but.

The bloom fell off the rose when Solo was arrested for domestic violence and domestic abuse. Those charges were dropped and she was allowed to continue to tend goal for the American women. Then, after receiving accolades as perhaps the best woman goalie of all time after making almost impossible save after save, Hope Solo showed who she really is – a loser.

After the American women were eliminated by Sweden, Hope Solo called the Swedish soccer team “a bunch of cowards.”

Those “cowards” beat the U.S. team. Those “cowards” beat Hope Solo.

Solo’s words showed a lack of grace and a lack of sportsmanship. They were words of a loser.

3. It was bad, almost ugly, when Mongolian wrestling coaches didn’t like a call by officials that gave a bronze medal to Uzbekistan’s Ikhtiyor Navruzov. In protest, both Mongolian coaches undressed and threw their clothes at the officials. While the Mongolian coaches were showing their distaste for an official’s call, all they really accomplished was disgracing their athlete, their team, and their country.

THE UGLY

1. In two words – Ryan Lochte.

Ryan Lochte is an American swimmer who has won 12 Olympic medals. Ryan Lochte has held world records in swimming four different times. Ryan Lochte has represented America in the last four Olympics.

Unfortunately, Ryan Lochte will be remembered as the man who made the world forget the good that is America. Who made the world ignore the bad that is America. Instead, he will be remembered as the man who showed the world the ‘Ugly’ that is America.

Ryan Lochte announced to the world that he had been robbed at gunpoint. He had feared for his life. All the positives about security in Rio were gone. A world renowned athlete had been robbed.

At gunpoint no less.

There was only one problem.

Ryan Lochte lied.

In his lie, he didn’t just show the world who and what he is, he became the latest symbol of America to the world. He took much of the honor and the glory from his fellow American athletes.

Ryan Lochte dishonored himself.

Ryan Lochte dishonored America.

It doesn’t get any more ugly than that.

– Mike Cooney