Saying Goodbye to Rio
It would be easy, as some do, to slam the Olympics because the event held every four years is filled with more than its share of controversy, corruption and questionable decisions made by those who have often lost sight on what the games are supposed to be all about.
However count me as among those who was caught up in the hype and hysteria over 17 days in Rio which ended on a rainy and windy Sunday night which more resembled a Carnival-like party than the ending of a giant athletic competition.
The numbers will tell you this was a very successful Olympic Games for the United States who finished with 121 total medals, including 46 gold which easily outdistanced the runner-up country China who collected 70 medals. Sure, we bask in our dominance but to be honest since the break-up of the old U.S.S.R. the race for medal superiority is pretty much a given.
While the last two weeks gave us incredible performances by the likes of Michael Phelps, Katie Ledecky, Simon Biles and Usain Bolt we were reminded that it’s more than just about winning gold medals. For all its faults (and there are many) we witnessed time and time again that the journey to get to Rio is the culmination of years of blood, sweat and tears and for thousands of athletes that was good enough.
I watched countless hours of TV while in my office and at home over the 17 days when NBC was not in a commercial break and I loved just about all of it. Sure the stench of Ryan Lochte and three other American swimmers was a downer but it will not be the defining moment, rather just a blemish.
I will not forget the U.S. Women’s Water Polo team winning a gold medal with a major contribution from 18-year oldof Newport Beach, California. Her father Jeff is a 1981 Central Regional graduate and former major league pitcher and grandpa Don was the Athletic Director at Toms River North.
How about the journey of wrestler Frank Molinaro, the former Southern Regional and Penn State star. A longshot to qualify he just missed out on winning a bronze medal Sunday but now gets to go home and see his second son who was born while he was in Rio. Not a bad consolation prize.
Good bye Rio. I truly hate to see you go!