I don’t know about you, but I’m going through some serious Olympics withdrawal right now.
This was my first time covering the Olympic Games in great detail and I couldn’t have asked for anything more. Canada’s performance was amazing, and the Olympics as a whole, offered a heck of a lot of excitement.
Sixteen days of bunkering down and watching hours upon hours of amazing television has me wanting more.
Let’s take a look back at some of the best moments of Rio 2016.
Let’s start with the Opening Ceremony. After all the negative attention given to the Rio 2016 Games, including the Zika virus, crime, violence, corruption, etc. the Olympic Games finally kicked off.
The Opening Ceremony was being billed as the ‘sexiest-ever’ Opening Ceremony beforehand. We assumed that was because Gisele Bundchen was involved.
But afterwards, all anyone could talk about was the Tonga flag bearer Pita Taufatofua, who came out shirtless and oiled up to the max. Taufatofua competed in taekwondo on Saturday and was thrashed 16-1 by Iran’s Sajjad Mardani.
Still, there he was again on Sunday, shirtless and oiled up to steal the show again in the Closing Ceremony.
If you missed this from the last day of competition, you missed a hell of a show. Mongolian wrestler Ganzorigiin Mandakhnaran was up by one point in the final moments of his bronze medal match against Uzbekistan’s Ikhtiyor Navruzov. With seconds left, Mandakhnaran began celebrating, and running away from his opponent.
He was rightly penalized and lost the bronze medal.
For some reason this shocked and surprised he and his coaches, who lost it in entertaining fashion. They took their clothes off and yelled at the judges.
— CBC Olympics (@CBCOlympics) August 21, 2016
Ok, let’s talk about the actual competition. This was the most fun Summer Games for Canadians since Atlanta in 1996, and for good reason. Canada won 22 medals, the most since ’96.
Even better than that? Canada won at sports that are actually fun to watch.
Sure, every medal counts the same in the standings, but are they equally as exciting? Of course not.
Everyone’s different, but for me, it was nice to see medals in swimming and track and field. It was also nice to see our team sports have some success as well.
Rosie MacLennan defended her gold medal in trampoline. Derek Drouin proved his World Championship gold was no fluke. The Canadian women’s soccer team proved their medal in London was no fluke as well.
Andre De Grasse showed everyone he has arrived.
The athletes that were supposed to do well, by and large, did well.
How about the performance of our Canadian women? They earned 16 of Canada’s 22 medals, tying a national record for female medals at an Olympic Games. They equalled the mark from Los Angeles in 1984, which was boycotted by a number of countries.
Canada won at least one medal every day for the first nine days of the Olympics. If that sounds impressive, it’s for good reason. It’s never happened before for Canada in an Olympics, Winter or Summer, boycotted or not.
The age of Canada’s medallists should get you excited for 2020. In total, seven teenagers from Canada will return home with a medal around their neck.
Penny Oleksiak, a 16-year-old, is the most famous. Less well known are Taylor Ruck (16), who won two bronze medals in swimming relays. Emily Overholt (18), Charity Williams (19), and Kennedy Goss (19) were also part of medal-winning relay teams as well.
On the soccer pitch, Deanne Rose (17) and Jessie Fleming (18) played key roles for Canada.
Canada won one swimming medal in 2008 and three in 2012. This year, they won six.
And given the age of the winners, you could and should expect more in four years.
Penny Oleksiak wasn’t expected to win any medals coming into Rio. She had never competed in a World Championship, and she just turned 16 years-old for god sakes!
Instead, she won four medals, including a gold. If she stays on the right path, she should win more medals as a 20-year-old in 2020. She should be even better than that in 2024. She could still compete in 2028.
Oleksiak has a chance to be a female Michael Phelps – but much more likeable – for Canada.
Don’t mess with the 🐐. Michael Phelps, the legend https://t.co/St3bkMKDd6
— CBC Olympics (@CBCOlympics) August 10, 2016
Speaking of Phelps, whatever you think of him, you can’t deny his greatness. He added five more gold medals in Rio, bringing his career gold medal count to 23.
I know you can win more medals in swimming than any other sport, but that’s still nuts.
Having legends like Phelps around is good for the Olympics. If his Olympic career is over, he’ll be missed.
It’s much harder to rack up gold medals in track and field, so Usain Bolt grabbed a measly three in Rio.
His gold medal total is up to nine now, and as he turns 30, his Olympic career is likely over.
Bolt is the greatest Olympian of all-time in my view, for a multitude of reasons.
Let me count the ways:
He also seems to make time for everyone, which is probably why he comes off as likeable, and not arrogant.
It was amazing to see a Canadian back in the mix for the marquee event of the Olympics, the 100-metre final.
The relationship of De Grasse and Bolt was discussed at length, and they provided a lot of entertainment during what should have been boring semi-final heats.
CBC deserves a lot of credit for how they incorporated former gold medallists Mark Tewksbury and Donovan Bailey into their broadcasts. Watching their reactions as they cheered on Penny Oleksiak and Andre De Grasse was great television.
Tewksbury’s was the best:
3-time Olympic medalist Mark Tewksbury was pretty excited about that bronze medal race, eh? 🍁 https://t.co/jCR2BFaGtX
— CBC Olympics (@CBCOlympics) August 7, 2016
But Bailey wasn’t bad either:
— CBC Olympics (@CBCOlympics) August 19, 2016
Andre De Grasse won two individual medals, but Canada’s greatest track team came as advertised. In Rio our country racked up one gold, one silver, and four bronze medals in athletics.
That’s more medals than our country had racked up in athletics in the last five Olympics combined.
Derek Drouin’s gold medal in high jump was the first gold in track and field for Canada since 1996.
Rosie MacLennan won our only gold medal at London 2012, but the bronze medal won by the Canadian women’s soccer felt like a gold.
They were able to repeat, which is a remarkable feat for our country in the global game. Canada was ranked 10th coming into the Games, and didn’t advance past the quarter-finals at the World Cup last year, which we hosted.
The result was the same – bronze – but they accomplished more.
Canada had an incredibly difficult road to a medal, having to play world #2 Germany twice, #3 France, #5 Australia, and the #8-ranked hosts from Brazil.
Compare Canada’s schedule to that of Brazil, and you’ll see what I mean. Brazil’s toughest opponents were #6 Sweden (twice), #12 China, #5 Australia, and #10 Canada.
Canada came within a whisker of getting a 23rd medal, as Evan Dunfee was temporarily awarded bronze in the 50 km race walk.
Dunfee finished fourth, but was bumped up to third following a disqualification by a Japanese walker. Japan appealed, and won, bumping Dunfee back down to fourth.
Dunfee had the opportunity to take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but declined for admirable reasons. After looking at the replay, he felt like the right decision was made.
His list of admirers grew more from that moment of sportsmanship than any medal he could have won.
It wasn’t all good news for Canadian athletes, of course. I don’t think there’s anything harder to watch during the Games than humble, likeable athletes on the verge of tears getting interviewed by CBC.
— CBC Olympics (@CBCOlympics) August 21, 2016
The three most heartbreaking ones I watched were Melissa Bishop (4th in 800 m run), Jennifer Abel (4th in 3 m springboard diving), and Emily Batty (4th in mountain biking).
Not many concerts could pre-empt the Olympic Games, but that’s what happened on Saturday night. Of course, this was no ordinary concert. The whole country turned their attention to the Tragically Hip’s last concert ever in Kingston, Ontario.
Another terrific tribute to the Hip was incorporating their song, ‘Ahead by a Century’ for the best highlights montage of the Games.
— CBC Olympics (@CBCOlympics) August 22, 2016