Five More Important Things Than Ryan Lochte: Rio Olympics 2016

I’m sick of hearing about Ryan Lochte. Overall, I’m sick of entitled idiots getting in the way of a good time or taking the spotlight away from people who’ve earned it. So this is the last time this article will mention his name. Instead, lets focus on the athletes that have proved themselves as strong, determined and selfless.

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1. US Women’s Team Sweep the 100m Hurdles

Brianna Rollins, Nia Ali and Kristi Castlin took the Gold, Silver and Bronze, with Rollins in the lead with a 12.48 seconds finish. For the first time in modern Olympic history, a women’s team swept a track event. All 61 prior sweeps were recorded by men’s teams, with the most recent being the 400m and 400m Hurdles at Beijing 2008 Olympics.

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2. Kimia Alizadeh Zenoorin Became the First Iranian Woman to Win an Olympic Medal

In the Bronze match against Sweden’s Nikita Glasnovic,  Zenoorin outscored her opponent to take home the medal in Women’s Taekwondo. Nicknamed “The Tsunami” in Iran, her achievement is significant as she becomes one of a handful of women to compete for Iran at the Olympics since the Iranian Revolution in 1979. Zenoorin is already well-established in Taekwondo, at the young age of 18. In 2015, she won both the bronze medal at the 2015 Taekwondo World Championship and gold at the World Taekwondo Grand Prix.

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3. Ashton Eaton Wins His Second Decathlon

As ever, Ashton Eaton’s determination and positive spirit continues to leave an impression among all those around him. He lead through the first 8 events of the Olympic Decathlon, but faced tough competition from Canada’s Damian Warner and France’s Kevin Mayer. At the pole vault event, there was definitely a feeling Eaton’s lead would be in danger when Mayer successfully completed an insane 5.4m attempt that surged him past Warner, into second place. But at the final event, the 1500m, Ashton’s composure paid off, as he used strategy to remain within 7 seconds-pace behind Mayer, in order to safegaurd his decathlon gold. At the final stretch, Ashton pulled ahead of Mayer, and finished the decathlon with 8,893 points, a new Olympic Record.

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4. USA’s Helen Maroulis Takes Home The First Gold in Women’s Wrestling

The most intriguing thing about Olympic competitors is how they are able to juggle admiring and competing against the greats of their respective sports. It’s almost as if the level of respect they have for those they’ve followed and that have inspired them somehow feeds into their need to one day face and beat them. It’s not about bad-mouthing their opponents; it’s all about what makes them equals in their sport. For Maroulis, facing Japan’s Saori Yoshida at her first Olympics was a dream come true. At 24, Maroulis has seen Yoshida, 33, compete and retain her World Champ status throughout her career. Saori Yoshida is definitely a tough competitor, who is a 16-time world champion attempting her fourth gold in Women’s Wrestling. Undefeated, Yoshida’s prowess has diminished in recent matches, and Maroulis proved too much for her. “I’ve been dreaming about wrestling Saori for so long,” Maroulis said. “She’s a hero. She’s the most decorated wrestler in the sport. It’s such an honor to wrestle her.”

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5. Sportmanship At Its Finest: Abbey D’Agostino and Nikki Hamblin

Olympic medals aren’t what it’s about. Even making it to the Olympics isn’t what it’s about. As you can see, even assholes can make it to the Olympics and win. The Olympic Spirit, the merit of the games, is defined by how its standard-bearers treat one another. There’s no better example of that spirit than America’s Abbey D’Agostino and New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin. At the qualifying heat of the Women’s 5000m, Hamblin unexpectedly fell and took some spikes to the back of her right thigh. Before anyone knew it, Abbey D’Agostino toppled over her, injuring her knee. “Get up. We have to finish this.” Those were the words Abbey uttered to Nikki, helping her to her feet as they attempted to finish the race together. For the two, it was no longer about winning; it was about showing the World what mental toughness can achieve when you work together. The IOC rewarded both an opportunity to compete at the 5000m final. Hamblin was able to compete, with her shoulder, thigh and ankle injuries – she finished dead last. D’Agostino watched from the stands, suffering a torn ACL and meniscus. For us mortals, way beyond the age or physical ability to compete at the Olympic caliber, it’s the random acts of kindness that ring truest because it doesn’t take being an athlete to do good in this World.

 

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