With the Olympics finally over, most of the big stories that dominated the news for the last week will die out and fade off into the sunset, but some will linger due to their significance worldwide. To celebrate the end of the Games, and to remember some of the best stories to come out of Rio, this week’s Pick-Six breaks down the top six storylines to come out of the 2016 Summer Olympics.
6. USA Hits 1,000 Gold Medals
As impressive as this statistic is, it was just inevitable considering the dominance the United States has consistently displayed at the Olympics. The country needed just 23 gold medals to hit the 1K milestone, and reached it on the eighth day of the competition. The US finished out the summer with 46 golds, doubling the amount they needed to reach 1,000, and nearly doubled the medal count of the next closest country.
5. New US Olympic Stars Are Born
One of the best parts about watching the Olympics, specifically in the summer, is seeing all the new names coming out and succeeding on the big stage. This year, names like Katie Ledecky, Simone Biles and Kyle Snyder were dominant in their respective sports, and it showed in their gold medal performances. Ledecky, at just 19 years old, was absolutely perfect in the pool, tallying four golds and two medals as she crushed her competition and broke her own world record in the women’s 800-meter freestyle, and then had to wait 11 seconds for the next swimmer to touch the wall. Biles, also 19, won four golds and a bronze in gymnastics, while Snyder, 20, became the youngest American Olympic gold medalist ever with a solid performance in men’s freestyle wrestling.
4. Ryan Lochte’s Gas Station Drama
Most people will have this as the top storyline of the Olympics given the mass coverage it was given, but I want to focus on the athletic portion and the positives of the competition, rather than an out-of-pool incident. However, you can’t ignore the situation, and it was arguably the most covered story coming out of Rio. Whether it was actually a “robbery”, which legally it is considered to be, or if Lochte was just being Lochte, it has tampered his reputation on the world’s biggest stage.
3. Rio Became Upset Central For Big US Names
It seemed like every day there was a new upset occurring to some of the most dominant athletes this country has to offer. It began with the United States women’s soccer team being defeated in the quarterfinals by Sweden on penalty kicks, and the ball kept rolling throughout the Games. The women’s beach volleyball team of Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross and the indoor women’s volleyball team were both upset in the semifinals, and to top it off, the no. 1 ranked wrestler in the world and defending Olympic gold medalist, Jordan Burroughs, was upset in the quarterfinals and in the repechage for just his third and fourth losses of his career. Despite these disappointments, the country still finished on top in both gold and overall medal counts.
2. Usain Bolt Caps Off His “Triple-Triple”
If this is the end of Usain Bolt’s Olympic career, then we’ve been spoiled as witnesses to one of the greatest Olympic athletes of all-time. Bolt made it look easy throughout his races at the 2016 Games, as he tallied his ninth gold in as many Olympic finals, completing the “triple-triple”. It’s crazy to think that a lot of his times would be a lot quicker if he had run full speed all the way through, rather than slowing down once he had a comfortable lead. Nonetheless, Bolt will go down as one of the best to ever compete on the Olympic level.
1. Michael Phelps’ Final Hurrah
Arguably the greatest Olympian of all-time, Michael Phelps finished out his career in Rio, tallying 28 medals in his career, with 23 gold, 3 silver, and two bronze. He holds the all-time records for gold medals, individual gold medals, individual medals, gold medals in a single Olympic Games, and is tied for the record single Games individual record. It’s truly the end of an era if his career has officially concluded, and the Olympics won’t be the same without this swimming superstar.