Waiting for South Korea

Published 10:08 pm Thursday, August 25, 2016

If you’re like me, you’ve been in somewhat of a funk this week. But that’s only because the two weeks prior to this one were so spectacular.

It was a great two weeks for American Olympics-philes, who got to see their country set an Olympic record with 121 medals — the most ever for a U.S. team in a non-boycotted Games. They topped America’s previous high of 110 from Beijing.

It wasn’t just that Team USA dominated — they slammed the competition into the water. China finished second with 70 medals, 51 behind the United States.

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Most of my love of the Olympics comes from my love of gymnastics, and it was an excellent year to be a fan of U.S. women’s gymnastics. The team won a record nine medals, surpassing its previous high of eight from the 2008 Games in Beijing and 1984 Games in Los Angeles. Led by Simone Biles, who left South America with five medals, including the coveted individual all-around, the team was, to me, the highlight of an Olympics with a lot of highlights for American athletes. Not only did the American women’s team leave with the team medal, four of the five women won individual medals, and the team collectively won four of the six available golds.

Other sports just made this Olympics even better. Michael Phelps further cemented his legacy as the greatest Olympian of all time, bringing home six medals from Rio to bring his all-time total to 28. It was the fourth straight Olympics in which Phelps led all athletes from all sports in the medal count.

Also in the pool, Simone Manuel made history by becoming the first African-American woman to win Olympic gold in swimming.

I didn’t get to watch much of the track and field, but I hear there was much to celebrate for the United States there, too. Allyson Felix took home three medals to become the all-time winningest woman in Olympic track and field. The U.S. swept the women’s 100-meter hurdles. Abbey D’Agostino, competing in the 5K race, displayed true sportsmanship when she stopped to help another runner after the two collided. Neither won a medal, but it was easily the most heartwarming moment of the Games.

The triathlon events were fun to watch, especially the women’s event, since it was won by an American, Gwen Jorgensen, who brought the U.S. its first gold medal in triathlon. I also enjoyed watching the Brownlee brothers from Great Britain in the men’s event. The brothers ran together for most of the running portion, then one pulled away. He slowed down at the finish line and waited for his brother — but then still crossed before him. Great stuff.

Even though the closing ceremonies have happened and most of the athletes are already back in their home countries, Olympics-lovers like me are still basking in how wonderful the last two weeks have been. If we get down, all we have to do is remind ourselves there’s only a year and a half until the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.