Sunday, August 21, 2016

Flying Out of Rio

Well, another summer Olympiad has come and gone, and now it's time to bid adeus, goodbye, and all that other stuff, as we put Rio de Janeiro behind us.  And, as is my custom, I'd like to acknowledge everyone who got me interested enough in the Games to comment about it here.
I'd like to thank Allyson Felix, Clayton Murphy, Emma Coburn, and Jenny Simpson for their achievements in track and field, Simone Manuel for her breakthrough in the pool, Simone Biles for her gymnastic achievements, and Simone de Beauvoir for writing feminist literature that had to have inspired Title IX.
Special thanks also go to Nathan Adrian and Ryan Murphy for their feats in swimming, as well as to Maya Dirado and Lilly King for theirs, and all the U.S. swim relay teams, as well as thanks to all the other victorious athletes that I don't know from Adam or Eve who made these Games enjoyable.
No thanks to Ryan Lochte for his inexplicable and dubious achievement outside the pool.
(Oh, yeah, regarding my ladyfriend who was hot for Ryan Lochte . . . yeah, she got over him . . . before the bathroom incident. )
Gymnastics coach Martha Karloyi is following her husband Bela into retirement after having built the women's gymnastics program in These States from nothing into much more than something.  Thanks for the memories, guys, and thank you especially, Bela, for your unbridled enthusiasm for women's sports.  Shane Tusup can't hold a candle to you.
And thanks to Shane Tusup, Katinka Hosszú's husband, for his own wild enthusiasm.  I haven't seen anything like that in the Olympic bleachers since Michelle Kwan's dad! :-D And thank you, Katinka Hosszú, for being totally responsible for your swimming medals.
Special thanks to the Danish men's handball team for enlivening - and unexpectedly winning - the men's team-handball gold-medal game against France. You guys rock!
Thanks also to the commentators who covered these Olympics, especially Rebecca Lowe for that cool, British accent.  No thanks to Dan Hicks for demonstrating to me why media critics don't like him very much.
As always, I thank Mary Carillo and Tom Brokaw for their reports about Brazilian culture, especially Mary Carillo's report on the woman who inspired "The Girl From Ipanema." I also give credit, however begrudgingly, to figure skaters Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir for their own Brazilian travelogue segments.  Lipinski has never been a favorite athlete of mine, because she's so full of herself, but she did a good job.  So did Johnny Weir - but please, Johnny, please get yourself a fashion consultant!
Thanks also to models Gisele Bündchen, Adriana Lima and Alessandra Ambrosio for being a part of these Games, be it in the opening ceremony or through paling around with Ryan Seacrest, but how come no one invited those two other Brazilian beauties from the modeling world, Gisele Zelauy and my favorite Brazilian model, Dalma Collado, to join in? It's not because they're over forty, is it?
Paulo Pimenta is a Facebook friend of mine from Brazil, and I connected with him through the models I have befriended on social media.  He's been enjoying the Rio Games up close and personal. Thanks to my social-media connections, I have also connected on Facebook with . . . Gisele Zelauy. I dedicate my commentary on the Rio Games to them. :-)
There weren't that many memorable television commercials related to the Olympics, but there was one good one - a Reese's peanut butter cup ad showing winter Olympian Lindsey Vonn (a skier) trying her hand at non-winter sports with great difficulty. I'd like thank her for making such an entertaining commercial.  Lindsey, you are so adorable in that ad - and you totally got this! :-D
And thanks to the late Maya Angelou for reading her poetry in commercials for iPhone and the University of Phoenix.  Yes, that was sarcasm.  Whose stupid idea was it to play the recorded voice of a dead woman reading her own poetry in commercials, anyway, especially for an online diploma mill?  Not cool.
And a special thank you to Usain Bolt - I'm gonna miss you, man! - as well as very special thanks to Michael Phelps . . . 
 . . . for going out on top like no athlete ever has gone out or ever will.
And most of all, thanks to Katie Ledecky for her monumental accomplishments in the pool.  
This is Katie Ledecky with the great Janet Evans, who more or less passed her distance swimming crown to Katie.
Isn't she cute?
I don't mean Katie Ledecky. :-D
And speaking of Janet Evans . . . well, I saved my most important gratitude for last.  Although Evans has not competed in the Olympics since 1996, I found it impossible to comment on this summer Olympiad, or the previous one, without mentioning her at least once.  Which leads me to draw the obvious conclusion:  When it comes to writing about the Summer Olympics, she is, for better or for worse, my muse.  How could she not be?  Evans, as Hannah Storm told her in 1996, set the standard for what it means to be an Olympian in and out of competition, and her standard remains.  Why else would Evans appear on a Wheaties box only now, in 2016?  So, in addition to wishing her a happy birthday in advance (she turns 45 next Sunday), I'd like to thank her for the inspiration to blog about the Olympics, now and for all time.
Although she may find some of my comments a little too cynical . . .
And so we look with 2020 vision to the next Summer Olympics.  Gee, Mom, I want to go . . . straight back to Tokyo . . . :-D

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