Golden Moments From Rio 2016: An Olympic Photo Essay

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American Abbey D’Agnostino and Nikki Hamblin of New Zealand were 3,000 meters into the race when D’Agnostinio appealed to clip Hamblin’s heel, sending both tumbling to the ground. After getting up, D’Agnostino fell again, and Hamblin was gracious enough to end her hopes of placing in the race by helping Abbey up.

There were dozens of great stories during these Olympics, but none more compelling and captivating than the one where one runner stopped to help another up after a fall during the race. And that is what life is all about: falling down and getting back up, and those that help us and those that we help along the way to the finish line.

So the Olympics and life are not just about winning gold medals; it’s about living the golden rule and sharing golden moments all along the way.

http://www.usatoday.com/media/cinematic/video/88829960/moving-moment-in-womens-5000-at-rio-olympics/

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RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 09: Ruolin Chen and Huixia Liu of China compete in the Women’s Diving Synchronised 10m Platform Final on Day 4 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Maria Lenk Aquatics Centre on August 9, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

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RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 15: Kelly Jonker (R) of the Netherlands hits the ball into Lucinda von der Heyde during the Women’s quarter final hockey match between the Netherlands and Argentina on Day 10 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games held at the Olympic Hockey Centre on August 15, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
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USA’s guard Kyrie Irving (R) takes a shot over France’s point guard Thomas Heurtel during a Men’s round Group A basketball match between USA and France at the Carioca Arena 1 in Rio de Janeiro on August 14, 2016 during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. / AFP / Andrej ISAKOVIC (Photo credit should read ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images)
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David Florence, Richard Hounslow Men’s Canoe Double event at Whitewater Stadium during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. (Hahn Lionel/CP)

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RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 14: Usain Bolt of Jamaica wins the Men’s 100m Final on Day 9 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 14, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

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Spain’s Naiara Egozkue celebrates after scoring during the women’s preliminary handball match between Spain and Romania at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, Aug. 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

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Bronze medalist Kristi Castlin, gold medalist Brianna Rollins and  silver medalist Nia Ali, all of the United States, celebrate after sweeping the Women’s 100m Hurdles Final at Olympic Stadium at the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on August 17, 2016. Photo by Terry Schmitt/UI
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Mohamed Farah of Great Britain reacts after winning the gold medal in the Men’s 5000 meter Final at Olympic Stadium at the 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on August 20, 2016. Photo by Kevin Dietsh/UPI
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Danell Leyva celebrates after competing in the men’s team gymnastics final of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games at the Rio Arena on Monday, August 8, 2016.
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Jeff Henderson of the United States reacts after winning the gold medal in the Men’s Long Jump Final at Olympic Stadium on Saturday, August 13, 2016. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI

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Inika McPherson of the United States competes in the Women’s High Jump Final at Olympic Stadium at the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 20, 2016. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
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Elaine Thompson of Jamaica is amazed as she crosses the finish line first in her 200m final which earned her double gold at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Photo Credit: @iaaforg
Sailing - Olympics: Day 12
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 17: Hannah Mills (helm) of Great Britain and Saskia Clark of Great Britain sail in the light wind delaying the start of the Women’s 470 class race on Day 12 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Marina da Gloria on August 17, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

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USA’s gold medallist team Nathan Adrian (L), Michael Phelps, Ryan Murphy, Cody Miller (R), pose with a banner “Thank You rio” during the podium ceremony of the Men’s swimming 4 x 100m Medley Relay Final at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 13, 2016. / AFP / GABRIEL BOUYS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

Gabby Douglas Survives The Social Media Circus, and You Can Too

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I’m glad for Gabby. She’s taking a social media malaise, yet she has re-emerged and resurrected her status and her standing because of help from beyond her reach. Movie stars, fellow athletes and others all came to Gabby’s rescue as unknown and unwanted faultfinders heaped and piled on uncalled for criticism about everything from her looks to her hair to her hand not being placed over her heart during the playing of the national anthem.  The heck with her performance, right?  And all she did was her best. 

Gabby Douglas is the decorated Olympic gymnast who won the women’s all around in London. Yet “all” she did was be a part of the “Final Five” who will bring home a team gold medal from Rio. But her individual performance has not been enough to appease some observers on the internet.

Here’s how the Washington Post and the New York Times reported the story:

“After finishing seventh in a field of eight in her lone individual event, the uneven bars, Douglas fought back tears when reporters’ questions about her performance turned to questions about a wide range of criticism that has been directed at her, much of it on social media: about her stance during the playing of the national anthem, her expression in the stands as Simone Biles and Aly Raisman vied for all-around honors, and a perception that she has distanced herself from teammates.

Douglas said she had avoided the Internet while in Rio because of the “negativity,” which she said she didn’t understand.” (Liz Clarke, The Washington Post)

“Douglas, 20, who won the women’s all-around during the London Olympics in 2012, lamented on Sunday that she had been picked apart by people on social media for everything from her appearance — right down to her hair texture — to her behavior during a medal ceremony while the national anthem was being played.

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“When they talk about my hair or not putting my hand over my heart or being very salty in the stands, really criticizing me, for me it was really hurtful,” Douglas, who is African-American, said, according to The Associated Press.

Even her mother, Natalie Hawkins, expressed frustration with the harsh attacks. “They said she had breast enhancements; they said she wasn’t smiling enough, she’s unpatriotic,” Hawkins told Reuters. After some observers noticed that Douglas looked disappointed while watching her teammates succeed, “it went to not supporting your teammates,” her mother said. Hawkins added: “Now you’re ‘Crabby Gabby.’ You name it, and she got trampled. What did she ever do to anyone?”

The Olympics have always been fertile ground for cutthroat competition and narratives about fallen heroes, but observers on social media can distort those stories and take them to extremes — while still expecting athletes to smile and act gracefully when they lose.

Athletes have never been as accessible as they are right now — especially those like Douglas and Franklin who rely on social media to build a fanbase and share sponsored posts from brands they endorse, like United Airlines and Gillette razors.

That accessibility becomes a double-edged sword when they do not perform as well as they should, or if fans catch a whiff of jealousy, bad behavior or team infighting.

But if we have learned anything from social media’s power to tear down idols, it is that the same tools can be used to build someone back up. By Monday, #LOVE4GABBYUSA was being spread across Twitter by fans who wanted to help Douglas feel better despite the onslaught of abuse.” (Katie Rogers, The New York Times)

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So here’s to Gabby and to those who rose to her rescue.  And maybe, just maybe, when you or I see someone being unfairly gang tackled, we’ll rise to their rescue too.

Why We Loved The Rio Olympics: Another Jolt From Usain Bolt

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Usain St. Leo Bolt has beaten the best and he’s ravished the rest. He’s conquered his counterparts at every turn. And this is only part of his allure.

Usain Bolt won the 100m dash. Then he won the 200m dash. And THEN he crowned these Olympics off and capped the Games of XXXI Olympiad with a crowning, royal diadem of a 4 x 100m dash performance for the ages. Just as we love to watch a deer run through the woods and watch a cheetah race across the plain, so we love to watch Usain bolt down the track.

So what is Bolt’s mystery ingredient? What is Bolt’s secret weapon? Wha does Usain have that the other sprinters lack? (Not counting his extraordinary height, or course.)  First and foremost, Usain Bolt is supremely confident.  Usain’s almost insane confidence is not just in himself, per se; his confidence  lies rooted and grounded in his uncanny ability to transcend the circumstances, whatever they may be, to achieve gold.

Bolt is a believer. He’s a man of faith. But he’s also a man full of fundamentals. He just doesn’t believe or hope or dream; he works hard. He trains hard. He practices long and he strives for perfection.  And he’s sustained this streak of dominance and eminence over time, so he’s no flash in the pan.

Bolt is a boyish “Bella.” His speed and his strength and his gold medals are only icing on the cake. It’s his charm and his charisma, and most of all, his confidence, that are the soul of this human machine, and this surefire assurance is what we love and admire about him the most.

Plenty of Shame in Ryan Lochte’s Game

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Ryan Lochte is swimming in hot water; or deep water; or muddy water; take your pick. Whichever metaphor you chose, each and every one is apropos. Lochte is an Olympic gold medal winner, but he will be remembered for much more than the medals he’s won.

We all know from childhood that lying is bad all by and in and of itself. But lying to the POLICE is something else altogether; and lying to the police in a FOREIGN COUNTRY has got to take the cake.   My word.

Here’s what we’ve heard:

“According to The Associated Press, Brazilian officials claim that some or at least one of four US Olympic swimmers in Rio broke down a gas station bathroom door, vandalized the bathroom, and later falsely told local officials they were robbed at gunpoint. Under this scenario, the swimmers could be charged with filing a false police report and/or vandalism. In Brazil, each offense is punishable by one to six months in jail and/or a fine or probation. But jail time is rarely served for such crimes in Brazil, and a public apology or donation to a charity could help lessen any penalties levied.

The four swimmers involved in the incident are Americans Ryan Lochte, Jimmy Feigen, Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz. Lochte, 32, is the highest-profile swimmer in the group. He competed in his fourth Olympics in Rio, and has six gold medals, three silver and three bronze over his career.”

It’s all so sad. It’s all so privileged and it’s all so entitled. These young athletes obviously felt like they were above the law and above the fray. And what happened? They end up giving the Rio Games a blow below the belt and in turn must bow beneath their dignity public vandalism and then by lying to the law.

Lochte apparently skipped town and got out of dodge before his teammates got taken off of a plane on the tarmac and were interviewed by the local police. Boy, oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. Let’s hope that Lochte and the other lads learn a real big lesson from all of this.

It’s not funny and it’s not frivolous. It was foolish and it was fractious. To be sure, the incident should not be trivialized. But it should not be overblown either. Bringing shame to your game and to your team and to your Country during the Olympics is a black eye that Mr. Lochte is going to have to wear for a while. And he’s going to have to allow time and truth to heal this haymaker he’s hurled that has landed, largely on himself.

Can The USA Men Win Basketball Gold In Rio?

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More than any other player, Carmelo Anthony is the face of the 2016 US Men’s Olympic Basketball Team. He represents their past and epitomizes their future. He’s an accomplished athlete who has won championships at every level, save the NBA. And it’s this asterisk next to his accolades, this rip on his résumé and this “but” on his byline that keep us wondering if Melo has the macho to guide this team to gold.

Carmelo Kyam Anthony (born May 29, 1984) is an American professional basketball player for the New York Knicks of the National Basketball Association (NBA). In Anthony’s freshman season, he led the Orangemen to their first ever National Championship and was named the NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. Anthony then entered the 2003 NBA draft where he was selected with the third overall pick by the Denver Nuggets.

Since entering the NBA, Anthony has been named an All-Star nine times and an All-NBA Team member six times. In 2011, he was traded from Denver to the New York Knicks just days prior to the NBA trade deadline. On January 24, 2014, against the Charlotte Bobcats, Anthony set the Madison Square Garden and Knicks’ single-game scoring record with a career-high 62 points.

Anthony has been a member of the USA Olympic basketball team a record four times, winning a bronze medal at the 2004 Olympics and gold medals at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. He is the United States Olympic men’s national basketball team all-time leading scorer.

But despite all of the firepower Melo and his teammates have, there is an aura of skepticism about Melo in general and this US team in particular; especially since they’re not blowing their opponents away like previous US Olympic Teams have in the past.

Luis Scola, an Argentinian national and a member of the Brooklyn Nets, said this about the US Team:

“There was this time that the U.S. kind of got bored of the FIBA (Olympic competition) thing,” Scola said. “And they didn’t put a lot of effort, didn’t put a lot of work on it. They didn’t really commit to it. And those years they lost. And then they said: ‘Stop. Enough.’ So I believe it’s pretty much up to the U.S.

“If U.S. takes this seriously, and they really put work into it, and they put their minds and their bodies into it, it’s going to be very, very hard to beat them any year they come and play. They have so many good players. They have so many athletes. The difference of the athleticism between those guys and everybody else is very, very big. So if they really focus on it, it’s going to be very hard to beat them in any tournament. It’s been like that forever.” http://www.espn.com/olympics/basketball/story/_/id/17314081/olympics-2016-how-world-underdogs-see-chances-upsetting-team-usa

And the same goes for you and me. When we set our minds anew on what we hope we can do, there’s nothing and nobody that can stop us. He who lies within us is greater that what lies before us. So with the help of Heaven and a lift from the Lord, with God all things are possible to those who believe.

Usain Bolt: Pride of Jamaica

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A hero is someone who helps without expecting anything in return. Their gesture may be big or small; but profound or not, it doesn’t make him any less of a hero. Does this define Usain Bolt? In the minds and hearts of boys and girls and men and women the world over, Usain’s winning and bolting and dapping may not match the traditional meaning of the term, but its close enough.

Usain Bolt just won the men’s 100 m dash for the third straight Olympics. He defeated his arch-rival Justin Gatlin and the rest of the field to win gold in “just” 9.80 seconds. And his dominance in the sport spans past the Olympics, as he set a new World Record of 9.58 in 2009.

Usain has bolted to super stardom as he has led his tiny island nation of Jamaica to world track and field dominance. So he’s more than a hero; he’s conquered oh, so many hearts and he is the shining star of a nation.

Usain has unusual height for a sprinter and unmatched stamina parallel to none. His speed and his strength have earned him the title “World’s Fastest Man” for almost a decade. And his charisma and charm and magnetism and near hypnotism all combine for a compelling story that is worth telling time and again.

Michael Phelps!

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Wow! What’s not to like?  He’s won going away, and in so doing he’s set the bar so high that it will be tough for any US athlete to beat and best his mark for gold medals won.  But that’s how we like our heroes. We like it for them to be above us and beyond us and ahead of us. But with all of that privilege comes responsibility. And in the end, Phelps has shown himself to be a worthy champion.

Here’s a little bit of his bio and a short list of his Olympic accolades:  

Michael Fred Phelps II was born on June 30, 1985 in Baltimore, Maryland and is the most decorated Olympian of all time, with a total of 28 medals. Phelps also holds the all-time record for Olympic gold medals at 23; 14 ahead of the second-highest record holders. Phelps also holds the record for Olympic gold medals in individual events at 13, and Olympic medals in individual events at 16.

 In winning eight gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Games, Phelps broke fellow American swimmer Mark Spitz’s record of 7 first-place finishes at any single Olympic Games. Five of those victories were in individual events, tying the single Games record. In the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Phelps won four golds and two silver medals, making him the most successful athlete of the Games for the third Olympics in a row. And this year in Rio, we all watched Phelps win 5 gold medals and one silver.

Yet with all of the winning and medaling and achieving, Phelps has also had his handful of hiccups.

In November 2004, at the age of 19, Phelps was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol in Salisbury, Maryland. Asked about the incident later by Matt Lauer on the Today Show, Phelps said that he had “let a lot of people in the country down.”

In February 2009, publication of a photograph of Phelps using a bong resulted in the loss of the Kellogg Company as a sponsor, as well as a three-month suspension by USA Swimming. Phelps admitted that the photo, taken at a party at the University of South Carolina, was authentic. He publicly apologized, saying his behavior was “inappropriate”.

And in September 2014, he was arrested again, on charges of driving under the influence of alcohol and speeding in Baltimore, Maryland. As a result, USA Swimming suspended him from all competitions for six months, and stated he would not be chosen to represent the United States at the 2015 World Aquatics Championships.

But Phelps has overcome each and every stumble and bumble.  He is retiring from the sport (again) and is going out on top, winning his last race. Phelps participated in five Olympics and won in four consecutive Olympic Games. Not too shabby.

Phelps now has a cute little boy and pretty little fiancée, and by all appearances, he seems to have handled the ups and bounced back from the downs of his life and career with a degree of class and composure. His major triumphs were on the grand stage, so if follows that his minor tragedies were equally public a swell. Because “to whom much is given, much is required.” (Luke 12:48)

So congrats to you, Michael. You won the 4×100 medley relay in your last race. And after you won you marched around the arena with a “Thank you, Rio” banner. That was classy. You are a class act, and you will be a tough act to follow.