By Rob Ficiur
What will be the lasting memories of the 2016 Olympics? How will these 2016 memories affect fans in the next four years leading to the Tokyo 2020 summer games?
1. Canada earned 22 total medals in Rio. This is four more medals than in the London 2012 games. The 22 medals ties Canada for the most medals it has earned in a Summer Olympic games (set at the 1996 Atlanta games). Canada’s four gold medals ties the records set in 1928 (Amsterdam) and 1904 (St. Louis). Comparing the number of medals won is not as simple as the numbers. In 1904 Canada won their four Gold Medals after sending 52 athletes to the games. In 1928 we won the four gold medals by sending 69 athletes. In 2016 Canada’s four gold medals came with a team of 314 athletes. No matter what numbers you consider, Canada still won more than last time. (None of these comparisons include the 1984 games because of the boycott of 13 Soviet bloc countries. We won 10 gold and 44 medals that year, when many top athletes not participating).
2. Do cheaters win? Russia finished fourth in medal standings with 19 gold and 56 total medals. Last month when the International Olympic committee chose not to suspend the entire country of Russia Olympic team. The IOC shamed its already tarnished name. The IOC said the individual sports bodies could decide which Russian athletes to suspend. When that decision was made a month before the games, we all knew that Russia got a Get out of Jail free card from the IOC.
Russia’s 56 medals is their lowest total ever since the breakup of the Soviet Union. Finishing fourth overall in medal count, sounds like no punishment at all. Fans will be resting easier knowing that Russia has been suspended from the Paralympic games.
3. Unexpected Criminals – Leading up to the Rio games reports questioned everything about the site from water to safety. The Olympics have been a prime target for extremists. The 1996 Atlanta bombings occurred away from the sporting events but still marred the games.
In Rio the most noteworthy criminals were four American swimmers. American Ryan Lochte is the owner of twelve Olympic medals. He will live in infamy for what happened after a late night of celebrating. Initially they claimed that they were robbed at gun point. Later they confessed to having damaged a gas station rest room before security (with a gun) put an end to their so called fun. Lochte is not the first athlete to get carried away with a celebration. He is also not the first to lie and then recount his original story. However, in an Olympic games, where the media was always raising questions about crime, the swimmer’s actions got the news coverage the crime reporters wanted. Not the biggest crime in sports history, but it cost Ryan Lochte mega dollars in sponsorships. Not since Tanya Harding’s friend clubbed Nancy Kerrigan did the Olympic athletes bring the law and order during Olympic prime time.
4. What Next? The Canadian Women’s soccer team won their second consecutive bronze medal. When the team beats Brazil, France and Germany and only loses one game, a bronze medal seems like a letdown. After beating the elite teams will the Canadian women become a new soccer power during the next four years? Or was this a lucky tournament?
In the next four years I can see myself following Andre De Grasse. Not since Ben Johnson has there been a track star that captured my attention. Before the Tokyo games De Grasse may establish himself as a star or he may fall back to the pack. The same can be said for the swim teams, especially the women as they grabbed the country’s attention with unexpected gold medals. In August we say we want to follow them in their next steps.
5. Where how? A week after the Olympics have ended, the sports channels are once again full of their usual things. Major League baseball playoff races are heating up as we enter September. This fall we get the treat of the World Cup of hockey. The best September’s in my growing up years was a fall with a Canada Cup. (Not quite as great when Canada lost). The Canadian Football League season becomes serious once Labour Day comes around. With all these sports dominating the television and websites, will a casual track fan like me follow Andre De Grasse? I would cheer for our swimmers if I knew when to find their races. In our busy lives there are more sports to watch than we have time to watch them. I am more interested in following Canada’s Olympic winners and almost winners than ever before. However, unless the events are advertised where I will normally see them, I (like many others) might find myself losing touch with some of the new sports and new stars we met at the Rio Olympics.