"Thank Goodness For The Olympics"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Friday, August 12, 2016

Oh what a welcome relief!

Just in time the summer Olympics have arrived to save us from the constant barrage of political commentary. There was plenty of controversy surrounding the site of the games but all seems to be going well. The U.S. is on top in the medals count, taking their share of gold, silver and bronze. It’s great to hear our national anthem booming out as athletes tear up listening to it, chests stuck out in pride.

I’ve heard a few grumbles from those who miss seeing their favorite shows, but why not enjoy witnessing the results of years of hard work by the best competitors in the world? I also hear complaints about an athlete taking only a silver or bronze, like that wasn’t quite good enough. How would any of us like to be the second or third best in the world at a challenge?

After witnessing a young Russian woman cry while being interviewed after a meet she competed in, I have an opinion about the topic of drug use by some of the competitors. Some of them had failed drug test but on appeal were allowed to compete. The athletes worked and practiced just as hard as any others, and the use of drugs may have been promoted by trainers or country leaders. As I see it, there was no obvious drug use displayed, and some of the U.S. competitors were able to show their abilities alongside those presumed to be enhanced by drug use and beat them. I was excited for the young lady who earned our country’s very first gold medal. She excelled in air rifle shooting and as they placed her award around her neck, if her smile had been any wider, her face may have cracked. Anyone watching must have felt her pride of country and shared her jubilance of being the first to claim gold.

Watching the events on television allowed us to witness a vast array of sports, including some we had never seen. I really enjoyed the Rugby events, which made NFL games look like child’s play. Rugby had not been played in the Olympics since 1924, and both men and women competed in the high contact sport, which sometimes looked like wrestling matches. There is no protective apparel worn and it has to be assumed all competitors nurse a host of bruises after an event.

Golf had not been an event for 112 years, which is surprising with the worldwide interest in the game. A course was designed and built for the event, surrounded by much controversy. Many top golfers will not be competing at Rio due to concerns regarding the Zika virus. The event will be sure to draw much attention. Kite surfing is another new event, replacing wind surfing. It should be very entertaining to view with all the colorful kites aloft. The activity is very popular in the Florida Keys, and it is often viewed by spectators as they drive along U.S. 1.

After being the best for several years at women’s gymnastics, the youngsters this year did not disappoint in Rio. They dominated and showed feats of athleticism unparalleled in any sport. For such tiny individuals (one, maybe two, are less than 5 feet tall), they sure exploded with power performing maneuvers never before seen. It was obvious how hard each of them had worked to display such excellence. The group hug with their retiring coach was full of emotion and demonstrated their gratefulness for her dedication.

Volleyball is another tough sport, especially performed on the beach. Seeing competitors sustain injuries and get back in the game demonstrates how much they love to compete. Seeing a mature player compete at such a level is really great. The cycling events were also intense, as several cyclists were involved in dramatic crashes that ended their Olympic dreams.

Michael Phelps returned to continue his domination in the Olympic pool and add to his collection of medals. Of special interest this time around was a 3-month-old spectator at all of his events. His son “Boomer” wore head gear to protect his delicate baby ears most of the time, and slept a good deal also. After his dad won his 20th gold medal, a photo caught the moment for everyone to share.

I always enjoy the diving competition because it brings back memories of my years of competitive and show diving with my brother-in-law. We used to think we were pretty good, but what divers are doing now makes our dives look like they were done by kindergarteners.

Everyone should take a break and enjoy watching the games. After all, we only get to see them every four years, and they far surpass any other entertainment viewing.

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