Sadly, the Olympic Games are now over. But the Olympic summaries are only beginning! Wait, how is that a good thing?
Er, anyway, I will write summaries about the swimming and the track & field events, and perhaps – who knows, even about the gymnastics. Those are the three sports I followed most closely in Rio.
I liked the “Top 10” thingy I did last year with the Athletics World Championships in Beijing (see here and here), so I will do the same here, instead of only giving out gold, silver and bronze medals like I did for the Swimming World Championships in Kazan (please don’t look here). I’ll start with the men summary and then move on to the women.
Now, some stuff that won’t be featured in the men’s rankings:
- Anton Chupkov winning the bronze medal in the 200m breaststroke WHILE SWIMMING WITH A FUCKING CROSS ON HIS NECK, I MEAN WHAT THE FUCK.
- Still in that 200m breaststroke, Dmitriy Balandin winning the improbable gold medal from the 8th lane and giving Kazakhstan its first ever swimming medal, let alone a gold one.
- Laszlo Cseh winning his 6th non-gold-medal in his 4th (and final?) Olympic Games. What an awesome swimmer, I will miss him.
- In the 100m breaststroke, Cameron van der Burgh continuing his symbiotic relationship with Renaud Lavillenie (both held the WR, both were favorites to win gold in the past few World Championships, both won a non-gold medal in the past 4 Worlds, both won gold in London 2012 ). This time they both came as Olympic champions and both won the silver medal. I mean, it was funny at the beginning but now this shit is getting a bit creepy…
- The biggest dissapointments for me among the male swimmers? Probably Cameron McEvoy, but also Mitch Larkin and Daniel Gyurta, who failed to even qualify for the semi-finals in his trademark event, the 200m breaststroke (why so many breaststroke here Michael???).
Anyway, without Freddy Adu, let’s start with the goddamn rankings already!
10) Joseph Schooling – 1 gold. “Only” one gold medal, but what a medal that was. The only man to beat Michael Phelps in a final in Rio, he won the 100m butterfly and set a new OR in the process, 50.39 seconds. No one was even close to him and he had the best 2nd 50 meters in the pool. He won the Olympic title by a margin of 0.75 of a second, and brought Singapore its first ever Olympic gold medal. I might be tempted to say he schooled all the other swimmers, but i will refrain from that, and so should you. It’s a terrible pun.
9) Mack Horton – 1 gold. Again, just the one gold medal – in the 400m freestyle – for the swimming version of Clark Kent (seriously, have you seen him on the podium with those glasses? I’ll put a photo just in case), but what a tremendous win that was. I was really confident Sun Yang will take this one. Who can beat him? Who? Well, Horton heard a who and managed to out-Sun-Yang Sun Yang himself, by having the fastest last 100m in the pool, winning the gold by 0.13 of a second. He also swam a very good split in the 4x200m freestyle relay (1:45.37 minutes), but it was enough only for 4th place.
8) Sun Yang – 1 gold, 1 silver. Not the Olympic Games we expected from the great Sun Yang, but it’s the Olympic Games we deserved right now. True, he finally won the 200m freestyle for the first time at a major championship, but I also saw him lose for the first time since 2011 at a distance of 400m+, when he won only the silver medal in the 400m freestyle. I didn’t get to see his disastrous 1,500m heats performance so I don’t really know what happened there, but I was shocked when I went over the results afterwards. Sun Yang not being in the final of the most Sun-Yangish distance?! What the actual fuck?!
7) Kyle Chalmers – 1 gold, 2 bronzes. How come the Australians keep producing these juggernauts in the 100m freestyle? Just in the past 5 years we had James Magnussen, then Cameron McEvoy who I was sure will win the event in Rio, and then this Kyle Chalmers guy. A surprising but well-deserving victory, with a Junior WR, 47.58 seconds. He also won two relay bronze medals – one in the 4x100m freestyle, where his split was mediocre compared to the swimmer that he is (47.38 seconds), and one in the 4x100m medley where his split actually matched his caliber and was really awesome: 46.72 seconds, the fastest in ze pool, and which helped the Aussies to secure bronze and even threaten the British team’s silver medal – the gap was reduced from 1.59 seconds after 300m to 0.69 seconds at the finish.
6) Kosuke Hagino – 1 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze. If it wasn’t for Phelps, Kusoke would have been king of the medleys in Rio, but more importantly – he would have been in the top 5 of our rankings! His resume? Gold in the 400m medley, silver in the 200m medley behind Michael. AND he led-off the bronze-winning Japanese 4x200m relay team with a great time of 1:45.34 – only 0.11 of a second behind USA’s Conor Dwyer. Too bad he didn’t swim as fast in the 200m freestyle final, where he finished 7th. Had he swam his relay time there he would have finished 4th.
5) Nathan Adrian – 2 golds, 2 bronzes. I like Nathan Adrian. And he’s really handsome too. No homo. Well, maybe a little bit homo. His Rio campaign might not have been as impressive as in London (where he won 2 golds and 1 silver), but it was still pretty damn good. Bronze medals in both the 50m and the 100m freestyle (the only man to medal in both events) and two relay golds, where he fully delivered. In the 4x100m freestyle relay Adrian was the fastest man in the pool, swimming 46.97 seconds. In the 4x100m medley relay Nathan swam even faster, 46.74, albeit Kyle Chalmers swam faster by 0.02 of a second.
4) Adam Peaty – 1 gold, 1 silver. King of the breaststroke. 5 times he swam the 100m breaststroke in Rio, and 5 times it was spectacular to watch. First in the individual event, he broke his pre-Rio WR (57.92 seconds) by no less than 37 hundredths of a second, then in the semi-final he again swam faster than his previous WR (57.62), missing his new WR by 0.07 of a second… but he saved the best for last, for the final, demolishing the field and swimming in a league of his own, setting a new WR of 57.13 seconds. 57.13!!! He won the gold by a margin of 1.56 seconds! AND in a couple of days he improved his pre-Rio WR by 0.79 of a second! Shit. Oops, sorry. Fuck. But that’s not all! In the 4x100m medley relay, he swam the fastest breaststroke split in the heats (57.49 seconds) by a margin of 1.53 seconds, and in the final he made my jaw drop to the floor with a split of 56.59. I mean – what?!?! That was the fastest breaststroke split in the final by a margin of two whole fucking seconds and I’m quite sure it was by far the fastest evar recorded breaststroke split in the history of medley relays. He jumped into the water 6th and 100 metres aftewards Team GB was in 1st place, 0.61 of a second ahead of 2nd place USA. It was unhuman. I felt Peaty for the other swimmers. The USA team won the gold eventually, but Peaty earned his 2nd medal in Rio – silver, and cemented his place as one of the most awesome swimmers to watch. AND he’s only 21!
3) Anthony Ervin – 2 golds. Damn, what a story this guy is! Four years ago, in London, I thought that his story was already amazing. I mean – to make a comeback to the Olympic Games after almost a decade of not swimming competitively?! But in Rio his story broke all conventional records. Ervin won gold at the 50m freestyle, 16 (!!) years after winning it in Sydney as a 19 year old. He beat the favorite Florent Manaudou by 0.01 of a second to become the oldest individual swimming Olympic champion, breaking the record set by Phelps just a day before by 4 fucking years. To be the best swimming sprinter at 35 years of age?! Whaaaaaat. This alone would have gotten him high on this list, but he also contributed to the USA’s gold-winning 4x100m freestyle team, by swimming a good 47.65 seonds split in the heats. Add to that his extraordinary life story, his kick-ass tattoos sleeves and you’ll get the 3rd hero of the men’s swimming events in Rio.
2) Ryan Murphy – 3 golds. King of the backstroke. The first man to win the double backstroke at the Olympic Games since Aaron Peirsol (my whole life was a lie, I was SURE it’s spelled Piersol!) did it in 2004. First he dazzled us with the possibility of breaking Peirsol’s WR in the 100m (51.94 seconds), but he missed it by 0.03 of a second, and recorded a 51.97. Still, he became the second swimmer evar to dip under 52 seconds. Well, that was just the appetizer. He made amends by swimming this crazy backstroke split in the 4x100m medley relay – 51.85 seconds, for a new WR! In between he also won the 200m backstroke to complete 3 gold medals in Rio, more than any male swimmer except one (or The One). Best backstroke swimmer in the world, inheriting Mitch Larkin. AND he’s only 21! Wait, I have a déjà-vu…
1) Michael Phelps – 5 golds, one silver. In other news, the sky is blue. What more can be said about the greatest swimmer of all-time, a title he already earned after the 2008 Olympics in my opinion? He did almost everything in these Olympic Games. He retained the 200m butterfly title he lost 4 years ago to Le Clos, while also becoming the first swimmer to make the final in same event for 5 (!) consecutive Olympics. He won the 200m medley title for the 4th Olympic Games in a row. No other man won the same event more than 2 (!) Olympic games in a row, and has now Michael won it in 4… By doing this he also became just the 3rd athlete evar to win an individual event 4 times, joining track & field legends Al Oerter (Discus Throw) and Carl Lewis (Long Jump. Japanese wrestler Kaori Icho joined them a few days later). He did his thang in the relays, recording the 4th fastest split in the 4×100 freestyle relay final (47.12 seconds) despite not being a true sprinter (and still recording a split faster than Kyle Chalmers) and having the best butterfly split in the 4×100 medley relay by a 0.85 of a second, bringing ze USA team from 2nd place, down by 0.61 of a second, to 1st place, with a lead of 0.41 of a second, a lead they maintained until the end. And he also brought home the 4x200m freestyle relay team to win the gold. True, he only won the silver in the 100m butterfly, but hey – the only time he won every event he competed in was in those epic games of Beijing 2008.
These Olympic Games were better than his London exploits, and at the age of 31 he showed that he is still the king of the pool. I was really moved by his individual gold medals and actually had wetness in my eyes when he was standing on ze podium. I will greatly miss him. No other swimmer gave me such pleasure to watch him over so many times. I saw him win each and every one of his 28 Olympic medals and those are memories I will forever cherish. I believe that this was really the last time we saw him compete, even though it’s hard to imagine Olympic Games without Michael Phelps. I mean – he was always there. I don’t really remember stuff from Atlanta 96 and I think I only saw a couple of events back then, so I can safely say he was present every time I watched the Olympic Games. However, there is no need for him to come back again. Leave us with those colossal memories of your exploits. No one will (probably) ever top what you did. There will never be another Michael Phelps.
Thank you for everything, Michael.