Recently, the Olympic story line has been hijacked by some idiotic decisions made by swimmer Ryan Lochte. The bigger story is a simple reality — the United States is absolutely dominant.
The U.S. Olympic team hit the 100-medal mark yesterday, and is lapping the field when it comes to first place finishes.
For a country that “doesn’t win anymore,” our athletes are winning on the world stage, a lot. Perhaps that’s why a certain presidential candidate is basically ignoring the games.
This year’s American dominance is so decisive that China, a country with three times as many citizens, is taking a second look at their Olympic emphasis:
Coming in second — or third, if China falters over the next few days — in the gold medal count would be a dream come true for many countries, especially poorer ones. But the discussion in China has reflected an ambivalent public that takes great pride in international sporting achievement, yet is no longer sure that medals are worth so much single-minded sacrifice from athletes and taxpayers.
Many people are also critical of the state sports administration, saying it has failed to adapt fast enough to a changing society, which is sending fewer children for the hard training needed to become Olympic champions, newspaper commentaries and experts have argued.
Add China’s disillusion to the list of benefits of U.S. success. One of the most gratifying parts of the games is beating our geopolitical rivals without resorting to the extreme and sometimes inhumane ways that China and other countries try to create Olympic champions.
The Olympics are a powerful and profound showcase of the United States not just because of medals won, but the story lines attached. Simon Biles was home schooled. Kim Rhodes, a 37-year old mother, just medaled in her 6th consecutive games. Michael Phelps added 5 more golds at the age of 31 to become perhaps the greatest Olympian of all time.
All of this adds up to an impressive showcase for a country that is supposedly on a downward turn. Sure, it’s just athletics, but it’s a well-deserved point of national pride.