Rio: The good, the bad and the in­dif­fer­ent

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

RIO DE JANEIRO — What went right and what went wrong at the 2106 Rio Games, the first Olympics to be held in South Amer­ica.

Right Big names, big per­for­mances — Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt didn’t put a foot wrong in Rio, un­like other mem­bers of the swim­ming and ath­let­ics fra­ter­nity. Phelps took his gold medal haul to 23; Bolt to nine with a ‘triple triple’ of 100m, 200m and 4x100m ti­tles for the third Olympics.

Both men have now re­tired as Olympians, leav­ing po­ten­tially gap­ing gaps in the Games port­fo­lio.

Zika, no fear — Lead­ing tennis play­ers, the world’s top four golfers never made it to Rio, fear­ing the health con­se­quences of the mos­quito-borne disease. As it turned out, the sto­ries proved more dra­matic than the facts.

Feel-good fac­tor

— For the first time, a team of refugees took part at the Games. IOC pres­i­dent Thomas Bach said they were treated like “rock stars” in the ath­letes vil­lage with com­peti­tors ask­ing for self­ies.

It was 10-strong and in­cluded Congo’s Popole Misenga who won over the judo arena crowd by mak­ing the sec­ond round where it took a world cham­pion to beat him.

The team also fea­tured Yusra Mar­dini, a teenage swim­mer from Syria who braved a Mediter­ranean cross­ing in a leaky dinghy, and com­pa­triot Rami Anis who fled the war­rav­aged na­tion in 2011 to avoid be­ing en­listed into the army.

Kosovo ap­peared at its first Olympics and took only two days to get its first gold - Ma­jlinda Kel­mendi in the judo. Fiji got their first medal by win­ning the rugby sevens.

Tennis player Mon­ica Puig gave Puerto Rico their first gold at a Games; ham­mer thrower Dil­shod Nazarov did the same for Ta­jik­istan as did Che­ick Sal­lah Cisse for Ivory Coast in taek­wondo.

Ladies first — The United States and Australia sent teams to Rio that had more women than men. The US had 292 women in their squad and 263 men while Australia had a 212/207 split.

Wrong Safe and sound? — There was lit­tle es­cape from the daily, grim tally of shoot­ings and rob­beries in the crime-plagued city.

On the night of the open­ing cer­e­mony, two peo­ple were fa­tally shot near the Mara­cana sta­dium.

An Aus­tralian pho­tog­ra­pher lost tens of thou­sands of dol­lars worth of equip­ment in an Ipanema cof­fee shop and then saw the thief two days later wear­ing his Olympic jacket with ac­cred­i­ta­tion num­ber. AFP also lost a lot of equip­ment.

Chi­nese 110m hur­dler Shi Dong­peng lost his lap­top com­puter to an­other well-planned thief.

The man vom­ited on Shi and was chased by a Chi­nese jour­nal­ist who was with Shi who went to the re­stroom. When he re­turned his be­long­ings had dis­ap­peared.

Por­tu­gal’s Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Ti­ago Bran­dao Ro­drigues was held up at knife­point.

Is there any­body there? — Swathes of empty seats were a ma­jor source of em­bar­rass­ment for or­gan­is­ers, par­tic­u­larly with some events seem­ingly sold out and no tick­ets avail­able to buy on the of­fi­cial web­site.

Track and field was hit with the 60 000seat sta­dium ap­pear­ing no more than a third full on some oc­ca­sions. The be­hav­iour of Brazil­ian fans also caused con­cern.

French pole vault star Re­naud Lav­il­le­nie was booed dur­ing com­pe­ti­tion and on the podium when he took sil­ver be­hind Brazil’s Thi­ago Braz da Silva.

Brazil­ians also jeered op­pos­ing teams at the gym­nas­tics and chanted “Zika” at US and Swedish women’s football team goal­keep­ers dur­ing games.

Brazil­ian and Ar­gen­tinian fans even fought at the tennis. Brazil­ian ex­perts said it was a ques­tion of cul­ture and that their sports fans are the same in do­mes­tic com­pe­ti­tion. Men be­hav­ing badly — Ryan Lochte was con­demned as the ul­ti­mate ‘ugly Amer­i­can abroad’ for his madeup story that he and three team­mates were robbed at gun­point.

In fact the four swim­mers had only been stopped by se­cu­rity and made to pay com­pen­sa­tion for drunk­enly van­dal­is­ing a gas sta­tion bath­room.

Euro­pean Olympic chief Pa­trick Hickey was ar­rested at his lux­ury ho­tel and then de­tained in a high se­cu­rity prison, fac­ing charges of in­volve­ment in a ticket scam, am­bush mar­ket­ing and con­spir­acy over the sale of Rio Olympics tick­ets at in­flated prices.

Box­ers Has­san Saada of Morocco and Namibia’s Jonas Ju­nias Jonas were ar­rested on charges of “sex­ual as­sault” on cham­ber­maids work­ing in the Ath­letes Vil­lage.

Not the best kept vil­lage

— Rio’s im­age was bat­tered even be­fore the Games started when cost-cut­ting led to economies in the vil­lage. The Aus­tralian team at first re­fused to stay in the sprawl­ing com­plex, claim­ing it was un­safe and un­clean.

The Bri­tish team em­ployed their own plumber while Ja­panese ath­letes were re­ported to be car­ry­ing out their own house­hold re­pairs. A lot of teams said though that, while ba­sic, the vil­lage was just fine.

Started wrong... Ended right — Brazil set the tar­get of be­ing in the top 10 in the medals ta­ble and did not make it. Ju­doka Rafaela Silva got the hosts only gold in the first week. They ended with six. But thank good­ness for Ney­mar.

The football team started with lack­lus­tre 0-0 draws against South Africa and Iraq and were roundly lam­basted by their diehard fans.

But Brazil got it right on the night when, su­per­star Ney­mar scored the win­ning penalty in a shootout vic­tory over Ger­many.

It was the hosts’ first football gold and was also sweet re­venge for the hu­mil­i­a­tion of their 7-1 World Cup semi-fi­nal loss to the same op­po­nents two years ago on home soil.

— AFP LON­DON — Crys­tal Palace de­fender Damien De­laney (pic­tured) has said new sign­ing Chris­tian Ben­teke ‘is not Lionel Messi’ and will need sup­port from the squad.

Ben­teke (25) joined the Ea­gles from Liver­pool for a club record £27m.

The Premier League side have yet to win this sea­son af­ter los­ing 1-0 to both West Brom and Tot­ten­ham.

“We’re not sign­ing Messi, he’s a good player but not a player who is go­ing to get the ball and make things hap­pen,” De­laney told the Evening Stan­dard.

“We have to get some am­mu­ni­tion for him, get some crosses in the box, give him sup­ply”.

Ben­teke could make his de­but on Tues­day when Palace face Black­pool in the EFL Cup, although the striker is short of match fit­ness.

“(Ben­teke) brings a pres­ence, he’s a hand­ful, but Con­nor Wick­ham is as well. It’s time we stop talk­ing about things and go and win games,” De­laney added. — BBC

Usain Bolt.

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