Top 10 Athletes in Rio 2016
Top 10 Athletes in Rio 2016
During two weeks, the world’s eyes were focused on Rio de Janeiro. The uncertainty caused by Zika virus was left behind, as well as the concern related to the political instability in Brazil and the fear for violence outbreaks. Rio was a true party, with more glow than stain. In this Olympic event, the second one organized by a Latin American country, emotional moments were lived and they have already been written in the centenarian Olympic history of the modern age.
Which athletes and teams stood out? Handpicking the top ten is always a complex task; although, in the middle of such diversity, at least to sportsmen are included in any list for sure: Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt, two formidable men that had in Rio not only their Olympic farewell, but also their retirement from active sport. Rio also witnessed the strengthening of other legends and the birth of new stars that will certainly make headlines in Tokyo 2020.
Michael Phelps’ Last Olympic Pool
The athlete that holds the highest number of medals and Olympic titles had the best farewell ever: at the age of 31, Michael Phelps showed in Rio that he’s still the most complete swimmer of the world. With his little son watching from the stands and peculiar circles in several areas of his body—as part of cupping therapy, applied to treat blood vessel disorders—Phelps won six medals, thus totaling 28 in five editions of the Olympic Games. Five of this medals were golden, so he presently owns 23 crowns. None of these figures will be exceeded in the next century.
Usain Bolt’s Third Triple Round
The most charismatic and media-related athlete on the face of earth fulfilled his promise: he won the three events in Rio (gold in 100, 200 m dash and 4 x 100 m relay), so he holds nine gold medals taken in Olympic Games and consolidated his legend as the best sprinter of all time. There was no world record or spectacular clock, but, anyway, no rival could be close to the Caribbean star. We might have seen Bolt’s last race in Rio. We’ll certainly miss him and his name will prevail in athletics books, because his 9.58 secs in 100 m dash and 19.19 secs in 200 m dash seem to be destined to rule through the 22nd century.
The United States’ True Basketball Dream Team
Once again, the United States put together a true “Dream Team” in women’s basketball, made up of the best WNBA players. Unlike what happened with the men’s team, none of these stars wanted to miss the Games and the outcome was as expected: sixth Olympic crown in a row and eighth in the history. Head coach Geno Auriemma moved different players and helped the team win the games. There was only one uncertain moment in the semifinal, against France, but the rest was quite easy, with masterly performances by Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird, Lindsay Whalen, Maia Moore and Elena Delle Donne against Spain, 101-72.
Ashton Eaton: Once Again, The Most Complete Athlete
The most complete athlete won the toughest test of athletics, decathlon. It was the second time in a row Ashton Eaton climbs to the highest step of the podium.
The US athlete, twice world champion and owner of a record with 9,045 points, was great in Rio and finished with 8,893 points, thus matching the Olympic record established by Czech Roman Sebrle in Athens 2004.
Katie Ledecky: The Owner of Pools
19-year-old Katie Ledecky was the queen of swimming pools in Rio. This young star conquered four crowns (200, 400, 800 m free style, 4 x200 m free style relay) and she got the silver in 4x100 m, same style.
Katinka Hosszu’s Golden Strokes
Hungarian Katinka Hosszu was another outstanding swimmer in Rio. Supported by her frenzied coach-husband (his effusive gestures were highlighted by the media), Hosszu showed she’s a great backstroke swimmer, by winning in 100 m and finishing second in 200 m; moreover, she was on top of the podium in 200 and 400 m medley.
Simone Biles: The Queen of Gymnastics
As for rhythmic gymnastics, US Simone Biles was the queen and amazed members of the jury and enthusiasts with the accuracy and beauty of her moves. Biles won as the top scorer, far from her compatriot Alexandra Raisman, and she was also the champion in pommel horse, floor exercises and the team event. The bronze came in the balance beam, where she was defeated by Dutch Sanne Wevers and US Lauren Hernandez.
Jason Kenny: Unstoppable at the Velodrome
British Jason Kenny was the most outstanding athlete at Rio’s velodrome and obtained three titles: individual and team speed (with Olympic record included); moreover, he won in Keirin. So, 28-year-old Kenny took his Olympic medal total up to seven, six of which are golden. Kenny and his wife-to-be, cyclist Laura Trott, were the most popular couple in Rio, since they won five crowns.
Kohei Uchimura: Invincible Gymnast
This Japanese gymnast showed that he’s the best and strengthened his legend as an unbeatable athlete. Owner of six world titles and Olympic champion in London, Kohei Uchimura went to Rio with the aim of holding his crown as the top scorer. The tournament was intense and the Asian athlete felt the pressure of Ukrainian Oleg Verniaiev, but he finally prevailed with 99 thousandths of a point (92,365 against 92,26). The Japanese gymnast won another gold in the team event.
Mijain Lopez: A Cuban Hercules and Three-time Olympic Champion
The strong Cuban wrestler conquered his third consecutive gold in Rio and joined the select group made up of six athletes that have won three Olympic crowns. Mijain Lopez’s control over his rivals was so overwhelming that they couldn’t score a single point. In the duel for the crown, against Turkish Riza Kayaalp—the only man that has been capable of defeating him over the past five years—, the Cuban athlete displayed his impeccable technique and, with astonishing reaction speed at the age of 34, he performed a spectacular move that will always be remembered.
Tedy Riner: A Judo Legend
French giant Teddy Riner, the main figure in world judo over the past lustrum, faced strong rivals in the +100 kg division in Rio Games, but his quality prevailed and he won his second Olympic title, which joins eight world crowns and positions him as a legend in this sport.