Opinion by Michael Royster
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Curmudgeon has plenty of time to write this today, because it’s a Friday sandwiched in between Thursday and Monday holidays, carefully planned by the IOC to ensure Cariocas left town, or at least stayed home rather than go about their usual business.
Even though the Olympic Games haven’t ended yet, there are sufficient newsworthy events that have caught the Curmudgeon’s attention to merit a column. We’ll start with a highlight.
Most of The Rio Times readers are from either the U.S. or the UK, so we assume that the results of their respective teams are creating happiness on both sides of the pond that separates us. Team USA is far out in front in the medal chase, and Team GB is doing better, at this point, than it did in London 2012, standing second.
The lowlife also has to do with the USA — or rather, with an athlete wearing its colors on his Speedo. Ryan Lochte, who was a low-key hero with thirteen Olympic medals, has definitely emerged from the shadow of Michael Phelps. Unfortunately for him, it’s because he’s pulled the dumbest publicity stunt in Olympics history.
Allegedly asked to lie on the ground by a gun-wielding cop (which never happens here), Lochte said he didn’t do so — that perhaps gained him some macho points. He definitely won gold in the “Getting out of Dodge” category, as he did the fastest runner back to the USA, leaving his not so macho buddies in the lurch. Pathetic.
The swimming highlight (we’re being serious here) wasn’t Phelps, although he did just fine, thank you. The most astonishing feat, by far, was that 35-year-old (that’s right, thirty-five) Anthony Ervin won the 50 meter freestyle, thus repeating what he did sixteen years ago in Sydney. That’s a win in both the second and third millennia. Wow!
The lowlight of the entire Olympics was the booing, whistling and jeering of a French pole vaulter as he stood on the podium to receive his silver medal. During the pole vault, the crowds cheered on the local hero, while booing his closest competitor.
That’s perhaps okay, at least in a football match; as Nelson Rodrigues famously said “At Maracanã, Brazilians boo even a minute of silence.” But to boo an athlete as he receives his well-deserved medal is simply beneath contempt.
And finally, speaking of football, who can forget Hope Solo? First, she brashly promoted insect repellent; predictably, at all her games, she was greeted with cries of “ooooooo…Zikaaaa!” every time she kicked from her end zone.
After leaving Rio, she declared from the safety of the USA that the Swedish team, which had had the effrontery to beat USA on penalty kicks, was a bunch of “cowards”. Were it not for Lochte-Gate, she would definitely have won the Curmudgeon’s Chutzpah Award for lowlife of the Games.
The Olympics are always grist for many mills, we may have more soon.