The Olympics: Day 16

This is the end.  Where has the two weeks gone?  It started a little slowly, with much negativity – drugs controversies, political crises, organisational difficulties, low expectations, and an underwhelming start by Team GB.  All a little lukewarm, until Team GB won their first gold medal with Adam Peaty in the 100m breaststroke, and then whoosh!  The medal rush began.  And kept going.  And kept going.  Through Sensational Sunday and Triumphant Tuesday, and every other day, the medals kept coming.  Shock golds – Max Whitlock on floor in the gymnastics, the GB women’s hockey team, Joe Clarke in the canoe slalom; surprise silvers – Bryony Page in the trampoline, Jack Laugher in the diving; gritty bronzes – Sophie Hitchings in the hammer, Nile Wilson on high bar in the gymnastics, to go with the expected favourites delivering in style – Adam Peaty, Andy Murray, golden couple Laura and Jason in the track cycling, Jade Jones in the taekwando, Alastair Brownlee in the triathlon and of course, the peerless Mo Farah in the 5k and 10k.  Suddenly, there was the almost unthinkable possibility of challenging powerhouse China for second place in the medals table.  Anyone who had sat through the miserly return from Atlanta 1996 of just 15 medals and a mere 1 gold probably thought they were dreaming.

Today, official confirmation that Britain will finish second in the medals table above China with 27 gold and 66 medals in total.  Hurray!  No post-London hangover for Team GB.  We are also the first host nation to have increased their medal haul at the following Games.  We like to think of ourselves as pioneers.  And we have still got a medal to come.  Gold, I hope.  Just to reinforce our position as the second best nation at these Games.  Nice to see GB as heroic winners for a change rather than plucky losers.  I hope with these Games that is a narrative that has changed forever.  We are kinda good at winning.  It suits us well.

Rhythmic Gymnastics:  It is stunning to watch, but is it sport?  I think not.  A bunch of thin, pretty, dainty girlies in heavy make up and skimpy costumes jiggling to music reinforces every negative stereotype about women and trivialises women’s sport.  Also, why is it allowed when it is a women only sport?  Sexism works both ways.  A sport should not be in the Olympics if both genders don’t compete in it.  No one would accept a men only sport in this day and age, so why does the Olympics accept women only sports such as rhythmic gymnastics and synchronised swimming?

Boxing:  This was it.  The last chance.  Team GB’s final shot at Olympic gold in Rio 2016.  There have been a lot of shots, 27 to be exact.  Could Joe Joyce, artist, academic and sometime super heavy weight boxer, win Team GB their last, 28th gold medal?  It was going to be a tough ask beating the reigning world champion, Tony Yoka of France.  But Team GB have overachieved for the last two weeks.  We have overachieved to finish ahead of China in the medals table.  So why couldn’t our boy Joe overachieve in the boxing ring?

Joe was at him right from the start, getting him with a couple of right jabs.  But there is that dodgy judging system.  Two judges of three had Yoka in front after the first round.  Really, would Joe be allowed to win this unless he knocked his opponent out?  Just knock him out, Joe, just knock him out.  It’s the only way you are going to win.  Round 2 was across the board for Yoka.  This did not look good.  So confident was the Frenchman, by round 3 he was showboating.  He looked fleeter of foot throughout, and though Joe was scoring 10s for effort, his numerous shots weren’t penetrating as much as the fewer but more accurate shots of the Frenchman.  A final gold medal was not to be, but what an incredible effort, and it was still one more medal to add to our final total.

Team GB – G 27   S 23   B 17    Total: 67

Outstanding.

Team GB – take a bow.

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