Sunday, Aug. 8, 2021, marked the end of the 2020 Summer Olympics.
That sentence alone should tell you all you need to know about the two weeks the world’s greatest athletes spent in Tokyo.
Pushed back a year because of COVID-19, the Games had a little bit of everything. Some good, some bad and some downright ugly.
Here’s a look at a few of the highlights and lowlights.
The good: The United States remains the king and queen of basketball. Both U.S. men’s and women’s teams brought home gold. You can add a gold for the U.S. women’s 3-on-3 team, but I’m still recovering from the headache I got watching that so-called brand of basketball.
Despite not having LeBron James, James Harden and Kyrie Irving, Team USA recovered from some shaky play early on to earn gold. Milwaukee’s Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton, fresh off an NBA title and a week-long hangover, played an integral part in Olympic gold. Kevin Durant cemented his status as one of the best players on the planet and carried team USA, at times. The rest of the world is catching up, but they’re not yet in the same league as the top players from the U.S.
The U.S. women rolled to gold. Led by five-time Olympic champions Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird, along with an unguardable frontcourt of Brittney Griner and Breanna Stewart, Team USA overpowered the rest of the field.
The bad: Because of the 14-hour time difference between my television and Tokyo, I was forced to watch most of the games on Peacock at times I would have preferred to have been sleeping.
The good: I have no doubt that I played a big role in Molly Seidel winning bronze for the U.S. in the women’s marathon. After all, I was one of the first to ever interview Seidel. A Brookfield resident who attended University Lake School, Seidel lapped the field in setting a course record and winning the prestigious Midwest Invitational in 2011. I was there at the finish line to congratulate and interview her—and vaguely remember telling her that Olympic glory was in her future.
The bad: Seidel failed to mention me in her Olympic post-race interview.
The good: With families of Olympic athletes forced to stay home because of COVID restrictions, it was stirring, uplifting and downright emotional to watch athletes celebrate with friends and loved ones via video calls. Seeing U.S. swimmer and five-time gold medalist Caeleb Dressel driven to tears while talking to his wife and parents over the phone made me realize that the pollen count in my living room is extremely high.
The bad: Let’s be honest, the Olympics are not the same without fans. Athletes feed off the crowds and the energy they bring. And for those parents that spent a life’s savings to help their child get to this level, it had to be especially frustrating to be stuck at home and not in Tokyo.
Trials of Biles
The good: Simone Biles, arguably the greatest gymnast of all-time, withdrew from team competition for Team USA to concentrate on her mental health and well-being. Bringing attention to her own plight on the world’s biggest stage was lauded as an act of heroism and bravery. If she wasn’t already a role model for so many, she certainly is now.
The bad: When you proclaim yourself the G.O.A.T. and have that embroidered on your jean jacket, you have to expect some pressure to come with it. Biles did just that and may have actually set herself up to fail. We all hope she gets the help she needs and her mental wounds heal, but remember, some of those wounds were self-inflicted.
The good: Janesville native and NBC Sports Senior Vice President of Communications Greg Hughes did another outstanding job of giving me a zillion different television options to watch the Olympics. My TV was glued to USA, NBC, Peacock, NBC Sports Network, The Golf Channel and the NBC Olympics Channel for complete Olympic coverage 24/7. And thanks to picture in picture, I could watch the most insane ping pong matches I’ve ever seen on one channel and track and field on the other.
The bad: With so many different events going on at the same time, I had trouble figuring out if something I was watching was live or tape-delayed. And because of social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Tik-Tok and Snapchat, I tuned into certain events knowing full well what was about to happen.
The Summer Olympics return in 2024 in Paris, with the the 2022 Winter Olympics beginning February 4 in Beijing.
I’m hopeful I may be solely responsible once again for producing another Olympic medalist.
John Barry is a sports writer for The Gazette. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.