On August 5, 2016, all eyes were on Rio de Janeiro.
Despite all the doomsayers’ diatribes about political corruption, the fears of the zika virus, the filth of Guanabara Bay, and the anemia of the Brazilian economy, the Games went on. And the Games were great!
In the moving opening ceremony, the famed Brazilian love for music and dance were on display. Super model Gisele Bundchen strolled across the field to the tune of The Girl from Ipanema. The honor of lighting the Olympic cauldron was given unexpectedly to Athens marathoner Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima, whose 2004 Olympic marathon was bizarrely interrupted by a defrocked Irish priest. And the cauldron de Lima lit was stunning, the fire’s light reflected magnificently in a shining, swirling structure of metal places and balls, creating a spectacular golden vision of the sun.
A bright spot for the IOC was highlighting the plight of the global refugee issue by forming an all-refugee team, an excellent idea!
And to be honest, from a sports perspective, if you bring the very best athletes in the world together, the drama of the competition will subsume almost all else (for good and for bad.)
For Brazilians, here were a few of their nation’s most inspirational stories, starting with Neymar’s winning penalty shot that sealed Brazil’s first even Olympic gold in soccer.
- Neymar the Redeemer: Brazil’s Proudest Moment at these Rio Olympic Games
- Anatomy of a Pole Vault Finals: Thiago Braz da Silva Launches Out of the Blue to Hometown Glory
- Judoka Rafaela Silva: A Hometown Hero Emerges from the City of God
Here are a few other amazing stories I covered, particularly from a Asia/Japan perspective:
- Joseph Schooling Takes the Master to School: Singapore’s First Ever Gold Medal and it’s a Whopper!
- Anatomy of an Amazing Fencing Comeback: South Korean Park Sang-young Snatches Victory from the Jaws of Defeat
- Olympic Tennis Champion Monica Puig: A Very Bright Moment in a Very Dark Time in Puerto Rico
- Kaori Icho: The Best Ever Female Wrestler Period
- Expect the Unexpected: Japan’s Sprinters Take Silver in the 4X100-meter Relays, and Trailblaze a Path to Tokyo 2020
- The Weight: Saori Yoshida Loses Gold For an Entire Nation, a Grateful Nation
- Anatomy of a Ping Pong Battle of Nerves: Japan’s Kasumi Ishikawa vs North Korea’s Kim Song I
- Japan’s Judo Revival: Men’s Coach Kosei Inoue Leads Japanese Judoka to Prominence in Rio
The Rio Olympics were far from perfect. But those Games a year ago today had its moments, many that will be remembered for decades.
No doubt, more await when we See You in Tokyo!