Thursday, August 10, 2017

Looking back at 2016 Rio Summer Olympics

Its one year since 2016 Rio Summer Olympics and a good time to post a review of sorts. Just to see what it was, and where we are going ? (Also a good excuse to hide my procrastination, because of which this lay in drafts for so long).

Long post alert. Until I figure out how to add intra-post links, here are the sections to follow:
  • America
  • Other heroes
  • India
  • India in Para Olympics
  •  Media
  • For 2020
  • Lessons Learned

I watched the coverage on NBC, and forced my kids to stay glued through the swim wars; not even blinking was allowed. Watching every night was inspirational and later had to compare records offline, in much detail. Too many thoughts floated on my mind.

Inevitably, I was interested in athletes from India, US and then a couple countries where some of my fav people live. In most of the sports, there was no competition among these, so it was easy to root for them. Plus winning is not everything. Records and performance matter as much.


It was exciting to watch the American swimmers and gymnasts go for the Gold each time.

NBC focused their telecast on American players. Camera kept its eye on the American while they prepared mentally before they began, their limelight minutes and then their after-reactions. And they did not disappoint. All of them showed thrilling performances.

Swim and Gymnastics telecast dominated the nighttime TV slot. And what a performance ! Katie Ledecky and Biles are our newest favorites.

Sarah Robles won Bronze for USA in weightlifting. She is the first athlete from the United States to win a medal in Olympic weightlifting since the 2000 Summer Olympics. I follow her on Instagram. She is an inspiration for many reasons.

And there were Indian-American siblings in USA Table Tennis team, very young but great representation in USA Olympic team. Kanak Jha (Table tennis) - someone born in 2000s !. And Prachi Jha.

Other heroes

41-year-old gymnast Oksana Chusovitina is such an incredible athlete. She continues to be a competitive gymnast at age 40 and as a mother - I don't think she has a peer in that way. In Olympics she has participated from 1990 to 2016 Olympics and represented 3 countries along the way. Read her Wiki page for the exciting story.
And Joseph Schooling from Singapore, who won Gold - the very first for Singapore. And beat his hero Phelps in 100 metres butterfly


Felt extremely proud of India - so many athletes, in so many sports, shining bright.

Some finishing 4th or missing medals narrowly by few points.

Abhinav Bhindra missed the Bronze by 0.1 point. He later went on work on taskforce panel for 2020.

Dipa Karmakar's medal was a narrow miss. We watched the finals telecast and she is the master of that vault, that is unmistakable.It was heartbreaking when someone edged her out of the Top 3 and pushed her to 4th position.

Lalita Babar became the first ever Indian since PT Usha in 1984 to qualify for the final round of any track and field event at the Olympic Games. She finished an impressive 10th.

Marathon runners O. P. Jaisha and Kavita Raut finished at 2:47:19 & 2:59:29. For me, the unqualified runner, these are super impressive timings.

Dhutee Chand fought many challenges to be here and she ran like a champ. I saw her 100m sprint on TV.

Indian men's hockey team out of Rio Olympics 2016 after loss to Belgium in quarter-final. It was heart-breaking.

Sania Mirza

And finally our fantastic medalists.

PV Sindhu wining Silver in Badminton in finals versus Spain's Calorina Marin. Here is the video.

India's Sakshi Malik celebrating here win against Kyrgyzstan's Aisuluu Tynybekova in the women's 58kg freestyle bronze

Even if medals tally was less this year, compared to London Olymics 2012, I am impressed by the improved performances of the variety of athletes.

India in Para Olympics

Para Olympics followed immediately after. And Wow, how India performed !

I followed it mainly on ParaOlympics India FB page and Go Sports Deepthi Bopaiah's Twitter account. Commendable coverage.

Each of the medalist gave thriller show. Need to share their videos for proof of super-heroes.

Gold medal for Mariyappan Thangavelu in Men's High Jump. I saw his video on Twitter.

2 times Gold medalist Devendra Jhajharia won Gold for Men's Javelin Throw.

Silver medal Deepa Malik for Women's Shot Put.

Bronze medal for Varun Singh Bhati in Men's High Jump.



Go Sports did some great coverage from India pov. I followed them on Twitter..

These Facebook pages have some relentless intensive sports coverage, through the Olympics and after.
Sports Keeda coverage was noteworthy.

For 2020


Every media organization woke up to the athletes during these few weeks and coverage fizzled off after the closing ceremony. There have been numerous recommendations. Hence its heartening to know that some governing body will work on taking steps towards 2020.

India Olympics Taskforce will include Bhindra and Gopichand.

Lessons learned 


Or rather comparisons to point out what India lacks in terms of preparation ?

Comparing Indian infrastructure vs USA existing sports infrastructure. There are 100s of gymnast schools that have sprouted in each school district in US. Similar number of swim pools with lessons. But so there are in Indian cities and towns. There are enough stadiums and open grounds in cities, just not in population dense cities. So the difference lies not in infrastructure, but in Resources. Human resources as in parents, sport coaches, sports academies, advertisers.

In USA, gymnastics & swim pools are everywhere. I have seen those 100s of shivering 7-10 years in swim pool, every week. Obviously some of the kids are the cream rising up, from the innumerable kids who have indulged in this sport. Yet everyone is the winner - some of Olympic and other medals, others of good health, healthy pursuits and connections.

Sports medicine, nutrition & sports psychology. Not a new field in India. But it needs more new knowledge and development so India can reap the benefits. Needs to be taken more seriously.

Sports Statistics as a field needs much support in terms of tools for data storage and media to share. There is a large scope for growth here. For example, none of the road races in India, showcase all runner results. Only the select top few participants, maybe a few division breakdown. Maybe the elite times are captured and shared. But not the amateurs who follow later. For comparison, check out the road race results on MTEC results. You can look up by name, age & gender divisions, sort them in any way. Every finisher can compare her own performances with others and make notes. Its useful for any newbie, when assessing a race before deciding to sign up. She can check how many finish at her times, to decide if she will be lonely.

Fashion designers had put in immense production value on creating the gymnast suits and swimsuits. Makeup was A-grade. Explicit shout-out because I know of some, who feel these 2 departments are not worthy of attention and only thing that matters is actual gymnasts. This is called attention to detail.

TV telecast featured parent reactions for each of the athlete while they performed.Ads used parents or individual back-stories. Just a brief reminder of all the childhood years spent by kids shivering, burning, learning their sport, and their parents who facilitated the whole thing. How very connected parents are to everything their athlete kid is doing, every second of that brief performance.

It helps to glamorize all athletes. Like USA media does for all sports. Like Indian media does for Cricketers. The lame headlines used in Indian media sometimes! Can they come up with interesting things to report ? Can't they create interesting things ? Like talk about their coach, their work, strategies, school. Glamorize the players, something like this for Hockey and Dipa. Too much work maybe. Bulk of the article headlines are judgmental. I mean how else is a young adult athlete going to behave or say ? It's still at the envious neighborhood gossip level - yeh aaj kal ke bache, kuch nahi aata inko. Yet my cynical mind says, even negative coverage is good news and will bring in some needed publicity.

And finally, the goof-ups and high handedness and misappropriations of Sports officials. I can't even.
O P Jaisha raised the dismissal water stop and fuel facilities during the Marathon. That s just one of the many.I have my hopes on the 2020 taskforce to reduce this atleast to an extent.


Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among stars !

Until 2020 Tokyo !

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