Weekly Meanderings, 13 August 2016

What is your favorite performance of the 1st week of the Olympics?

Simone Biles:

Biles was not just the best gymnast in Rio Olympic Arena. She is, by most reasonable measurements, the best ever. She is so good that any comparison must come from other disciplines—not the vault or the floor or the beam, but basketball, swimming or track. She is Michael Jordan or Babe Ruth, so far ahead of her generation’s rivals that it will probably take years for anybody to approach her mastery of the sport.

Somebody asked Raisman if this must be how swimmers feel when they face Katie Ledecky.

“Yes, probably,” Raisman said. “Or Usain Bolt.”

How good was Biles? She finished first on the floor and first on the beam. She was seventh in the uneven bars, her weakest event, and she did not stick her landing on the vault, which led her to say, “I’m still a little upset about vault. I don’t know. I just can’t stick it.”

Of course, she finished first in the vault anyway.

She was first on three of the four apparatuses; if she played baseball, she would be the best at hitting, fielding, pitching and spitting sunflower seeds.

Katie Ledecky:

RIO DE JANEIRO — Katie Ledecky had just one Olympic race left, a race to make history. She would swim it essentially alone.

At the Aquatics Stadium on Friday night—an evening when Michael Phelps would swim the last individual event of his career and the U.S.’s Maya DiRado and Anthony Ervin would pull off two of the biggest surprises of the Games—Ledecky dived into the pool for the final of the 800-meter freestyle as an overwhelming favorite. Never mind that Ledecky had won the 400 in Rio by nearly five seconds; the 800 is her strongest event. She entered Friday’s race as the defending Olympic champion. She had swum the 12 fastest times ever.

By the time she surfaced from her dive Ledecky was already in the lead. Within 50 meters she was on pace to break the world record of 8:06.68 that she had set in January. By 75 meters she was more than a body length ahead of her closest pursuer, Jazz Carlin of Great Britain. Soon the gap was two body lengths, then three, then four, then five.

Simone Manuel:

Simone Manuel won a gold medal on Thursday in the Women’s 100 meter freestyle, and in doing so, became the first black woman swimmer to collect an individual medal. Her post-race interview was powerful and deep, and her medal ceremony afterwards was as equally emotional.

Unfortunately for many American viewers, they couldn’t see it. The ceremony didn’t air live and wasn’t shown until an hour later. Some people on Twitter weren’t very happy…

Michelle Carter:

Michelle Carter saved her best for last, claiming the gold medal and breaking the American record on her final throw.

New Zealand’s Valerie Adams seemed poised to become the first woman to win three consecutive Olympic shot put gold medals before Carter’s final attempt. Adams’ best throw, 20.42m (67 feet), had her in first place by .55m (1 foot, 9 3/4 inches). Then Carter stepped into the circle and threw 20.63m (67-8.25) to earn the title.

“It’s tough, but it’s sport,” Adams said to the Associated Press. “Sometimes you take one on the chin.”

Carter, a certified professional makeup artist who is nicknamed the “Shot Diva,” is the first U.S. Olympic women’s shot put gold medalist. She became the first American woman to win an Olympic medal in the event since 1960, when Earlene Brown claimed bronze.


About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.