Why Rio could be the best Olympics ever

Yahoo Sports Staff
Fourth-Place Medal

The Rio Olympics are officially over and done with.

Despite all the negative advanced publicity, it’s fair to say they were an unqualified success.

More than 11,000 athletes competed in more than 40 different sports with some of the most iconic figures in the history of the Games reaching new heights in terms of athletic accomplishment and Olympic success.

From the electrifying presence of Usain Bolt bringing a packed stadium to a hush to Michael Phelps further staking his claim to the title of greatest Olympian of all time.

Yahoo Sports’ experts provide some of their own thoughts on these Games, which turned out to be historic in ways we might not have imagined in the months and weeks leading up to them.

From Phelps and Bolt competing in their final Games to Katie Ledecky transitioning from teen sensation to Olympic great, to Simone Biles emerging from relative obscurity to lay a legitimate claim to the title of the greatest gymnast of all time, Rio kept us captivated.

Although there was another side to the Rio Games with people displaced and forced from their homes, their lives forever changed, simply because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time and something big was coming and they were in its way.

Even once the Games started, the troubles continued with ugly incidents and ugly American (swimmers) at times threatening to overshadow the spectacle of the competition.

 

There were disappointments as well. The women’s soccer team fell short of what it was expected to deliver. Its goalkeeper arguably did worse than that.

Kerri Walsh Jennings is the greatest female beach volleyball player of all time. Unfortunately the Rio Olympics, likely to be her last, were the first Games in which the USA failed to place a team in the sport’s gold medal match.

But the inglorious moments are not likely to be the ones we will remember.

Instead, we will remember a series of historical firsts: a first-time Olympian winning four gold medals, a first-ever Olympic team composed of refugee athletes, the first African American athlete to take home an individual medal in Olympic swimming, and a first gold medal for the host nation in the one sport it values above all others.

With athletes like Phelps, Allyson Felix and Bolt taking their final Olympic bows, and behind-the-scenes greats like Marta Karolyi and Coach K also stepping down after Rio, the question we are left with is, were the Rio Games the end of an era?

Or maybe something different. Maybe the beginning of a completely new era.

Or maybe just the best Olympics ever.

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