Monday, September 12, 2016

GOOD TIMES IN RIO


The Games of the XXXI Olympiad, held in Rio last month have concluded.

Despite fears of crime, polluted water, and potential terrorism, the Olympic Games were held without incident.

America led the medal count, with American athletes earning 121 total medals. 46 gold medals were awarded to America, along with 37 silver and 38 bronze.

In recent years, American middle and long distance runners have been dominated in races ranging from the 800-meters to the marathon by athletes from the East African countries of Kenya and Ethiopia. In fact, athletes from countries all over the world have eclipsed us at the long distance running races in recent Olympic competitions. The Rio Olympics, however, marked a resurgence of American middle and long distance running power.

When American, Galen Rupp, of Oregon crossed the finish line in third place at the Olympic marathon, held on the final day of the Games, he earned America’s seventh medal in the middle and long distances. At the 2012 Olympic Games in London, American long distance runners brought home only two medals. This time around, American harriers captured two more medals in Rio than they had earned in the past four Olympics combined.

American Matt Centrowitz shocked the distance running world by besting the Kenyans and winning the 1500-meter (metric mile) event, snapping a 108-year American drought in the event, becoming the first U.S. runner to win the 1500-meters since 1908. Centrowitz bested the field by turning in a 50-second final lap.

The steeplechase is a nasty event. 3,000 meters in length, and features four hurdles as well as a water jump, which is 12-feet in length. It also is an event in which American runners are rarely competitive on the world stage.

At Rio, America’s Emma Coburn took the silver medal, becoming the first U.S. woman to ever earn an Olympic steeplechase medal. The next day, Evan Jager captured the bronze,earning the United States’ first steeplechase medal for men in 32 years.

Paul Chelimo placed second in the 5,000-meters; while Clayton Murphy and Jenny Simpson earned bronze medals in the 800 and 1500-meters respectively.

Excellent coaching by former Olympian Alberto Salazar, increased training at the thin air of high altitude, which increases lung capacity and endurance, corporate sponsorship, which allows these athletes to put in countless hours of training, combined with extraordinary dedication from the young men and women themselves has catapulted U.S. runners back to the top of the distance running world.