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This week, with the kick-off of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, athletes from around the globe finally had a chance to show the world what they have been preparing for their entire lives. While it is only two days into the competition, read below to catch up on all of the stories from the first 48 hours of the Games in this week’s edition of The Week That Was!
The Week That Was #5 – Michael Phelps Selected As Team U.S.A. Flag Bearer
Walking in his first opening ceremonies at an Olympic Games, five time Olympian Michael Phelps was selected by his teammates to be the flag bearer for the United States of America on Friday night. Phelps, who is the most decorated Olympian of all time, commented on the honor by putting it into perspective with his other four Olympics: “For Sydney, I just wanted to make the team. For Athens, I wanted to win gold for my country. For Beijing, I wanted to do something nobody else had done. In London, I wanted to make history. And now, I want to walk in the Opening Ceremony, take it all in, represent America in the best possible way and make my family proud. This time around, it’s about so much more than medals.” The only other swimmer to lead Team U.S.A. in the Opening Ceremonies was Gary Hall, who carried the flag in the 1976 Games in Montréal.
The Week That Was #4 – NAG Records Fall At U.S. Open
While Team U.S.A. headed down to Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympics, some of the best U.S. stars were traveling to Minneapolis, Minnesota for the 2016 U.S. Open. The highlight of the meet had to be fourteen year old Regan Smith, who downed Missy Franklin’s 13-14 NAG record in the 100 backstroke, touching the wall in 1:00.31 in the morning prelims before taking it down again to 1:00.26 in the finals, where she finished second behind Australian Holly Barratt. Other notable swims included Texas Longhorn Andrew Wilson taking the 100 breaststroke in a personal best 59.51, just off the meet record, and Bethany Galat winning the 200 breaststroke in 2:24.34, a time that would have made the Olympic Team in Omaha. Wilson also picked up a win in the 200 breaststroke (2:09.73), while Galat posted a win in the 400 IM (4:38.66). For complete recaps of all sessions of the U.S. Open, head over to our Event Landing Page for the meet.
The Week That Was #3 – Wu Minxia Makes History With Fifth Gold
The women’s synchronized 3-meter event took place in the opening days of the Games, with China’s Wu Minxia and Shi Tingmao taking home the gold medal in the event and making history. With that win, Wu Minxia became the most decorated female diver, bringing her career medal tally to seven Olympic medals, five of which are gold. It also ties her as being one of only two women to have won diving medals in four separate Olympic Games, as well as being the oldest female diver to win a diving Olympic medal. Behind the Chinese pair were the Italians in the silver position and the Australians in bronze position. With this event win, China is one step closer to sweeping all eight diving events, something that has never been done in the history of the Olympic Games.
The Week That Was #2 – Doping Ruling Reversed On Russian Swimmers
In what has been a chaotic and confusing controversy over the alleged systematic doping among Russian athletes, it was announced with just 24 hours before the start of the Games that several Russian swimmers, including Yuliya Efimova, were once again eligible to compete at in Rio. Following the completion of the McLaren Report, seven Russian swimmers were deemed ineligible to compete based on the stipulations laid out by the IOC just a week before the start of the Olympic Games. Three of those swimmers, Vlad Morozov, Nikita Lobintsev, and Efimova all stated their intent to appeal the ruling despite the tight timeline, with Morozov and Lobintsev cleared for competition on August 4th. While it initially appeared that Efimova would not be eligible to compete, the ruling came out in her favor. Efimova competed in the prelims and semi-finals of the women’s 100 breaststroke on Sunday, where she is the second seeded swimmer heading into the finals.
The Week That Was #1 – World Records Highlight First Days Of Swimming Competition In Rio
The first days of swimming at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games did not disappoint, with five world records falling in the first two days of competition. Adam Peaty continued to lower his world record in the men’s 100 breaststroke, hitting the wall in a stunning 57.55 in prelims before clocking an incredible 57.13 to take the win. The Australian women defended their relay title from 2012 in world record time to make two-straight in the 400 free relay. Katinka Hosszu grabbed her first Olympic medal in the 400 IM while crushing the field in a dominating world record of 4:26.36, and Katie Ledecky had an equally dominating performance in the 400 freestyle, winning in a jaw-dropping 3:56.46. Finally, Sarah Sjostrom lowered her own world record in the 100 butterfly with her 55.48 win.
Notably, despite multiple opportunities no individual has yet to defend their Olympic title from 2012. Mack Horton finished first in the 400 freestyle over Sun Yang, while Ye Shiwen failed to make it out of the preliminaries of the women’s 400 IM. Kosuke Hagino prevented what would have been a sixth straight U.S. gold medal in the men’s 400 IM, touching in 4:06.05 to grab the Olympic title. Sarah Sjostrom claimed gold in the 100 fly over defending champion Dana Vollmer, who grabbed bronze. Also of note, Michael Phelps started his fifth Olympic campaign by helping lead the 4 x 100 free relay team to gold over defending champions France, bringing his total tally of Olympic medals to 23.
For complete coverage of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, head over to our Event Landing Page.