Countdown to Rio

I love the Olympics. I get so excited for it every time, researching obscure athletes in sports I would never watch otherwise. I even had the opportunity to attend the Sochi games in 2014. Usually the Olympic ads start months before (at least in Canada) and you begin to be introduced to the latest crop of athletes who we will cheer for. But this year, it all feels a little bit deflated. It seemed Sochi had lots of problems leading into the games, but Rio is playing a whole different ball game. It’s just been one controversy after another. It’s actually hard to choose which issue is the most alarming. Of course there’s the Zika Virus which health officials are now saying is not a major concern to visiting athletes. A few high profile athletes have already dropped out of the games, notably golfers which is marring Golf’s Olympic return. 

Then there’s economic instability and political scandal in Brazil, with the president being impeached months before the games. A lot of Brazilian’s don’t even want the games any more, due to the vast amount of money that’s being spent while the people of the country receive little benefit. Issues of potential violence and crime have been brought up as well.

Next is pollution and water sanitation issues with water sport athletes competing in what is being compared to Sewage. There is a serious risk of viral infection from this contaminated water for Sailors, canoeists, rowers, triathletes and open-water swimmers.

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Watching Canada win the Ice Hockey Gold Medal in Sochi

Construction issues also abound with athletes and teams beginning to move in to the Olympic village. There are concerns now that some venues won’t actually be ready for the events. This has been an issue to some degree in almost every Olympics though, and they always seem to make it work.

Most recently there are the doping scandals with the entire Russian track and field team banned from the Olympics, as well as bans coming in for individual athletes in other sports. There are potential bans still to be announced as well, with athletes arriving, there could be some who are already in Rio when they are banned from the Games.

But will I still watch the Games? Of course. To me it is about the sports and the athletes and this is what they’ve been working towards for many years. It’s a difficult issue for those living in Brazil who are being affected by the decisions of others, but I still feel the magic of the Olympics, although slightly less magical than some years. Hopefully the IOC going forward will make more considerate decisions in choosing Olympic host countries, but for these games, I will still watch.

What I’m excited for

Obviously being Canadian, this will sway towards Canadian athletes, but there’s some big international superstars that I’m excited for to.

Return of Michael Phelps

He’s one of the most decorated Olympians ever, will he be able to return in top form after some time off and personal setbacks? I recently read an article about him in the newest ESPN magazine issue illustrating all kinds of issues I didn’t realize were happening. We’ll see if he can make his last hurrah a winning one. It didn’t work out for Australian Ian Thorpe when he tried to make a comeback for London.

Usain Bolt, three-peat?

This will be Bolt’s last Olympics as well, can he be the first person to win this event three times in a row? He will bring his signature style and charm regardless of what happens.

Andre De Grasse

I distinctly remember when Donovan Bailey won the Olympic 100m even though I was a little kid at the time. Andre De Grasse is a long shot to win, but it’s still exciting to have a Canadian in the mix. Hopefully he can lead the Canadian relay team to redemption from their bronze medal DQ in London.

Rosie MacLennan

Rosie is our lone returning Olympic champion and Canada’s flag bearer for the Rio Olympics. We’ve had several trampoline medals come our way at the Olympics, hopefully this year we’ll get another one.

Brooke Henderson

I can’t say I’m a huge golf fan or that I follow the sport at all, but it’s pretty amazing that this young 18 y/o representing Canada is the favourite to win gold in Rio. Hopefully the pressure won’t get to her and she can enjoy an experience most 18 year olds can only dream of.

Rugby 7s

Another new sport for this years Olympics is Rugby 7s. Unfortunately the Canadian men didn’t qualify but the women’s team potentially has a shot at a medal. They will have to take down the favourites, Australia, New Zealand, and Great Britain. For the men’s side I will obviously cheer for Australia (my partner and his family are Australian) but I also have hopes for Fiji. Fiji has never won and Olympic medal and it would be awesome if they could do it in Rio. They are a very strong 7s team with a quick passing game, but they will have to deal with New Zealand and South Africa if they want to take Gold.

What are you excited about for Rio 2016? Any athletes or events that you’re excited to watch?

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