Readers Roundtable: 10 Questions About the Rio Olympics

We would show you this photo, but NBC has more lawyers.Now that the closing ceremonies of the 2016 Rio Olympics are over, we have so many things to talk about. We couldn’t choose only one question this week, so we decided to ask you ten! We’d love your opinions on all, some, or one, or feel free to share your commentary on some other aspect of the Games.

  1. Best race overall
  2. Best individual performance in a race
  3. Most likely doper
  4. Biggest disappointment
  5. Best athlete back story
  6. Worst NBC commentator flub
  7. Best display of sportsmanship (or sportswomanship)
  8. The one thing/person you loved that no one else seemed to appreciate
  9. The one thing/person that annoyed you that everyone else seemed to love
  10. What grade would you give the Rio Games and why?

All questions are geared to the running events, but if you have strong opinions about other events go ahead and share!

Salty Running boss and mother of 3 little ones with PRs of 3:10:15 (26.2), 1:25:59 (13.1) and 18:15 (5k). I love to write about running culture, mental training, and fitting in a serious running habit with the rest of a busy life.

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  1. 1. Best race had to be the women’s 10K, it was officially bonkers and most PRs, ARs, OR, WR, ever?

    2. I’m going to cheat on #2 and jump out of T&F over to women’s triathlon and point out the amazing gold finish – go watch it if you missed the incredible 10K race at the end, some incredible talent there

    3. I’m not going here – instead will give Ayana props for her hard work and talent until proven otherwise

    4. I wish the USA had better performance in the women’s marathon, so close with their best times this year so maybe Tokyo 2020 – I also hope Alli O. gets a chance to go against the east africans in the 5k in 2020

    5. I have to admit I didn’t keep up on the backstories

    6. Worst NBC commentator was the one that said the adopted athlete’s parents weren’t her “real parents” (no really, he said that, google it)

    7. well that’s easy – poor Abbey but the sports(wo)manship award was a lovely touch and it looks like they are giving her the really good painkillers, lol

    8. I’m a Caster fan, I know she’s the exact opposite of popular, it’s horrible how Bolt gets all the fame and love for his genetic gifts but she gets all the hate for her genetic gifts while training as hard as all the other elites

    9. not a Galen Rupp fan but he’s winning me back, maybe his doping days are over, amazing effort in the marathon

    10. Grade B, at least no-one died, at least not during the games (during construction they did) but their terrible cycling courses really did their best to try to kill as many athletes as possible

    1. RoadRunner…thank you for #8. I cringed when I saw question #3, because people either accuse her of doping or just use doping to transition in to trashing her. Honestly, if I was her and my private life (specifically concerning my genitals) were all over the media, I would probably be bitter and angry, and she has displayed nothing but grace imo when dealing with the media.

      Best race overall–Men’s Marathon.
      Best individual performance in a race–Chelimo (GO ARMY)!
      Most likely doper–I would like to be optimistic and think that no one was (intentionally) doping.
      Biggest disappointment–Rupp in the 10K.
      Best athlete back story–I think the future story of Lilesa and the attention he brought to the situation in his country.
      Worst NBC commentator flub–I can’t even begin…(Salty I think you saw some of my comments during the Men’s marathon yesterday!0
      Best display of sportsmanship (or sportswomanship)–Meb.
      The one thing/person you loved that no one else seemed to appreciate–Castor
      The one thing/person that annoyed you that everyone else seemed to love–I don’t want to say.
      What grade would you give the Rio Games and why? I wanted to boycott because I’m sick of the USOC’s rule 40 BS this year and because of some of the Rio dram, but the Athletes drew me in. I would give them a B, because in some grad schools that just barely passing.

      1. Chelimo – good call!
        Also, can we coin a new term “commentatorsplaining” for when a commentator tells a world class athlete how to perform?

        PS I’m dying to know who/what annoyed you! ๐Ÿ™‚

        1. Oh! And how do you think the while Rule40 thing panned out? It seems like brands got around it mightily well and often had fun doing it.

          Also, I heard on “Only a Game” on NPR that rule40 came about because of Nike’s guerrilla ad campaign with Michael Johnson’s shoes in the 88 Olympics, when Reebok was the title sponsor. The great irony!

        2. “commentatorsplaining” when a commentator explains something to the audience because he assumes they don’t understand, when the reality is they understand that he is incorrectly explaining something.

          As for who/what annoyed me, I don’t want to be a “mean girl” but the entry of Wild Cards into races because the country does not have any athletes who meet the qualifying standard. I absolutely fan girled-it for all finishers of the Marathon, but there are other Olympic sports where you don’t automatically get to be represented (for example Olympic Weightlifting).

          As for Rule 40. IOC loosened the restrictions for nonpartner advertising (hello Michael Phelps commercial), but for smaller sponsors that don’t have Under Armour’s budget, it’s still not fair. (And I hear my dad telling me that life’s not fair…)
          These athletes would not have made it to the Olympics without said sponsors. And to not allow them to recognize the support they’ve received as they appreciate the Olympic experience is sad. Many of these sponsors are often tied with the athletes coaches/training program (think Brooks Hanson, or Hoka’s Northern Arizona Elite)…how would one of the title sponsors feel if it was their athlete unable to mention them?
          However, I did like that Meb was allowed to wear his (sponsors’s) shoe ๐Ÿ™‚ And Emma Coburn! I’m sure I’m missing more.
          –Don’t worry, while just a likeness, I feel the same way about CrossFit and Reebok, and how athletes are not allowed to wear anything but the sponsor’s products during the games.–

          1. Much better definition of commentatorsplaining! ??

            I feel you on the other stuff too. They also let Brazilians into some events even though they didn’t have qualifications and it was … kinda sad. In synchro diving, for instance. Painful to watch them get demolished!

            I think athletes are allowed to wear whatever shoes, but have to wear the kit and stuff. I could look it up, but …

    2. That cycling course was insane. I still think about watching the Dutch womans crash….that was so scary! I’m so glad it didn’t end up as bad as it could have been for her.

  2. Best race overall: I agree on the women’s 10k. Breathtaking running all around.

    Best individual performance in a race: Mo coming back from the fall in the men’s 10k.

    Most likely doper: One of the one’s who already served suspensions before the Games?

    Biggest disappointment: That beach volleyball is still in the Olympics. I’m sure it’s a very challenging game, but … come on.

    Best athlete back story: Well not particularly positive, Lilesa, the silver medalist in the men’s marathon’s story is incredibly heartbreaking and his act of protest at the finish was incredibly brave.

    Worst NBC commentator flub: “real parents” – oh my! But I’m going to go with Katinka Hosszu’s husband is the man responsible for her performance. Seriously?!

    Best display of sportsmanship (or sportswomanship): I sadly missed the 5k prelims! So I missed the Abby D moment. So, I’m going to go with Meb for all the Meb-stuff.

    The one thing/person you loved that no one else seemed to appreciate: Shaunae Miller’s dive in the women’s 400. To me it was all heart – she ran her guts out. It wasn’t a tactic, it was leaving every single ounce of energy out on that track. WOW.

    The one thing/person that annoyed you that everyone else seemed to love: As Jasmine pointed out on FB yesterday, the medal counts mirror each country’s GDP. So I find it hard to get all USA USA about some races, when someone from Jamaica or a less-dominating African country is up against Americans. And then yes, I really am on the fence about hyperandrogenism in women’s sports, but Caster et al have been unfairly demonized. They’re following the rules. If we don’t like the rules, discuss them, but demonizing a person who is following the rules is cruel. Caster is so gracious in the face of all that. I am in awe at her ability to shake it off.

    What grade would you give the Rio Games and why? C. The green pool, the empty seats, the empty promises to clean up the city, the failure to follow through and give people in the Favelas some tickets, etc. But this is better than it sounded like it would be in the lead up to it!

    1. I think Shaunae’s dive was definitely heart- but I also kind of think she tripped she was moving so fast…and turned the trip into a dive…I don’t think it was her actual intention to dive originally. But,who knows. Either way, it got her the gold!

  3. Okay, I’m time biased because I can only think of the men’s marathon yesterday. But my favorite moment from that race was Meb doing pushups after slipping and falling at the finish.

    My favorite ridiculous thing an NBC commentator said was all the business about hats.

    And NBC fails? Try almost the entire Olympic coverage. How do we lobby for a different network to own the next summer Olympics?

    1. OMG that hats thing just got so far out of proportion and people were eating it right up…bitching about it on twitter but then feeding right into it by continuing to talk about it!

  4. Best race overall: Either the women’s 10k, or Mens/Womens 1500…Exciting/Inspirational…all of it.

    Best individual performance in a race: Molly in the 10k (brave, gutsy but smart), Desi in the marathon (Smart), Jared in the marathon (smart)

    Most likely doper: I would probably say Ayana. But…after her 5k it’s hard to say. Though I don’t know if that was more latent fatigue from the 10k…would doping help recovery time? IDK. So many possibilities.

    Biggest disappointment: I would have loved to see Jen Suhr defend her PV title, she’s local girl and felt horrible she got so sick at the worst time.

    Best athlete back story: I really like Joe Kovacs the shot putter. I remember watching his story at the trials and being drawn to him. His dad passed away when he was young so he was raised by his mom. She was his first shot put coach ever, in the parking lot of the school. He ended up with Silver, but man- seems like an awesome guy. I also would give this one to triathlete Gwen J.- watched a short video on her at one point…she’s incredible and so happy she won gold.

    Worst NBC commentator flub: The fact that the 4×100 (mens) and then Chelimo had to get bad news FROM THE commentator on live TV.

    Best display of sportsmanship (or sportswomanship): Abby (duh), but also Meb…I love seeing Pro runners still finish races when they know they cannot PR or win- I think that shows great sportsmanship and respect for the marathon by finishing.

    The one thing/person you loved that no one else seemed to appreciate: Gatlin not making 200 Final, oh wait…we all loved that.

    The one thing/person that annoyed you that everyone else seemed to love: Not sure honestly

    What grade would you give the Rio Games and why? I’d give it a B+ to be honest. I think the athletes all did incredible, the host city seemed (from what we know) to do a relatively good job keeping things running properly during the games(besides green pool). All of the hooplah over bad water, and Zika and violence turned out to be pretty moot points compared to all of the great things going on. I think things could have gone a lot worse considering the hype beforehand. Everyone made the best of the situation and I think that is all we can ask.

    1. Your Gatlin comment made me snicker. It was especially wonderful that he didn’t make it because he broke the most basic of rules of good racing and looked over at the finish – DUH! What an unsympathetic character he is!

    2. haha LOVED the Gatlin comment…also the the men’s 4×100 relay race with two known dopers. I know this is mean…but I really was (kinda) happy about it, but not for the other two clean athletes in the group.

      1. Alyena oh I agree about the known dopers. I may not like them, but as you said there are 2 others on the relay. BUT I still don’t think it’s right to let runners find out they are DQ’d on live TV like that. I felt so bad when Chelimo said that he was sitting there with the reporter for a few minutes but that they waited to tell him about his 5k DQ until cameras were rolling. I felt far worse for him than the relay for reasons like the dopers…but I still don’t think even in that case that they deserve to find out that way.

  5. I loved the track athletes who took their non-nike spikes off and hung them over their shoulders for their post-victory photo ops as a way to get their real sponsors in the picture (literally!).

    Though I was mostly cheering for my Canadian athletes, I really loved following Kate Grace’s journey, especially have she qualified in that crazy 800m at the trials. She’s done two long form interviews on the Real Talk podcast, so it was really neat having a glimpse into her head: and

    1. Ah that is a GREAT call Jesse… I loved when Emma took her NB spikes off and hung them on her shoulder for victory lap…she started a great trend and I loved how it was a semi-act of defiance against the man. So cheesy but so awesome!

  6. There were so many inspiring athletes and people, it is impossible to name just a few. I have always been a huge Mo Farah fan. To see him get up and win after falling in the 10,000 was amazing…and then he won the 5,000 to boot. He also seems humble and a good family man…inspiring in all ways.

    1. It makes me feel so cheesy/girly/omg hormones with Mo…but one of my favorite most likable things about him is the family man status. He LOVES his wife and kids so much and is not afraid to show it or talk about it. He knows how to get things done on the track (clearly) but doesn’t seem to let that consume his family.

  7. I feel as if I watched an entirely different Olympics … only saw a smidgen of broadcast TV, opting for streaming video instead. Different commentators (British, I think), no personal interest stories, no interviews, no commercials. A very different experience from years past – focus was really on the events & performances.

    One of my favorite moments was at the end of the last heat of the 800m at the end of the heptathlon. The athletes from the previous heats all came down from the stands and onto the track to congratulate each other. Many hugs all around. Then, they spontaneously lined up, joined hands, and took a bow.
    It was lovely to see them celebrating each other after two full days (morning & night) of competition.

    1. Wow! Love that! I’m sure there are so many awesome things we missed being forced to view through NBC either streaming or *gasp* the tv coverage.

  8. 1. Best race overall: Both the men’s and women’s 1500m. The 1500 is such an exciting, edge of your seat race to begin with, and to have 2 US medals (including a gold?)?? Amazing!

    2. Best individual performance in a race. Centrowitz winning the gold. He was fearless and just went for it.

    3. Most likely doper. Don’t want to spectate on any current performances, but I am not of fan of past dopers taking up spots on the Olympic team, so was always cynical watching them.

    4. Biggest disappointment. Allyson Felix getting the silver instead of gold.

    5. Best athlete back story. Wade van Niekerk winning the 400! With a 74 year old female coach!

    6. Worst NBC commentator flub. The 30+ minutes wasted on Matt Lauer grilling Ryan Lochte. Seriously, with the limited coverage of various events, that’s what you’re going to show during primetime on the last night of the Olympics?

    7. Best display of sportsmanship (or sportswomanship). I loved so many of the athletes reactions towards others that won medals. People who didn’t necessarily win themselves, but seemed genuinely happy for their teammates/competitors. One of the recent in my mind- Nick Willis acting like such a big brother towards Centro.

    8. The one thing/person you loved that no one else seemed to appreciate. I do(n’t) mean to objectify, but how do the male swimmers have such ripped bodies? They dive! What do they do to get in such amazing looking shape!

    9. The one thing/person that annoyed you that everyone else seemed to love. Not sure, because other people out there likely feel the same way, but the difficulty I had cheering for the US men’s relay team consisting of former dopers/former doping coach; the women’s 800 that looked like men were running in it.

    10. What grade would you give the Rio Games and why? B. Bottom line: it’s about the athletic performances. And there were some amazing ones out there, despite the green pool, etc. So much bad press going into it, and nothing disastrous happened. Great job to Rio for being the first country in SA to host the games! It’s good to truly represent different venues around the world, rather than just awarding the games to rich countries.

  9. 1 Best race overall
    the one sponsored by Nike.

    2 Best individual performance in a race
    The one sponsored by Nike.

    7 Best display of sportsmanship (or sportswomanship)
    It was actually at the trials…
    Brenda at the US track trials after tripping. She said that is how this sport goes. No protests. No complaints.

    8. The one thing/person you loved that no one else seemed to appreciate
    -Women’s high jump finals.
    -How the medal distribution seems to echo the economic influence of the countries…probably due to having the largest populations, and most affluence to support collegiate and elite development programs.

    9. The one thing/person that annoyed you that everyone else seemed to love
    Dressage? Huh? Get rid of the flub and give me more awesomeness. I want parkor, trail racing, Surfing (‘commin next time!),

  10. 1. Women’s 10k
    2. I loved Phelps 200 IM — these athletes who come to the Olys again and again — the concnetration and dedication to their sports is so amazing to me — swimmer, runners, that one gymnast! Awesome.
    6. ugh, commentatros during both marathons were so annoying! Yesterday the ones that bothered me were: saying that the Oly marathon is the pinnacle of the sport and that athletes would give up world records to medal in it (I honestly don’t think that is true — not for the least of reasons being you can’t really race fast in heat!) and that since it was cooler than the women’s race that the weather was pretty great for marathoning (72dF at start with 94% humidity. Okkkkay)
    10. B+ – I love the Olympics and really enjoyed the performances.

  11. 1. Best race overall: Can’t pick one, but loved both men’s and women’s 1500m and steeplechase
    2. Best individual performance in a race: Kate Grace in her 800m semifinal
    3. Most likely doper: Genzebe Dibaba– after her recent dominance surprising that she couldn’t hang in the 1500m final (Jenny would’ve caught her with another 5m)…made me think she can’t get access to some special training aids now that her coach is under investigation….
    4. Biggest disappointment: the Brazilians booing the poor French pole vaulter
    5. Best athlete back story: I second Wade van Niekerk!
    6. Worst NBC commentator flub: telling people on LIVE TV that they were disqualified. absolutely gut wrenching and ridiculous. I plan to heckle Lewis Johnson at all Boston running events he reports at (I’m very mature)
    7. Best display of sportsmanship (or sportswomanship): Abby D in 5k semis and the women of the high jump
    8. The one thing/person you loved that no one else seemed to appreciate: that the track was blue
    9. The one thing/person that annoyed you that everyone else seemed to love: people winning by huge margins–I like a close race
    10. What grade would you give the Rio Games and why? B-. I was expecting it to be a total mess (okay, maybe it still was and NBC sanitized it) but things seemed to hold up okay. It was really sad to see how empty the stands were–at that point give tickets for free to volunteers or to school groups or something!