Photo courtesy of astanatimes.com
Corona del Mar High School

Let the Games begin! 2016 Summer Olympics: new athletes, new sports, and new problems

The colorful sport icons for the 2016 Summer Olympics (left) and Paralympics (right) are unveiled. Photo courtesy of my.umbc.edu
The colorful sport icons for the 2016 Summer Olympics (left) and Paralympics (right) are unveiled. Photo courtesy of my.umbc.edu

Victory brings an energizing feeling that everyone is driven to achieve. The Olympics are the epitome of victory, and this summer, the excitement of the games will once again crawl out of its four-year hibernation.

Next August, Rio de Janeiro will welcome 10,500 athletes from 206 countries. It will be the first South American city to host the Olympics, and two new countries, Kosovo and South Sudan, will be competing for the first time. The Olympians will test their skills against the world’s best in 42 sports. Golf and rugby are revived after having been excluded from the games for nearly 100 years.

Rugby and Golf will reappear in the Games since being abandoned for nearly 100 years. Photo courtesy of telegraph.co.uk
Rugby and Golf will reappear in the Games since being abandoned for nearly 100 years. Photo courtesy of telegraph.co.uk

Even though the Olympic Games are several months away, students are already hyped to see their favorite events.

“I like seeing the different strokes in swimming, and the routines and flips [in gymnastics that] I can’t do,” said freshman Brenna Roberts.

However, some are not that enthusiastic about watching the Games. An anonymous student said, “I would rather play than watch. It’s really boring to watch.” Another student said, “Sports don’t have that much plot potential.”

This year will mark the final Olympics for some of the greatest athletes of all time, including Usain Bolt, the fastest man on Earth, who holds the 100-meter world record at 9.58 seconds, and Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympic athlete in history with 18 gold medals. Bolt will go head-to-head against American superstar, Justin Gatlin, who ran the 100-meter dash in 9.8 seconds six times. Phelps, who competed in his first Olympics at the age of fifteen, still wants to show the world that he won’t go away quietly in another highly anticipated showdown with fellow American swimmer Ryan Lochte.

“It’s sad to see him go, but he did a lot in his Olympic career,” Roberts said.

Junior Suzanne Arenal, who participated in the 2015 Doha Paralympics, plans to compete in the Rio Paralympics. First, she will have to go through the time trials in June in North Carolina to qualify. If she does, she will represent the United States in the 100 and 200-meter sprint races in track and field. At the end of November, Arenal will go back to a tough workout schedule after recovering from the World Championships and Pan American Games. Her workouts mainly “consist of speed training the majority of the week, work at the gym, and Pilates.”

Currently, 39 events are being tested to ensure no complications will arise during the actual games. During the tests, some athletes have already exhibited their remarkable skills. In archery, according to the official Olympics website, South Korea dominated both the men and women’s events. In the men’s event, Kim Woojin hit the bullseye 11 out of 15 times. In the women’s event, Choi Misun shot 15 of her 21 arrows in the bullseye. As a result of their outstanding performances, South Korea took gold in the test event. Other nations to watch out for include France in cycling, the U.S. in basketball, and China in table tennis.

While athletes display their talents in the test events, Russia, however, faces scrutiny and could possibly be banned from participating in the Summer Olympics. According to various sources, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) found numerous doping scandals in the Russian Olympic program, particularly in track and field. Doping is cheating in athletic events by using performing-enhancing drugs. More than 1,400 urine samples from Russian athletes were destroyed to evade testing. In addition, Russia’s Federal Security Service was present at the anti-doping labs in the Sochi Olympics to ensure that athletes would not be accused of cheating. They were disguised as engineers and tampered with the samples. The International Association of Athletics Federation has provisionally suspended Russia from all international competitions, including the Olympics. However, if Russia is able to reform itself clean by January, it may still be eligible to participate.

Another major issue is the unsanitary water venues in Rio. The Associated Press discovered virus-contaminated water in Copacabana Beach, Guanabara Bay, Rodrigo de Freitas Lake, and Ipanema Beach, where the swimming, rowing, canoeing, and sailing events will take place. The problem surfaced eight years ago when former Olympian Kalyn Robinson was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease after competing in a swim meet in Rio, which ended her swimming career. More recently, at this year’s rowing test event, 13 out of the 40 members U.S. team were reported to have severe cases of vomiting and diarrhea. Though Brazilian officials claim that the water is safe, the sick athletes and reports of bacteria and viruses prove otherwise. According to international experts, it is too late to fully clean the water, and more than 1,400 athletes competing in the water sports will be at risk when they compete in the polluted venues.

Guanabara Bay is one of the sites for competing in sailing. It has been discovered to contain harmful viruses and bacteria. Photo courtesy of forbes.com
Guanabara Bay is one of the sites for competing in sailing. It has been discovered to contain harmful viruses and bacteria. Photo courtesy of forbes.com

Despite these issues, the 2016 Summer Olympics is highly anticipated and billed to be an incredible experience and an opportunity to cheer for national pride and support your favorite teams. Hopefully, there is still time to remedy the aforementioned problems, so athletes can compete safely. Soon, we will get to cheer a runner carrying the torch up the stairs at Maracanã Stadium. Let the Games begin!