America’s impact in the 2016 Summer Olympics

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Held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from August 5 to August 27, more than 11,000 participants competed from 207 National Olympic Committees, with 28 Olympic sports, including swim, tennis, and gymnastics, the most recent sports being rugby sevens, and golf, which were added in 2009.

Rio is the first South American city to host the Summer Olympics. Athletes who made a significant impact in these Olympic games include Michael Phelps, Simone Biles, and Helen Maroulis.

Swimmer Michael Phelps returned after almost two years into retirement to compete in the 2016 Olympics, even though he announced after the 2012 London Olympics that that was his last time competing. Phelps stated that he was disappointed with his performance that year, and was “tired” of the sport. He is currently the world record holder for the 100 meter butterfly (49.82 seconds), 200 meter butterfly (1.51 seconds), the 400 meter individual medley, the 4-by-100 meter, and the 4-by-200 meter freestyle. Although Phelps ends his career with 23 Olympics gold medals out of 28 he currently has more medals than any athlete.

Keppel social sciences teacher, Mr. Gonzales stated that he was most impressed more with Phelps athletic performance than any other athlete because he “overcame diversity.” Phelps has claimed that he is in retirement, but teammate Ryan Lochte and some Mark Keppel students have their doubts.

Junior Sylvia Fernandez said, “Michael Phelps has gained more gold medals and broken more world records than any athlete. I find it hard to believe that he’s going to stop [competing] when he has a chance to further his career”.

Not only did America dominate in swim, but they wiped the floor in gymnastics. Simone Biles gained the accomplishment of becoming the most decorated gymnast in America after gaining 5 gold medals at a single game, becoming an inspiration to many young girls.

Biles has 19 medals from the Olympics and World Championships, beating Shannon Miller, who had the title of most records with 4 gold medals for 20 years. Biles won her first gold medal in the gymnastics team event, then went on to gain more medals on the vault, women’s floor exercise final, and individual all around, as well as a bronze on the balance beam. Although no one could see past Biles, Genesis Serrano was most impressed with Aly Raisman. “In my eyes, Aly was better that everyone at the Olympics. She went for a second time and performed beautifully.”

Helen Maroulis made American history when she won in the 53 kilogram class (wrestling) defeating the defending three time champion Saori Yoshida from Japan, who is the world’s most decorated wrestler, and claiming the first wrestling gold for United States women.

“I’ve dreamt of it my whole life.” Maroulis said. “I put it on this pedestal.” Yoshida is a 16th time world champion who hadn’t lost a major event in years, and was going for her fourth Olympic gold medal. Wrestler Katarina Fernandez said that “she worked really hard for it, and she’s really strong role model [for me]. I was impressed [with how she competed] and she definitely deserved that award.”


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