It’s been four years since we saw the U.S gymnastics team take home a gold medal for the first time since 1996, since Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte battled it out in the pool and since Usain Bolt and Jamaica dominated in track and field. After four years, the 2016 Summer Olympics are now only a couple of months away.
Gymnastics, track and field and swimming are some of the most popular and most televised Summer Olympic sports. The most polarizing Olympic athletes are also participants in these sports, including Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, Gabby Douglas and Tyson Gay.
As one of the most popular Olympic sports, gymnastics has certainly evolved from the first games when only men competed. Gymnastics also has a long history, as it has been a part of all 27 Summer Olympic Games.
“I think that’s the perfect image of how incredible the human body can be,” junior Anthony Johnson says. “All the strength it takes for men and women to hurl themselves over a bar and do it gracefully is amazing.”
But what about the lesser known sports? Archery, badminton and judo are all Olympic sports, yet do not garner the same recognition as other sports.
“My favorite sport to watch is fencing,” sophomore Nycol Lyons says. “It is a sport a lot of people overlook because it appears easy. But in actuality, it’s probably one of the hardest.”
Another lesser known sport is table tennis, which many students on-campus enjoy playing. For example, there’s an annual ping pong tournament held over J-term by the recreation sports staff, which sophomore Noah Cable participated in this year.
“I think table tennis is a fun sport. People don’t realize how hard it is; it takes a lot of hand-eye coordination with a ball that small,” he says.
This summer, cheer for your country and watch all of the biggest Olympic sports, but try something different and watch some fencing, table tennis or even sailing. Expand your horizons and enjoy every aspect of the Olympics this summer
The Summer Games officially begin on August 5 with the opening ceremony in the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. For more information on the competition, or to see when your favorite events are scheduled, visit Rio2016.com.
Willie Hope, Sports Editor
Willie J. Hope, III, live from Hess 3rd