This summer, we welcomed back the biggest sports event around the globe: the Summer Olympics. Held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the Olympics hosted 207 nations and 11,303 players. Anticipations were high with two new additions to the sports program, namely rugby sevens and golf, despite concerns about the Zika virus and safety in the host city. Starting off with a vibrant opening ceremony that gained critical acclaim for its high quality despite the low budget, the games filled all 17 days with extreme excitement for viewers around the world.
The best thing about the Olympics is that every Olympics creates its own story, even within the same sports events. It is where athletes gather to reap the fruits of four years of their efforts. This year, many Korean athletes did the country proud by bringing medals back home. Korea’s first gold medal came from the men’s team event in archery, followed by another gold from the women’s archery team. The women’s archery team has never lost a team event since the inclusion of archery in the Olympic Games in 1988. This year marked the eighth consecutive year that Korea topped this event. This fresh start by the team eventually lead to the archery team bagging the gold medal for all the events in archery, and dominating the show.
The second gold, won by Sangyoung Park from the individual épée event in fencing, created a big buzz online. In the épée event, both sides score if they touch a valid area with their swords at the same time. This rule makes it extremely hard for the athlete to turn the tables if he or she is lagging behind by many points. However, Park was caught on camera telling himself that he “can do it” even when he was lagging behind by four points and his opponent was just one point away from the gold medal. He persevered and was able to stand at the top of the medal podium, which became a great inspiration to everybody. Another come-from-behind win came for Jongoh Jin, who showed a never-dwindling concentration to make up for his mistake earlier on. He was the first shooter in the world to top the event three consecutive times. Other emotional stories followed with medals from Taekwondo and also from the golfer Inbee Park, who became the only golfer to achieve the ‘career golden grand slam’ by obtaining the first ever gold medal in the games. Despite the 12-hour time difference, stories about Korean athletes from across the globe were delivered each morning and resonated with many back home.
As much as there were many who were rightfully rewarded for their hard efforts, many had to turn back with disappointment. In men’s soccer, the event that gained the most spotlight, the Korean team lost so closely to Honduras in the quarterfinals, despite having fought so well for their previous matches. Also, many of Korea’s original strengths such as Judo, wrestling and badminton slipped off out of the medal range. Areas such as swimming and gymnastics, that had once depended only on ‘prodigies’ and not a strategically trained athlete base until now, also did not perform well. Internationally, two of the world’s biggest Olympics stars proved themselves once again. First of the two is Michael Phelps, who added five golds and one silver this year for a gross total of 23 golds. The other is track star Usain Bolt, who dominated the 100m, 200m, and 400m relay for a record-breaking three years in a row.