All Grit, No Glamour Define Olympics' Generation Next
Moments that caught the eye
India may have had its fair share of a few expected and unexpected heartbreaks. However, the Tokyo Olympics have had several shining new stars, and some heart warming ones. Now only days away from curtains down, here are some moments that caught the eye.
Alexander Zverev Makes Germany Proud
There was a feeling of the danger of monotony at the Tokyo Olympics after Rafael Nadal pulled out as did Roger Federer that this would be Novak Djokovic yet again after the Grand slams of the French Open and Wimbledon.
However, in one of the more impressive performances, Alexander Zverev pulled no punches in his semi final match against Djokovic, handing the Serbian a shock defeat. Thereafter it was simply one way traffic as the German made it the first since Steffi Graf for his country to win an individual gold at the Olympics.
The tall German, known sometimes for blowing hot and cold despite boasting of prodigious talent at a young age, was all business whether it was the semi final or the final, prudently closing out opponents in a rather understated style. It might have been anti climatic for those accustomed to Djokovic’s face, but it was a great moment for tennis and for the Olympics as Zverev became the first man from Germany to make it to the medals tally after the German duo and then rivals, Boris Becker and Michael Stich, came together in the men’s doubles to win the gold medal at the Barcelona Olympics back in 1992.
Andrade, Lee shine in absence of Biles
Simone Biles has become the story coming out of the Olympics, without really having taken the field. One of the world’s premier gymnasts, the twenty-four year old four time gold medallist found herself having to make the decision to sit out of a team event after she explained that she was having to take care of her mental health, suffering from twisties, which in gymnastic parlance talks about imbalance, which can be physically dangerous as well for the player.
While many applauded her decision, critics back home in the U.S. did not spare her, even dubbing her “selfish.” However, as Biles continued to sit out of one event after another – events she had legitimately qualified for – there was concern that this was the end of the road of seeing one of the greatest gymnasts take stage at the Tokyo Olympics.
All along, Biles was seen sitting and cheerleading her teammates, as the likes of Suni Lee and Jade Carey made themselves household names with respective gold medals to their name. It kept USA still on the artistic gymnastic radars, revealing the depth of talent in their team both, in individual and team competitions.
Another lady quietly making a splash was Rebeca Andrade of Brazil who became the first woman from her country to win gold in the women’s vault and an all round silver. Highlighting the plight of many in Brazil like herself who had to overcome great odds including poverty and having overcome several injuries, the young, black Brazilian drew attention to the sterling ability to fight through odds and make it big on the big stage.
The attention on Biles has failed to dampen the women’s gymnastics champions, showcasing the likes of some scintillating and mesmeric performers including the Russian Olympic Committee’s Angelina Melnikova.
However, Biles must have the final word as the champion showed up for the women’s beam and ended up winning bronze for her effort to remain steady and then finish strongly.
Barshim, Tamberi Show Sports Camaraderie in Shared Gold
It was the men’s high jump though that brought forth a real spectacle, not only in terms of the athleticism of the men in the discipline but also, of the manner in which winners could be settled. Suffice it to say, Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim will go down in history not only as an Olympic gold winner but also, a generous podium winner.
After several rounds where the height was raised but the competition seemed to come down to five men, Barshim and Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi lined up for the 2.37m challenge. Although both failed to clear after three rounds, they were given the option of a final go.
Barshim was then heard asking the Olympic official if the gold medal could be shared and if there could be two winners. Much to the ecstasy and delight of both men, not least of all Tamberi, the Olympics men’s high jump saw two gold medal winners who were seen embracing each other as friends.
Later Barshim told the journalists he and Tamberi shared similar history of overcoming career threatening injuries and that when the option was made available at his inquiry about the possibility of two gold medals, he and Tamberi had no doubt about the decision, having claimed to be friends off the field as well. One of the truly heartwarming moments in sports where competition and the need to place no.1 often comes at great personal cost and also, healthy rivalry.
Interestingly enough the unfancied Lamont Marcell Jacobs found himself not only finishing first in the final of the men’s 100m but also, found his Italian compatriot, Tamberi, waiting for him with open arms as the duo celebrated two Italian gold within a quarter of an hour of each other.
USA’s Fred Kerley had to settle for silver and Canada’s Andre de Grasse for bronze as both favourites were upstaged by the stunning performance of Jacobs. With Tamberi’s euphoria unfounded, the flag of the Azzuri painted the stadium blue.