`America First' the last slogan L.A. 2024 wanted to hear

`America First' the last slogan L.A. 2024 wanted to hear

You can’t help but wonder what the voting members of the International Olympic Committee, whose charter seeks to place “sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind,” thought of the bombastic “AMERICA FIRST, AMERICA FIRST” message in the Xenophobe-in-Chief’s inaugural address last Friday.

You also can’t help but wonder if Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who is pretty much the anti-Trump on every issue, has found a tailor to help him cut his conscience in a suitable fashion to continue currying the new U.S. president's support for his city's 2024 Summer Olympic bid.

And you also can’t help but wonder if the sickening idea that Marie Le Pen becomes president of France could boost L.A. 2024, given that Paris is Los Angeles’ chief rival for the 2024 Summer Games and Le Pen’s politics are even more offensively exclusionary and jingoistic than Trump’s.

You have to feel sorry that Los Angeles is saddled with a U.S. president who wants to build fences rather than bridges, to close our country rather than leave it open and welcoming, who uses slogans that recall World War II isolationism.  Why sorry?  Because the L.A. bid committee has done everything right since the city’s previous mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, told the U.S. Olympic Committee in 2013 that it was interested in the 2024 Olympics.

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Of The Golden Stars Of Rio – And Those Who Made All Medals Shine Brighter

Who was the biggest star of the 2016 Olympics?

It depends on your point of view.

From a global perspective, the answer is undoubtedly Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, because track and field is one of the two most widely followed and played sports in the worlds (soccer is the other). And the world’s fastest man is the most prized Olympic distinction. And Bolt’s triple-triple, consecutive Olympic golds in the 100, 200 and sprint relay, may last as long as our galaxy.

From the host nation’s perspective, it would have to be Neymar, who scored the lone goal and the decisive penalty kick as Brazil won its first Olympic title in soccer. Neymar was Sidney Crosby 2010 redux: the athlete assuring soul-salving gold in his country’s national sport.

From a U.S. perspective, the choice isn’t as clear-cut, as Sports Illustrated showed with a cover featuring swimmers Katie Ledecky and Michael Phelps and gymnast Simone Biles, whom it called, “The Greatests.” Plural.

While that SI issue focused on just the first week of Olympic action, the three cover athletes essentially played a successful game of “Can you top this?” Ledecky won four gold medals and a silver and set two world records; Phelps won five golds and a silver, improving his record Olympic totals to 23 golds and 28 total; Biles won four golds, a bronze and the acclaim of venerable coach Martha Karolyi as the greatest gymnast of all time.

Whether you think someone topped those three as the No. 1 Team USA athlete will depend on whether you think an athlete who did brilliantly in his or her only Olympic event should get equal credit with athletes whose sports provide the opportunity to win multiple medals.

I tend to come down on the side of multiples, especially when the achievements were as remarkable as those of Ledecky, Phelps and Biles. If forced to pick one, I would go for…nope, not doing that. Sorry. Don’t want to be trolled to distraction.


For Biles And Ledecky, Greatness Comes From Going Beyond The Top

RIO DE JANEIRO – In two hours Thursday afternoon, I went from watching Katie Ledecky, who defies the clock in a pool, to watching Simone Biles, who defies gravity on a gymnastics floor.

These two 19-year-olds, born three days apart in March of 1997, each dominates her sport in a way that leaves their rivals in awe.

“If Katie swims the way she can, we all are swimming for second or third,” Denmark’s Lotte Friis, a 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, told me two months ago.

“I knew Simone was going to win; I was just hoping to get second,” her U.S. teammate, Aly Raisman, said early Thursday evening, when Raisman had done just that as Biles took the Olympic all-around title by 2.1 points, the largest victory margin in the last 40 years.

Biles has a team gold medal. And the all-around gold. And she will be favored to add three more in the individual events.

Ledecky has three golds and a silver. She is heavily favored to win a fourth gold Friday after setting an Olympic record in the 800-meter freestyle preliminaries Thursday.

What Biles and Ledecky share is the same plan for getting farther ahead of the opposition when triumph already is a foregone conclusion.


Even Losing Her Footing In Defeat, Fencer Muhammad Still Stands Tall

RIO DE JANEIRO – For Ibtihaj Muhammad, this was the long-awaited chapter in a lengthy narrative that had put her in a position of epic significance. It ended with her in an unremarkable position of discomfit, lying on a fencing strip at Carioca Arena 3 in the Olympic Park yet still standing for so much more.

It was just past noon on the third full day of the 2016 Olympics. A little more than an hour earlier, Muhammad had become the first woman in hijab to compete for the United States in an Olympics. That historic moment had been subsumed in her mind by the need to focus on her first match, in the round of 32, which she won 15-13.
Now it was match point in the round of 16, and Muhammad had lost her footing. She remained on her backside for the minute of official review before the referee awarded what would be the final point of a 15-12 score to her opponent, Cecilia Berder of France.
Down. And quickly out of the tournament for the Olympic saber title, an outcome not unexpected among fencing cognoscenti but unwanted for those who hoped for more exposure of the symbol Muhammad had become.
“I wouldn’t say I felt down and out,” Muhammad said. “At the end of the day, I realized that this moment of me in sport and representing my country and the Muslim community is bigger than myself.”


"Not Superwoman But Pretty Super:" Ledecky Gets Silver Surprise In 400 Free Relay

RIO DE JANEIRO - Four years ago this week, Great Britain’s Rebecca Adlington had a first-hand view of the moment that surprisingly was the start of the Katie Ledecky era in women’s swimming.
Saturday afternoon, on the opening day of swimming at the 2016 Olympics, Adlington had a different vantage point on another Ledecky swim that seemed equally surprising.
A near-repeat performance Saturday night brought Ledecky a silver medal in the 4x100-meter freestyle, an event in which there had been no guarantee she would compete.
“She’s just amazing,” Adlington said as she stood on a bus for the brief ride between the pool and the Main Press Center.