Friday, August 12, 2016

Simply Simone

As the final act of the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez soap opera plays out this evening in the Bronx (and if you have a ticket tonight bring your galoshes, your bumber chute, and your lightning rod hat because if you think the Silver Spoon Twins are going to extend the "A-Rod:  Long Road to Elba" farewell tour one night longer than they must, you might have already been the victim of a lightning strike), a much happier and momentous occasion is being lauded in Rio, across the United States, and around the globe. 

Last evening at the Summer Olympics, the world's dominant gymnast, Simone Biles, the 4' 8" teenage dynamo who is such a stud that her floor exercise program includes a move named for her, captured the gold medal in the Women's Individual All-Round Gymnastics competition.  And for good measure, her teammate Aly Raisman captured the silver.  

Two American women were entered in the individual all-around competition and they effected a sweep of the top two positions on the medal stand, which served as a hell of an encore to the Americans' blow-out win in the Team All-Around earlier this week.   

One hell of an accomplishment by one hell of a young woman named Simone... 

...but wait, there is more. 

Thus far, the United States Swim Team (both men's and women's division) has dominated these Olympics.  Michael Phelps has thus far added four gold medals to his "I Have Too Many To Fit In One Trophy Case" collection, Lilly King has kicked ass and taken names, and Katie Ledecky has officials contemplating changing the rules for her in her events (such as making her swim 1000 meters in the 800 meter freestyle final) just to give the rest of the field a sporting chance.  Last night, the Americans made history yet again. 

Simone Manuel, who is just twenty years old, finished in a first-place tie with Penny Oleksiak of Canada in the final of the women's 100 meter freestyle.  For good measure, not only did Manuel and Oleksiak expertly synchronize their watches to match one another's finishing time, they did so in Olympic-record fashion, breaking the Games' record for their event by one-hundredth of a second.  

Ms. Manuel's gold medal was not simply the first individual gold medal of her Olympic career, it was the first individual gold medal ever won by an African-American female swimmer.  And it did not come easily.  The pool is fifty meters long. Thus, the 100 meter freestyle is a two-lap race.  As Simone hit her turn at the fifty meter mark she trailed by .47 seconds.  In the final fifty meters, she erased an almost-half second deficit to earn her gold medal.  A half second in one length of the pool?  She swam the final fifty meters as if at the turn she had strapped an Acme Rocket onto her back and ignited its waterproof fuse.  An incredible, gutty, and inspiring performance. 

It has been said since time immemorial that a picture is worth one thousand words.  Sometimes, however, one will do the trick quite nicely.


Simone Manuel - 100 meter freestyle gold winner


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