An Olympic Reflection

Often, there's no nuance in the world. Everything is black or white, winner or loser, nothing in between. Being sport, the Olympics offer a perfect playground for this.

"Phelps gets smoked on the Water, Phlop," blares the New York Post after swimmer Michael Phelps finished 4th in the 400IM on Saturday. His teammate and rival Ryan Lochte dominated the race and won the gold. I don't mean to pick on the Post because I usually love the paper's headlines, but a sub-head on one of the may stories about this said Phelps was "embarrassed" in his first London race.

He did describe his swim as "crappy" but embarrassed? He finished 4th in an Olympic final and still has a chance to eclipse the all-time record for Olympic medals (18) before the 30th Olympiad ends. Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina holds that distinction. Latynina's medal haul between 1956 and 1964: 9 golds, 5 silvers and 4 bronze.

I love the Olympics because I love track and field, but it's also pretty cool to watch the sports no one pays any attention to during the four years between each edition of the games. The Italians won the men's team archery event, contested on the fabled Lords Cricket Ground, by just one point when Michele Frangilli nailed a bulls-eye on his team's final arrow.

Fencing looks like a video game with the competitors' helmets lighting up when they score points. An Italian fencer named Valentina Vezzali was third in the women's individual foil event. She was trying to win a gold medal in her fourth straight Olympics, but had to settle for bronze. American Kimberly Rhode won the gold medal in women's skeet shooting on Sunday. She's the first American to take an individual sport medal in five consecutive Olympics. Every day it seems one athlete or another makes history.

By the way the first track and field final is the women's 10,000-meters race Friday morning east coast time.

This segment aired on July 30, 2012. The audio for this segment is not available.

Alex Ashlock Twitter Producer, Here & Now
Alex Ashlock has been a producer for Here & Now since 2005. He started his WBUR career as senior producer of Morning Edition in 1998.

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