Enough of the hype about Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte! The real champions of these summer Olympics are the women. American women thus far (as of noon on August 1) have won more golds than the men (6 to 4) and more overall medals than the men (14 to 12). Even more impressive, however, is the way in which teamwork has made women triumphant.
The gold medal performance of the American women’s gymnastics team was a stunning display of extraordinary skills, strength and teamwork. To its discredit, NBC kept interrupting and pushing back the time for the final women’s gymnastics performance until well past 11 pm, insisting that we had to watch Michael Phelps and even, at one point, a flash of men’s basketball. Oh, come on! The world already knew that the women won gold, we wanted to see the incredible performance of this great team!
The media made much of the Jordyn Wieber meltdown earlier in the week, but really, the team gold is a far more valuable and valued achievement than any individual medal. Jordyn’s comeback as the team leader is the real story. Watching the magnificent Aly Raisman encourage her very talented teammate Gabby Douglas before the uneven bars was an unguarded moment of generous teamwork. McKayla Maroney’s vault was sheer perfection, as was Kyla Ross’s balance beam performance. Each member of the team provided a strength that complemented the others; each cheered for the success of the others.
In men’s swimming, while the team had a gold victory yesterday, for most of the week we’ve had to put up with all the puffery of Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps. Ok, so maybe that was a made-for-TV rivalry, too, but something about it smacked so much of a greater focus on self than team. I will admit, however, that Michael Phelps finally seemed almost charming and selfless when the men’s team won the gold in the 200 Individual Medley, giving him his 19th Olympic medal and putting him on the all-time “most medals” pedestal. That’s a great achievement, yes, and he deserves many congratulations. But who can name the members of the team who put him there?
Cheers for all of the champions — and special cheers for the true Olympic spirit of the women’s gymnastics team!