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Tuesday, 2 August 2016

#BetweenTheRings: Welcome To Rio 2016!
The XXXI Olympiad set to kick-off in Brazil

Happy Summer Sports Fans!  It has been some time since we have connected and I hope all of you have been out celebrating the summer.  The short time away for #TwineTime has been great...but time to get back to work here.  The biggest sporting event of 2016 is only a few days away...and you know #TwineTime wouldn't miss it.

As a HUGE sports fan...a lover of all sports....every two years my heart races a little more.  My excitement builds to epic proportions.  My sleep patters slightly change.  And my competitive intensity revs up.  Of course I can only be referring to the greatest, in my opinion, sporting event: The Olympics.  The 2016 Summer Olympics are mere hours away from beginning in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil with the women's soccer group stage matches set to hit the pitch on Wednesday August 3.

I love the Olympics, friends!  My favourite sports memory was being in Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Olympics.  Sitting in the arena for the Opening Ceremonies, hearing Team Canada announced and watching the delegation walk into the stadium gives me goosebumps to this day.  Saying it was the coolest thing I ever experienced wouldn't do it justice.  But it wasn't only the Opening Ceremonies I enjoyed.  I took in numerous events, including men's and women's hockey and curling.  Each day I was in Vancouver I had a full schedule, usually visiting 3-5 events per day.  It was hectic.  It was busy.  It was tiring.  It was worth it!!

The Summer Olympics will bring out the same joy, excitement and passion as being back in Vancouver six years ago.  And it should for all of you.  The opportunity to sport your nation colors for the next 17 days should bring a sense of national pride.  We are about to witness history.  World records will fall.  Upsets will happen.  Dreams will come true.  Dreams will be dashed as well and heartbreak is inevitable for some.  The emotions from athletes to fans around the world is about to take over....but are you ready?

Before we dive into #Rio2016, make sure you are up to date on your information.  Here is where #TwineTime can become your best friend for the next two weeks (and some odd days).  Let's start with the numbers game (and some random trivia to impress your friends):

31 - #Rio2016 is also known as the Games of the XXXI Olympiad.  And, as you all know from elementary school roman numerals lessons, XXXI = 31

38 - The total amount of venues required to host the games scattered throughout the host nation of Brazil.  Host cities include: Rio, Brasilia, Sao Paulo, Belo Horizonte, Salvador, and Manaus.

1 - As in the First!  Rio will be the first South American city to host the Summer Olympics.  The first Summer Olympics held during the host nation's winter season.  AND the first games held in a Portugese-speaking nation.

3 - The number of times the Olympics have been held in the Southern Hemisphere.  Both previous Olympiads were hosted by Australia (1956, 2000).

206 - A record 206 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) will be represented in Rio.  205 of these are nations around the world and 1 NOC will be listed as Refugee Olympic Athletes.  These 10 athletes will compete under the Olympic Rings flag and will consist of athletes from: South Sudan, Ethiopia, Syria and the Democratic Republic of Congo.  The ROA athletes will compete in Athletics, Judo and Swimming events.

5 - There are 5 nations who have competed in all twenty-seven Summer Olympics: Australia, France, Great Britain, Greece and Switzerland.  All 5 nations will be competing in Rio of course.

2 - Rio 2016 will be the first international Olympics for two nations: Kosovo and South Sudan.

10,500 - A record number of athletes will be participating in Rio.

469 - The number of athletes competing for the host nation, Brazil.

544 - The largest contingent of athletes competing for one NOC...the USA!

1 - The smallest NOC contingent in Rio belonging to Tuvalu.  Tuvalu is a Polynesian island located midway between Australia and Hawaii, representing the Oceania region.  Tuvalu's sole athlete will be Etimoni Timuani.  Timuani will compete in the men's 100m....going up against Usain Bolt!  Yikes!!!  Timuani did compete at the 2015 World Championships, finished 23rd in the 100m setting a personal best time of 11.72.

306 - The total set of medals to be awarded.  This would bring the total amount of medals to an estimated 918.  Of course this number will increase based on possible tie outcomes (i.e. gymnastics, swimming) and some sports handing out two bronze medals (i.e. boxing, judo).  The total amount of medals awarded at London in 2012 was 961, with 300 gold.  This year we could see an excess of 1,000 medals handed out.  My total medal awarded final count hovers around 1,003.

239 - The record amount of total medals won by a host nation.  The United States accomplished this feat back in 1904!  Only 4 host nations have cracked the 100 medal mark since 1980 though: Soviet Union (195 - 1980), USA (174 - 1984), USA (101 - 1996) and China (100 - 2008).  The odds are quite slim in Brazil adding its name to this prestigious list.

9 - The lowest amount of medals won by a host nation at the Summer Olympics.  This dubious honour goes to Mexico in 1968.  The second lowest is Canada with 11 in 1976.  Brazil should easily out distance both of those marks but are doubtful to equal the 65 medals won by Great Britain as hosts in 2012.

2,399 - The record amount of medals won, overall, by the USA through 26 Summer Olympics, averaging just over 92 medals per Summer Olympics.  The now-defunct Soviet Union is second with 1010 from 9 competitions.  In comparison, third on the list is Great Britain with 780 in competing in all 27 Summer Olympics.  The USA should crack the 2,500 total Summer Olympic medal mark in Brazil.  Who will be lucky number #2500 though?  My guess is it will happen on a team event, either on the track (relay) or in the gym (volleyball).

28 - The total number of Olympic sports being contested during this Olympiad.  This includes the addition of two new sports to the roster: Rugby Sevens and Golf.  Both returning to the games after LONG hiatus.

1914 - The first year of the current Olympic flag, consisting of the five intertwined rings representing each of the continents (Africa, America, Asia, Europe and Oceania).  The five colors (yellow, blue, black, green and red) were selected because every nation has at least one of these colors on their national flag.

1920 - The Olympic flag is first flown at an official Olympiad: The 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium.

Got all that?  Sign yourself up for an Olympic trivia contest over the next two weeks and I am confident you will wow your friends, colleagues and rivals with some of the information above.  I mean how many actually know the relevance of the number 2,399?  Or 239?  Or even 10,500?  Well I do...and now you do as well!  You're welcome by the way :)

Over the next two weeks there will be numerous story lines to pay attention to.  Some will be lined with tears of joy.  Some will be filled with tearjerking signs of pain.  All will be history making though.  Here are the 5 #TwineTime events to pay particular close attention to, set to the Olympic ring colors of course:

Yellow:  Lightning Bolt - Jamaica's Usain Bolt is on a mission!  He is the two-time Olympic champion in both the 100m and 200m event, as well as the 4x100m relay.  In fact, he is undefeated at the Olympic Games, sweeping all 3 events in both 2008 (Beijing, China) and 2012 (London, UK).  Bolt also swept the world championships at the same three events in 2013 (Moscow, Russia) and 2015 (Beijing, China).  Since the 2008 Olympic Games, Bolt has lost a total of 1 major international competition race, back at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu, South Korea when he was DSQ in the 100m.  Of course at the same event he would still win the 200m and 4x100m relay.  Bolt is chasing history in his final Olympic competition, attempting to be the first ever #3peat winner in the 100m and 200m.  In 2012, he became the first man to complete the "double double"....in Rio he is attempting the "triple triple".  Bolt also holds the WR in both events.  The 100m final will run on the evening of August 14 while the 200m final goes the evening of August 18.  Bolt goes for the Rio #3peat in the 4x100m relay final August 19.
#TwineTime Prediction:  History will be made on the track and the "triple triple" will be completed.

Blue:  A Perfect 10 - History will be made inside the Arena Olimpica do Rio (HSBC Arena) on August 9 (team) and August 11 (individual all-around).  These are the days where we could see 19yo USA gymnast Simone Biles enter the record books as one of the greatest athletes in the sport...EVER!  Leading up to the games, Biles has been a perfect 10 in competitions.  Just look at the resume:  three-time world all-around champion (2013-2015), four-time US national all-around champion (2013-2016), three-time world floor champion (2013-2015), two-time world balance beam champion (2014,2015) and two-time world team champion (2014,2015).  She never losses!  She has 10 world championship gold medals in three years.  Her 10 gold medals is a record for a female gymnast in the history of the World Championships.  She is also the first woman to win three consecutive all-around world titles.  To say she is above and beyond her competition is an understatement.  However, this is her first Olympic games.  How will she handle the pressure that goes along with competing at the most prestigious event in her sport?  She has dominated female gymnastics since she arrived on the scene and SHOULD dominate in Rio....assuming her nerves don't get the better of her.
#TwineTime Prediction:  Double gold for Simone in Rio.  She will be going after the elusive gold sweep of all individual events and team but will not be able to pull off that difficult feat.  However, leaving Rio with the two major gold medals, plus an additional 2 individual apparatus gold medals, should be more than enough to give her the official #GOAT status.

Black:  Controversy - Let's hope the pre-games controversies do not cast a black cloud over the entire games.  The outbreak of the Zika virus is forcing many top athletes from a variety of sports to skip the Olympics altogether, most notably in tennis and welcome back sport golf.  But the Zika virus is not the only controversy raining on the Rio 2016 parade.  Public health and public safety are growing causes of concern for athletes, officials and spectators.  Guanabara Bay, the site for sailing and windsurfing, is a dumping ground of trash and pollution.  Money laundering and state corruption have led to increased crime resulting in 5,000 security force officials and 22,000 military officers being called into duty for the duration of the games.  And, of course, how can we not mention the Russia debacle!?!  The doping suspension of Russia's track and field team set off a domino effect of concern, including an IOC emergency meeting mere weeks before the start of the games.  At one point it looked like the entire Russian national team would be banned from competing.  After the emergency meeting, the IOC ruled Russian athletes could compete in Rio under additional strict doping testing requirements for Russian athletes.  Entering the games, 117 of the qualified 387 Russian athletes have been removed for doping infractions (30%).
#TwineTime Prediction:  Unfortunately I doubt this is the last we hear about this throughout the games.  Let's just hope we stop seeing more of this in the future.

Green: Sou brasileiro, com muito orgulho, com muito amor - If you listen closely to the crowd noises, especially at Brazil hot spot events like football and volleyball, you may hear this phrase quite a few times.  Translated from Portugese to English, this chant means "I'm Brazilian, with a lot of pride and a lot of love."  This chant has often been heard at the World Cup when A Selecao (The National Team) are on the pitch but we could be hearing this throughout the next two weeks at every Olympic venue.  As the host nation, Brazil will be competing in almost every sport discipline meaning the Brazilian fans will have ample opportunity to chant, cheer, scream and wave the Brazilian flag.  Brazil has competed in 21 Summer Olympics, winning a total of 108 medals, 23 of which are gold (averaging 5 medals/games).  The 2012 Summer Olympics in London were their most successful medal haul, taking home 17 medals, including 3 gold.  The most gold medals won in one Olympiad is 5, back in 2004 (Athens, Greece).  Brazil will be looking to set new records in both gold medals and overall medals during these games and should come very close in accomplishing both goals.  Brazil will be heavily favoured to find the podium in men's and women's football, men's and women's indoor and beach volleyball and a few events in the swimming pool and on the judo mats.
#TwineTime Prediction:  The final medal haul for #BRA will see 6 gold medals (including a volleyball sweep of all 4 events) and 24 total medals...both record best performances for the host nation. 

Red:  Oh Canada!! - I would be remiss if I did not talk about my own home nation in the preview blog post.  I will be proudly wearing my red and white throughout the Rio Olympic Games and will be glued to my television set and computer cheering on our Canadian athletes.  I am a proud Canadian...supported by my red maple leaf tattoo of course!  Is Canada going to dominate the podium in Rio?  No, of course not.  I am a HUGE fan but I am also realistic.  We are a Winter Olympics nation...always have been, always will be.  In 25 Summer Olympic appearances, Canada has collected 279 medals, including 59 gold (averaging 11 medals/games).  However, that is not to say I don't think our contingent of 314 athletes will not product some outstanding personal, seasonal and national best times and records.  We may not be gold medal favourites in a specific sport or discipline, compared to other nations, but we are medal threats in many sports.  Our women's football, rugby and basketball teams could make surprising medal runs.  The men's and women's beach volleyball teams are strong.  The men's indoor volleyball team has been on a roll since qualifying and could surprise a few teams (perhaps even rival USA).  Medal threats also exist on the track with Shawn Barber, Damian Warner and Brianne Thiessen-Eaton (who could bring home a husband - wife gold combo with US decathlon favourite and husband Ashton Eaton #GoDucks).  Ryan Cochrane will be a strong favourite to medal in the pool.  And never underestimate the rowing and canoeing national team members, led by Adam van Koeverden.  Oh, and how could #TwineTime not mention the Canadian Opening Ceremonies flag bearer Rosie MacLennan?  The only gold medal winner from London 2012 will be back to defend her women's trampoline title.  Canada took home 18 total medals in London, finishing with a #36 ranking.  Can they top that record in Rio?
#TwineTime Prediction:  The podium will be tough to find in many events in Rio for Team Canada.  I see a lot of Top 5 finishes with narrow podium misses though.  Overall I expect Team Canada to double their gold count from London, claiming 2 gold medals in Rio.  I expect the total medal count to also increase...but only by 1 for a total of 19 medals.  We may not win the overall table but we will look damn sexy competing!!

Now before I bring this Welcome to Rio blog post to a conclusion, here is a quick overview of the calendar of events for when all 28 sports hit competition mode.  Which sport(s) are you paying the most attention to?  Which athlete(s) are you most excited about watching compete?  Keep track on the calendar below:

#TwineTime will also bring you select sport preview blog posts throughout the games (HINT: Women's soccer preview coming up VERY SOON).  Come back to the blog main page for additional #Rio2016 coverage throughout the XXXI Olympiad, including casting your vote for which sport you are most excited about watching.  The #RoadToRio is coming to an end after years of anticipation.  #StayTuned

Enjoy the 2016 Summer Olympics sports fans....

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