The Australian swim team is freaking out and pointing fingers at everyone and everything following a less than stellar performance in London, where they took home only one gold medal, six silver, and three of whatever the other shade is. Most are blaming a lack of cohesion and some prank phone calls and doorbell ditching, neither of which should hamper world class swimmers from winning medals.
The more likely scenario was posed by head coach Leigh Nugent in a letter to the Australian Swimming board, which was then leaked to the Sydney Morning Herald and eventually the rest of the media. In it Nugent argues that maybe expectations for the team were a bit too high, and that past performance doesn’t necessarily dictate future results.
“It appears evident following the barrage of criticism the expectation placed on this team was based on the fantasy that the result from four years prior will automatically repeat itself regardless of the comparative world positioning,” he wrote.
And while everyone agrees that Australia underperformed, especially following six golds in Beijing (note: two fewer than Michael Phelps), the team has only averaged roughly four golds per Games at the five previous Olympics, compared to the Americans twelve per Games over the same period. The Aussies only won five at their home Olympics in Sydney.
So yes, disappointing, but aside from missing the podium in the men’s 4x100m free relay, which James Magnussen and Co. were favorites to win, the rest can probably just be chalked up to a bad year.
To his credit, Nugent acknowledged the performance and is already putting a plan in motion so that the Rio Games will be more successful for his team and country: “Our process is to evaluate objectively and to continue to improve from the low base we started from in 2009,” Nugent added. “And establish a higher platform to launch from in 2013. This is a time where we all need to pull together, not fall apart.”
Los Angeles Lakers point guard José Calderón retired from Spain’s national team after playing in his fourth Olympics in Rio.
Calderón, 34, earned silver medals in 2008 and 2012 and bronze in 2016 for Spain, which lost to the U.S. in the medal rounds at each of the last three Olympics.
Calderón is one of five Spaniards to play in the last four Olympic tournaments, along with Pau Gasol, Juan Carlos Navarro, Rudy Fernandez and Felipe Reyes.
Calderón came off the bench in Rio and played 25 minutes total in five of the team’s eight games. He’s entering his 12th season in the NBA.
Gasol, who will be 40 years old come Tokyo 2020, has not determined when he will end his international career.
VIDEO: Top basketball moments from Rio Olympics
Helen Maroulis nervously stood to the side of Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh as he introduced the Olympic gold medalist to his players, in full pads and ready to take the field, in their locker room Saturday.
“When you beat a legend, you become a legend,” Harbaugh told the team and Maroulis. “You’re a legend, so our guys want to hear about it.”
Maroulis, who beat three-time Olympic champion Saori Yoshida to become the first U.S. Olympic women’s wrestling champion, then stepped up. Wearing a Ravens jersey — “No. 16 Maroulis” — she addressed the team.
“I was incredibly nervous,” Maroulis said later. “I just speak from the heart.”
Her full speech before the Ravens-Lions preseason game Saturday:
“A lot of people asked if I knew I was going to win before the finals. And, no, I don’t ever know if I’m going to win before a match. And I’ve always said, I’m not called to be a Magic 8-Ball. I’m called to be a wrestler. So my job isn’t to predict the future. My job is to step out there and give everything that I have. Just through studying opponents and studying people’s mindsets and trying to figure out what was going to work for me, I just realized that you have to give everything you have, and you have to sacrifice everything that needs to be sacrificed, but you can’t take anything with you into a match that’s going to guarantee you a win. Like all the hard work, everything, that doesn’t promise you a win. You still have to step out there as if you’re wrestling for your life, or you’re fighting for your life. Did I know I was going to beat her? No. But I always say, Christ is in me. I am enough. I didn’t need to be perfect that day. I didn’t need to be the fastest. I just needed to be enough. And on that day I was enough to win.”
VIDEO: Maroulis lifts Teddy Roosevelt at Nationals game