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#pounditFriday, September 30, 2022


American wrestler Tamyrah Mensah-Stock goes viral for patriotic interview

Tamyrah Mensah-Stock

Tamyra Mensah-Stock on Tuesday night became the first black woman to win an Olympic gold medal in wrestling, and she was incredibly proud to do so while representing the United States.

Mensah-Stock defeated Nigeria’s Blessing Oborududu by a score of 4-1 in the women’s 68kg final to win the gold medal. She had an American flag draped around her neck during an interview with NBC after the match and spoke enthusiastically about how much she loves the United States.

The patriotism from Mensah-Stock probably would not be noteworthy in years past, but we have seen less of it from Americans at the Tokyo Olympics. There has been a lot of social and political turmoil in the U.S. over the past year or so, and that may have been a factor in some of the country’s disappointing performances.

Mensah-Stock overcame a great deal of adversity to win a gold medal. She failed to qualify for a spot on the 2016 Olympic team. The 28-year-old also lost her father when she was in high school. Her success is one of many feel-good stories from Tokyo.

Simone Biles blames sexism for making her mental issues worse

Simone Biles

Simone Biles’ Tokyo Olympics did not go at all as expected.

Biles entered the 2020 Summer Olympics as the favorite to win gold medals in multiple gymnastics events, just as she had done at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Instead, she ended up with two medals, and withdrawing from four competitions, citing mental health issues.

Biles did not have an easy time, but was proud of herself for rallying to win a bronze medal on the balance beam.

After winning the bronze medal at the conclusion of her games, Biles gave an interview to NBC’s Mike Tirico. She discussed her mental issues during the interview.

Tirico asked Biles how hard it is to be labeled the greatest gymnast of all time and have to prove it time and time again. Biles then gave an odd response where she invoked sexism.

“I feel like it’s hard, but it’s harder being a female athlete,” Biles said. “Everybody prays for your downfall and wants you to mess up and all that stuff.”

Seriously, I have to ask where Biles is getting this from. Where is her proof that people are praying for her downfall? Moreover, where is her proof that these supposed haters are hoping to see her fail more than they hope to see male athletes fail? Worse yet, why would she even think people want her to fail, much less be concerned with these unimportant opinions?

Biles entered the Tokyo Olympics as a beloved figure. She was painted by NBC as one of the faces of the Olympics. She was deemed by many the greatest gymnast ever, heavily hyped, and people were excited to see her greatness in action once again.

What on earth would make her think people want to see her fail because she is a woman, and what would even make her concerned with this? If she is concerned about people wanting her to fail, that could be the root of some of her mental issues. She’s a world-class athlete and should not be concerned about anyone’s opinion, except for maybe her coaches, family, and teammates.

She seems to be convinced that she is a victim because she is a female. She should instead view herself as an incredibly talented and blessed individual who is pursuing greatness and cannot be stopped. If the best gymnast ever thinks she is a victim of what people who do not matter think about her performances, then she needs to completely regroup about her mental process. She needs to stay off social media, stay away from media consumption, and block all that out. Because none of it matters.

Biles further emphasized with Tirico that she wants people to see her as a vulnerable victim.

“And I don’t think they take into consideration our mental health,” Biles said. “Because what we do isn’t easy. At the end of the day, we’re not just athletes or entertainment; we’re human too and we have emotions and feelings and things that we’re working through behind the scenes that we don’t tell you about.”

If I had four Olympic gold medals, I’d want people to view me as a great athlete who rose to become the best performer in my sport during the highest level of competition. It’s odd that Biles instead is so desperate for people, whose opinions do not matter, to recognize how much she overcomes day-to-day in order to achieve her heights. Does she think people think it’s easy to do what she does? They don’t, which is why they are so impressed when she wins multiple medals at the Olympics.

Biles has everything backwards if she is viewing herself as a victim and feeling that people want to see her fail because they are sexist. That sort of thinking impairs performance rather than improves it.

Simone Biles, Taylor Swift trade love on Twitter ahead of balance beam final

Simone Biles

Simone Biles and Taylor Swift traded some love on Twitter ahead of the balance beam final on Tuesday in Tokyo.

Biles’ 2020 Summer Olympics have gone anything but expected this year. Viewed as a favorite to dominate the gymnastics field in Tokyo, Biles instead dealt with some mental issues called the “twisties” that prevented her from competing in several events.

Biles withdrew from the team competition and the finals of all the individual events, except for the balance beam. The beam, which was the final individual event, was going to mark her return at the Olympics.

NBC had Taylor Swift narrate a video promoting Biles’ return. Biles responded to the video and said she was “crying” over how special it was.

Swift replied and said she cried too while watching Biles.

Biles ended up winning the bronze medal at the event.

After winning four golds and a bronze in 2016 at Rio, Biles won silver in the team event and bronze on the balance beam in the 2020 Games at Tokyo. She now has seven medals in her Olympics career.

Video: Athing Mu’s family goes nuts watching her win gold medal

Athing Mu

Athing Mu captured gold in the women’s 800m race at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday, and her family loved it.

COVID-19 has restricted fan attendance at the Summer Olympics this year. So NBC has been compensating by placing cameras at the homes of family and friends of competitors. That’s how we’ve seen some fun video reactions, such as this one.

Here is a look at the reaction from Mu’s family and friends as Mu progressed towards a first-place finish at the Olympic Stadium.

That was fun to watch.

Mu, who is from Trenton, N.J., finished with a time of 1:55.21. The 19-year-old is the first US winner in the women’s 800m since Madeline Manning in 1968.

Noah Lyles creates photo finish after easing up in 200m semifinal

Noah Lyles photo finish

Noah Lyles created some unnecessary drama in his men’s 200m semifinal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday.

Lyles was in front during the race but eased up as he approached the finish line. Slowing down gave other sprinters the opportunity to catch him, and they did.

As a result, Lyles ended up with the same time as Canada’s Aaron Brown and Liberia’s Joseph Fahnbulleh at 19.99.

“Just slowed down a little too early. Probably should have ran through the line,” Lyles admitted to NBC after the race.

Lyles was actually given a third-place finish in the semis despite having the same time as the other two competitors. He had to wait and see if the time would be good enough for the finals, and it was. Now, Lyles is saying he will win the gold medal. To do so, he better not slow up in the finals.

Rafael Nadal thinks Novak Djokovic’s Olympics outburst was ‘strange’

Rafael Nadal

Novak Djokovic is not proud of his outbursts at the Olympics that also left one of his colleagues perplexed.

Djokovic lost his bronze medal match to Pablo Carreno Busta in three sets in the men’s singles event at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Then he withdrew from the mixed doubles event too.

Upset over failing to take advantage of a break point in the third set, Djokovic smashed his racket.

“I don’t like doing these things, I’m sorry for sending this kind of message, but we’re all human beings and sometimes it’s hard to control,” Djokovic later said.

Djokovic has won 20 grand slam events, which ties him for the most ever with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Nadal spoke about Djokovic’s behavior and said it was not ideal. The Spaniard was happy no fans were around for the outburst.

Nadal also called it strange that Djokovic behaves in that manner.

“It’s strange that someone so successful reacts this way from time to time, but in the end he’s very competitive and reacts like that.”

English is not Nadal’s first language, so maybe he didn’t mean to take a shot Djokovic the way the wording comes across. But it’s clear he questions Djokovic’s inability to control his emotions at times during matches.

Djokovic has a history of such outbursts. The 34-year-old smashed his racket in anger during the Australian Open earlier this year. He was also infamously disqualified from the US Open last year after he hit a ball in frustration and it inadvertently struck a line judge. You can see the video of that incident here.

Chinese Olympians investigated over Mao pins following gold medals

Tokyo Olympics

The International Olympic Committee is investigating yet another potential violation of the rule against making political statements during competition and medal ceremonies. The latest probe was sparked by Chinese athletes Bao Shanju and Zhong Tianshi.

After they won the women’s sprint in track cycling on Monday, Shanju and Tianshi wore badges paying tribute to late Chinese communist leader Mao Zedong. The badges may have been a violation of the long-standing Olympic rule that prohibits political, religious and racial demonstrations. That rule was loosened leading up to the Tokyo Olympics to give athletes greater freedom to demonstrate away from the field of play.

The IOC said Tuesday that it is “looking into the matter,” according to The Associated Press. IOC spokesperson Mark Adams said the organization has contacted the Chinese Olympic Committee and asked them for a report about the situation.

Mao, who died in 1976, founded the People’s Republic of China in 1949. Badges showing his profile were extremely popular during the 1960s among people who wanted to display their loyalty to the Communist Party.

This is at least the second gesture the IOC is investigating to determine if it violated Olympic rules on political displays. U.S. women’s shot-putter Raven Saunders made a symbol with her arms during the photo op at her medal ceremony on Sunday night, though the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee has already publicly supported her.

Simone Biles explains why bronze medal meant more than all her golds

Simone Biles

Simone Biles made her highly anticipated return to competition at the Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday, and she captured yet another piece of hardware. While it was not a gold medal, Biles said it was the most rewarding medal she has ever won.

Biles came in third and won the bronze medal in the individual balance beam final. She scored a 14.00, finishing behind Chinese gymnasts Guan Chenchen and Tang Xijing. In an interview with TODAY after the competition, Biles said the bronze medal meant more to her than the four golds she won at the Rio Olympics in 2016.

“It means more than all the golds because I’ve pushed through so much the last five years and the last week while I’ve even been here,” Biles said. “It was very emotional, and I’m just proud of myself and just all of these girls, as well.”

Biles added that she was not concerned with winning a medal and was just happy she got to compete one more time in Tokyo. The fact that she performed well enough to win a medal after struggling mentally over the past week made it even more special.

“I don’t get to like embrace it yet, but I’m just proud I could go out there and compete one more time before the Olympics was over,” Biles said.

In doing so, Biles tied an Olympic record. She now has seven Olympic medals (four golds, a silver and two bronzes), which places her even with Shannon Miller for the most Olympic medals ever won by a U.S. gymnast.

Biles withdrew from the team all-around last Tuesday. She later revealed that she was “shaking” and could not focus leading up to the event. She then sat out the individual all-around and withdrew from two more events.

On Friday, Biles opened up about her “petrifying” mental block while answering questions from fans on social media.

Video: Rai Benjamin apologizes to family after winning silver medal

Rai Benjamin

Rai Benjamin took home the silver medal in what many are calling one of the greatest Olympic races of all time on Tuesday, but the American hurdler seemed devastated by the result.

Benjamin finished second in the men’s 400 meter hurdle with a time of 46.17 seconds. That bested the old world record of 46.78 seconds, which was set by Kevin Young at the 1992 Olympics. Unfortunately for Benjamin, Norway’s Karsten Warholm was even faster.

Warholm, who won the gold, shattered the world record with a time of 45.94 seconds. Benjamin looked stunned after the race. He was shown a clip of his family cheering him on in his home state of Georgia. He fought back tears and said, “Love you, Mom. I’m sorry.”

Benjamin was asked after the race what he would have thought if someone told him beforehand that he would run as fast as he did and still not win the gold.

“I would probably beat you up and tell you to get out of my room,” he said, via The Associated Press.

You can understand why Benjamin was so crushed. While he’ll likely be proud of his performance when the disappointment wears off, setting a world record but not winning a gold medal is the definition of bittersweet.

Cuban wrestler Mijain Lopez joins elite company with incredible feat

Mijain Lopez

Cuban wrestler Mijain Lopez joined some incredibly exclusive company with an impressive feat.

Lopez on Monday won the gold medal in the Greco-Roman 130 kg wrestling event at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The 38-year-old Cuban giant defeated Iakobi Kajaia 5-0 in the final of the event to win the gold.

What is remarkable is the gold medal marked the fourth straight Olympics in which Lopez has won the same event.

He also won gold in 2008, 2012 and 2016. The 2008 and 2012 medals were when 125 kg was the highest weight class in Greco-Roman wrestling.

Only four other athletes have ever won four straight gold medals in the same individual event. Those four others are:

– Michael Phelps: 200 m individual medley (2004-2016)
– Carl Lewis: long jump (1984-1996)
– Al Oerter: discus (1956-1968)
– Paul Elvstrom: finn (1948-1960)

That is quite an exclusive list.

Even at 38, Lopez is still going strong and leading his class. He also showed some great sportsmanship after his semifinal win.