Scott Says

Bests and worsts of the 2016 Summer Olympics

U.S. gymnast Simone Biles lived up to the hype, soaring above the competition in Rio and winning four gold medals.
U.S. gymnast Simone Biles lived up to the hype, soaring above the competition in Rio and winning four gold medals. TNS

Looking back at some of the highlights and lowlights of the Summer Olympics:

Best case of limbo: Ashton Locklear. The North Carolina gymnast made the best of her non-competitive Olympics. As an alternate, Locklear got a trip to Rio paid for by USA Gymnastics on a “just in case” basis. But when no one got hurt, Locklear did not get to do her world-class uneven bars routine, nor did she get a medal when the starting five gymnasts for the U.S. won the team gold, as expected.

Still, Locklear made the most of her time in Brazil, posting innumerable funny pictures and videos on social media and cheering loudly for her teammates without complaint.

Worst agony of defeat: Whitewater kayaker Michal Smolen was heartbroken when he didn’t make the finals of his lone event. He posted a mediocre time early, undone by two gate touches, and then saw one kayaker after another push him down the leaderboard.

“I felt like someone was reaching into my chest and just squeezing me,” Smolen told reporters after the race, his voice breaking. “This has been my dream and I’ve been working for this for about six years now. ... It’s hard. It’s really hard. I’m not going to get over it right away.”

Best airtime: Simone Biles was just as good as advertised as she flew through the air, winning four gold medals and a bronze for a dominant U.S. women’s gymnastic team.

Worst performance compared to 2012: Missy Franklin. The gregarious swimmer was still as bubbly as ever, but she went from five medals in 2012 to one – in a relay – in 2016.

Best record: Swimmer Michael Phelps extended his marks to 23 gold medals and 28 overall. He called those numbers “insane,” and who’s to argue?

Worst Solo performance: U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo called Sweden “a bunch of cowards” after the U.S. lost to Sweden in a shocking defeat on penalty kicks early in the women’s soccer tournament. Solo was graceelessly referring to Sweden’s defensive style and, until Ryan Lochte, best exemplified the “ugly American” stereotype brought to life at these Olympics.

Worst breakdown by best player: Serena Williams was so out of sorts in an early defeat in the Olympic tennis tournament she was favored to win that I watched in shock as she double-faulted five times in a single game. Five times! I have seen hundreds of pro tennis matches in person and on TV over the years, and I have never seen that.

Best former Wonder: Tavis Bailey, who had played football for the Kannapolis A.L. Brown Wonders in high school, made the U.S. Olympic team in the discus. He finished 26th.

Best celebration: By this time, that award should be retired and given permanently to Usain Bolt.

Worst look: The “cupping” practiced by the U.S. swim teams and others – while quite legal and common in the swim world – made them look a little like leopards.

Best symbolism: Former Duke fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad became the first U.S. athlete to participate in the Olympics while wearing a hijab, the traditional covering for the hair and neck that is worn by Muslim women.

Worst stat line: France’s last basketball game in these Olympics was a 25-point loss to Spain. Nic Batum, whom the Charlotte Hornets rewarded with a five-year, $120-million contract this summer, had zero points and zero rebounds in 18 minutes.