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Simone Biles

Much has been written about Simone Biles’ decision to withdraw from the team and individual all-round competition at the Tokyo Olympics. Despite the negative coverage accusing her of quitting it is instructive to look at her (and her team’s) responses in the press conference.

When reporters trained their questions on Biles’s emotional state, she spoke just as comfortably, talking about mental health in the same terms as fitness and recovery programs—another variable in the champion’s pursuit. She described the danger of pressing through and competing in her state, saying she didn’t want to “do something silly” and hurt herself. She called Osaka—another sport-defining Black woman—a source of inspiration. “I say put mental health first,” Biles said in response to a query about how she’d advise other athletes in similar circumstances. “Because if you don’t, you’re not going to enjoy your sport and you’re not going to succeed as much as you want to.”

Simone Biles and the New Language of Greatness
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Current Events

#knittingteamfi

I have a new appreciation for Team Finland.

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12 Hidden Gems from Rio

There were so many stories that came out of Rio but what I enjoyed the most from the SmartNews Rio Olympics page were the lesser reported stories that bubbled up on the page. Over the past couple weeks I kept a list of my favorites and below are the best.

ONE: Before the games even started, The Independent’s incredible profile of Yusra Mardini had us rooting for the Olympic’s first refugee team.

TWO: During the opening ceremonies everyone looked sharp but USA Today’s sports site, For The Win, caught wind of the secret hidden in Team Australia’s blazer lining. Elle gave us the skinny on what each athlete got in their swag bag.

THREE: ESPN wrote about a high school in California that has been sending athletes to every Summer Olympics since 1952.

FOUR: Most outlets flock to the high dive platforms to catch still frames of the athletes but Buzzfeed took pleasure in the trampoline shots.

FIVE: Golf returned to the Olympics after a long absence (hilariously celebrated in an advertisement) and it only took four holes for the very first Olympic hole-in-one to be recorded.

SIX: Sharing the thrill of victory is why we all love to watch the Olympics. Deadspin shares a clip of two young Irish rowers doing an interview on Irish television and it’s hard not to get caught up in their youthful exuberance.

SEVEN: No one can forget the fateful collision of Abbey D’Agostino and Nikki Hamblin during the 5000 meter qualifying round. The story of the two helping each other to the line will remain in our hearts as a shining example of Olympic Spirit. The pair was later awarded the prestigious Pierre de Coubertin medal for their behavior – something that The Telegraph tells us has only happened 17 times in Olympic history.

EIGHT: The Telegraph also dug into a question that we didn’t even think to ask. What’s involved in getting the equestrian horses get to the Olympics?

NINE: Meanwhile Fox Sports asks why Michael Phelps was laughing during the national anthem while Complex tries to find out more about his playlist.

TEN: Every Olympics has athletes that premier a sport for their country. Sports Illustrated covers Trinidad and Tobago’s first rower and SB Nation writes about a sprinter for the Marshall Islands.

ELEVEN: FiveThirtyEight is famous for its statistics and data-oriented view of the world. For the Olympics they dug into the science of pacing.

TWELVE: While acrobatics is not an Olympic sport, it did feature in an opening exhibition. Thanks to Cosmo for sharing what they called, Human Jump Rope.

I hope you enjoyed this list. Football season is coming up and we’ve got a Football channel on SmartNews so you can start to collect your own list of hidden gems.

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Current Events

Gabby Douglas = Grace

I’ve been keeping half an eye on the Olympics this year but this photo by Greg Bull of the Associated Press stopped me in my tracks. (click image to enlarge)

UPDATE: Some details on how the photographer captured this shot over on Poynter.