1896 in Athens was the birth of the first modern Olympic games. The idea was to bring the people of the world together in peace and harmony, to compete in games that wouldn't cause harm and destruction but build respect and admiration.
Since the start of the Olympics, the Americans have done quite well, winning more than twice as many medals as the second-place Soviets. In fact, they almost have more gold medals then the Soviets, Italians, French, and Germans combined. So we can almost guarantee that the Americans will be at the top of the medal count again this year. But they have a lot of competition coming from the Chinese.
Rank Team Gold Silver Bronze Total
1 United States 894 692 602 2188
2 Soviet Union 395 319 296 1010
3 Italy 182 148 164 494
4 France 184 196 216 596
In this year's Olympics, the Americans have much to look forward to. The USA basketball team for one is considered one of the best assembled. It couldn't have come any sooner, as Athens left a burning hole in most American hearts. The humiliating outcome of 2002 prompted a number of NBA superstars to agree to join the team for the FIBA American championship in 2003. The team easily crushed the competition, coming in first place and earning it a spot in the 2004 summer games.
However, the team that played in the American Championships could not be kept together. Ten of its 12 players did not rejoin the team for Athens, leaving a huge void. A second team was thrown together with a lot of young but very talented players, including players like Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James for their flash and potential and veterans like Tim Duncan and Allen Iverson for their experience, but the team was never really the same. After struggles in several exhibition matches, the vulnerability of the 2004 team was confirmed when Puerto Rico defeated them 92–73 in the very first game of the Olympic tournament. It was only the third Olympic basketball defeat ever for Team USA and the first for an American team composed of professionals. The 19-point defeat was the most lopsided loss for Team USA in the history of international competition, suggesting that the level of international basketball had caught up with that of the United States. USA went on to win the next three out of four games, losing to Argentina in the semi-finals.
This year looks a lot more promising of course. The Americans once again cruised through the qualifiers, dominating each time by at least 28 points. Their first game is against China, which doesn't seem like much of a threat. Like last year, China's most dominant player is Yao Ming. He has no supporting cast and is not likely to beat team USA by himself.
Michael Phelps, the most dominating swimmer in the world, has one again started off in dramatic style. Competing in the 400 meter individual medley, he smashes the world record by recording a 4:03.84. The previous record was 4:08.26, and in these kind of events, five seconds means a lot. He has a lot of incentive to beat the record of seven gold medals that he was inches away from in Athens. He will receive one million dollars from his sponsor Speedo if he can reach seven or more gold medals. In Athens, he placed gold in five individual races and received bronze in two others, by far the biggest story of the Olympics in 2004. Now he is stronger, faster, and more experienced. With his first medal out of the way, we can only expect more gold in the future.
With all the talent of the world joined in one place, we can only sit and marvel at the gifts Allah has given these talented players. With all the countries coming to together to participate and enjoy these games, we can only sit and ponder. Through this we realize that there is good in the world and that man has the potential to put his differences aside and sit side by side with brothers of different races, enjoying these fine Olympic games that Insha'Allah will carry on for generations to come.