When the 2012 London Olympic Games got under way last week, we were all looking forward to seeing how sprinter Usain Bolt, the United States Men’s Basketball Team and swimmer Michael Phelps would do. To date, the gentlemen have held serve. However, it has been the ladies that have leapfrogged the male headliners.
Gabby Douglas, Serena Williams and Sanya Richards-Ross took center stage during the first week of the London Games as they captured the imagination and admiration of sports fans worldwide.
Gymnast Gabby Douglas burst on the scene, as she captured the individual gold medal and won another as a member of the United States squad in team competition. This should have been a time of unbridled joy for the 16 year-old Virginia native. However, she found herself reflecting questions about her mother financial difficulties, her father’s absence from the games and even her hair. For the record, Douglas’ Mom is not the only one in this country that is experiencing financial difficulties, and bankrolling a young gymnast’s dream would drain anyone’s bank account. And as far as her father goes, he is an officer in the Air Force and is stationed in Afghanistan. Thank God, this spiritually grounded young lady was able to ward off the ignorant and unnecessary criticism.
Even when she earned a spot to compete for the individual competition, controversy followed. Only two members from each country can compete for the finals despite the scores. Douglas beat out teammate Jordyn Wieber, who was the overwhelming favorite to win the gold coming into the London Games. There seemed to be more talk about Wieber not making the finals verses Douglas making them. Of course the media made a huge deal on Wieber’s behalf. However, it didn’t faze Douglas as she took care of her business.
Douglas came back down to earth as she placed eighth in the uneven bars competition. Maybe all of the negative attention may have hit her, but that should not diminish what she has accomplished. Between that lovely smile and infectious personality, along with her talent, she will be a household name for years to come. Madison Avenue has already taken notice as she will grace a Wheaties Boxes in September.
Serena Williams was the first to come Douglas’s defense regarding the hair nonsense. Then Williams went out and annihilated the competition on her way to capturing her first individual Olympic Gold Medal in tennis. She blasted Maria Sharapova in the Finals, 6-0, 6-1. I have been covering tennis for 15 years and I have never seen someone dominated in a Final-caliber match the way Sharapova was on Saturday. It got so bad that the crowd at Wimbledon cheered when she earned a point. This victory gives Williams the Golden Slam, victories in the US Open, Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and a gold medal in singles competition. It also solidifies some claims that she is perhaps one of the greatest female tennis players if not female athlete period. I could have done without the Crip Walk celebration, yet I love this young lady, and after winning Wimbeldon and now the Olympics, I can’t wait to see what she is going to do at the upcoming US Open.
Finally, we have Sanya Richards-Ross, who is the wife of former Giants cornerback Aaron Ross. She is a world-class sprinter who lost the 400 meter race in the Bejing games in devastating fashion. She shot of the gate in the 2008 games and could not maintain the pace. She eventually was overtaken and ended up bringing home only the bronze medal.
I met her shortly after the 2008 games and one could tell she could not wait to redeem herself in London. And, that is what she did. This time she took a different approach. Instead of racing out to lead, Ross held back for the first 300 meters, then took off and captured the lead down the stretch. As she spoke during the post-race interview, you could see the weight of world was off her shoulders. She can now exhale and compare her gold medals with Aaron’s Super Bowl rings.
I would like to dedicate Stevie Wonder’s Golden Lady to Williams, Douglas and Richards-Ross. The US Men’s Basketball Team, Phelps and Bolt may be the headline acts, but these Golden Ladies take a back seat to no one!