All good runs come to an end.
For Team USA’s 4x400-meter relay team, their run of seven consecutive Olympic gold medals has ended.
As the powder blue jersey of the Bahamas glided to the finish line ahead of the USA, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed.
Obviously, as an American, I root for Team USA in any event we compete in.
But the Bahamian upset over the previously dominant U.S. 4x400 relay team is more about the Bahamas’ rise to the top than the fall to silver by Team USA.
Let’s begin with a short history lesson.
The Modern Olympics was developed as a festival to celebrate sports in the international community and has substantially grown since its inception in 1896.
In more recent years, though, there has been an increasing monopoly on medals in the Games with China, Russia and the U.S. earning a majority of the medals.
This pushes teams like the Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago and other small nations aside as larger, wealthier countries win most of the hardware.
Prior to the 4x400 relay final, the Bahamas had yet to even earn a medal thus far in London. And even with this victory, it is only their fifth gold medal ever.
So, as the final was set to begin earlier today, the Bahamas had a true David versus Goliath situation on their hands.
In Beijing in 2008, the Bahamas had shown a glimpse of what they were capable of after earning a silver medal three full seconds behind the U.S. in the 4x400 relay.
Four years later, the strong Bahamian relay team was able to narrowly edge the mighty Team USA.
Although this finish was not unforeseen, what I’m trying to explain is that the gold medal earned by the Bahamas is a tremendous glimpse into what is so great about the Olympic Games: anyone has a chance to win.
The Bahamas, a tiny island nation in the Caribbean, took down the most successful Olympic competitors in an event that hadn’t had a different gold medal winner since 1980.
Team USA’s incredible streak, held for over 25 years, was broken by a country with a population of under 360,000.
Some people predicted that this was bound to happen. The U.S. was without Manteo Mitchell and had “lost its edge."
But again this is more about the Bahamas winning than the U.S. coming in second.
The final gave a glimpse of hope to all small nations in the Olympics.
As the final leg of the relay ended with Ramon Miller of the Bahamas surging ahead to finish only .33 seconds in front of American Angelo Taylor, the real reason why we all love the Olympics emerged loud and clear.
Anything can happen in any event.
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