Summer Olympics 2016
Games of the XXXI Olympiad
Tonight ends the 2016 Summer Olympics, held in Rio de Janeiro. These games were notable and historic—consider the following:
- 207 nations took part in the games, with 59 earning gold medals.
- The following nations earned their first gold medals in these games—
- Bahrain—Ruth Jebet, Women's 3,000 Meter Steeplechase
- Fiji— Rugby Sevens Team, Rugby
- Ivory Coast— Cheick Sallah Cisse, Men's Under-80kg Taekwondo
- Jordan—Ahmad Abughaush, Taekwondo
- Kosovo—Majlenda Kelmindi, Women's 52kg Judo
- Puerto Rico—Monica Puig, Tennis
- Singapore—Joseph Schooling, 100 Meter Butterfly Swimming Race (beating his hero Michael Phelps, who won silver in this event)
- Tajikistan—Dilshod Nazarov, Men's Hammer
- Vietnam—Hoang Xuan Vinh, 10 Meter Air Pistol
- These were the first Olympic games held in a South American country.
- These game included the first ever team of refugees—the Refugee Olympic Team, which included refugee athletes from Syria, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Ethiopia.
- Michael Phelps, the American swimmer, became the most decorated Olympian of all time, with a total of 28 medals: bronze (1), silver (4), gold (23).
- Michael Phelps became the most decorated gold medalist in Olympic history when he earned his 23th gold medal in the Rio olympics.
- Michael Phelps beat a record that had stood for over 2,000 years—that of Leonidas of Rhodes. Leonidas, millennia ago, won three gold medals in four successive games, all in track events, for a total of 12 individual gold medals. Phelps has earned 14 individual gold medals in five successive games, beating the ancient record.
- Michael Phelps is now regarded as the greatest athlete of history.
- The record of Leonidas of Rhodes stood for over 2,000 years, and we remember him despite the rise and fall of civilizations. Two thousand years from now—will people remember and speak of Michael Phelps? I am guessing that they will.
As the heroes of these games returned home, kings and queens greeted them, presidents and prime ministers—and tens of thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands in the streets as the athletes were given heroes welcomes. It was a magnificent Olympics to witness.
Now—to the music!
John Williams, Bugler's Dream and Olympic Fanfare Medley
The fanfare that Americans equate with the Olympics, "Bugler's Dream," was written in 1958 by the French composer Leo Arnaud; it is part of Arnaud's Charge Suite. John Williams, the American composer of Star Wars fame, wrote his own fanfare for the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles; he later incorporated "Bugler's Dream" with his own fanfare in the medley I listened to today. Here is John Williams conducting the Boston Pops Orchestra in this medley (from the album Summon the Heroes):
When we encounter civilizations from other worlds in our own or many galaxies—what will set us apart, or make us noteworthy? I am guessing that our ancient idea of the Olympic Games will do that—the idea that all wars would cease for a time and that all nations would send their best athletes to compete together. Perhaps, someday, the Olympic Games will help to foster peace between worlds.
I created "Chief Is Water of the Elements," the image above, in 2006. It is based on the Cladoceri, one of the named structures in Mandelbrot fractals. The title is from Pindar's First Olympic Ode (476 B.C.), and is meant to honor Michael Phelps:
Chief is water of the elements; gold too, amid ennobling wealth, shines eminent, like fire, flaming in the night: but my soul, if thou desire to blazon combats, seek not, during day, any brilliant star, wheeling through the desert air, more radiant than the sun: neither any list, more excellent than Olympia’s, (whence, to resound Saturn’s son, proceeds the song of fame, framed by the poets’ skill) can we speak, coming to the wealthy, happy mansion of Hero.