The Olympics has come to an end and Black America has many accomplishments to be proud of. There was Gabby Douglas becoming the first African-American to ever win Olympic gold in the gymnastic individual all-around and the women’s 4x 100 relay team setting a new world record, as well as the total USA domination on both the men’s and women’s side of the Olympic basketball competition. As the Games of the 30th Olympian fade into the history books, we want to take a moment to remember the best of the black moments at the Olympics this year.
1. Gabby Douglas
Virginia Beach’s own Gabby Douglas must have seen her Olympic success years ago when she begged her mother for better coaching. She had to go to Iowa to get it, staying with a white host family and training with Liang Chow, the Asian-American coach who coached Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson to gold. Black Americans stuck out their chests with pride when Gabby won gold in the individual all-around, the first African-American to do so. Yet her divorcing parents, her military father’s absence (as he served the country in Afghanistan) her mother’s bankruptcy and her hair all became a subject of scrutiny in the wake of her win. Sigh. What’s a black girl going to have to do to have the world focus just on her accomplishments? Gabby Douglas sees her family after winning gold.
2. Serena Williams
We already knew she and sister Venus were straight outta Compton. But in winning a Wimbledon gold medal by beasting Russian opponent Maria Sharapova in straight sets, Serena set off an instant YouTube sensation when she Crip walked in joy after her historic victory. Yes, in one of the most hallowed arenas in sport, Serena C-Walked it out. Of course, this set off intense Internet debate on whether this was appropriate given that the dance was originated by gang members, but most with sense knew it has long sense found a place in the mainstream. Either way, Serena’s impromptu dance was one of the best Olympic moments of maybe, all time. (And she and sister Venus picked up more gold as the winner of the doubles match as well.)
3. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Team Jamaica
We love the Jamaican athletes, even when they’re beating our behinds on the track. So it was great to see Jamaica’s men go 1, 2, and 3 in the 200m, win gold in the 4 x 100 relay and enjoy themselves while doing so. Usain Bolt, as he himself predicted, cemented his legend on the track to become one of the greatest ever in his sport. But it’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the two-time gold medalist in the 100 meters who gave us our favorite moment from Team JA. In her profile clip, she said that when the men in her neighborhood started coming after her for sex as a teenager, her mother threatened them with a cutlass. You know, one of those huge knives usually associated with pirates? Obviously, Jamaican mamas don’t play. Usain Bolt sprints to gold in the 200.
4. Fast Girls: Alyson Felix, Sanya Richards Ross and Carmelia Jeter
Team USA had their share of victories on the track with gold medals looking good for the women, since Usain Bolt wasn’t in any of their races. Both Allyson Felix and Sanya Richards’ stories were particularly heartwarming since both came up short four years ago in their specialties, the 200 and 400 meters. This year, both celebrated gold medals in those events, while participating in gold-medal winning relays as well. Felix took home three golds and was part of the women’s 4×100 world-record win as well as the 4×400 win. Carmelia Jeter, who’s had some of the fastest times in the 100 meters ever, got over losing to Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in the 100 to anchor the U.S. world record relay team. Watch the 4×100 relay here.
5. USA Basketball
Though the men are always expected to win gold at the Olympics, it’s the women who have really set the tone, winning the last five straight gold medals in the Olympics. The likes of WNBA stars Candace Parker, college champ Maya Moore and veterans like Tamika Catchings, all still young, are likely to keep the U.S. dominating in 2016 and beyond. As for the men, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Dwyane Wade, all still pretty young, can keep the U.S. on top in the same way. Hey, if we can’t do anything else, we got hoops on lock. USA women win five straight.
6. Bryshon Nellum
Not too many people who are shot in the legs regain their full mobility; much less compete at an Olympic Games. For track athlete Bryshon Nellum, who was shot in his native L.A. four years ago, getting to the Olympics itself was the prize. That he recovered enough to earn a silver medal in the 4×400 relay is nothing short of astonishing. That’s why he was the U.S. Olympian voted to carry the flag for the delegation in the closing ceremonies. His triumphant story is what the Olympics is all about. Bryshon Nellum voted flag bearer for Closing Ceremonies.
7. Lolo Jones vs. Kellie Wells and Dawn Harper
Lolo Jones wasn’t able to attain the gold medal she so desperately wanted after nicking a hurdle while in the lead four years ago in Beijing. She finished fourth after defending Olympic medalist Dawn Harper and Kellie Wells went 2 and 3 in the race, won by Australia’s Sally Pearson. Although neither won gold, Harper and Wells were put out by all the attention on Jones and they made their feelings known in a post-race interview. Unfortuately for Harper and Wells, their perceived jealousy and ungraciousness toward a teammate isn’t likely to net them any endorsement deals. Watch the interview here.
8. Cullen Jones, Lia Neal, Anthony Ervin and Coralie Balmy
The U.S. dominated in swimming with Michael Phelps and most of the womens’ team racking up a ton of medals amidst breaking world records. But there was more than wins happening in the Olympic pool; there was history being made. Anthony Ervin, who was the first swimmer of African-American descent (he is biracial) to win a gold in swimming returned to the pool after an 8 year break. Brooklyn’s Lia Neal, 17, who is Black and Chinese, won a bronze in the women’s 4×100 relay becoming only the second African-American woman to medal in swimming. Cullen Jones won two silvers (in the 50 free and the 4×100 relay) to go with his relay gold in Beijing. And if you noticed, Team France also had a black woman in the pool with Martinique-born Coralie Balmy winning a bronze in the 4×200 relay. Cullen Jones wins silver in the 50 free.
9. Clarissa Shields and Jordan Burroughs
Though you might not know it if you watched NBC prime-time – as it was yet another of the multiple NBC Olympic coverage fails, two African-Americans medaled in boxing and in wrestling. 17-year-old Clarissa Shields, a high schooler from Flint, Michigan and 24-year old Justin Burroughs from New Jersey both won gold in their respective events. Shields makes history as the first gold medalist in women’s boxing, a newly minted Olympic sport. For Burroughs, it’s the culmination of a long-held dream, which was evident in his Twitter handle @alliseeisgold. (NBC surely got him thousands of new followers as they mentioned it 10,000 times.) It’s a shame that NBC saw fit to exclude both triumphs from its prime-time coverage but it doesn’t diminish their accomplishments. Jordan Burroughs talks about winning gold.
10. Ryan Lochte
An athlete who sports a diamond-studded grill, who’s own mom says he enjoys one-night stands, whose wardrobe includes a collection of sneakers and diamond watches and a rumored relationship with reality star K.Michelle? Sounds like one of the NBA players, right? Nope. That description belongs to U.S. swimming hottie Ryan Lochte, who won two golds, two silvers and a bronze. Lochte denied any relationship more than friends with Twitter homie Michelle, but we think that maybe his sponsors and management didn’t like the idea of budding star Lochte swirling in more than just the pool. Since he’s already made his willingness to be on reality TV very well known, we figure the Olympics won’t be the last we’ve seen of Lochte. Oh, and by the way, rapper Paul Wall and his partner made the grill. Ryan shows off his gold medal and his grill to Piers Morgan.