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Posted 8/16/16 (Tue)

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

After watching the first full week of the 2016 Olympics in Rio, all I can say is that the United States has a huge contingent of very classy and extremely talented athletes representing this country. The United States has 555 athletes competing in some of the 306 events in the 28 different sports of this summer’s Olympics.
As of Sunday evening, the U.S. is leading all competing nations with 26 gold, 21 silver and 21 bronze medals. A truly impressive medal count, that exemplifies the quality of athletes that are competing for the United States.
While there are many U.S. athletes that have reached the medal podium, there are some that have taken their excellence in a sport to an all-time high. Most notably are Michael Phelps, Katie Ledecky and Simone Manuel in swimming, Simone Biles in gymnastics, and Kerri Walsh Jennings in volleyball.
When it comes to swimming, there is no other swimmer that has so dominated his sport as has Michael Phelps. When Phelps emerged from the pool following his last race before his retirement, he had garnered five gold and one silver medal at the Rio Olympics. In a career that spanned five Olympics, he is the most decorated Olympian in history with 28 medals, 23 of which are gold. No other athlete in any sport has more than nine gold medals.
And then there are America’s rising stars in women’s swimming led by Katie Ledecky, who won four gold medals, and Simone Manuel, who won two gold and two silver medals.
Not taking a backseat to anyone in the gymnastics competition was America’s Simone Biles, who won gold in the vault and individual all-around, while helping the American team to a team all-around gold medal.
The list of the American athletes that have made American proud during this summer’s Olympics is virtually endless. Their years of hard work and dedication to their sport is an example to all of us that dreams can become a reality. And even if an athlete doesn’t medal it doesn’t lessen the great accomplishment that they have achieved by being a part of Team USA or in the knowledge that they are among the greatest athletes in the world.
At a time where there is so much racial conflict, tension and strife in America, the U.S. athletes that are competing in the summer Olympics are genuinely proud to be representing this country, even with all its warts and blemishes.
And what these athletes are saying about their pride in the United States should cause every American citizen to pause and reflect on their own words and actions.
The 2016 Olympics have given Americans a right to be proud of this country. We need to carry that pride forward in everything that we say and do.