Sunday, August 7, 2016

Team USA (Rio Summer Olympics) Wins Gold for Diversity

The 2016 Summer Olympics has just begun, but the way to the finish is already paved with cheers, for Team USA, dons with pride the mantle of diversity and inclusion.

Diversity is proudly on display in the team's composition: They are boxers and gymnasts, rowers and runners, swimmers and fencers. They are young and old, white and black, world famous and virtually unknown. They are a lot like us.
A total of 554 competitors, with 262 males and 292 females, comprise Team USA for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, where they are competing in 31 sports.

The diverse national team is an interesting mix of “some Olympic veterans and lots of fresh faces” as well, creating a new dynamics, according to the Washington Post. So as America wakes up to the daily rhythm of the Olympics, it does so with a different team. And across all sports, that creates a different dynamic, the article said. 

Extolling the country's team representative to the prestigious Games, in his weekly address to the nation, President Obama said, “Team USA reminds the world why America always sets the gold standard: We’re a nation of immigrants that finds strength in our diversity and unity in our national pride.”

The affirmation that diversity reaps good is the harvest of medals and honor on the first day of competition.

The 1st Olympic Gold went to Team USA's Virginia Thrasher for besting two Chinese rivals in the Women's 10m rifle (Shooting) event on August 6. With two shots to go in the women’s air rifle event, Thrasher, who is known as Ginny, led by 0.7 points. She coolly squeezed off shots of 10.5 and 10.4 to take gold. 
The men's team in Archery (Brady Ellison, Zach Garrett, and Jake Kaminski) won Silver in the August 6 event. See here

Building such a diverse team of men and women athletes is in consonance with the goal of the modern Olympics to promote peace and unity in the world through sports, and a way to heal the wounds and division of the nation. Sports is a great level playing field, where everyone has an equal opportunity to play fair and square. 

The idea of having a modern Olympics to revive the lost ancient sports tradition was conceived by the French Baron Pierre de Coubertin. He founded the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1894, the governing body of the Olympic Movement, with the Olympic Charter defining its structure and authority. 

The Olympic Movement aims to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practiced without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play. 

The United States Olympic Committee (USOC), is dedicated to supporting U.S. athletes achieve sustained competitive excellence. To fulfill this mission, the USOC recognizes the need to increase diversity and ensure the inclusion of all U.S. Citizens.

Generating much interest and hope is the U.S.A.'s gymnastic team, a powerful group of 5 fantastic and fabulous women: Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman, Simone Biles, Madison Kocian and Laurie Hernandez.
...whether intentional or not,Team USA had already scored a huge victory for diversity. With a mix of races and ethnicities—black, white, Latina, Jewish—this was easily the most diverse group of women to represent USA gymnastics at the Olympics. And while each woman was selected for her ability and potential to medal, that doesn't change the fact that seeing the different faces on this year's team is important and also pretty damn cool.”

As one article about the diversity of the women gymnastic team said, "Representation matters!" and even white Americans are pleased to behold the sight of a team that includes more reflections of the ethnic makeup of the country we live in.
Indeed. As important as well is the fact that this year's Summer Olympic Games are being held in an election year, when seeds of hatred and division are being sown, derision of people because of their gender and ethnicity is heard, calls for creating walls and banning people on the basis of religion and race are being made.

Hopefully, the message of peace and unity through the promotion of diversity and inclusion by Team USA will not be lost, and the cause for this wins big in the presidential race.

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