With less than a week to go in the Olympics, the Triangle’s individual Olympians have completed competition as well as most of the teams, with only men’s basketball left. Looking back, here are the top five performances:
5. Though a quarterfinal loss was disappointing for an American field-hockey team that won its first four games of the Olympics and had designs on its first medal in 32 years, Chapel Hill’s Michelle Kasold was a key member of a team that showed it belongs among the world’s field-hockey powers, and scored a goal to boot.
4. Abby Johnston already had a silver medal from synchronized diving in London, but had designs on an individual medal in Rio before she wraps up her diving career to finish medical school at Duke. One bad dive cost her any shot at a medal, but she was the only American to make the final in the 3-meter springboard.
3. The first American to compete in the Olympics wearing hijab, the Muslim head scarf, Ibtihaj Muhammad won bronze in the team sabre, which created a striking spectacle on the medal podium: Muhammad, the former Duke fencer, stood arm-in-arm with purple-haired Dagmara Wozniak, a Polish immigrant, and two other teammates. In a political season rife with division, it was an image of America at its best, and Muhammad earned her way onto the podium with a stellar performance in a semifinal loss to eventual gold-medalist Russia.
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2. Ronnie Ash was closing in on the top three in the 110-meter hurdles final with 20 meters and one hurdle to go. Ash, who first learned to hurdle in the one year he spent at Knightdale High School, barely caught the final hurdle and stumbled to the finish, somersaulting across the line eighth out of eight. Denied the medal he thought was within reach, Ash accepted his fate with humor and poise.
1. He’ll forever be remembered for weeping on the medal podium, but Ryan Held’s swim was memorable enough. The N.C. State rising junior was in only one event, the 4 x 100-meter freestyle, and there was no guarantee he’d even get a chance to swim beyond the prelims. But Held was the only swimmer from the prelims who got to swim in the final, and he swam a solid third leg to help Michael Phelps win yet another gold.
– Luke DeCock