Between the divisive partisan politics of the current election cycle and the downward spiral of the 24-hour news cycle, narratives shining a light on excellence are in short supply. The 17-days of international goodwill nurtured by the Olympic games in Rio are in desperate need.
Granted, the current situation in Brazil has produced some less than encouraging headlines. But if gymnasts from North and South Korea can be excited about taking selfies together, then there’s hope for the rest of us. Here’s a look back at some previous, and current, Olympic examples of #BlackExcellence that can be both a reminder of hope during particularly dark times and a predictor of things to come in Rio.
#BlackExcellence in the Olympics has a long legacy. Check out the Streampix premiere Olympic Pride, American Prejudice, the untold story of 18 Black athletes in the 1936 Olympic Games, on XFINITY X1, which will change the way you experience TV.
For someone with a staggering four gold medals (and now a new silver), Allyson Felix should be more famous. She has four more gold medals than Marion Jones and three more than Lolo Jones, yet she is arguably less of a household name than either of the aforementioned Olympians.
None of that is stated to take part in the time honored tradition of viewing female athletes through the male gaze and pitting them against each other. Felix keeps about as low of a profile as anyone who is a member of Barack Obama’s Council For Fitness and is regularly featured on the front page of Nike.com reasonably can. Maybe she prefers to let her accomplishments do the talking.
In 2012, Felix won her first individual gold medal in the 200-meter dash. That feat made her the first woman since Florence Griffith-Joyner to win three gold medals in a single game, and the sprinter formerly known as “Chicken Legs” hasn’t looked back since.
As the daughter of an ordained minister and an elementary school teacher, Felix’s monk-like discipline and her faith are two of the few things she is outspoken about. Naturally, that keeps sponsors such as Chobani Yogurt, Acuvue, Gatorade and Bounty, happy to align themselves with her for endorsement deals.
“That’s definitely the reason that I run,” Felix told the Los Angeles Times. “I definitely feel like I’ve been blessed with this gift, and so that’s something that helps me to see the bigger picture. It’s so easy to get caught up in winning everything and just the kind of the grind of what professional sports is, but it definitely helps me to kind of pull back and see that there’s a greater purpose.”
This year, Felix and her staff worked with the USA Track & Field organization to schedule races in a manner that would allow her to compete in both the 200-meter and 400-meter dash. She calls the former “her baby,” as it is generally considered a true sprint by track and field aficionados.
If Felix is able to bring home multiple medals at the Rio games, it’s hard to imagine she’ll still be flying under the radar. Follow Felix and many others with the X1 Sports app. Turn your TV into a scoreboard. Track multiple games at once and check the latest scores and standings.