How Millennials Won the 2016 Summer Olympics

Author: Mary Grace Donaldson, Current Events/Politics

Well, the summer classic came to a close this week. If you’ve followed the Olympics with any regularity (or, at the very least, have excitedly scrolled through the recaps on social media every morning, making you late for work more than once…whoops!), a few names probably come to mind as standout athletes.

Some of them being…Michael Phelps. Simone Biles. Aly Raisman. Katie Ledecky. Usain Bolt. Simone Manuel. Allyson Felix. And Ryan Lochte…but we won’t get into him so much (okay, maybe we will a bit later).

What do all of these athletes have in common, other than the fact that they’ve all medaled at this year’s games (with many taking home more than one medal)? They’re all millennials.

Yes, you heard me. While some like Phelps are on the older side of the millennial range and others like Biles are on the younger side of the generation, all of them are millennials, and all used the summer games to defy the stereotype. They all brought 150% through their practice and competitions.

As proof of their devotion, our country’s athletes won 46 gold medals, 37 silver medals and 38 bronze medals. That’s more medals than any other country competing in the 2016 Olympic Games. Five of those medals belonged to Biles, three for Raisman, five for Ledecky, four for Manuel, three for Felix and six for the veteran Phelps. As we’re not only talking about Team USA in terms of millennial athletes, Bolt brought three medals to his home country of Jamaica.

These athletes are perfect examples of millennials who exceed any and all expectations. They’re disproving the negative millennial stereotypes we’re working so hard to eliminate. They train for hours every day, rarely taking a day off. They travel not only to Rio, but also to a series of internationally-acclaimed shows and competitions over the course of the year. They stick to their diets and all other commitments.

The Lochte incident can certainly be one of the takeaways from these games, if you’re a “glass half empty” type of person. If you believe that one person out of thousands serves as a representation for an entire group of people (in this case – athletes or millennials – take your pick), you’re wrong. Why not look at the games as a whole – and celebrate the remarkable accomplishments of the athletes who sacrificed so much to get there?

Over the course of the games, we came across a Tweet from Cleveland Jackson that summed it up for us. “This is the two weeks where you don’t hear anyone critical of millennials’ work ethic.”

We salute you, millennial Olympic athletes. Thank you for showing the world that millennials are an international tour de force. It doesn’t matter if you’ve medaled. You made it to the Olympics – some of you more than once, and for those of you who were first-timers, I’m sure we’ll see many of you again in 2020. How many people in the world can say that?

Thanks, millennial Olympians, for beating the negative stereotypes, and for being millennials who show that hard work can lead to achieving seemingly impossible dreams.