By Erick Johnson, Chicago Crusader
The gold rush is on.
On Wednesday, a trio of sistas from America executed a clean sweep in the 100-meter hurdles in Rio de Janeiro, stunning the world and doing something that has never been done before in Olympic history. At the finish line was Brianna Rollins, who earned a gold medal. Kristi Castlin finished second with a silver medal and Nia Ali finished third with the bronze.
They are among an army of talented Black athletes who are powering America to the top of the sports world with unprecedented achievements in the Olympic summer games in Rio.
Since the games kicked off August 5, American Blacks have won ten gold medals and are poised to hit the jackpot with competitions in basketball, wrestling, boxing and water polo – yes, even water polo.
Leading the pack is 19-year superstar gymnast Simone Biles, who racked up four gold medals, including the prestigious individual all-around competition. Biles fell just short of tying the world record of five gold medals after winning a bronze on the beam. She rebounded Tuesday, August 16 with a smashing performance in the floor exercise competition, her signature event.
Gabrielle “Gabby” Douglas now owns three gold medals after winning one with the America’s “Final Five” women’s gymnastics team.
Simone Manuel became the first Black woman to win a gold medal in any Olympic swimming event. Her achievement came four years after Cullen Jones made history as a Black swimmer, who won two gold medals in the Olympic games in 2012 and 2008.
Christian Taylor defended his title to become the first American to win back-to-back gold medals in the triple jump in 112 years. Taylor leaped 58 feet and 7 ¼ inches. Another Black Olympian, Will Claye captured the silver medal in the competition.
Jeff Henderson broke a 12-year drought when he became the first American to win a gold medal in the long jump. He is the second Black Olympian to win the long jump after Dwight Phillips prevailed in the 2004 games in Athens.
Michelle Carter, the “shot diva,” became the first American woman and first to win a gold medal in the shot put competition. With a throw of 20.63 meters, Carter upset two-time defending gold medalist Valerie Adams of New Zealand. Carter is the daughter of former NFL lineman Michael Carter, who won a silver medal in the shot put at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.
More gold medals await many Blacks who are advancing in individual and team competition. With his superior reach and speed, boxer Shakur Stevenson reached the medal round in the men’s bantam (56 kg) division. Jordan Burroughs seeks to defend his gold medal in freestyle wrestling and Claressa Shields aims to do the same in the women’s middleweight competition.
The U.S. women’s basketball team, of which many Black players have been unquestionably dominant, seeks to win a sixth consecutive gold medal and eighth overall. Since the summer games began, the team has blown out its opponents by an average of nearly 41 points.
The men’s basketball team has had a tougher time in beating its opponents. Carmelo Anthony surpassed LeBron James as America’s all-time leading Olympic scorer while his team beat Argentina, China, Australia, Serbia and France. The U.S. basketball team has won 14 Olympic gold medals.
Seven Blacks have won silver medals during their quest in Rio. Daryl Homer made history as he became the first American in 112 years to win the silver medal in fencing. On August 15, four-time Olympic gold medalist Allyson Felix won a silver medal after Shaunae Miller from the Bahamas dived to the finish line to win the 400-meter race.
Swimmer Lia Neal earned a silver medal in the freestyle 100-meter relay. Tennis star Venus Williams earned a silver medal in the mixed doubles competition with partner Rajeev Ram. It was an All-American final with Jack Sock and Bethanie Mattek-Sands taking home the gold.