Christine Brennan is covering her 17th straight Olympic Games, but the lead-up to the Olympics in Rio was unlike any other. That’s what happens when there are incessant doom-and-gloom reports about all that is wrong with Rio.
But now that Brennan is actually in Brazil? Well, things aren’t quite as bad as reports suggested.
“Well, you’ve got to be careful of course,” the USA Today and CNN reporter said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “We have no idea what the future holds. Long way to go. But Friday came, Opening Ceremonies, I did cover those and was heading there and I said to myself, ‘This feels like an Olympics.’ I wish I had a dollar for every column and every time I talked about Zika and the crime and the water pollution and the government falling apart and the economy falling apart and the infrastructure issues. That’s six things and we didn’t even mention terrorism, which obviously is omnipresent for everybody in every Olympics and all the time in this world of ours.”
As for Zika? So far, so good.
“I’ve been here a week, and I have not put any mosquito repellant on,” Brennan said. “I’ve got it, but I haven’t put it on. I have not seen a mosquito, I have not thought about a mosquito. I’m not trying to be flippant about it, not at all. Obviously Zika is a very big issue, but it’s not that hot here. It’s winter time, so it’s certainly not as hot as it was in Washington D.C. when I left, so I do think Rio is getting this done. There are bus issues, there are transportation issues, but if you look at the swimming venue, it’s great. It’s just like being in London or being in Beijing or whatever and Michael Phelps is there, so it’s exactly like that. It works out pretty well.”
Speaking of swimming, Brennan has been highly impressed by Lilly King, who, after crusading against anti-dopers being allowed to participate in the Olympics, won gold in the 100-meter breaststroke final Monday. The best part? She beat Russia’s Yulia Efimova, a confirmed cheater.
“Lilly King is just a breath of fresh air,” Brennan said. “Here you’ve got the International Olympic Committee just totally blowing it, making that terrible decision to allow all the Russians to compete. I know people are saying, ‘Well, wait a minute. What about the U.S.? We had Lance Armstrong, we had Marion Jones.’ Those were individuals who were defying their national governing body and the national anti-doping agency. What the Russians were doing who are here, including Yulia Efimova, who won the silver to Lilly King – that’s the controversy of course that Lilly mentioned and got involved in, I think correctly so, the other day – well, those Russians were part of the system to cheat what is good. That’s what the government wanted.”
For the United States to do what Russia did, President Obama would have to institute a nation-wide doping system and convince, if not force, our athletes to cheat.
“That is why the Russians should not be here,” Brennan said. “The IOC wimped out, but a 19-year-old Indiana University student sure didn’t – and bravo to her. She calls it like she sees it. She said (U.S. sprinter) Justin Gatlin shouldn’t be competing. Lilly King for the next president of the U.S. Olympic Committee or maybe the next president of the United States when she’s ready. This kid is great, and she backed it up. She talked the talk one day and walked the walk the next day, backed it up with a great, great performance, winning the gold medal. Really, it doesn’t get much better than that.”