Yes, there was Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt and Simone Biles -- they turned in spectacular performances in Rio. But please let's not forget what a trio of former Oregon Ducks pulled off in the Olympics. We're talking about historically significant stuff from Ashton Eaton, Matthew Centrowitz and Galen Rupp.
Eaton, competing in an event that used to be the centerpiece of the Olympics, won his second gold medal -- only the third man to take gold in the decathlon in back-to-back Olympics. Humble, polite and poised, he doesn't even like that "World's Greatest Athlete" label that usually goes with winning an Olympic decathlon gold medal. I hope he finds a challenging and fulfilling next chapter in his life. Certainly he's got the kind of versatility and poise to succeed in many different pursuits.
Centrowitz won the gold medal in the 1,500 meters, something that hadn't been done by a U.S. runner in more than a century. That's difficult to believe, in that this country has produced some terrific milers. Seriously, Centrowitz did something that Jim Ryun, Wes Santee, Steve Scott, Marty Liquori and so many others couldn't do. The list of great U.S. milers and 1,500-meter runners includes so many Ducks, too. I'll list just some of them, knowing full well I'll think of a few more later: Dyrol Burleson, Jim Grelle, Keith Forman, Roscoe Divine, Wade Bell, Dave Wilborn, Steve Prefontaine, Paul Geis, Rudy Chapa and even Matt Centrowitz Sr.
To do something that hasn't been done by an American since 1908 by is pretty amazing.
Rupp didn't come away with a gold medal. He settled for third in the marathon but considering it was just the second one he's ever run it was an amazing performance. Rupp has seemed to be searching for his best race and perhaps he's found it in the marathon, which is such a punishing discipline. He's successfully run every distance from the mile through 5,000 and 10,000 meters before trying 26 miles. He's got charisma and obvious toughness and someday he's going to bring a gold medal back to Portland.
There were other Ducks in Rio, of course. But this trio was the most special.