I didn’t expect to say this, but I miss the Olympics.

Over the last few years, I’ve made a point to watch less television.

Of course, I still watch all my favorite sports teams and I never miss an episode of “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” but other than that, I don’t keep up with any new shows.

That all changed the last two weeks. Any spare moment I had, my TV was tuned into NBC or one of its affiliate channels, watching whatever the hell was on. Whether it was the standard track and field, gymnastics, swimming, soccer or volleyball, or the more obscure ping-pong, handball, water polo, shot put or fencing — it didn’t matter.

I loved watching the competition. I loved watching the athletes give it all they had for pride and love of their country.

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I appreciated that every single one of these athletes had worked relentlessly for decades and dedicated their lives to get to where they are. I felt their jubilation when they won, and I shared their heartbreak when they fell short of their ultimate goal.

Another thrill for me was to read the stories behind the athletes. Of the refugee, Yusra Mardini, who risked her life fleeing Syria and was now competing at the highest level under a flag with no country on it. Or when Michael Phelps, after his second DWI two years ago, texted his agent that he didn’t “want to be alive anymore.” And how Simone Biles was adopted by her grandparents in Belize after her own parents could no longer take care of her and her siblings.

It taught me that greatness certainly doesn’t come easy.

We also witnessed the end of two of the most prolific Olympic careers in history. No longer will Phelps and Usain Bolt of Jamaica represent their respective countries in the greatest level of international competition.Usain Bolt.jpg

In a two week span, we got to see the best swimmer of all time and the best runner of all time.

But alongside that came new stars. Biles and swimmer Katie Ledecky, both 19, have 11 medals between them — 10 gold.

We saw an American swimmer make a statement about staying clean when Lily King of the U.S.  defeated Russian swimmer and convicted doper Yulia Efimova. We saw how longstanding regional conflict can bleed into international competition when an Egyptian refused to shake an Israeli’s hand.

But that blemish was overshadowed by a single act of sportsmanship that exemplified the best parts of humanity, when an American and New Zealander encouraged each other to finish a race after falling.

And of course, we were privileged to witness Ryan Lochte’s buffoonery —  once an innocent source of entertainment — get him into actual trouble.

Brazil, too, overcame most people’s meager expectations by stepping up to the challenge and putting on a successful show. The country still has its problems, no doubt, but these Games can at least give the nation and its people something to build on.

So consider this my thank you. To Rio, to the athletes, and to the world of international competition.

I will never win a gold medal.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t be excited when others do.

Simone Biles, the new greatest American

It’s nice to finally be able to talk about something besides Donald Trump the past few days. I mean, today he made a not-so-subtle suggestion that gun advocates should assassinate Hillary Clinton if she becomes president, but who’s keeping track anymore? It’s par for the course for Donald Trump.

Let’s turn back to Rio.

The Olympic Games tend to turn athletes into stars overnight, especially in America, where we are more consumed with whose throwing a football or hitting 3-pointers rather than who is excelling in the pool or on the mat.

Some stay stars and some don’t. Kerri Strug. Michael Phelps. McKayla Maroney. Michael Phelps. Gabby Douglas. Ryan Lochte. Michael Phelps.

This year’s star? Well, still Michael Phelps.

But besides him? Meet Simone Biles.

Simone Biles

Amazingly, at 19, she’s already considered the best gymnast in the world. Possibly ever. It’s hard to argue when she has a move named after her — a double layout with a half twist — because no gymnast had ever landed it in top level competition before she did.

Watch videos of her doing the move and you’ll start to understand why she’s so revered. When doing her move, “The Biles”, on the floor, she’s actually still rising upon completing her first flip. It defies gravity.

She won her first gold medal Tuesday afternoon in the women’s team all around, and she is poised to win four more before it’s all said and done. I predict that she will not only do it, but that she will be a household name by the time the Rio games are over.

But Simone Biles hasn’t been the only reason to watch the Olympics.

Typically, the Olympics are full of story lines that combine triumph and drama, but what happened during Monday night’s women’s 100-meter breaststroke was something that was made for primetime television.

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It was a showdown between American Lily King and Russian Yulia Efimova. Efimova has been caught twice for using performance enhancing drugs (not shockingly given her home country), and King has been quite outspoken about her distaste for it.

“You wave your finger No. 1 and you’ve been caught drug cheating? I’m not a fan.” she said during an NBC interview, following a back-and-forth when Efimova, after winning her semifinal race, made the hand signal to seemingly mock King, who had earlier given the No. 1 gesture.

The score was settled in the pool, and King emerged victorious. It also made for an awkward press conference afterwards, at which Efimova appeared very glum and apologetic.

I can completely understand why Olympians would take such pride in being among the best and doing it clean, but we also forget how young these athletes are. Efimova, for example, is just 24. She was also suspended for over a year for her actions.

As long as they pay the price, and make sure that they are clean when it really matters, then I am willing to give people a second chance.

Either way, Lily King sure made a heck of a statement on Tuesday night.