As Rio Games begin let’s focus on the athletes’ accomplishments | ParkRecord.com

As Rio Games begin let’s focus on the athletes’ accomplishments

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In this political campaign season full of vitriol and uncertainty, we have an opportunity to take a welcome break by celebrating the height of human potential and sportsmanship. The 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro begin Friday.

Utah residents have a special affinity for the Olympics, having once been an Olympic host – with all of the heartaches and rewards of being at the center of global attention. We are well aware of the responsibilities and challenges that Rio de Janeiro is facing and wish them all the best as they sprint toward the opening ceremonies.

Also, this summer Parkites have an additional connection to the event. While our town regularly sends a sizable squad of skiers, snowboarders, aerialists and other athletes to the Winter Games, this may be the first time a hometown kid has qualified to compete in the Summer Games.

Park City-raised Devery Karz will be competing for an Olympic medal in the women's lightweight double sculls. Her first event is scheduled this coming Sunday.

The Karz family is already on the way to Brazil to support Devery, and she will no doubt have plenty of fans cheering for her here in Park City, at her alma mater Oregon State University and at the Potomac Boat Club in Washington, D.C., where she honed her skills as an elite oarswoman.

But while Devery may be the first Park City-raised summer Olympian, judging by the field of local up-and-coming cyclists and runners, she is likely just the tip of Park City's Summer Olympic spear.

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All of which makes us even more sensitive to the growing concerns about the Olympic movement as a whole. It would be naïve not to recognize the growing costs, the political and commercial pressures and health concerns surrounding not only the Rio events but almost every Olympic gathering in recent history. But as one of Karz's teammates wrote in a recent blog: once the Games begin it is time to set aside the criticism and support the athletes. She also implored the media to stop focusing on negative stories about the water quality, the organizers and the country's government.

Megan Kalmoe, a three-time Olympian competing in the Quadruple sculling events wrote: "There are thousands of people who have worked tirelessly for years to put together an event that is unique to anything else in the world. The people of Brazil have opened their country and their hearts to the global community to engage with us during this incredible event that will bring people together from every corner of the earth to celebrate humanity on a truly basic level."

Utahns know exactly what Kalmoe is talking about. Our own run up to the Games was rocky for many reasons, not the least of which was the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center that raised grave concerns about security. As it turned out, a global celebration of human accomplishment and international cooperation was just what the world needed to begin to recover.

We will be rooting, not only for Devery Karz and everyone on Team USA, but for Rio's future and world peace, as well.

Let the Games begin.