Back and forth: Predictions for 2016 Summer Olympics

Tim and Brendan go back and forth on some predictions for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.

From: Tim Culverhouse
To: Brendan Murray
Subject: Olympic Predictions

Welcome back from vacation,

That time has finally arrived. The infrastructure might not even be finished, the water is still filled with shit. That must mean that it’s time for the Rio Olympics! Can you feel the fever? That’s not supposed to be a getting sick pun either, just an actual Olympic fever thing.

For all the shit that I’ve given the Olympics in the past couple months, I actually am pretty excited to watch it all go down. I still have my doubts — did you see just the other day a Russian dignitary was getting mugged and he used jujitsu on the mugger and shot and killed him? Holy shit — but I’m thrilled to watch all these sports.

And that brings me to the point of this email chain. Let’s get into some of the sports, and make some predictions on who’s going to take home the medals. All good? Ok great, let’s dive into this.

Men’s Swimming


There are way too many events to break this down into multiple sub sections, but let’s stick with the obvious.

US flag-bearer and decorated Olympian Michael Phelps is participating in his last Games (for real this time), and he’s competing in three individual events: 200m butterfly, 200 IM and 100m butterfly. He’ll also probably participate in some relays, allowing the former drinker and smoker to add to his already Olympic-record 22 medals (18 gold).

I think Phelps adds three more golds to his collection: two in individual events, and one in a relay. The US takes home the bulk of the golds in swimming, led by Aquaman in his last Olympics.

And one last thing, at least they aren’t swimming in open water. So they have that going for them.



You ever watched this sport? It’s not popular at all in this country, but it’s freaking awesome. It’s soccer with your hands, but faster and with a lot of rules similar to ultimate frisbee. And, the scores are often in the high teens or 20s. I watched this in London in 2012, and it was freaking awesome.

Now I’m not saying that I’ll go and join a handball league, but I love sports like this that get play in the Olympics every four years and then go away. It’s been in the Olympics since the 70s, and you’re damn right I’ll be watching as much of this as possible.

As for the predictions, I’m not really going that far out of the box. France has taken the last two Olympic golds for the men, and Norway has done the same on the women’s side. I’m taking the French to beat Iceland in the Gold Medal game, and then Norway to upend Denmark in the final on the women’s side.

Total Medal Count


Of course I think the USA will take the top spot, as they did four years ago in London. After a second-place showing in the Gold Medal column to China in Beijing in 2008, the Americans blew everyone out of the water in London. I think it’s more of the same here. Especially since so many Russians won’t be in the Olympics because of doping, I think the US soars to the top early and often.

The Chinese will finish second in both Golds and total medals, and I think the Brits nip the French for the third spot in the total category. I’m also not ruling out a strong run from the hosts, since Brazilians are used to the horrible surroundings in their country, and they might not get sick from the water.

What say you, good sir?

From: Brendan Murray
To: Culverhouse
Subject: RE: Bold Olympic Predictions

Watch out there big guy, those are some bold picks.

Michael Phelps in swimming? Two-time defending champion French handball team?The U.S. in medal count?!? 

I thought you were the hot takes guy? Guess that’s my job now too, huh?

Okay, let’s get into this

Men’s swimming

ryan murphy.jpg

Picking Michael Phelps as the men’s swimming star is no fun and has pretty much no honor attached to it, so I’ll let you have that one.

I’m assuming Phelps will still bring home his share of the hardware in this Olympics, but this is (probably) his last one. It’s time for a new fish-boy to win our hearts. So who it will it be this time around?

It’s not going to be Ryan Lochte. That guy is the WORST and, as we learned four years ago, kind of a moron. So don’t have your eyes locked on Lochte (sorry.) Instead, turn those peepers towards Jacksonville, Ryan Murphy . He’ll mostly be on his back after qualifying for the 100 and 200 meter backstrokes after winning both events at the qualifying events in Omaha. He’ll also have a very good shot at a gold while swimming on the same team as your boy Phelps in the Men’s Medley Relay.

Maybe he’ll get himself on a box of Wheaties.



Have I ever watched handball? Tim, do you not know me at all? I am the foremost authority on handball in the greater Boston metro area.

Which means my predictions in this one should be considered among the lockiest of locks. Tim is showing his true colors by aligning with the French, in another remarkably bold show of support for the odds-on favorites.

Give me Iceland to end France’s Reign of Terror.

Medal count


I won’t go against the U.S. here. However, I will echo your thoughts on Brazil’s chances of success, and do you one better by putting them in my top 3.

And why I don’t expect the Russians to factor into the very top of the count rankings, due to sheer volume, I wouldn’t rule out a strong ruling. Hell hath no fury like a Russian scored.

Okay, Tim, give me your thoughts on what to expect in gymnastics, golf and dressage. I’ll let you go first so you can pick the favorites again.

From:  Tim Culverhouse
To: Brendan Murray
Subject: You want bold? You’ve got bold

Wow, I’m on the brunt of the hot takes. Feels weird, but it happens. Alright, you want bold fearless leader? Let’s freaking get bold. I’ll even drop the hottest of hot takes out of the chute here, with dressage.


Euro Champs Day 1. 25.08.09. RAW files available


After some quick research – and yes I did look at the Wikipedia page – let’s look into the equestrian sport with probably the weirdest name out of all the Olympic sports. In it’s most basic form, dressage is horse and rider walking, trotting and jumping around the dirt to a predetermined sequence of moves. It’s mixed gender too, so men and women compete together in individual and team competitions. Women generally dominate the medal table, but it is mixed gender in both competitions.

Get it? Perfect.

As for who’s going to take the cheese, I think the ladies are going to continue the trend and earn the Gold, Silver and Bronze. Charlotte Dujardin earned the top honors in her home country in 2012, but I don’t think she’ll get the same home cooking below the equator. Instead I’m looking at Olympic legend Isabell Werth to get back on top. It’s been 20 years since she won her last Gold, but I think the old vet will come into Rio and steal the show.

The Brits also won the team event, snapping a seven-Olympic streak for the Germans. But neither of those teams will win this year, as the Netherlands wins its first Gold in Olympic history. Germany takes Silver, and GB wins the Bronze.



I know that this event usually gets everyone going at the Olympics, but I really don’t get as psyched for gymnastics as I do for handball. But with that said, the US is going to knock off the Chinese and Russians and win the most Golds in Rio.

Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman (Mass. native, woo!) are the two leaders in the clubhouse for the Americans, who I think will take advantage of the crackdown on the Russians and go head-to-head with the Chinese in the women’s battle. Oh, and the US will win this despite new sexual assault allegations that came out.

On the men’s side, Japan knocks off China. The women’s events are much more exciting and watchable. Men’s gymnastics? Pass.



Finally, something that I kind of know about! But even still, the fact that the top golfers in the world said screw this takes some of the wind out of my sails when it comes to golf in the Summer Olympics. Here’s a quick update – the course looks nice in Rio, minus giant rats and snakes calling it home. Want to see a golfer put for an Olympic gold with a snake waiting on the fringe? Talk about fucking excitement!

It’ll be a four day individual tournament for both the men and women, and I’m taking a Swede and a South Korean to win the top prizes.

Henrik Stenson has been on a roll on the men’s side, and I think he carries that all the way down to Rio. As for the women? Inbee Park. She’s solid, and I think she’ll take it home.

And that was talking golf.

But let’s be honest, the real winners of these Olympics are going to be the ones that come back in one piece. You’re turn Brendan, bring it home.

From:Brendan Murray
To: Tim Culverhouse
Subject: Rounding out Rio

Okay, let’s bring this thing home



Like you mentioned Tim, the Brits are the team to beat here. It would be a disservice to our many thousands hundreds dozens of fans not to mention a particular gorse, Rafalca Romney.

Rafalca, you’ll remember, is actually a dressage horse owned by 2012 presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. She’s a fairly successful horse, competing in the 2012 Olympics in London.

Unfortunately, Rafalca met a similar fate to her owner in 2012, finishing a long ways behind the winner, and won’t be competing in Rio. Thanks a lot Obama.


paul hamm

I’m that annoying guy this year that won’t stop asking people whether they like the summer or winter Olympics better. I tend to compare gymnastics to figure skating, which means that in my mind, gymnastics rank really highly.

You mention a couple of things I wanted to touch on. First, as it always seems to be, the U.S. women’s Olympic gymnastic team is STACKED with young athletes that look like they could be stars. Based on all the pre-games chatter, Douglas could really become the face of the US in Rio.

The other thing was the disparity of competition between the men’s and women’s side. I think that’s largely because of the lack of top-notch male competitors over the past few editions of the Olympics. Where’s the new Paul Hamm?


jason day.jpg

I’ll use this space to promote a theory my dad has on the Olympics. If your sport already has a major international event where athletes compete under the flag of their home country, such as soccer’s World Cup or really any pro golf or tennis event, you shouldn’t be in the Olympics.

Every year, the men’s Olympic soccer teams are essentially B-Squads, as many of the best European players sit out the games while recovering from the Euro Cup. With the World Cup in the picture and just a year away, who cares about the Olympics?

As Tim mentioned, you have largely the same problem with golf. These guys are individuals and compete as such every week. And, there’s the Ryder Cup.

The Olympics should always be the pinnacle of sports. If a particular sport isn’t going to treat the Olympics that way, why bother including them at all?

(Oh wait—I was supposed to make a prediction right? Give me the Jason Day to continue a good year with an Olympic gold. I also have my eyes on Rickie Fowler, who could use some good play in both the Olympics and the Ryder Cup to bounce back from what was a disappointing season on the PGA tour.)

Follow Tim on Twitter@culvey13 and Brendan at @MurraySportTalk


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