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Take 5: Olympic Underdogs To Watch In Rio Games

Diver training in Rio de Janeiro on Aug. 4
Diver training in Rio de Janeiro on Aug. 4
Benjamin Witte

With the Olympic Games finally upon us, many spectators are focused on living legends like Brazilian soccer superstar Neymar, Jamaica's record-holding sprinter Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps, the American swimmer who's won more Olympic hardware than any athlete in history.

And that's just to name a few. The mega-event certainly doesn't lack star power. But the Games also feature plenty of compelling competitors who aren't household names — at least not beyond the borders of their home nations. Each comes to Brazil with his or her own goals and incredible life stories. And all of them carry the hopes of their respective countries on their shoulders. Here are five of those athletes.

Dutee Chand, India (sprinter)

This 20-year-old speed demon will be India's first Olympic sprinter since 1980. She will compete in the women's 100-meter event, starting Aug. 12, when she'll try to beat her personal best of 11.24 seconds — an Indian record. Two years ago she was banned from the sport due to hyperandrogenism, a condition that causes the body to produce excess testosterone. She appealed the ban and in July 2015 was cleared to compete again. "There are five members in my family. My parents used to struggle to put food on our plates," Chand explained in a recent interview with The Times of India. "It was also difficult to train. I didn't have shoes, so was forced to run barefoot."

Kazuki Yazawa, Japan (kayaker)

Winner of last year's canoe slalom national tournament in Japan, this 27-year-old also participated in the 2012 Olympic Games in London. It was shortly after that experience that Yazawa found an entirely new calling: Buddhism. He became a priest in 2013. According to the Japan Times, that won't stop him from trying to grab a gold medal in Rio.

Tomás González, Chile (gymnast)

With the exception of multiple tennis medals in the 2004 Games, Chile hasn't had a tremendous amount of Olympic success. The country is hoping to reverse that trend this year with Tomás González, 30, a gymnast who stopped just short of medaling in the 2012 Games. "I think I'm the second best in the world for the floor exercise, so I'm very motivated," he told the Chilean broadcaster TVN.

Yona Knight-Wisdom, Jamaica (diving)

This British-born athlete could have competed for England or even Barbados (his mother's home country) but instead chose to represent his father's native Jamaica in the Olympics, a first for the country. The 20-year-old's size — he's 6'2'' and weighs almost 200 pounds — makes makes him an unusual competitor in the sport.

Maryan Nuh Muse, Somalia (runner)

The 19-year-old is one of just two athletes representing her country in Brazil. Nuh Muse has competed throughout Africa in numerous regional competitions but never before in the Olympics. "I am hoping to shine," she told the African Union Mission in Somalia of her upcoming participation in the women's 400-meter event.

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What's Spoiling The Kids: The Big Tech v. Bad Parenting Debate

Without an extended family network, modern parents have sought to raise happy kids in a "hostile" world. It's a tall order, when youngsters absorb the fears (and devices) around them like a sponge.

Image of a kid wearing a blue striped sweater, using an ipad.

Children exposed to technology at a very young age are prominent today.

Julián de Zubiría Samper


BOGOTÁ — A 2021 report from the United States (the Youth Risk Behavior Survey) found that 42% of the country's high-school students persistently felt sad and 22% had thought about suicide. In other words, almost half of the country's young people are living in despair and a fifth of them have thought about killing themselves.

Such chilling figures are unprecedented in history. Many have suggested that this might be the result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but sadly, we can see depression has deeper causes, and the pandemic merely illustrated its complexity.

I have written before on possible links between severe depression and the time young people spend on social media. But this is just one aspect of the problem. Today, young people suffer frequent and intense emotional crises, and not just for all the hours spent staring at a screen. Another, possibly more important cause may lie in changes to the family composition and authority patterns at home.

Firstly: Families today have fewer members, who communicate less among themselves.

Young people marry at a later age, have fewer children and many opt for personal projects and pets instead of having children. Families are more diverse and flexible. In many countries, the number of children per woman is close to or less than one (Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong among others).

In Colombia, women have on average 1.9 children, compared to 7.6 in 1970. Worldwide, women aged 15 to 49 years have on average 2.4 children, or half the average figure for 1970. The changes are much more pronounced in cities and among middle and upper-income groups.

Of further concern today is the decline in communication time at home, notably between parents and children. This is difficult to quantify, but reasons may include fewer household members, pervasive use of screens, mothers going to work, microwave ovens that have eliminated family cooking and meals and, thanks to new technologies, an increase in time spent on work, even at home. Our society is addicted to work and devotes little time to minors.

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