Summer Olympics 2016: Winds of Change

Team USA mixed doubles team Bethanie Mattek-Sands/Jack Sock compete for gold in Rio.

Former Malibu Mayor and local resident Pamela Conley Ulich reports on the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as a special correspondent to The Malibu Times.

She has attended the last three summer Olympic games: 2004 in Athens, 2008 in Beijing, 2012 in London and now the Rio Olympics. She also reported as a correspondent to The Malibu Times in 2012.

Ulich served on Malibu City Council for eight years, from 2004-2012, including one term as mayor.


The wind gusts brought fresh air and tennis upsets to Rio as the world’s No. 1 ranked players were blown off the courts in both women’s and men singles. Monica Puig, representing Puerto Rico, had played 80 WTA tournaments in her career, and had only won one — in May 2014 — before winning gold in Rio. Likewise, Argentinean Juan Martin del Potro, who is ranked 141, defeated world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in an early match. As we watched del Potro play, he continued to look up at the fans dressed in blue and white drawing energy from a loud and soccer-like crowd. It was great to see Djokovic exhibit great sportsmanship after he lost as he embraced del Potro after the match and seemed to even smile a little as he walked off the court. Del Potro ended up winning silver and Andy Murray defended his gold in a long and loud match filled with shout-out bursts by both the Argentinean and British fans in the stands.  

During the women’s singles bronze match, I saw the USA player throw her racquet to the ground in the middle of a match. This lack of respect and temper tantrum made me a little sad, but the next day both USA mixed double teams — Venus Williams/Rajeev Ram and Bethanie Mattek-Sands/Jack Sock exhibited sportsmanship and smiles.  I personally loved the socks — both Sock and Matte-Sands rocked. This was a classic moment in tennis with relative underdogs defeating players who had previously won Olympic gold.

I am now off to beach volleyball to watch Team USA vs. Brazil. The sun can’t be seen now with the clouds rolling in, but the crowd is just as loud as ever.