Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 6:04 PM
It’s no exaggeration to say that Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings of the USA are to women’s Beach Volleyball what members of the Dream Team are to men’s Basketball. In fact, Misty and Kerri have amassed a better record in Olympic competition than the various Dream Teams.
This is why they were such prohibitive favorites coming into today’s gold-medal match. What’s more, their opponents, April Ross and Jen Kessy could fairly be described as the USA’s B-team. Indeed, to continue the Basketball analogy, this all-American final held all the suspense of the Washington Generals taking on the Harlem Globetrotters. Get it?
Therefore, it came as no surprise when two-time defending Olympic champions Misty and Kerri defeated Olympic rookies April and Jen in straight sets to win their third consecutive gold medal; April and Jen won silver; a pair from Brazil defeated one from China to win bronze.
Track and Field
Watching the women’s 200m final today was every bit as exciting as watching the men’s 100m final on Sunday. In particular, watching Allison Felix of the USA win the 200m in 21.88 was every bit as exciting as watching Usain Bolt of Jamaica win the 100m in 9.63; except that it might’ve been twice as exciting because her race lasted twice as long.
But there’s no gainsaying the thrill of watching a woman run that fast who looks more like a ballerina than a bodybuilder: Allison really is that graceful … and fast and strong too. More to the point, she finally made it to the altar, having been twice the bridesmaid, winning silver in 2004 and 2008. This was especially sweet for Team USA because, with this gold, she finally broke the stranglehold Team Jamaica has held on the premier sprint events in this sport since the 2008 Beijing Games.
Apropos of this rivalry, just as they did in the 100m on Saturday, Americans and Jamaicans battled for the top five places in this race: with Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica, who won gold in the 100m, winning silver; Carmelita Jeter of the USA, who won silver in the 100m, winning bronze; Veronica Campbell-Brown of Jamaica, who won bronze in the 100m, finishing fourth; and Sanya Richards-Ross of the USA, who won the 400m on Sunday was trying to match Michael Johnson’s elusive double, finishing fifth.
As indicated in my take on the women’s 200m above, one of the precedent-setting features of these Olympics is the extent to which women are generating far more excitement in sports traditionally dominated by men. This was certainly the case today when I tuned in to a few matches in women’s freestyle wrestling. And, remarkably enough, there was no mud involved….
Indeed, further betraying innate chauvinism, it is truly humbling to concede that if I were on the mat with any of the women competing – even in the lightest weight class – she probably would have had her way with me … gladly.
In fact, I watched Carol Huynh of Canada defeat Isabelle Sambou of Senegal for bronze in the lightest weight class of 105.5 pounds. I also watched two-time defending Olympic champion Kaori Icho of Japan three-peat by defeating Ruixue Jing of China for gold in the 138.5-pound weight class.
I cannot resist noting that, in a matchup that was really war by other means, Argentina avenged its loss in the Falklands War 30 years ago by defeating Great Britain 2-1. No doubt this victory was extra sweet because it was executed on Britain’s home turf – with members of the British royal family bearing agonizing witness no less.
This was only a women’s semifinal match, but there seems little doubt that all of Argentina is celebrating this as the most important victory of these Olympic Games.
MEDAL COUNT: USA: 81; China: 76 Russia: 52