Thursday, August 2, 2012 at 4:50 PM
I appreciate inquiries about why I’m not commenting on the way the USA Men’s (or Women’s) Basketball team is routing its opponents. But, truth be told, I simply cannot get too excited about sports like Basketball and Tennis at the Olympics that enjoy perennial popularity. In fact, I rather like the Olympian reordering of things which sees sports like Swimming and Track and Field getting the media attention that is usually lavished on big-time professional sports.
Given that Boxing is an Olympic sport, I don’t see why a more pugilistic-style of martial arts, like Karate, is not. Instead we are treated only to those styles that look like variants of Greco-Roman wrestling, namely Judo and Taekwondo.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed watching Kayla Harrison of the United States toss around the bigger Joo Abigel of Hungary like a rag doll in a women’s half-heavyweight (172 lbs) semifinal match. Work prevented me from watching the final, but Harrison went on to win gold by defeating Gemma Gibbons of Great Britain, who won silver. A Frenchwoman and a Brazilian won respective bronze medal matches.
This is the first-ever gold for the USA in women’s judo.
A number of friends can attest that I predicted Gabby Douglas of the USA would win the women’s individual all-around competition. I reasoned that, even though there are specialists at these Games who might be slightly better on an individual apparatus, no gymnast is as talented as she is on all of them combined.
Gabby proved this on Tuesday when she led the USA to gold in the women’s team by being the only member whose results were good enough to count on all four apparatuses. And she punctuated this fact today by winning the highly coveted women’s all-around in convincing fashion with a score of 62.232. Victoria Komova of Russia won silver with 61.963; and Aliya Mustafina of Russia, bronze with 59.566.
With that, I feel constrained to repeat that I hope the media and corporate advertisers do for Gabby what they did for Mary Lou Retton. General Mills can begin by featuring her adorable face on the cover of a Wheaties cereal box and Disney can follow suit by having her mug for the cameras about going to Disney World!
Nobody can accuse me of being one of those typical Black Americans with a chip on his shoulder. But I really resent the way NBC and other U.S. media spent more time consoling White Jordyn Wieber for failing to make this individual all-around than they did celebrating Black Gabby Douglas – not only for making it, but also for leading the USA to gold in the women’s team. This, folks, is why so many Blacks develop that proverbial chip….
Oh, did I mention that she is the first Black to win this gold and the very first American to win team and individual gold in the same Olympics (i.e., not even Mary Lou did that!)?
In the only race of note, Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte met in the second of their two, overhyped, head-to-head matchups in the men’s 200m individual medley. And I suppose it constitutes some measure of payback/redemption that Phelps won (given that Lochte won their first matchup in the 400m individual medley).
More important, though, Phelps can now claim to be the best swimmer as well as the most decorated Olympian in any sport in history. He can also claim that elusive honor of being just the third swimmer to win gold in the same event at three Olympic Games. And he can two-peat this three-peat feat if he wins the 100m butterfly tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Lochte continued eating his words about these being his Olympics by settling for silver (and, incidentally, he had to settle for bronze in the men’s 200m backstroke); Laszlo Cseh of Hungary won bronze.
Apropos of payback/redemption, all Phelps has to do now is win the 100m butterfly to settle the score with Chad le Clos of South Africa who defeated him – in Phelpsian style no less – in the 200m butterfly.
MEDAL COUNT: USA: 37, China: 34; Japan: 19