Friday, August 3, 2012 at 3:29 PM
Today was the final day of competition in this sport, which turned out to be far more thrilling to watch than I ever imagined. Only four medals were awarded but every qualifying round provided excitement and suspense worthy of The Hunger Games.
Apropos of which, I actually saw Khatuna Lorig - the archer who famously trained Jennifer Lawrence for this movie – lose a nail-biter yesterday to Mariana Avitia of Mexico in the women’s bronze medal match. But before you say the Mexican must have had a cultural advantage, you should know that Ki Bo-Bae of South Korea won gold; and, well, another Mexican, Aida Roman, won silver.
I was pleasantly surprised by how enjoyable I found this event. In fact, it is fair to say that the performers displayed all of the skill and grace of springboard divers and gymnasts combined. Yet I could not get over the feeling that jumping up and down on a trampoline is a recreation that belongs in the backyard, not a sport that belongs at the Olympics.
Not to mention my irritation with the dizziness watching their quadruple summersaults with triple twists caused….
Track and Field
Competition began today in Track and Field, the feature sport of every Summer Olympics. There were preliminary rounds in many events but finals only in men’s shot put and the women’s 10,000.
Regarding the second-biggest rivalry of these Games [Phelps versus Lochte was touted as the biggest], I heard Usain Bolt say on the BBC today that he’s only “95%” fit. Frankly, this struck me as a preemptive excuse for being upset by team rival Yohan Blake. At least Phelps seems mentally prepared to take on his would-be usurper mano-a-mano.
I hope someone prevails upon Bolt to understand that it’s better to lose after being fully prepared and giving all he had than to lose because he couldn’t be bothered to get 100% fit for the biggest race of his life. But it would not surprise me if he false starts at these Games the way he did at the World Championships last year to avoid the ultimate challenge against Blake in the 100m.
(“Opening Ceremony,” The iPINIONS Journal, July 27, 2012)
In fact, I’m on record predicting that, if they do race, Blake would win gold in the 100m and Bolt, gold in the 200m….
But it would be remiss of me not to mention the possibility of Justin Gatlin of the USA raining on this Jamaican parade. If he does, however, I would consider it a dubious victory because I believe once a doper, always a doper. (He tested positive in 2006 and received a lifetime ban. Except that he was reinstated after just four years for “cooperating” with anti-doping authorities who were investigating why his coach, Trevor Graham, was turning out so many athletes who test positive for performance-enhancing drugs.)
One of the marks of a great champion is being able to say to those who would presume to dethrone him after he has a disappointing performance, “not so fast, buddy.”
This is exactly what Phelps said with his win over Lochte in the 200m individual medley yesterday (avenging that earlier loss to him in the 400m individual medley), and it’s what he said with his win over le Clos in the 100m butterfly today (avenging that earlier loss to him in the 200m butterfly). Never mind that he won in a relatively slow time of 51.21. But this only demonstrates, again, how super human Phelps was in Beijing where he clocked a still-standing world record of 49.82.
The real excitement in this race, however, was watching le Clos (of South Africa) and Evgeny Korotyshkin of Russia touch the wall at the exact same time for silver.
Meanwhile, there is a campaign afoot to make the 50m freestyle in Swimming what the 100m is in Track and Field: the premier race of the sport. The problem is that there is only one style of running; whereas there are four styles of swimming. To be fair, therefore, shouldn’t we have the 50m sprint in backstroke, butterfly, and breaststroke too?
In any event, Florent Manaudou of France won gold; Cullen Jones of the USA, silver; and Cesar Cielo of Brazil, bronze.
MEDAL COUNT: USA: 42, China: 42; Great Britain: 22