Sunday, August 5, 2012 at 6:17 PM
All I can say is that pole dancers have nothing on synchronized swimmers when it comes to displaying remarkable athleticism in titillating fashion. And how thoughtful of NBC to enhance our viewing pleasure by giving us shots of their rhythmic gyrations above and under water, simultaneously.
This might be the only sport where cheering is stimulated more by carnal lust than evoked by national pride; although, why this is an Olympic sport completely escapes me….
Apropos of which, I thought it was surreal and emasculating enough that men compete in Handball at the Olympics. But when I happened upon them competing in Field Hockey my first thought was soon they’ll be competing in Synchronized Swimming too. Nobody is a greater supporter of equal rights between men and women than I, but this is ridiculous.
In a rematch of last month’s Wimbledon final, Roger Federer of Switzerland will be playing Andy Murray of Great Britain in the men’s single final tomorrow. But the only thing that will be worthy of comment is if Murray manages to beat Federer. But, frankly, not even a royal decree could grant him a victory. (I’ll gladly eat my words if he does.)
(“London Olympics: Day 8,” The iPINIONS Journal, August 4, 2008)
Well, I’m still digesting my humble pie.
But what an occasion for Murray to finally break through that glass ceiling Federer had over him! For this was probably the most-watched tennis match in history. What’s more, he broke through in straight sets: 6-2, 6-1, 6-4.
Never mind my suspicion that Federer is such a sportsman and a gentleman that he figured, because everybody knows he has Murray’s number, why not let Murray have this one to make all of Great Britain proud. Especially given that losing on this occasion would surely endear him (i.e., Federer) to Britons in perpetuity.
Besides, he could never be any more of a national hero in Switzerland – despite his divided loyalties holding dual Swiss and South African citizenships. But the tell-tale sign for me was that Federer has never looked happier receiving his winner’s trophy at Wimbledon than he looked receiving his loser’s medal at these Olympics.
Mind you, truth be told, my first thought after this match was not – good for Great Britain for winning gold; instead it was – too bad for Murray this was not Wimbledon or one of the other Grand Slams. (He has appeared in a number of Grand Slam finals but has never won.)
This is why I found it more than a little interesting that this proud Scotsman demurred when John McEnroe asked during a post-match interview if he’d rather have a Grand Slam title or this Olympic gold medal. Specifically, after mumbling something about having the gold in hand, he waxed longingly about winning the U.S. Open next month. Well, perhaps one has to be a citizen of a country like mine that remains more subject to than part of Great Britain to appreciate the full meaning and import of Murray’s response….
In any case, at least Serena and Venus Williams gave me something to help wash down that humble pie by defeating Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic in women’s doubles 6-4, 6-4. With this win the sisters became the only two women in Olympic history with four gold medals in Tennis: Venus singles gold in 2000; Serena singles gold in 2012; and together doubles gold in 2000, 2008, and 2012.
Serena also joined an elite group of players – comprised only of Steffi Graf, Andre Agassi, and Rafael Nadal – who have won the “Golden Slam” (namely, the four Grand Slams plus the Olympics).
Track and Field
For much of the women’s marathon the race seemed like running skirmishes between Kenyans and Ethiopians with a few runners from other countries tagging along to make the color commentary more interesting. Then, at around mile 18, it began to unfold as billed – with three Kenyans and three Ethiopians surging ahead to run what became a completely separate race.
Except that it soon became clear that a Russian was stalking them rather than merely tagging along. Indeed, she proceeded to pick them off one by one until only one Kenyan and one Ethiopian remained in her sights. At this point I suspect the race for gold became a matter more of continental than national pride – if not for the two African runners, certainly for every person of African descent watching – me included.
So just imagine my relief when, just as she seemed to be taking aim at these final two, the Russian started sweating more bullets than she had left to shoot. She faded, leaving the Kenyan and Ethiopian alone to make a mad dash for it over the last 500m of this 26.2 mile race.
When it was over, Tiki Gelana of Ethiopia won gold; Priscah Jeptoo of Kenya took silver; Petrova Arkhipova of Russia, bronze.
That said, the feature race of the day, in fact of the entire Games, was the men’s 100m for bragging rights as the world’s fastest man.
The media seemed ambivalent about whether to hype it as a two-nation battle between Jamaicans and Americans or as a two-man one between Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake – both of Jamaica. By contrast, I’m on record declaring it to be the latter, and that Blake would win. Well, I was only half right.
For it was indeed a race between Bolt and Blake. But Bolt won. In fact, he defended his title in Olympian fashion, making it clear that all who doubted him were just suckers who fell for his international game of possum.
At least I was sensible enough to pick Bolt to win their other featured matchup in the 200m. Except that the way my luck is going lately they might just reverse my logic by having Blake win.
That said, even though he did not break his own world record of 9.58, Bolt broke his own Olympic record and clocked the second-fastest time in history at 9.63 for gold; Blake came in at 9.75 for silver; Justin Gatlin of the USA at 9.79 for bronze.
In the only other Track and Field event of note, Sanya Richards-Ross of the USA avenged a stunning loss to Christine Ohuruogu of Great Britain in Beijing by winning the women’s 400m in a time of 49.55. Ohuruogu won silver; Dee Dee Trotter of the USA, bronze. Richards-Ross was considered the prohibitive favorite in Beijing but ended up third.
Anyway, I mention her winning time here only to wonder, as I did in commenting on the results of the women’s 100m yesterday, what it must have taken for Marita Koch of (defunct) East Germany to set the world record of 47.60 in this event way back in 1985. Things that make you go, hmmmm … no?
MEDAL COUNT: China: 61 USA: 60; Great Britain: 37