Thursday, August 2, 2012
Behind The Scoreboard
The XXX Olympiad opened in grand fashion England-style on Friday, July 27. And while it was grand, it definitely did not top the opening in Bejing four years ago. A couple of days later, the complaints started to surface, the more prevalent being the flap with the flame. Fans both domestic and foreign had questions about the “hiding” of the flame from the exterior of the opening venue. The flame could not be seen from the outside. American visitors said they had looked forward to taking candid snapshots of the flaming cauldron.
Medal seekers will be vying for the three ribbons in 26 different sports. We wrote earlier that women’s boxing would be added. You can also make room for doubles tennis. Don’t look for baseball and softball; both have been pulled.
Early in this Olympiad, many were expecting to see Michael Phelps take his first step (or lap) toward becoming the most decorated Olympian in the history of the games. As Bret Harte stated in her hilarious poem (paraphrased a little), “Her Letter,” Phelps was supposedly on track to be “bejeweled” all out of season and reason.
I’ll be the first to admit that I never considered that he would be beaten by Ryan Lochte in the 400 IM on Saturday morning. The shock went fathoms deep when he failed to medal at all! He had barely made the 400 IM in the qualifying round earlier. Phelps’ coach (Bob Bowman) concurred with his student’s assessment of the race in which he finished fourth. I think the word he used was “horrible.” This was the first time that Phelps had failed to medal since he entered the games as a 15-year-old ingénue in Sydney in 2000. Now, the entire swimming world is seeing a glimmer of hope – is the Phelps’ domination of the pools over? Mike still has the chance to be “bejeweled all out of season.” He needs just three medals (any color or metal) to achieve the status of “most decorated.” And he has six events left.
Team USA was second to Team France in the 1x400 meter relay. Ironically, Team USA beat France for the gold in Bejing.
While at poolside, it would be remiss not to mention an early heroine of the water. If you water buffs recall four years ago, Dana Vollmer did a real belly flop and not from a high board. Vollmer, who had shown great promise before the Olympics trials in 2008, crashed and burned during the qualifiers and skipped Bejing. Sunday, she set a new world record in the 100M butterfly. Redemption is pure honey.
Both the men’s and women’s teams won first round games in basketball. The opposition is going to have to be very stiff to deny either of these two the gold. USA men got a “first lady” hug from Michele Obama after their victory over France (98-71).
Speaking of medals, China is leading in the early count with 12, followed by the USA with 11 and Italy with seven. China has thrown down the gauntlet in these games.
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