Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Olympics Storylines

With the Game's Opening Ceremonies just over a day away, here are some of the best storylines heading into the Olympics:

100m Showdown: Who will be the world’s fastest man in the showcase event in track and field? Jamaican Usain Bolt is the world record holder and most experts believe that the 200m is his best event. American Tyson Gay has run the fastest 100 ever (the time was not a record because of the wind), but is he recovered from the hamstring injury he suffered in the US Trials? Asafa Powell, also of Jamaica, is a former world record holder and not even considered a favorite. The finals, if they all make it through preliminary qualifying, could be one of the best ever.

Fun in the Pool:

Michael Phelp’s quest for 8 medals, 41 year old Dana Torres making a quest for history and bonafide stars Katie Hoff and Natalie Coughlin give the United States one of the best swimming squads ever. Combine that with the new, ultrafast (and ultra-controversial) suits and a hyper cool and crazy fast facility called the Water Cube, this could be a very record setting Olympics in the swims.

What will blow up in China’s face: Whether it is Tibet, individual freedoms, the air in Beijing, political boycotts, energy issues, environmental problems or the threats of terrorist acts, China has a lot going against it. The People’s Republic’s ability to match the hospitality of Australia or the tradition of Athens faces many obstacles that previous hosts have not encountered. Athletic achievements will not be an issue, because some of the best ever are going to show. It is planning, organizing and hosting that will truly test China. Already, China has made some things off limits to foreign media. The International Olympic Committee has a lot riding on the Beijing Games; it could be another Sydney or be viewed as a modern Berlin.

Others to consider:

USA Basketball: Can we improve on bronze in Athens?
Last Olympics for Baseball: Will it be popular enough to get it reinstated?
Ping Pong: Will people outside of China care about its national obsession?
Doping: How clean are the Games this year? Every winner will have questions hanging over them regarding doping.

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