Saturday, August 23, 2008

Olympics Updates

With the closing ceremonies tomorrow, here is the review of my Olympics Previews on athletes I was watching and storylines to follow:

Athletes to watch:

Allyson Felix - Did not look like the Allyson Felix that won the last two world championships, but still finished with a silver in the 200m to a very fast Veronica Campbell-Brown of Jamaica. Was still able to get gold as a member of the 4x400m relay team, running a fantastic leg (48.7 split!).

Taylor Phinney - I read that a writer called the "next Lance" a huge disappointment for not medaling. I think the kid, who took up competitive cycling just over a year ago, did great. One round from placing for an 18 year old kid. Great learning experience for Phinney, who might be the future of US Cycling.

Jake Deitcher - One match away from wrestling for bronze, he was a highlight of an otherwise dismal performance by the Americans in wrestling (amplified by NBC's lack of coverage). This guy is for real, I foresee a lot of wrestlers bumping weight classes next year to get away from the University of Minnesota's super freshman.

Ben Askren - He promised gold and failed to deliver. Miserably failed. He's going to be fine down the road and has a lot to learn but has a good future ahead of him.

Liu Xiang - Pulled up lame with achilles injury even before he left the blocks. As much hype was surroundng him, he was a huge disappointment. One has to wonder if the pressure of carrying China's track expectations on his shoulders finally got to him.



100m Showdown:
What showdown? Bolt set the world record while cruising the last 20 meters. He was so dominating. There was only a race for second. Ditto the 200m.

Fun in the Pool:
Phelps was amazing. The rest of the the American swim team, hyped to be so great, performed admirably, but not to the hype that preceded them into the Watercube. Natalie Coughlin had a very good Olympics, Katie Hoff underperformed, Dana Torres was impressive. Outside of Phelps, the men were only above average. Hero of swimming: Jason Lezak, who swam from behind to edge France in the 4x100 freestyle for the gold and perserve Phelps' quest for eight.

What will blow up in China's face:
Well organized and a grande opening ceremonies, but they could not escape controversy. The pollution was obviously there, though there were some good days. China at the last minute revoked many visas of lots of tourists, denying them entry. They did set up protest zones, but they were far from venues and the largest might hold 200 protesters. You had to apply for a permit to protest; no one who applied was granted a permit, some were arrest (for applying). There was the unfortunate murder of Todd Bachman, that in fairness to China, was out of their control. But they could control their image and lying about sold out venues, a lip synced opening ceremonies and questions about the age of their gymnasts haunted the image of the Chinese regime.

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