Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Of course, the deep issues associated with race in America don't vanish with Obama's nomination, but at least we've taken the all important step of at least giving a minority a chance at the highest position of power in our land. Finally, I feel that the all important line in our constitution, that all men are created equal, has a chance to be credible. It is a great moment in American history. I am hoping for an even greater moment in American history in November, when we elect a person of color for President for the very first time.
The second week of the Olympics wasn’t nearly as exciting as the first. I attribute that mainly to the timing of the events I was most interested in. The events ran throughout the day and most of the track and field events took place in the afternoon. Thanks to the wonder of our digital recording device, we could arrive home from work and watch the events of the day at will.
So here are my top moments of the second week.
I was totally impressed that both the men and women’s volleyball team made the final. This hasn’t happened in a long time and it was pretty great that both teams were playing
My only comment about the “new” game at this point is that I really, really, really don’t like speed scoring and the players miss their serve way too often. OK, ‘nuff said.
-I was totally thrilled that women’s steeplechase winner broke the 9 minute mark for the first time in history. What a thrill to watch people set new records!
-I loved the woman from
-The women’s 100 meter race being dominated by, who else, the Jamaicans! Guess it’s time for another nation to dominate the sprints.
-I don’t really need to say more about Usain Bolt. It’s all been said. One does wonder however why ALL sprinters, regardless of nationality, are so cocky. Guess it just runs in the genes.
-The 4x400 meter relays: The women were amazing! That come from behind final leg was super exciting! The men lived up to the hype and looked great. Jeremy Wariner looked stronger in the relay than he had in the individual race. I'm glad he got his gold in the relay.
-The Russian female pole vaulter who broke the world record! She is a character.
-The Belgian woman beating the Croatian in high jump. That was utterly fantastic as the Croatian woman was practically viewed as positively unbeatable. Women’s high jump in
-The Cuban's 110 meter hurdle win. He looked perfect.
BIG TIME DISAPPOINTMENTS:
-The 4x100 meter relays. Could NOT believe that both teams could NOT figure out how to get to the finals. UGH.
-In the end, I was pretty disappointed that I didn’t see any of the beach volleyball, especially with both US teams taking gold. I saw a brief interview with one of the men and he seemed like a great guy. Congrats. Sorry I missed it.
So to conclude, I’ll share my own Olympic medal moment. Oddly enough, the word for hurdle and the word for ass are the same words in Swedish! The context and sentence structure with which they are used determine which word is appropriate. So, after the hurdle disasters, I wanted to ask a couple of my male colleagues, “Did you see the women’s hurdles final?” and inevitably asked, “Did you watch the women’s asses yesterday?” We had a good laugh and in the end, the young men had to admit that the answer was yes to both questions!
See you in
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Now, Swedes don't love, love, love the summer Olympics. They adore the winter games but the summer games are rather ho hum. It's not hard to figure out why. They don't do well in the summer games. Through the years they've had their share of decent swimmers and a few track and field stars along with an outstanding table tennis player thrown in for good measure. They do well in team sports like soccer and team handball and this year one of their wrestlers made a very bad name for himself and Sweden by misbehaving in a sour grapes sort of way during the medal ceremony. I don't care how mad you are or how unjustly you feel you were treated, you don't get on the medal stand only to receive the medal and then throw it on the ground and storm away. Sad. The other comment that has killed me as regards the Swedish perspective is what the Swedish swimmer said about Michael Phelps. He said that he hoped he DIDN'T win all 8 races as it would be "boring" if no one challenged. BOO, BOO, BOO. This guy finished last in his race and clearly, he doesn't understand that making history is NOT BORING. But enough about the Swedes. How about that Michael Phelps?!
So, while all of my American friends have been talking about staying up too late during the Olympics, I've been getting up too early. I have loved waking early, making coffee and getting set on the couch with my fancy digital recording device and just whipping through the coverage. It has been thrilling start to every day with Olympic action and I can't believe one week is over. I am a true fan and have been seen jumping up and down and screaming in my living room, even if I am alone. We are having some work done on the outside of our apartment right now and the scaffolding allows the guys to look into our dining and living room windows. I'm sure on more than one early morning throughout this past week, the thought, "crazy American" has run through their brain. WHO CARES? I am so happy to have grown up in an athletic environment, to have enjoyed the thrill of competing, to understand in a small way what it means to work hard at something and then have it pay off. So here is a sampling of my favorite Breakfast in Beijing moments.
1. The men's 4x100 meter freestyle relay. Heart-stopping awesomeness. This one had me screaming and yelling and jumping around like a fool. Phelps' destiny seemed to be unfolding in a magical way when Lezak pulled in and touched the wall, just barely before anyone else. Watching this race was a full-blown cardio work-out and I was winded when it was all over!
2. The Gold-Silver finish of our female gymnasts in the all-around. I loved watching these girls perform well in clutch situations. And I hope that Shawn Johnson gets as much acclaim as Nastia Liukin because the silver medal is not so very far below the gold. Sometimes America is far too obsessed with the number 1. Celebrate them both. They were both incredible and on any other given day, Johnson would emerge as the golden girl.
3. The spills of the men's all around final in gymnastics were chilling. Watching the Japanese man fall off the rings, then the debacle on the parallel bars was just breathtaking. Makes you realize how dangerous some of this stuff is. The High Bar is my favorite...around and around and around they go...then they fly into the air, do some amazing twisting somersault thing and hold on for the ride of their lives.
4. The British swimmer out touching Katie Hoff to win gold in the 400 meter freestyle. Now, it's not that I'm anti-American and I felt for Hoff, but when an unlikely character, like a British swimmer, wins a gold medal you have to feel good about the effort. Well done Rebecca Adlington.
5. Phelps' 100 meter fly. This was the event that I (and everyone else) felt that he was most vulnerable in. He cranked it out in a split second reach and what a thrill it was to see that. At that point he had 7 and his ultimate destiny remained in a team event.
6. The men's 100 meter final. I was definitely disappointed for Tyson Gay. How awful to miss the final in the race you've worked so hard for. But holy cow that Jamaican is fast! He had an amazing time while strolling to the finish. Very cool.
7. OK, here's a weird one. I love watching the female weightlifters! I am amazed at what they can do and I love watching the pure strength and determination of these compact women.
8. So, appropriately, my 8th point regarding Breakfast at Beijing is the men's 4x100 medley relay. About an hour ago, I watched the US medley relay team make history. The race was more exciting than I had thought it would be. You gotta love Jason Lezak making it all happen again with his anchor leg in the freestyle and generally speaking, you just had to love watching this historic moment unfold. I was teary. I was on my feet. I was cheering like a mad woman. I mean, c'mon. The last time anything like this happened in the pool, I was 11 years old!
So I am very content with the first week of competition. For those of you who know me well, strangely missing from my list is anything related to volleyball. I have watched some indoor coverage and will be interested in the final rounds. I still love to watch this level of play, but to be truthful, the game has changed so much since I was serious about it that I don't even fully understand the new rules. I'm mixed on speed scoring but I also know it's all the rage now. The libero is a new position since I played and I don't fully understand the rules surrounding its role. And sadly, here in the far north, beach volleyball isn't being shown much. I keep hearing about it from all of you living across the pond, so I'm hoping that at some point we'll get to see a bit. It's a bit surprising because believe it or not, Swedes love beach volleyball. Granted, their beach courts are mostly indoors or in Spain, but it has developed quite a following in recent years. Let's hope the week ahead gets us to the sand a bit more.
Breakfast in Beijing has been a most delightful way to start each day. Almost as good as that first cup of coffee, certainly as addicting.
Check back again for my latest update on the 2008 Olympic Games!