Saturday, August 16, 2008
My Favorite Olympic Moments: Week 1
Dramatized fluff pieces. Overly-emphasized American athletes. Awesome Visa commercials. Gymnastics drama. Some swimmer named Michael. The Olympics are half over, and I have managed to watch a lot of them. Yes, I've seen enough Syncrho-Diving and Beach Volleyball for a lifetime. These are my favorite moments from the first week in Beijing (in no particular order):
Blake v. Federer This quarterfinal match-up was intriguing because Federer will relinquish his #1 ranking to Rafael Nadal no matter what, but the Swiss man still would have liked to medal. Instead, he lost for the first time ever to the American, in straight sets. The win was huge for Blake, but he couldn't capitalize, losing in the semis to Fernando Gonzalez and then in the Bronze medal match to Novak Djokovic. Nadal will play Gonzalez on Sunday to determine the Gold medal winner.
Michael Phelps' Food Intake Have you heard of him? Apparently he's not a bad swimmer. With 7 finals down and one to go, Phelps is on his way to possibly winning a record 8 Gold medals. The Baltimore bullet (yup, they call him that) has made it interesting in 2 of his swims, while winning the other 5 without much of a problem. Phelps led off the Americans, who won the 4X100 free relay in the last few meters when Jason Lezak stunned the Frenchmen. The 100 meter butterfly came down to a hundredth of a second, which was amazing to watch. Phelps now has the most Golds by an athlete ever. Ever. He also eats up to 12,000 calories a day. Read that again. He swims about 5 miles a day to balance it all out, but, that's a whole lot of calories.
The Parade of Nations Sure it was long. Bob Costas and Matt Lauer weren't the only ones getting loopy while the 205 countries walked into the Bird's Nest (I was too). Either way, it was great to see so many elated people, dressed in their country's finest (some cases more than others). I did love the little Chinese boy with that big Chinese man, Yao Ming. So cute.
Nastia Liukin and Alexander Artemev My two favorite members of the US Gymnastics Teams (thanks to my friend Kathy). Nastia is an immigrant from Russia, who's father is a former Gold medalist. After coming so close so many times, she peaked when it counted, winning the Women's All-Around Gold, beating her teammate and good friend, Shawn Johnson. Sasha, as Artemev is known, was born in Belarus and was an alternate until Morgan Hamm withdrew. He helped his team win the Bronze medal, with a fantastic performance on the Pommel Horse, one of the most dreaded men's events.
Bob Costas and Mary Carillo Bob Costas has always been a favorite of mine, ever since he did the NBA on NBC back in the 90s. I love to see him anchoring the Prime Time coverage of the games. It is also great to watch as he makes fun of himself for being short. Mary hosts the Late-Night show, which I have yet to see, but every night in Prime Time she does some story about Beijing's culture to help us Americans understand.
And here's why China is a little shady:
Their Gymnastics Team Looks 12 The girls are supposed to be at least 16 years old and there have been many reports that the government doctored their passports. Many of the girls look much younger, and a recent competition showed one who was 14. It is probably too late to try and get this fixed. The passports have already been examined by the IOC and the girls won a Gold Medal.
The Opening Ceremony By now you must have heard about the switch the Chinese made by using one girl's voice while putting a different, 'cuter' girl 'singing' center stage. Also, there are reports that a woman fell during a rehearsal for the event and she is facing possible paralysis. China tried to cover this incident up until it was leaked. And it has also been reported that performers were told to wear diapers so they did not have to take bathroom breaks during rehearsals and at the Opening Ceremony. Hmmm...
Well that's it for now! Track and Field, Diving, and the farewells for Baseball and Softball are still to come. Also, Major League Baseball is still going on, and a team called the Mets are in the middle of a win-streak! What are your favorite moments of the week? Do you have any other reasons why China is shady (please limit this to Olympic-related incidents)?