Olympics Day 3
In what was probably the most-watched basketball game in the history of the sport, Yao-Ming began the game with a three-pointer and the Chinese played frantically to keep up with the USA’s “Redeem Team” for about a quarter and a half until the U.S. players began to pull away in classic steal the ball, alley-oop it, steal the ball, alley-oop it fashion. The end score isn’t important, let’s just say that it appears that the American men are back at the forefront of international basketball.
The U.S. women lost team member Samantha Peszek just before preliminary qualification started today, making every routine count in three of five events during said preliminaries due the the U.S. team’s lack of additional depth. Not to say that the U.S. women’s gymnastics team isn’t deep, with world champions Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson, Alicia Sacramone and Chellsie Memmel making up the team, in addition to the injured Peszek. After a series of step-outs in the floor excercise, a fall off the uneven bars, a botched landing on the same bars, and a few large steps on the vault, I expected a similarly nervous and preoccupied performance on the beam. I was greatly relieved to see Nastia’s performance, which was as crisp, clean and aesthetically pleasing as I could remember, but then Shawn came up. Her routine was utterly stunning. The beam was the floor, she might as well have been walking. Let me say that the score they gave her, a 9.0ish, was nowhere close to correct. Not a gymnastics judge, I could see that there was absolutely nothing at all wrong with that routine. Not that it particularly mattered, of course, as the U.S. team easily qualified for the team finals, second only to China, and Shawn and Nastia will get another chance to wow everyone on the beam. I just hope they get scored fairly.
Oh. My. God. Seriously, the finals of the men’s 4×100 relay was the most exciting race I’ve ever seen, and not just because I uncharacteristically bet $1 and gave 50 to 1 odds that the American team would win after France decided to talk some shit. I’ve never seen talking shit at the olympics turn out well, and I’ve seen a lot of Disney movies.
For those of you who don’t already know, some dude on the French relay team talked some shit about how they were only really here to beat the Americans in the 4×100 relay race. During the race, the American 4×100 relay team was behind at the 350m mark by probably 3/4 of a body length, and by the 375 mark by 1/2. The american anchor (the last swimmer), Jason Lezak, closed that last half body in the last 25 meters to outtouch France by a few hundredths of a second, not to mention swimming the fastest anchor position in the relay’s entire history. That would, of course, be more amazing and noteworthy if five (five!) of the teams hadn’t broken the world record for the entire race during the final. How would that feel? “Yeah, mom, we broke the world record! No, we didn’t get a medal.” I was almost as excited as the athletes after the race, partly due to patriotism, partly due to seeing that french dude eat his words, and partly due to a $51 swing that netted me a cool buck. Michael Phelps is still up for his 8 golds, and I got to watch a world record in swimming get beaten by almost 5 seconds. Utterly amazing.