Posts Tagged ‘olympics’

Olympics over

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

[Note: if you don’t care about sports, just skip this post]

Another Olympic games over, and, as always, I enjoyed them a lot, even though now I miss a lot having top level sport events all day on TV. But good things always last too little. So, here are the things I’d like to highlight:

  • As always, coverage on the public TV was a not as good as I expected, since they just follow competitions where there are Spaniards (fortunately with some exceptions, like the athletics and gymnastics). While this is good for some sports (ie, live coverage of all Spain’s basketball games), it sucks for others. Luckily, I got Eurosport, which had a better coverage of some sports, like swimming, gymnastics and volleyball.
  • While there are lots of bad things around professional sports (dopping, corruption, etc), there are many more good things about it, like the case of Aelemayehu Bezabeh, a guy from Africa (sorry, can’t remember the country) who came to Spain, like thousands of other poor and desperate people, in a little boat, risking his life, and ended up in an inmigrants’ detention center where someone from the Spanish Athletics Federation saw him running and got him to get into the Spanish Athletics team (after being naturalised) and to an 11th place in the 5000 meters final of the Olympic Games. Sport helps a lot in integrating cultures, and this is a very good example.
  • Depending on how you look at the medal table, China has won the Olympic Games, with an insulting superiority in some sports, like Gymnastics (9 golds out of 14 events), table tennis (100%), weighlifting and diving (7 golds in 8 events). They have indeed prepared very well the games, even though they did win very few medals in the most important sports, like athletics and swimming.
  • Spain’s performance (18 medals, 5 golds, 9 silvers and 3 bronzes) was good IMO, even though the big media here are talking about total failures in some sports (0 medals in athletics and swimming). But, let’s be serious, in Spain 90% of the money and media attention goes to football, so it’s quite funny to see people, who don’t care about other sports the rest of the year, demand medals on those sports, and talk about total failure when there are no medals. It’s true though that the performance in athletics and swimming has been quite inferior to what was expected, but at the end, except for a few surprise medals, medals were won in the sports that get some attention here, like cycling (4 medals), team sports (3 medals) and tennis (2 medals, with the gold for Rafael Nadal). Of course, we would all have liked to have a performance like countries similar to us (economically), like Italy, France and Great Britain (great improvement by the Britains, btw), but in those countries, it seems to me, much more money is spent in sports, and thus the different results, I think.
  • I’ve read lots of comments and articles about some Chinese gymnasts having fake passports for being able to participate in the games. While I’m not an expert and can’t really comment on whether having a child (or teenager) prepare for top level competitions is good or not, I really think the Olympic games should have the best in each sport, and if some child is the best, why can’t he/she participate? Also, it’s funny to see all the attention to this case because it was a Chinese athlete, but I saw nobody complain about the youngest athlete in these games, Thomas Daley, an English diver (very good by the way, a pleasure to watch him) who is 14 years old, and who became European champion a few months ago, when he was 13. If the English can have 14 years old athletes, I guess the Chinese should be able to also :-)
  • Even though basketball is clearly my favorite sport, I never have really enjoyed women’s basketball, mainly because even though women are usually smaller than men, they play with the same baskets (3.05 meters height), which make them play totally different when playing inside the paint than what I’m used to. Why the hell don’t they use a smaller height for the baskets? There are a few women that can slam dunk, but just a few, so the women’s games lose that part of the game, which is, IMO, a very needed thing for this sport. When shooting from outside, I see no differences, the women score as good as men, but the inside the paint playing makes it look a bit more boring.

And now for some stars of these games:

  • The Spanish basketball team have done, once again, a perfect performance, even putting the USA team under some problems during the final (118-107). As the Eurosport commentators said, we changed from being happy about the silver medal before the game to feel sad for having lost the gold medal. And this was because Spain played at the same level, face-to-face, against one of the best basketball teams in history (still eons behind of the 1992 USA dream team, of course), demonstrating, once again, the good health of Spanish basketball (with followers like myself, how can it not be healthy :-) ). European media even said this Spanish team was the best European team in history. But anyway, I’m a bit happy about the USA team winning the gold medal, because Kobe Bryant said he would not come back to the US if they didn’t win the gold medal, which would have been a very bad thing, provided we want him back at Los Angeles Lakers, with Pau Gasol.
  • Nastia Lukin is one of the stars, IMO, of these games. She’s one of the best gymnastics I’ve ever seen (along my favorite Svetlana Boginskaia), and it was a real pleasure to watch her performing awesome things. The same for some of the Chinese gymnasts, although, I think, in some cases, they got higher points than what they deserved. In most cases they didn’t need any help from the judges, they were simply the best, but there were a couple of gold medals that, I think, were not deserved by the Chinese. But this always happens in gymnastics, even after having found a quite good scoring system, there are always this kind of things for helping the local athletes.
  • What to say about Michael Phelps that hasn’t been said? I’ll just mention how he does the turns. He was, in some races, a few meters behind the leader, and after the turn, he was the leader, with a few meters distance between him and the 2nd one, just amazing! I’ll also mention the 4×100 freestyle relays, one of the best (if not the best) swimming races I’ve seen in my life, with 5 teams swimming under the previous world record. It’s been amazing to see so many world records (26!) in the swimming competitions.
  • Britta Steffen was another amazing performer, she won 2 gold medals (50 and 100 m freestyle) at the very last millisecond, in one of them she didn’t even know she had won, since she was behind the leaders by a few meters.
  • Kenenisa Bekele and the Ethiopians and Kenyans in athletics are just amazing also. And made me think about a good way of convincing racist people about the white people not being superior. On the contrary, the black people are the ones that are superior, at least in sports (and music, I might add :-) ), and specially in Athletics. It’s quite unusual to see some white athlete in the first places in some events, and the medals won by European countries in those events are from naturalised Africans.
  • The Jamaicans did a great performance in the speed races (100, 200 and 4×100 relays), both men and women, and specially worth mentioning is Usain Bolt, who won 3 gold medals with 3 world records. Worth mentioning also is the case of the 4×100 relays USA team, who, year after year, even though they have some of the best athletes, they end up dropping the relay and losing all chances to win a medal. After watching the replays and hearing the commentators, it was clear that they don’t train passing the relay, which is a very basic and needed thing if you want to do something in this event :-)

Now, just looking back to London 2012, which, I hope, I might be able to feel live, since my sister lives in the UK, so a visit to her during the Olympics is a must.