Monday, August 18, 2008

Beijing Olympics - Day Eleven (And Tape from Day Ten)

Shelly-Ann Fraser of Jamaica won the women's 100-meter sprint, giving Jamaica a sweep of the men's and women's 100-meter races. Picture: Phil Hillyard

7:30 p.m. - Usain Bolt is back in a men's 200-meter quarterfinal. This was Michael Johnson's event--the runner that Bolt most reminds me of. Bolt cruises to 20.29 victory. World record is 19.32 by Johnson. Literally no sweat. USA's Shawn Crawford finished second and qualified for semifinals.

Thanks, readers! If you Google "phelps best olympic performance award", my post on the "Michael Phelps Award For Best Performance By An Athlete Not Named Michael Phelps" appears third on the front page out of 88,800 hits. Not surprisingly, the rest of the page is occupied by information about awards won by Phelps--most notably an ESPY for Best Olympic Performance (perhaps a nomination, this show was on TV shortly before the Olympics, or perhaps a special award that assumes that no one will win more than eight gold medals in Beijing.)

Walter Dix now in 200-meter quarterfinal. His sixth race (four 100-meters and second in 200-meters). Dix started strong. Finishes second. Winning time for Zimbabwean was 20.23.

Third US runner in next quarterfinal, Wallace Spearmon. Irishman wins. Spearman closes fast to finish second. Holds chain in his mouth for the entire trip.

Dadlak News Item - Anheuser-Busch is apparently working on having "This Is Budweiser" designated as the National Beer Anthem. Chevrolet failed in similar attempt to have John Mellencamp "This Is Our Country" designated as the National Car Anthem.

Women's pole vault is next. We're watching a feature about Russian superstar Elena Isinbaeva. She's taking a nap now while they move the bar up to a height that challenges her.

Stephanie Brown-Trafton of the US wins gold in the women's discus. Uncorked a big throw on her first try. 212' 5". No one could do better. First American winner of the event since 1932.

Can it be? More women's beach volleyball. Women's heroes Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh are featured in a semifinal match. Opponents are from Talita and Renata from Brazil. Winner advances to gold medal match. One-year anniversary of May/Walsh's last loss. "Phelpsian" Score is 1-1. Hot start for US 4-1. Great rescue by May. US leads 12-6. Great hustle by May and great teamwork. Stuff block by Walsh. 14-6. Total domination so far. 15-6 at time out. Now 18-9. Now 18-10. Block by Brazil. Brazil in net. 19-10. Good cut by Talita. 19-11. Walsh kills. 20-11. Many set points. Serve short by Walsh. 20-12. May kills. US wins game. Second set almost the same. US in finals.

Women's trampoline next. China's He Wenna does fabulous performance to take gold. Textbook work. High, straight, spins and twists. Canada second.

Men's still rings. Bulgarian Jordan Joechtel has two problems. Won't medal. Ukrainian Vorobiov does very fine routine. Gets 16.325. Lots of power behind him. Yang Wei next. Gets 16.425 despite looking a little shakier than Vorobiov. Rodrigues from France. Excellent work until dismount. Does back layout. 16.225. Third place. Danger spot with top Chinese gymnast still to come.

Women's uneven bars - Liukin is only US qualifier. Ms. Liukin is in the stands. He Kexin of China gets 16.725. Took step on landing. One other weak point per Daggett. Liukin next. Great landing. Small errors per Daggett. 16.725. Tiebreaker working on the problem. He placed first. Ukraine drops off top bar. 14.875. Nistor of Romania next. Good exercise. Bronze at best. 15.575. Koval from Ukraine. 16.375. Possible bronze medal. Yang Yilin. Fabulous exercise. Close to gold. We'll see. 16.65. Bronze medal. Two left, but unlikely to challenge. Tweddle from Great Britain. 16.625. Outside of medal. Semenova 16.325.

7:40 a.m. - Sanya Richards is lone US qualifier in women's 400-meter final race. Both US and Jamaica have three women in 100-meter final. Now back to men's gymnastics. Yang Wei gets 15.45 on pommel horse. Sasha Artemev is best US hope in this event. Xiao Qin gets 15.875. Now Artemev. Was going great. Then fell off. Back on the horse. Finishes beautifully, but no medal for Artemev. Gets 14.975. British gymnast Louis Simth goes last. Two leg deductions. Very hard dismount. 15.725 - silver medal likely. Ude from Croatia. Great routine. 15.725. Ties for silver. No medal for Yang Wei. Gold medal for Xiao Qin.

My family explained the Chevy crossover commercial to me. It features a guy with no shirt ironing clothes and scrubbing a toilet, with a cutaway to Chevy's new crossover in the middle. The ad is aimed at women, telling them that Chevy's vehicle is as great as having a hunky guy who likes to do housework.

Women's floor exercise next. Liukin and Johnson competing for US. Johnson starts. Great routine. No one lands like her. One extra step on a one landing. 15.50. Very close to her all-around score. Kramarenko from Russia - 15.025. Jiang Yuyuan of China next. Very strong - five tumbling runs. Chinese fans love her. 15.35. Good for second. Dos Santos from Brazil. Bounced out of bounds. Again. Too many trips OB to medal. 14.975. Now Pavlova from Russia. She got a "zero" in vault. Left too soon. Stumbled on one landing. A little short. Lands another on her knees. No medal for Pavlova. Cheng Fei next. Biggest threat left for gold. Stumbled out of pirouette. Bad fall on tumbling run. No gold it would appear. Chung Fei very upset. 14.55. No medal at all. Lowest score yet. Liukin next. Great routine. 15.425. Silver medal performance perhaps. But still one left. Izbasa from Romania. Got 15.55 in team competition. Fabulous exercise. No missteps. 15.65. Gold medalist. Johnson and Liukin take silver and bronze. No medal for China. No apologies by Izbasa. She was the best in this event and as Bela Karoyli said, the top three will be on the podium.

Jamaica vs. US in women's 100-meter dash. Kerron Stewart of Jamaica is the race favorite. No Jamaican woman has won a gold medal. Muna Lee of US is very thin. Sherone Simpson of Jamaica is more muscualr. Ferguson-McKenzie from Bahamas. Shelly-Ann Fraser of Jamaica, just 21-years-old. Torrie Edwards of US. Veteran of US team. Lauren Williams of US--great in big meets. Jeanette Kwayke of Great Britain in Lane 9. Fraser runs away with it. 10.78. Jamaica both second and third. Actually tied for second. 0.2 second margin of victory. First ever sweep in women's 100-meter by any country. Ms. Fraser is one happy woman. Can hardly talk through her smile.

Lopez Lomong competing in men's 1,500-meter run semifinal. Not a sure thing to make the final. In fact, he finishes 12th behind leggy winner Kiprop of Kenya and many others. Bernard Lagat of US (formerly of Kenya) runs in second semi. International field in this one. Seems like all continents are represented except South America and Australia. Lagat dropping back, but in better position on the track. Lagat making his move. Has to get to top four. Now in fifth. Lagat struggles in. Only 6th or 7th. Bahrain wins. Lagat thinks he will get in on time. Was not good enough. Misses by 0.02. No Americans in final.

Men's 110-meter hurdles next. Liu Xiang of China is favorite. Defending gold medalist - first ever track gold for China. Struggling with sore Achilles tendon. Withdraws after a false start. Now sitting with ice on Achilles.

Must be watching women's triathlon on USA. Didn't realize this was an Olympic sport. It looks like women's marathon, but I knew they already ran that race. 10-km run going on now. Bike already happened. Not sure about swimming. Kallie would really have a problem with this event - long swims and long runs. It appears that running is the last leg. Australian Emma Snowsill is leading by 15 seconds, but only one lap completed out of four.

11:50 a.m. Finally table tennis on MSNBC. Austria vs. South Korea in the men's team competition. Chen for Austria; Ryu for Korea. Ryu leads 9-8. Ryu gets bronze medal for South Korea if he wins. South Korea already up 2-1 in this team match. 10-9 for Ryu. 11-9, Game One for Ryu. Looks like best 3-of-5 to 11. I reached my athletic peak in this sport in college when I could compete with players who were much superior athletes to me otherwise. We used to play tennis sets - to six games at 21 points per game. Chen born in China. Austrian citizen since 2000. Chen up 3-2 in Game Two. Ryu won individual gold in Athens. Now 4-4. Ryu is offensive player with killer forehand. Chen playing defense. Hoping that Ryu will make errors. Now 5-5. Ryu just missed. Now 6-5 for Ryu. 7-5. They take a short break. Chen goes for a return and misses 8-5. 9-5 on big slam. 10-5. Game Ryu. 11-5. Leads two games to none. Outcome looks pretty inevitable.

Hope they show some of single's competition--expected to be among biggest draws on Chinese TV, along with women's volleyball and men's 110-meter hurdles. Audience for that one shrank when Chinese hero Liu Xiang dropped out.

Capitol One has one of the funniest commercials where superhero the Armadillo designs his new credit card. His wife surprises him and he rolls up into a ball, just like the real thing. His manservant delivers the surprising punchline, "Ooh, guacamole!" and digs into the snack that Armadillo's wife just brought.

Chen wins a long rally. Then Ryu whiffs. 2-2. Chen misses into net twice. 4-2 Ryu. Slam by Ryu. Return long, 5-2. Timeout by Austria. China and Germany will compete for team gold. Now 6-2. Forehand return long. Too much spin by Chen. Ryu hits long. Another winner. 7-3. Ryu plays many from side of the table. 8-4, Ryu. Chen gets a slam. 8-5. Chen misses long. 9-5. Rally scoring. Winner of point gets to serve. Ryu misses 9-6. Ryu misses serve. 9-7. Korean timeout. Big drive by Ryu, 10-7. Medal point for Korea. Chen whiffs. Ryu wins, 11-7. South Korea wins bronze in men's team table tennis.

Gold medal men's table tennis doubles between China and Germany. Best of five games. China leads 2-1. They already won two singles matches. One more game for China and they win gold. Wang/Wang for China. Boll/Suss for Germany. 2-1 for China. 3-2 China. Germany hits long 4-2. Long again. 5-2. Germany down two matches and two games. At the edge of the cliff. 6-2. China long 6-3. China slam. 7-3. China backhand winner 8-3. Germany gets one back. 8-4. Towel off. China long. Good hit by Suss. 8-5. Big forehand by China. 9-5. Two points. China long 9-6. Germany long. 10-6. Many gold medal points. China long. 10-7. China wins next point and gold medal.

More men's beach volleyball. Rosenthal and Gibb vs. Brazilian team of Emanuel and Ricardo--reigning gold medalists. Brazil leads 17-15. Ricardo is quite a physical speciment. 6'7" and 240 lb. Built like a tight end. Strongest offensive and defensive player for Brazil. Heard some chanting. Knew there had to be Brazilians in the crowd. Gibb blocks 17-16. Kill by Emanuel. 18-16. Brazilians have achieved one name status. Rosenthal off Ricardo block. 18-17. Easy kill by Ricardo. 19-17. Ricardo stuff block of Rosenthal. 20-17 Brazil. Serve out. 20-18. Ricardo pushes it over. 21-18. Brazil wins first game.

3-all in second game. Not sure the stakes in this match. Maybe a semifinal. Seems like they've been playing forever. But could be quarterfinal. Definitely not a medal game. Brazil prevails, 21-16. They advance to semis to play their countrymen, who also have just one name each.

Sorry for rolling through men's water polo between Australia and Montenegro without comment. Not sure who won. Do know that Montenegro has only been an independent nation for about two years (used to be part of Serbia; part of Yugoslavia before that).

Back to baseball. US vs. China. US winning. The mysterious John Gall flies to left to end an inning.

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