Thursday, August 14, 2008

Beijing Olympics - Day Seven - Liukin Dazzles in All-Around Gymnastics

8:15 a.m. - Central vs. Eastern cost me the first half of the USA - Greece basketball game. That and having so many networks covering the Olympics. I watched some wrestling on MSNBC when I should have been watching basketball on USA. The US leads Greece 74-54 at the end of three quarters. Greece is scrappy but outmanned. James and Wade continue to lead the US effort, along with improved play from Kobe Bryant. Chris Bosh had a big game with 18 points. Wade misses two free throws. US leads 80-57. 24 turnovers by Greece. Final score, USA 92 Greece 69 - turnaround of Greece's win over US in World Championships.

Racket sports are next. USA has Federer and James Blake in tennis. MSNBC had badminton - mixed doubles. A Korean pair beat the defending silver medalists from Great Britain. In men's tennis, neither Federer nor Blake are playing particularly well. First set is tied 4-4. Interesting coverage - commentators aren't in Beijing. They are watching the match from a studio in New York.

Blake holds serve to lead 5-4. A lot of unforced errors from Federer. Blake breaks Federer's serve to win the first set. Lots of good groundstrokes. First Olympic experience for Blake - he was sick in 2004. Blake wins first two points on Federer's serve. Volley just long. Very good play now. Two break points for Blake. He already leads 1-0 in second set. Federer recovers to deuce. Back to deuce. Break point for Blake. Another good shot--made Roger think he was going the other way. Federer hits long. 2-0 Blake in second set--already won first set. Blake up 30-15 in third game. Announcers speculating how Federer will take losing, if that happens. 40-15--Federer gave up on the Blake's forehand. Blake holds to go up 3-0. Hasn't ever beaten Federer. Federer breaks back, now 3-2.

Happy and sad. Sad because I lost all my play-by-play commentary about the end of this match. Happy because Blake won. 6-4, 7-6 (7-2). Federer had beaten Blake eight straight times. Blake advances to the semifinals.

A few errands around town and now more tennis. Serena Williams is beating Elena Dementieva of Russia in a women's tennis quarterfinal match. The action is in the first set, but Serena seems well in control.

Well, not exactly. Serena won the first set, 6-3; then lost the second 6-4 after leading 4-2. She also lost the first five games of the third set before rallying slightly to lose 6-3. Dementieva got a little nervous in the last set (she has a history of blowing big leads) but she held on. Serena was too tired to make it all the way back. Venus also lost to a Russian.

9:50 p.m. Back from Scrabble club in time for women's all-around gymnastics. Scored 548 in the last game. Wish I had a picture. After two rotations, Liukin is 2nd and Johnson is 5th. Announcers are put out about low mark given to Liukin on vault and uneven bars. Yang Yilin of China is first. Her Chinese teammate Jiang landed seat down on the vault. Lukin and Johnson on balance beam next. Johnson goes first. Wobbly landing on one move. Short step on landing. Great work, but not fantastic. She gets 16.05. Jiang is next. Several balance checks. She was in 6th place going in. Should lose ground to Johnson. 15.425. Announcers think it was too high. Had more balance checks than Johnson's routine.

Semenova of Russia had great uneven bars routine. She's in fourth. On balance beam now. Very nice routine 15.925. Yang Lilin next on beam. She gets 15.75. Liukin next. Daggett upset with every set of marks. Chinese too high. US too low. Here's Liukin. Great exercise. Perfect landing. She gets 16.025. Liukin leads by .150. Yang second. Johnson 3rd 0.6 back.

Leaders on floor exercise. Jiang is first. Missed one easy turn. 14.775. She won't medal. Pavlova of Russia next. Very elegant. Dramatic Russian music. 15.05. She came in 7th. Won't get to a medal. Semenova next. 0.05 behind Johnson. Yang Yilin next. Semenova got 14.775. Yang Yilin stays in the running. Fine performance. Guarantees a medal. Yang gets 15.0.

Liukin needs 14.85 to take lead. Clean routine. Should take her into first. 15.525. Gold medal performance. Johnson closes. Great routine. Added a tumbling run. Clean exercise. We'll see if she did enough to get silver. Gold out of reach. Needed 16.125 for gold. Nastia gets gold. Her dad won Olympic gold in 1988 for Soviet Union. Johnson gets silver by 0.075.

No comments: