Sunday, August 17, 2008

Beijing Olympics - Day Ten - Bekele Distance Champ

Winning feeling: Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia celebrates again in an event he has made his own Photo: Reuters

10:00 p.m. - Went out to dinner; watching DVD movie "The Kingdom" now in honor of stepson's birthday. Got to see a little of the individual gymnastics finals--women's vault. Taping the rest. North Korean won their only gold medal despite a bad landing. German Oksana (Soviet expatriate) Chusovitina won silver; China won bronze by a whisker over Alicia Sacramone. Kind of sad given that Alicia landed both vaults cleanly. Chinese girl landed one on her butt. Similar with gold and silver - North Korean had one great vault and landing out-of-bounds. Oksana was clean both times. Judging sometimes hard to understand.

This movie is about a fictional terrorist attack on Americans inside Saudi Arabia. All-star FBI team including Jamie Foxx (Ray), Chris Cooper (Adaptation and Seabiscuit), Jennifer Garner (Juno) and Jason Bateman (Michael Bluth in Arrested Development) has gone into investigate. Nathaniel Fisher from Six Feet Under is an intelligence biggie.

1:45 p.m. - I went to church early and missed all the morning events. Rowing was on when I got back, but I just watched while I ate lunch and cleaned the kitchen. As I remember, China, Denmark, Great Britain and Canada were among the rowing winners, with Canada capturing the coveted Eights gold. China spent a bunch of money developing a rowing program and it paid off with several medals. The US won their only rowing medal in the eights, a bronze.

Now it's women's volleyball, with the US and Poland in a tight match - not sure if we're still in pool play or in elimination. The match is one set all with Poland leading the third set 16-13. Now Poland leads 18-15. This is a pool game. US has already advanced to the medal round. Poland playing for their survival. Now 19-16 Poland. Kill for US. 19-17. Poland kill 20-17. Poland kill from left side. 21-17. US timeout. Set point for Poland, 24-18. First of six possible set points. Logan Tom bunts to keep America alive in set two. 24-19. Long kill by Poland wins second set. 25-19. They lead two sets to one.

Match in exciting third set. US up 12-11 despite starting 0-3. Last two US points on stuff blocks. Tom kills, 13-11. Polish kill. 13-12. Great serve by Poland. Tied at 13. Another block gives US a match point. Tom kills, US wins! 15-13. Second place in their group. Poland is out. US 4-1 in prelim round. Quarterfinal opponent will be Italy.

Men's 10,000-meter run is about halfway finished. It's more or less a replay of the African championship, as most of the top runners are from Kenya, Ethiopia, and Eritrea. There are two Americans in the lead pack and the pace is slow enough to put more runners in contention. There are a couple of runners from Qatar near the front. There are three Kenyans, three Ethiopians and two Eritreans in the top ten along with the two Qatarites (?) Now US runners have fallen into the second group. Only about 7 minutes to go. Bekele of Ethiopia has won this race before. He's in third. Portugese runner just lapped. Ugandan now in lead pack. Second place runner clipped heels of leader. There may be a Jamaican in the lead pack. Colors look right. Runners spread out all over the rack. More runners being lapped. Commercial.

Ethiopia goes 1-2; Kenenisa Bekele wins his second straight gold medal in the event. Kenya finishes third. An Ethiopian won the women's 10,000-meter race too. Sorry for the lack of late race coverage. Phone call from family.

Jim Lampley just conducted a nice interview with LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. They seem confident that the US "Redeem Team" can continue its excellent play and bring home the gold. Lampley asked a great question at the end--can this style of play be brought to the NBA to replace isolation and pick and rolls. They weren't so sure about that.

Women's beach volleyball at night - though probably not live. It's almost 5 a.m. in Beijing. This is Youngs/Branagh vs. Xue/Zhang from China. They're 4-0 against this American team. US hoping that tournament experience will help. Chinese women are in first Olympics. 19-year-old Xue kills. Youngs is the oldest player at 38. Xue is the youngest. Youngs won bronze in Athens. US recovered from 1-3 deficit to lead 12-9, but the Chinese roar back to win the first set 21-17. Several hitting errors hurt the US. Spikes OB or into the net.

May-Trainor and Walsh moved into the semifinals with a win over Brazil. Winner of this match will join them. Two service errors. Score tied at 1. Serve long. 2-1 China. Serve into net. 2-2. Cut shot. China 3-2. Youngs kill. 3-3. Zhang tap 4-3. Fabulous rescue by Zhang. 5-4. Youngs fans. 6-4. Youngs kill. 6-5. Good dig by US, but Zhang kills. 7-5. Youngs spikes long. 8-5, China. China rolling now before their home crowd. Up 13-8. US in big trouble. Zhang kills 14-9. Branagh kill. 14-10. Bunt by Xue. 15-10. Chinese don't look nervous. Ace by Xue. 16-10. Hugs after every point for China. Bunt for Youngs 16-11. Youngs to serve and follow. Zhang into net. 16-12. Kill by Xue 17-12. Time growing short. Block onto US side. 18-12. Three points from Chinese win. Ace for Zhang. 19-12. Right in the middle of the US pair. Zhang serves long. 19-13. Branagh serves into net. 20-13. Seven match points. Youngs bunts long. 21-13. China moves to medal round.

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