Here are my thoughts on some of the events I was able to see on day 11 of the Olympic Games.
Thanks to the power of DVR, I decided to see what exactly the Equestrial Dressage final was all about. Today’s event was the team finals. To my eyes, the event appeared to be specific horse movements. Not dancing, not tricks, but precise movements. But what do I know, so I looked it up. It is apparently the highest expression of horse training. It is a combination of ballet and gymnastics. After watching a few of the competitors, it seems to me the horse and not the rider who deserves the medal. I am not taking anything away from the rider, but the horse works extremely hard and has to be tired after the six and a half minute routine.
The women’s beam final saw China take home gold and silver thanks to Deng Linlin and Sui Lu respectively. Deng edged out her teammate and favorite Sui 15.600 to 15.500. At first the bronze went to Romanian Catalina Ponor with a score of 15.066. American Ali Raisman was fourth… until Béla Károlyi saved the day. As Raisman and her coach were consoling one another after just missing the medal stand, Károlyi was jumping, yelling, screaming, and doing anything he could to get their attention to file a protest. Károlyi thought the beginning difficulty score was too low. The protest was placed just in time and Károlyi was right. Raisman’s difficulty rose and she ended up tied with Ponor. The tiebreaker and the bronze went to Raisman.
Ali Raisman followed up her bronze performance by winning gold in the women’s floor exercise final. She scored a 15.600. The silver went to Romania’s Catalina Ponor (15.200) and the bronze was won by Russia’s Aliya Mustafina (14.900). American Jordyn Weiber finished seventh. In my opinion, the order of finish was correct. However, I thought Ponor was underscored. She was very good and deserved a 15.400 or 15.500. Still a silver, but she should have had a higher score.
The women’s 200 meter semifinals saw all of the favorites move on to the finals. American Allyson Felix continued to look like the runaway favorite to win gold. I’ll say it again – it will take a heck of a run by Sanya Richard-Ross (USA), Carmelita Jeter (USA), or Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (Jamaica) to upset Felix. Aside from Felix, the only other runner who seems to be at ease at this distance is Fraser-Price. The others are working just hard enough to make me wonder if they can challenge.
The men’s horizontal bar final allowed me to witness the greatest gymnastics feat I have ever seen. Epke Zonderland of the Netherlands did three extremely difficult releases in a row, added another release and then stuck the landing to cap off the routine. He scored a 16.533 and won the Netherlands their first gold medal in men’s gymnastics in Olympic history. Seriously, if you have not seen this routine, check it out. Even if you don’t like gymnastics, check this out because it was amazing.