Here are my thoughts on some of the events I was able to see on day 8 of the Olympic Games.
After defeating Nigeria by 83, the U.S. men’s Olympic basketball team was riding a high. They broke a number of records and appeared ready to put their stamp on this competition. Not so fast. Lithuania, as they seem to always do, gave team USA fits. Lithuania kept the game close and had an 84-82 lead with 5:51 to go. Team USA finally woke up and went on a 15-4 run and won the game 99-94. If they had lost, the USA would only have themselves to blame. This Lithuanian team was not one of its stronger teams of years past. Team USA relied too much on the three point shot and no one seemed to be able to hit it consistently. While they all were falling against Nigeria, team USA was 10-33 from downtown. Yes, Lithuania did close out on the shooters unlike Nigeria, but the USA should have stopped relying on long distance shots with little ball movement. Still, it is nitpicky for the team that should easily bring home gold.
Oscar Pistorius made Olympic history by becoming the first amputee to race in the Olympic games. Racing in the first heat of the 1st round of the men’s 400 meters, Pistorius advanced by placing second in his heat with a time of 45.44. That number was 16th best of 52 racers in the seven heats. I honestly have no idea if Pistorius has an advantage or not. I have not read all of the documents in support of or against his inclusion in the Olympics. All I know is the Court of Arbitration for Sport decided he did not have an advantage and allowed him to participate. It’s a great story from a remarkable individual.
In women’s tennis, nothing could stop Serena Williams. She crushed former Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova 6-0, 6-1. I’d comment on the match, but there is not much to say. Serena dominated. The only blemish on the whole proceeding was during the medal ceremony when the wind took the U.S. flag off of the crossbar as it was being hoisted above the stadium.
I watched women’s trampoline for the first time ever. I was impressed. They jump high in the sky and do ten different sets of skills. For a better overall mental image, I will describe the process. The athlete begins jumping on the trampoline until they reach the height they want to compete at. They then do a skill set of twists, turns, flips, you name it. They land and jump back up and do a different skill set. Ten jumps and ten skill sets complete the routine. Canada’s Rosannagh MacLennan surprised the crowd by winning gold. It was Canada’s first gold of the 2012 games. It appeared China’s He Wenna was the woman to beat, but she fell on her last skill set and had to settle for bronze. China’s Huang Shanshan won bronze.
Great Britain saw their soccer team fail to advance to the semifinals after losing in a shootout to South Korea. There is not much to say here considering Europe did not send their top players to the Olympics. However, I thought the taunting and overall antics by South Korea’s goalie Lee Bum-Young was against the values of the Olympics we have heard about all games. He has some maturing to do.
Great Britain’s Jessica Ennis brought home gold in the women’s Heptathlon on Sunday. It was Britain’s first Olympic gold on the track at the London Olympics. Ennis scored a British record 6,995 points to secure the gold. She was 306 points clear of silver medalist Lilli Schwarzkopf (Germany) and 327 points ahead of bronze medalist and now former world champion Tatyana Chernova (Russia). Ennis was clutch throughout the competition. She started the event with a personal best and heptathlon record 12.54 seconds in the 100 meter hurdles. Ennis was solid in the high jump (1.86 meters). She threw a decent 14.28 meters in the shotput. Ennis followed that with another personal best, this time in the 200 meters. She ran it in 22.83 seconds. Ennis had a big 6.48 meter long jump and set a personal best in the javelin at 47.49 meters. She entered the final event, the 800 meters, with a cushion, but you would have never known. Ennis won her race with a two minute 8.65 seconds run. It is a great story for the host country.
Michael Phelps capped off his Olympic career with gold. Phelps, along with Matt Grevers, Brendan Hansen and Nathan Adrian won the 4X100 meter medley relay. For those keeping track, Phelps ends his career with 22 medals – 18 gold, 2 silver, and 2 bronze. With those kinds of results and that kind of dominance, you have to wonder if Phelps really is going to retire. He seems certain that he won’t be back, but only time will tell.
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Price is the fastest woman in the world. The Jamaican won the women’s 100 meters with a time of 10.75 seconds. It was a drama filled sprint as American Carmelita Jeter was neck and neck with her. The race was so close that it took a number of seconds before the results were made official. Jeter’s official time was 10.78. Fraser-Price is the first woman to win back to back Olympic 100 meter dashes since Gail Devers pulled off the feat in 1992 and 1996. Jamaican Veronica Campbell-Brown brought home the bronze.
As for Fraser-Price, I am a huge fan. She has a smile that will light up any room. Beauty, athleticism, graciousness, and talent make Fraser-Price one of my favorite Olympians in the Games. She is genuine and nice and epitomizes the Olympic spirit. I look forward to seeing her compete in more events during this and hopefully future Olympic games.