Greeks behave badly
In astonishing scenes at the Olympic Stadium Thursday night, tens of thousands of Greeks chanted local sprinter Costas Kenteris's name and "Hellas, Hellas" (Greece), holding up the start by about five minutes.
The country's biggest hopes for a gold medal, the 200 meters Sydney Olympic champion Kenteris and fellow sprinter Katerina Thanou, the 100 silver medallist, withdrew from the Athens Games after failing to turn up for a doping test.
"The IAAF cannot approve any behavior that is an obstacle to athletes' concentration," the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) General Secretary Istvan Gyulai told local MEGA television. "This was not an appropriate behavior."
In an ongoing theme, it's not just Americans who behave poorly. The Greek crowd's behavior was absolutely reprehensible. Their jeering during the gymnastics was justified, and brought on by the judges, but here it was just being complete jerks. And it's a shame that the Americans were, again, at the center of the jeers.
Considering the shabby treatment of some American athletes, I'm stunned there hasn't been more poor behavior from the US delegation. but they've been pretty well-behaved, particularly in lieu of the abuse heaped on them by the fans.
Acting like an ass is wrong, no matter what country you're from. And jeering the athletes is completely uncalled for. Don't cheer, that's fine. But booing? Learn some manners.
posted by Poseur 8/27/2004 01:08:00 PM
Gold and gone
The legacy the senior group passes on to the younger players is immense: They can be credited with nothing less than the founding of women's soccer as an international game. But they leave a legacy in the small things, too. Through it all, they've never put a foot wrong, or behaved like anything other than champions. They were the nicest and best behaved athletes on the planet, no self-absorbed egotists, no whining about life's unfairness, no jealous spats or wretched excesses. The worst that could be said of them was that they were joyous carousers. They were one of the few things left in sports you could watch without suspicion.
Perhaps their most pleasant quality as a group was that they weren't particularly conscious of their specialness. Hamm, for instance, has never seemed aware that she's pretty. The greatest goal scorer in the game and one of the most photogenic female athletes is, as it happens, deeply shy. At an awards banquet one night a few years ago, Hamm tried to explain why she had always been so self-conscious in public. The trouble, she said, was that people watched you, whether you liked it or not. "So who am I to say I'm not a role model?" she said.
Sally Jenkins is perhaps the best coumnist in the country on women's sports, and she absolutely hits the nail on the head concerning the women's team. I can't really do her justice, and I recommend reading her column today.
But to summarize, these five women practically invented international soccer. And they were so damn likable, hard-working, and honest. They always seemed like the girls next door, only with incredible soccer talent and party streak a mile wide. The mere fact Foudy played in this game is testament to her toughness. And I'm willing to bet there's a bar in Athens that can tell you about the party streak.
These women are among the greatest champions in sports history. No one has scored more goals than Mia Hamm in international play. They retire with two Olympic golds and two World Cup titles. And the birth of the women's game. It's like Babe Ruth, only there were five of them.
posted by Poseur 8/27/2004 01:01:00 PM
Waitaminute... this isn't Olympics coverage!
JP Losman, horribly overrated rookie, will have to wait a year to disappoint Bills fans, as a broken leg will keep him out of the lineup. Despite a pedestrian college record, Losman was one of the hottest properties in the draft and the Bills used a first round pick on him. I feel bad for him, I wanted him to fail on the field, not via injury.
posted by Poseur 8/25/2004 01:03:00 PM
Trying to bring the focus on other countries here, Kenya sweeped the men's steeplechase. The fourth-place runner was a native Kenyan who emigrated to Qatar. Way to go, Kenya!
posted by Poseur 8/25/2004 01:01:00 PM
I didn't flunk the test!
Disgraced Hungarian discus thrower Robert Fazekas, who was stripped of his gold medal for a doping violation, insists he is not a cheat.
The 29-year-old European champion won with a throw of 70.93 metres on Monday but was then expelled from the Games for "refusing or failing to admit a urine sample", the IOC said.
"I haven't cheated," said Fazekas in a statement released Wednesday as he travelled to his home at Szombathely, 220 kilometres west of Budapest.
"Those who know how doping control works know that it's impossible to cheat."
Fazekas' defense is truly brilliant: I don't pee enough urine.
You know, all of the drug busts sort of run togther after awhile (and I'd like to note, so far NO Americans have flunked a drug test at these Games). This one finally breaks the mold. It's nice to be itnerested in a drug scandal again. Even if the guy's defense is "I have a teeny bladder."
posted by Poseur 8/25/2004 12:56:00 PM
What an absolutely fantastic day at the Olympics. This kind of day is the reason I’m a sports fan. If I forget something please remind me, but from my notes, here’s the doings in the last 24 hours:
- Paul Hamm found himself in the middle of yet another scoring controversy. I’m beginning to feel bad for the guy. Did he back his way into a gold medal? Probably, but he showed a remarkable amount of grit in doing so. When the pressure’s gone up, he’s been at his best. So, after getting delayed for eight and a half minutes because the crowd was rightfully pissed at the judges for screwing Alexei Nemov, Hamm goes out there and puts up a winning score. Which of course, only makes the situation worse. By the timeIgor Casina won the gold via a tiebreaking procedure which made no sense, Hamm had to fell lucky to get out of the building alive. And we learned a valuable lesson, booing influences Olympic judges!
- The US finished 1-s-3 in the 400 meters. Even more amazing is that Jeremy Warimer is the first white American sprinting champion in my lifetime.
- US women’s soccer, in overtime, made it to the gold medal match. This means that the greatest generation will have one less hurrah. I’m flabbergasted, even if Julie Foudy will miss the finals due to injury.
- Another bad day for the Greek Olympains. A judo athlete died, the result of wounds incurred from jumping from her third story window. And the IOC raided the coach, who may have been supplying his athletes with drugs. Great guy.
- Women’s beach volleyball. I’m a pig, what can I say?
- Oh, and there was an earthquake.
It doesn’t get any better than this. Momentous achievements, great competitions, and corruption? Sign me up!
posted by Poseur 8/24/2004 12:59:00 PM
One Man, 34 Sports
I sat in front of the TV all weekend watching the Olympics, and any time not spent watching the Olympics was spent online reading about the Olympics. So here's a complete rundown of every friggin' Olympic sport and my humble opinion on each
Definite contender for World's Most Boring Sport. The US lost out on a medal by a single point, but the event was so excrutiating to watch, I fell asleep for most of it. After wiping the crust from the side of my mouth, I noticed the US about to lose, sighed, and changed the channel. I know it's a classic sport, but I don't think anyone would lose any sleep if this sport went away from the Olympic schedule.
How cool is badminton? It's a completely different sport at this level, and one completely dominated by the Far East, China in particular. Mixed doubles had the rare sight of seeing Europeans competing for the gold medal, but of course they lost. Ling Gao of China feel just short of two gold medals, both in doubles play. She'll have to settle for gold and silver.
An international baseball tournament without a US team is just silly. I've paid this absolutely no attention. Apparently, Japan and Cuba are tied for the lead at 6-1 with Canada and Australia also advancing to the semis. The Canadians are almost Americans, I'll root for them.
Ah, yes. We have now entered the hype zone. For all of the seemingly endless amount of words written on the men's team, I just can't think of this as a premier Olympic event. It's nice that so many of us care, but to me, the Olympics are all about swimming, track, and sports I usually don't see. I can watch the best basketball players square off any old Tuesday during the NBA season. I just don't have anything emotionally invested in this.
That said, some Americans are acquitting themselves quite well. Duncan and Iverson, obviously. And then LeBron, Odon, Wade, and Jefferson have been playing well. It's not the whole team that's a waste, some of these guys are playing hard. but maybe they should watch the women play once in awhile. Jesus, they are good.
Is there anything better than watching buff, scantily clad women play volleyball in the sand? I can't think of it. Really, it's not just the parade of gorgeous women, it's the fact the beach version of volleyball is more exciting. The court is smaller, but with only two players, the game is much more atheltic and fast-paced. Traditional volleyball is more tactical, the beach version is more instinctive. It's a blast to watch.
For the first time ever, the Americans won't win the gold in men's beach. Hell, they won't even medal. but no worries, the women are kicking ass. And watch the men's games anyway. I'm serious, you don't even need bikinis to make beach fun to watch.
No mas. NBC, in their infinite wisdom, has made sure we can see every single boxing match of these Olympics. And Teddy Atlas is fun to listen to, but my God, I can't watch this much boxing. Can't do it. Ten of eleven Cubans are still in the tourney. Just ridiculous levels of dominance.
Upstream gates? Are they kidding me? Upstream? The Hochschorner twins of Slovakia won the gold medal in Whitewater C-2. i'm not sure what that means, but when you see twins paddling down whitewater, you tend to cheer for them.
Tyler Hamilton dedicated his gold medal in the time trial to his recently deceased dog, Tugboat. How can you not cheer for a guy like that? So, as far as Olympic medal counts go, it didn't matter Lance stayed home. Tyler picked up the slack. The US is leading in the road events, the Aussies are winning on the track. But 16 countries have picked up medals in just 9 events. This is one of the most evenly balanced sports.
The Chinese are really good. But Chantelle Newberry of Australia winning the gold in platform was very cool. Olympic athletes tend to be young, so it's nice to see a 27-year-old mom win a gold medal in a sport that requires actual atheltic prowess. And how come diving is a judged sport, but it manages to avoid all of those scoring controveries? when I say I hate all judged sports, please assume I exclude diving, which has its act together and doesn't desrve to be lumped in with sports like skating and gymnastics.
The sport that gives the idle rich a shot at Olympic glory. Show juping I can take, but Dressage? Dressage?! Why not have these guys just compare bankrolls? And equestrian has not been free of controversy. So let's just get rid of this sport altogther. If it involves horses, it better also involve gambling and an exacta of some sort.
Is anyone else annoyed by the constant preening of every fencer for the judges? They shout and pump their fist after every touch, trying to influence the judge, or just celebrate that they are now losing by only five points. It got real old, real fast. I started rooting for whoever yelled the least. And there was the same crappy officiating that has plagued these Games. A judge screwed up SIX times, costing China the gold medal to Italy. The judge has been dismissed, but the Chinese just have to suck it up and learn that them's the breaks.
Australia's won two straight gold medals in women's hockey, but they have officially bombed out of the Olympics. There's no shame in losing to the Dutch like they did on Sunday, but losing to the Germans? and tying South Korea? What's up with that? The men's side haven't quite wrapped things up yet, but the Dutch and Aussies have already advanced.
I've said enough about this, but here's the last thing: south Korea is getting crewed. Give 'em a dual gold.
It's strange, watching a sport with absolutely no American presence. The absence of the US in baseball is noticeable, but the absence of Americans from handball doesn't even warrant a shrug. We suck at this sport. and, for the life of me, i can't figure it out. It's getting very spotty coverage, so there's been little opportunity to just sit down a watch. And given the paucity of coverage, I've been unable to really develop a rooting interest. More handball, NBC!
I don't understand it, not for a second, but God, do i think judo is cool. Japan absolutely dominates this event, and even to the untrained eye, you can tell they are good. but I couldn't describe to you one thing that happened. I just really liked watching it.
Modern Pentathalon/ Rhythmic Gymnastics
Neither event has started. while the pentathalon seems kind of neat, the idea of watching rhythmic gymnastics makes me gag. It won't be happening.
Not as cool as kayaking, but the US is better at it. They set a world record in prelims (wind-assisted), so they just shut everything down. It was, like, come on. This is just silly. The American eights went on to win the gold and though medal ceremonies usually run together, watching a guy who worked at Ground Zero breaking down during the anthem was genuinely moving.
Another excuse for rich guys to get medals. Any sport dominated by the Brits can't be any good.
Easily, the most boring sport of the Olympics. Archery is dull, but this is tedium defined. And the one event that's pretty fun, skeet shooting, is about to get axed. Can't have the targets moving. People might get too excited. Watcing people stand perfectly still and then fire a gun at a stationary target is just too painful to watch for more than three minutes.
The Iraqis are the obvious story, and why not? They are one win away from a medal. Two wins away from gold. Winning an Olympic medal is no big deal considering the trauma inflicted on the nation, but it would be nice if they had something to cheer about.
The US women are trying to go out winners. This team's been together forever and they don't need another Olympic gold to cement their legacies, but it wouldn't hurt. Getting revenge against Germany would be extra sweet.
The US gave up a run to the aussies in the final. That was the only run they allowed in the entire tournament, and they cruised to the gold medal. Long-term, this is a bad thing for softball. To keep its status as an Olympic sports, not only do other countries need to get good and quick, someone needs to beat the US. Just handing an automatic medal to the Americans just isn't a popular idea. I'd like to see softball stay, so for the good of the sport, it's nice to see Japan medal.
Michael Phelps is really good. So are the Dutch freestylers. and Ian Thorpe is still an absolute stud. Really, swimming is always a great event and I'm sad it's over so soon. We fall in love with these swimmers so quickly, and then they are gone, never to break our conciousness again. Unless they come back in four years. It's a harsh spotlight for such a short period of time. Phelps goes back to obscurity for another four years until we need him to beat the Australians again.
And while his move to let Crocker was nice, let's not forget it was also a bit of marketing genius. Every time someone talks to Crocker, they had to mention Phelps' act. Like Crocker should kiss Phelps' feet or something. My wife heard about Phelps giving up his spot and said if she was Crocker, she would've punched Phelps in the face and told him he didn't need your stupid charity.
So close. Wang Hao lost this morning, winning a silver medal. why is this news? Because had he won, China would have swept every table tennis medal. Instead, they had to settle for three. Watching Olympic ping-pong is addictive as hell.
I love tennis, but this is a joke. Tennis already has four internationally scrutinized major tournaments every year. We didn't need this and I paid it no attention. Please, drop this from the crowded Olympic slate.
It's finally here. Track! I couldn't believe that NBC was complaining that the American sprinters were a bunch of preening egomaniacs. Um, when haven't they been? Every sprinter is a preening egomaniac. It's why they are sprinters and not middle distance runners. A special shout-out to Ottey, running in her SEVENTH Olympics.
Sometimes, being a smaller sport is a good thing. Because if water pol had the same cachet as, say, basketball, people would be up in arms right now. The Americans, medal contenders in both mens and womens, bombed out. The men's team didn't even make the medal rounds at all. Since they get off the hook for not being high-profile sports, we have to limit it to here: they choked.
An Olympic staple. I've missed the old Cold War coverage until I actually watched the US-Cuba match. Did anyone else see this pathetic display of coverage? The announcers just couldn't shut up about differeing ideologies. Oh, shut up. they just wanted to play volleyball. I take back everything I said about wanting a Cold War games again.
Wow. One week to go.
posted by Poseur 8/22/2004 10:26:00 PM