By: Shawn Davis
I love when the Olympics are on the calendar every four years – especially this one as it saves me from hearing about the New Orleans Saints, Dwight Howard, New York Jets, Mitt Romney, etc – as it pushes my national pride to its peak. The Star Spangled Banner, done right, evokes so much emotion that there are times I wish the full version was used.
Do you hate lists? Everyone does, right? Well…relax and look over this one; it should be worthwhile, maybe, as it pertains to the best (and worst) of the games up to this point.
1. Megan Hodge, Logan Tom, Jordan Larson, Destinee Hooker and the rest of the U.S. women’s national volleyball team.
2. The Brazilian women’s national volleyball team.
3. Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings.
4. The “outfits” of the female beach volleyball athletes. Okay, I’m going to stop with the eye candy here and make a tangible observation (well, I’ll try to). The weather was warm right up until the Olympic festivities came into town…and then the forecast went all Great Britain. (More on the weather in a bit…)
With the key contests taking place late in the afternoon or well into the evening, the women are playing a “beach” sport in fall weather where they have to compete with 95% of their bodies exposed to the elements. I’m pleased that the women have the option of wearing full length tights and long-sleeved shirts. (They look just as amazing by the way, like the superhero’s they are. Before you judge me, there is a reason the coverage is slanted towards the women athletes: women and men watch.)
Weather note: I visited GB in 2010 during a birthday trek through Europe and I wanted to get immersed in the culture before I went partying later that evening. On a sunny afternoon I walked about 15 minutes to the Tate Modern and spent a few hours there. As I’m venturing back towards the hostel to change into my night gear there was considerable cloud cover but the sun still peeked through. I smelled rain in the air so I stopped at a bar for a pint because there were a group of lovely women enjoying a few drinks with not one man in their circle. (I liked those odds.)
After spending some time with the ladies, I needed to get back to prepare for my night because I was meeting a few of them for dancing so I walked in the rain – something that relaxes me – because it felt good. As I’m about 5 minutes away from the bar (10 from my hostel), the temperature changes on a dime so now it’s cold and raining – and HAIL falls for about a half-hour. I ducked under a store front and waited for the little ice rocks to subside. Oh yeah, it was May.
5. Women’s and men’s water polo. A great thing about the Olympics is that it shines a spotlight on sports that are often unappreciated, especially in the U.S., so to see how ferocious and physical a game it is astounds me. It also has a high level of grace to it as well when you factor in the critical elements of swimming and ball-movement.
6. Cycling. American Kristin Armstrong defending her gold medal from the Beijing Games with another one here in the time trial and Great Britiain’s Bradley Wiggins capturing gold after winning the Tour de France a few weeks ago. What a summer for the hometown kid.
7. Gabrielle Douglas winning gold in the all-around gymnastics final.
8. Jordan Wieber smiling again.
9. Allison Schmitt, Missy Franklin, Rebecca Soni and Dana Vollmer.
10. Federica Pellegrini
1. Badminton tanking. In their defense we view teams in the NBA, every season, closing shop early for draft positioning but at least there’s still players trying…somewhat. That was not the case for the women’s badminton participants.
2. Fencing controversy.
3. The judges refusing to give McKayla Maroney a perfect vault score.
You know when you see something so remarkable that you just find yourself laughing because that’s the only reaction you can muster? After Maroney went out of the universe and touched back on our lovely planet with her pose, showcasing her landing, I lost a mouthful of kettle corn because I could not stop laughing. She was given a 16.2 but where were the deductions to keep her from the 16.5 highest possible score? The kettle corn that adorned my floor couldn’t find any.
4. Not enough Natalie Coughlin. I know there are some younger female U.S. swimmers but it would be nice to see her more. She only has twelve Olympic medals (tied for the most ever by a female U.S. athlete). I have a crush, sorry.
5. The unintentional awkwardness of those post-performance interviews with Heather Cox and Andrea Kremer. Both women are great for their business and as ambassadors for the female voice in sports coverage but those interviews make me feel weird and I’m home…ugh. I’m not placing most of the blame on them by the way, I’m sure they’re handcuffed with trying to get real answers but are also obligated to ask “fluff” questions which – and you should watch the athletes’ faces once they absorb the inquiry – have me reaching for my remote.
6. Analysis. Some great nuggets I remembered:
A) “He’s got to fight for it.”
B) “Fearless, just a total lack of fear.”
C) “Phelps is racing for history tonight.”
D) “The connection wasn’t made and the judges will deduct for the connection being missed.”