August 25, 2008

A final word on the Olympics

According to numerous voiceovers, there are 28 sports played in the Olympics. If that number seems low, it’s because several sports are combined under 1 heading – like Aquatics. Not the most sensical system, but hey – if it was good enough for the Greeks… What are the 28 sports? Funny you should ask:

Aquatics – Includes diving, swimming, synchronized swimming & water polo.
Athletics – Includes all track & field events, from discus to marathon.
Canoe / kayak – Includes flatwater and slalom kayaking.
Cycling – Includes road & track cycling, as well as mountain biking and the newly added BMX.
Equestrian – Includes dressage, jumping and eventing (a combo of the 2, plus the cross country portion)
Football (Sooooccer)
Modern pentathlon (I knew absolutely nothing about this event, so here you go:
  • Pentathletes achieve points in each discipline according to their performance.
  • Shooting comes first; the pentathletes have 40 seconds to fire 20 shots from an air pistol at a 17cm-square target from 10 metres.
  • Fencing follows, with a round-robin competition between each participant.
  • Swimming is third, a freestyle race over 200 metres, with athletes seeded in heats according to their personal best times.
  • The pentathletes then head to the show jumping ring, where they have 20 minutes warm up on a horse drawn by lot before completing an obstacle course of between 350-450m in length and including 12 obstacles with one double and one triple, for 15 jumps.
  • The final event is the 3000m run, with a handicap start according to the points total of the athletes after the first four events. Competitors set off at intervals which correspond in seconds to the Pentathlon points difference between themselves and the athlete in front. The first athlete across the finish line wins the gold medal.
Shooting – Includes 15 different events!
Table tennis
Wrestling – Includes freestyle and Greco-Roman.

This will be my last rambling post about the Olympics, so I want to make sure I cover all the bases. First, a few additions to my Favorite Olympians:

Bryan Clay. What an amazing athlete. What a family man. What a hottie.

Dara Torres. Many things to love about her, but here's my favorite factoid: At the age of 41, became the first female swimmer over the age of 33 to medal in the Olympics…that 33 year old woman was her, in Sydney.

Team USA Softball: What terrible irony that them losing their gold medal match to Japan might actually save their sport from being eliminated from the Olympics (It had previously been decided/announced that because of A) Its association with baseball, and B) Excessive US dominance, the sport would no longer be played during the Olympics.

Natalie Coughlin. Where has the Natalie Coughlin love BEEN, by the way? Hello, 6 medals! Really amazing! Farmers Market montage! Totally hot!

My new least favorite Olympian: This Cuban who was so upset about losing the bronze metal match that he kicked the referee. In the head.

Scream-inducing moments of the Olympics:

Most tear-inducing moments of the Olympics:

  • The German weight-lifter, who came from behind to win the gold, holding up a photo of his 25-year old wife who died in a car accident last year, on the medal stand:

  • The Brazilian marathoner who was attacked on the course in 2004 and won a bronze medal - Reflecting on the experience, he asked why he would be upset to have possibly lost the gold medal because of that whack job, when he was able to leave with any medal at all.
  • The US Men’s Volleyball coach taking a moment in the corner after his team won gold.
  • Alicia Sacramone barely holding in her tears as she was interviewed about all her errors during the team competition – and then losing out on a medal in the individual vault by just a few hundredths of a point.
  • Michael Phelps’s mom during all of his medal ceremonies.
  • The “What does it feel like?” montage. If I can find it on YouTube, I will share ASAP.

PS: Can I please have Mary Carillo’s job for the next Olympics? I am absolutely willing (and, um, probably just as qualified as she is) to go around “experiencing the culture” of the location. (Kite flying, really?)