Friday, August 17, 2012

Dear Olympics, Thanks.

I think, at this point, it’s pretty well known that I am a fan of the Olympics. Duh. There is a distinct possibility that I've spent more time in the past two weeks watching the Olympics than I will spend this fall/winter watching either football or basketball and those sports last for 6+ months rather than the 2 weeks the Olympics lasts. I am acutely aware of how incredibly dorky this is. I, frankly, don’t really care, though.  I loved it.  I loved every minute of it. 4 years from now, I’ll love every minute of it again. By the way, I am just putting it together right now that both the 2014 world cup and the 2016 Olympics are going to be held in Brazil.  I sure hope that country has their shit together. Well, without further ado, on to my final Olympic thoughts.

Because of the fact that every country in the world participates in the Olympics, there is most certainly a probability that there were be a slew of hilarious names.  Guess what?  This one is no different. There are enough hilarious names here to make a 12 year old school boy (or myself) crack up for days on end.  How these stack up against former great athletic names such as God Shammgod, Dick Trickle, and former English soccer player Dean Windass I’m not sure, but here are some good ones.

Dong Dong – China – Trampoline (HA! Double Dong!)
Karen Cockburn – Canada – Trampoline (Dirty)
Destinee Hooker – USA – Volleyball (At one point in the Olympics Bob Costas said “The 6’4” Hooker is taking on the whole team!” (I just made that up, but it certainly could have happened.))
The XXX Olympics – (yep, the 30th Olympiad could easily be mistaken for the porno Olympics)
Fanny Babou – France – Swimming (even more funny when you place the accent on the first syllable of her last name.)
Kelsey Titmarsh – Canada – Rhythmic Gymnastics (hehehe)
Endurance Abinuwa – Nigeria – Athletics (yep, she’s a runner)
Yoshi Takeshita – Japan – Volleyball (poop joke.  His name is a poop joke.)

Hillarious names aside, there was also some great athletic events. Everyone knows that it’s awesome to watch the US hoops squad ball on everybody.  It’s sweet to watch Phelps and the big swimming races.  The gymnastics (especially the women) are rad. Usain Bolt and all the other sprints are great. But what fascinates me is that almost every single event can be extremely exciting to watch.  Even the things you would never expect to hold your attention such as horse jumping, archery, water polo, and handball can be absolutely gripping if you pay enough attention.  Below are a few of the sports that were really came in way above my expectations on the awesomeness scale.

The Decathlon – It’s really hard to put into words just how amazing these athletes are. They compete in 10 different events (100 meter dash, long jump, shot put, high jump, 400 meter, 110 meter hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin, and 1500 meters). They do all of these events in 2 days and compete in each event at an extremely high level. What’s amazing here is that many of the events are nothing like each other. Obviously, being good at running the 1500 meter (about a mile) race and throwing the shot put takes a completely different type of athlete. These guys do all of them and they do it well. This competition probably would have been a bit more exciting if Ashton Eaton hadn’t beat the snot out everybody and pretty much put it out of reach going into day 2, but, whatever. USA! 
I also find it quite interesting that there is the decathlon, which is 10 sports that anyone could play to test the best physical athlete.  And then there is the modern pentathlon, which is the decathlon for rich people. Pretty much just 5 sports that only rich Brittan and New Englanders play (pistol shooting, show jumping (yes, horses), freestyle swimming, fencing, and a cross country run.) Needless to say, this event is not quite as exciting.

Rhythmic Gymnastics – So, I am watching the 2nd and final day of the decathlon and after a couple of discuss throws they cut over to rhythmic gymnastics.  (if you are unaware, this is the sport where female gymnasts do ballet stuff supported by a giant ribbon, a ball, something that looks like nun-chucks, or a hula hoop).  There I am, pissed that I’m not watching more decathletes throw discuss, and all the sudden it happened; Some Russian chick walks forward throws a ball (the type of ball that could only be described as the same ball you find in a giant bin at Wallgreens and dribble around the store for the next 10 minutes because you are either a 9 year-old kid or you’re trying to piss of your girlfriend so she stops buying shit.) anyways..  where was I? oh yeah, She throws this ball as high as she possibly can in the air, does 3 flips, and catches the ball (hands free) in the small of her back, and then somehow does another flip without the ball moving from the small of her back, then contorts her body somehow so the ball rolls from her back up and over her head and back into her hands. At this point you either don’t believe me or you don’t fully comprehend the series of events I just described.  But, I’m serious. YouTube that shit.  A) I am amazed. B) I now know where all Cirque du Soliel performers come from.

The 4 x 400 relay – It is said that the 400 meters is the toughest race a runner can do.  It is a full out sprint all the way around the track.  You can see that the 400 just kills runners.  After the race, every time, there are multiple runners laying on the ground on their backs trying to catch their wind. So how does this get more exciting? Add a baton and have 4 runners run this grueling race. The best part of it is the rules, though.  They start on the staggered starting blocks like the regular 400. The first runner must stay in his lane for the whole lap. But, once the baton is passed, there are no lane rules anymore. So once the baton is passed the first time it is absolute chaos. 8 runners all trying to receive a baton and all trying to merge to the inside lane all at the same time.  As you can imagine, people fall.  And if you’ve ever seen a track fall, it is not pretty.

There was another sport that caught my attention, and that was the race walk.  Not to say that this was exciting to watch, because it wasn’t, but the endurance it takes for this event is quite impressive.  If there is one sport in the Olympics that is the easiest to make fun of it is some strange event where everyone is walking around like some combination of a turbo-charged duck and a grandma at the mall. Apperently, though, this sport is extremely taxing on the body and takes a serious endurance athlete. See here as some Russian racewalker passes out mid-race and (allegedly) craps himself.

For those of you that have managed to stick with me thus far, here is your reward.  Dutch Heptathelete Nadine Broersen, Paraguayan Javelin thrower Laryn Franco, and Czech volley ball player Marketa Slukova.

You’re welcome.

So there it was.  The 2012 London Olympics came and went. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.[i] It was something that I thoroughly enjoyed.   More than I’ve ever enjoyed them before.  But, the only thing that was different between this year and years past was that I paid more attention.  I have found that the more that you immerse yourself in the Olympics, the better they are. I love that every single event has its own intrinsic value and yet, they are each a part of the games as a whole. You would never catch me watching a rowing event or weightlifting event on TV in some random occasion, but when those weightlifters and rowers are competing equally to have made a difference in their country’s glory, I’ll tune in all day long.
Speaking of a country’s glory.. 

Final Medal Count: USA – 104, China – 88.  Final Gold count: USA – 46, China – 38.



[i] See what I did there? Quoted an English writer in the recap of a London event..  wordplay is fun, even when obvious. Thanks, Chuck. 

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