summer Olympic update

So. We are well into the summer Olympics and rather than have me run through the medal count let me spend a couple minutes letting me recount what I think has been notable <so far>.

watching men versus women

It’s odd. I didn’t even think about this until I watched a women’s volleyball match. This one had Japan. I think they may have one player over 6 feet. They have a 5’3” player. And. They. Get. Everything. Back.


Regardless. The women’s matches are physical, athletic and … well … multi-faceted. Addictive to watch.  Switch over to the men and … well … they hit the crap out of the ball but it almost seems raw and less skilled <although I know that is not so> but in the end … not as pleasing to watch as the women. Oh. And it is insane how the women volleyball players tape their fingers. They could go straight from a match to a costume party as a mummy.

To be fair. I flip this thought in basketball. After watching men play basketball I just cannot understand how someone can watch women’s basketball. I am not sure this thought is relevant in something like weightlifting or equestrian <which men and women compete against each other … which I like> and maybe it is just personal taste but all I do know is that if you watch the women’s volleyball you will understand.


Now that I have probably pissed off men & women both let me move on to another male/female comparison.

the sloth & the missile

The sloth is a guy. A gardener from the land-locked African nation of Niger. He will certainly be crowned the worst Olympian athlete of the 2012 Games.  Just to be clear … he is not complaining and neither am I. it’s awesome. Hamadou Djibo Issaka has earned himself the nickname “the sculling sloth” after finishing consistently last in his three rowing events. Even more funny is he got slower each time he competed. But what he lacks in skill he makes up for in enthusiasm.

“I have no technique,” the 35-year-old confessed with a laugh after a recent race. “I’ve done only three months (of training) so I will get more technique.” Issaka is the first person from Niger ever to ever compete in the Olympic Games. He is an example of what makes the Olympics great.

The missile is a woman. Missy Franklin. Yeah. We are all tired of the story but … here is the winner part of the story.

Her hands and feet.

She is singlehandedly reminding young women that being gawky or being perfect physically in some ways is … well … really unimportant. She talks about her size 13 feet like it they are just feet <which they are>. She talks about being in high school and not wanting to miss a day of it.

Does she feel self-conscious about the size of her feet & hands? Sure. She is a teenage girl for god’s sake.

Has she learned to laugh about it enough that it is almost irrelevant? Yup. She smiles. She is charming.

If I were going to create a campaign discussing self-esteem for young girls I would be camped out in front of The Missile’s house begging her to help me out.

beyond the sloth & the missile there are a couple other notable characters …

a Tunisian bball player. Tunisia Forward Mohamed Hadidane approached Kobe Bryant the same way thousands of fans do. Hadidane took off his right shoe and somehow had a black marker in hand to get Bryant’s autograph. Bryant graciously signed the shoe and then patted Hadidane on his chest. Yeah, it looked kind of strange, but I have to imagine Mohamed Hadidane doesn’t care about that at all. I am not sure Hadidane plays professionally (I thought maybe the Turkish league but I couldn’t find him on any roster). Suffice it to say this may be the only time the dude gets on a basketball court with Kobe … let alone in the same arena. Yeah, it looked kind of strange, but I KNOW that I don’t care. It reminded me of what makes the Olympics unique … and great.

A Venezuelan fencer. Everybody will have their own ‘moment’ of the Olympics. Me? Venezuelan épée fencer Ruben Limardo. I had never heard of Limardo. And I am fairly sure no one had excepting the maybe two dozen Venezuelan fans who were cheering wildly for their fencer <yeah … I just typed ‘cheering wildly’ and ‘fencer’ in the same sentence>.

In the end? Victory.

The moment? Limardo celebrates by sprinting dementedly around the arena before dropping to his knees in front of the Venezuelan fans.

It is only the second Olympic medal Venezuela has ever won. It reminds you why we have the Olympics.

Speaking of fencing.

Nike needs to get focused

Olympic fencing mixes the ancient and the modern, combining rules laid down more than 500 years ago with electronic scoring systems and Kevlar jackets. The delicate balance of old and new has sustained the sport since its debut at the first modern Olympics in 1896. The sport’s three disciplines — sabre, foil and epee — require weapons of differing sizes and styles, but they share one thing in common … the uniforms are the most unflattering outfits of any sport.

The competition looks like it takes place in space suits from the old show “lost in space.” C’mon. Nike designs uniforms <albeit the women’s soccer Pablo Picasso meets Where’s Waldo is kinda nuts> all over the world in every sport and then they miss out on the opportunity to design some swashbuckling style that matches the overall style of the sport. Regardless. I hope you saw the american saber competitor. Cannot remember her name. She was favored but didn’t win. Doesn’t matter. If all fencers fenced like she does we would be watching fencing on tv rather than poker.

horses & crashes

If you didn’t see the equestrian cross country event you missed out. The course and the riders was stunning. The setting was breathtaking. Green grass, colorful flowers, big trees, friendly squirrels, birds singing <someone may have actually had a bluebird on their shoulder>, historic buildings and an awesome view of the London skyline across the Thames. Beyond that? As The Guardian said Equestrian cross country can best be described as the Olympics’ profuse apology for dressage …”Sorry for that horse ballet the other day; now watch’em jump off a grassy cliff.”

It is a beautifully tortuous obstacle course.

28 different obstacles. Each one was tailored to a different landmark, the majority of them in London. Some are large hedges. Some involve running and jumping into water.

While the course was beautifully decorated it was the obstacles that really made the event worth watching. The Cricket Ball Basket (#23), the Rose Garden (#24), the Saxon Village (#27), the Royal Herb Garden (#4), the Diamond Jubilee Hedge (#1) and the Tower of London (#s 15 & 16).  And because the prime meridian runs through Greenwich Park which creates Greenwich Mean Time and because of the Royal Observatory being there as well, several more obstacles reflected that in their themes (# 6 The Planet, # 7 The Moon, # 25 The Timeline Clocks, #26 The Observatory Turn and #14 The Sundials).

But. It was Obstacle 20 (“The Royal Greenwich Borough”) one which made all the other obstacles look like a speed bump, that was amazing.

The horse runs up to the edge of a cliff, with a steep decline right into another jump. The obstacle takes extraordinary balance from both horse and rider; keep in mind, this is well into the long tiring course.


I do have an idea for a new Olympic sport. Along the lines of the crazy biathlon in winter olympics <insane cross country skiing combined with shooting squirrels along the way> maybe we can have horse drawn skiing (see picture to left). Crazy? Well. It would give the horses something to do in the winter and combining the ever popular skiing. Just a thought.


yup. There is always one nutso fan at every event. So instead I will just focus on the obnoxious.

It’s that damn vuvuzela also known as lepatata Mambu (its Tswana name). That plastic horn, about 2 feet long which produces a loud obnoxiously aggravating monotone note. Traditionally made and inspired from a kudu horn, the vuvuzela was used to summon distant villagers to attend community gatherings. In this case the vuvuzela is most used at Brazil matches. Its high sound pressure levels at close range can lead to permanent hearing loss for unprotected ears after exposure.

It just makes me not want to watch.

So far?

A good Olympics to watch.

Written by Bruce