Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Day Four - Or is it 2012 yet?

Episode 2,134 in "Bring on the London Games": the British "Minister for the Olympics" Tessa Jowell promises more fun at the next Olympics. Pretty much it seems they're modelling themselves more on Sydney 2000 than Gulag 2008.

Incidentally we had a Minister for the Sydney Olympics (well technically, the Minister assisting the PM for the Olympics), Jackie Kelly. Gee I wonder what ever became of her?...
Recap of the day's events: Phelps too good; Leisel Jones far too good; and well done for Stoeckel getting the bronze. But, for a long time supporter of the art and skill of synchronised diving, the really big news of the day was Melissa Wu and Briony Cole snatching silver in the women's platform. Luckily I was home in time to catch the last two rounds and... well let me tell you, that'll stick in the memory banks for many a year. We need more of it - bring on the synchronised vault in the gymnastics, the synchronised dressage, the synchronised weightlifting. We must always remember that if something is worth doing, it is worth doing at the same time as someone else and to be judged for doing so.

On Leisel Jones; without getting too un-Australian, I have to say the breaststroke is a dumb event, the same for butterfly and backstroke. Why have a sport that requires you to go slower than you possibly can? If you are in the ocean and a shark wonders past, you won't try and get away by doing the breaststroke; you'll do the freestyle. The butterfly is actually a made up stroke, done purely because there was a loop-hole in the breaststroke rule that allowed you to put your arms out of the water. By 1952 it had got to the point that no one was using the traditional breaststroke method, so they came up with a new event - the butterfly.

But, at the end of the day, breaststroke, butterfly and even backstroke are all as stupid as having the 100m jog (with arbitrary rules designed to decide the difference between a jog and a run) the 100m skip and the 100m walk (yes, race walking is also in this category despite Nathan Deakes and Jane Saville).

Now admittedly my swimming experience amounts to a childhood of attending swimming lessons designed to stop me from drowning and little else; but I somehow suspect that everyone first tries to swim freestyle, and then if unsuccessful moves on to another stroke.

That said (and yes it was a bit of a rant) it was great to see her win (and I've never been a huge Leisel fan); put your mortgage on her to win the 200m (though you'll probably only win about $3.75).
Right now the eventing horses are due for the vet's inspection. Get excited!!!!
7:30pm: Great err what is the verb for canoe - paddle? by Robin Bell - bronze in the slalom. Tom Williams, great commentary, obviously drawing on all his year of experience as co-host of Gladiators. I mean after that, the Olympics would be a bit of an anti-climax.

It's always good to look at the 7 commentary team and pick the most incongruous member: Gary Wilkinson is doing the equestrian and the table tennis (now there's two sports that fit together in perfect harmony); Peter Colquhoun, who as far as I can tell is resident architect on Better Homes and Garden, is doing the Canoeing, Cycling, Handball and Weightlifting. Geez, I hope he's getting paid by the sport.
7:55pm: Men's 8s repechage. According to Johanna Griggs, their boat had a little bit of a hiccup in the heats - wow talk about seeing the glass half full -their boat broke!!! Would hate to see what a big hiccup is for Griggs.
Coming 3rd at the 500m mark. Geez the boats are long.
2nd at the 1000m mark. Looking good, should cruise into the top 4.
Here's a tip the vital part of any rowing race is the third 500m. Don't worry if you forget, you'll be reminded every bloody race!
1st at the 1500m mark (what did I tell you, that 3rd 500m is what matters)

Have to say as well, when I was listing the top Olympians of all time, I forgot Steve Redgrave who won Gold in the rowing in 1984, 88, 92, 96 and 2000. OK, he did it as part of a crew each time, but still it's damn impressive.

Aussies win easily. Through to the final and looking pretty good.

Interestingly we go immediately to an interview with the crew on the bank... nice job with the live coverage Channel 7 - yep delay the race, but get the interview live. Love your priorities. Still we did get to see a replay of Leisel Jones, so that's what matters. They did much the same with the diving - 30 seconds after the last dive we crossed to the medal ceremony. Still if it was on Channel 9 we'd probably be watching Cold Case repeats until 10:30pm.
8:30pm: Men's gymnastics. Now I know it is judged, so it's incredibly dodgy. But these guys are athletes. Girl's gymnastics (let's not lie and say 'women's) is about grace and poise and being so thin and little that your body can balance on an inch wide beam. Men's gymnastics is power and strength.

The scoring system is stuffed though - one guy did a great pommel horse routine and got 13 something. One guy did an ok high bar and got 15 something. Have no idea why. So as usual I went to wikipedia to find out:

Two panels of judges score every routine, evaluating different aspects of the performance. The final mark is the combined total of these two scores.
The A-score evaluates the content of the exercise on three criteria: the Difficulty Value (DV), Element Group Requirements (EGR) and Connection Value (CV).

DV: The nine most difficult elements of the routine, plus the dismount, are added together.
EGR: Gymnasts must demonstrate skills from five required Element Groups on each apparatus
CV: Additional points are given for connections of two or more elements.
The B-score evaluates the performance, ie, the "execution, composition and artistry" of the routine.
The base score is 10.0. Judges do not add to this, but rather, take away points for errors in form, artistry, execution, technique and routine composition.

Guess I was wrong, it isn't complicated at all.
Over on Channel 9, Two and Half Men is still going strong. Is there anyone on the planet who thinks the fat kid could plausibly be the son of Jon Cryer?
8:49pm:Men's 100m free heats. Eamon Sullivan wins his heat just from Nystrand and van den Hoogenband (or Hoogie as Bruce calls him). Interestingly Jason Lezak who swam the 46.06 final leg in the realy, finished 4th in his heat with 48.33 and 11th fastest.
8:55pm: Johanna Griggs and Matt White have a bit of banter where they both try and convince that they know more about sport than the other. Amazingly they both fail.
9:06pm: Great basketball game on SBS - China v Spain. Thank God for Anrew Gaze's commentary because Chris Dittmar struggles to get the score right. Big turnover... Going in to over-time.

Ok, number one reason why basketball has never really taken off in Australia - time outs. There are far too many; the last minute of a basketball game takes roughly about the same time as it does to watch all three Godfather films. Now this suits the Americans who are used to it with the time outs in the NFL, but the AFL, NRL and Rugby don't. There are probably a hundred other reasons, but in the interests of being opinionated I'm going with time-outs.
Good article in The Oz by Lenore Taylor contains the very truthful line by ANZ Chief economist Saul Eslake:
"I don't believe the economic situation right now would be in any way different if the Coalition had won the last election."

The difference between the parties is purely at a micro level - what to spend the surplus on. On a macro level - employment and inflation - all either party can do is not blow the budget surplus. Yes things like the 'skills crisis' matter, but that's a long-term thing. No one was going to fix that in 9 months (that kind of thing takes a good 11 years to fix - or stuff-up as the case may be...).
9:26pm: Let's cross to the tennis... oh Hewitt is already down 4-1 to Nadal. Good thing it's not that important.
9:35pm: Channel 7 certainly don't think it's important. They leave the tennis when Hewitt has finally got Nadal to deuce on serve to watch a 200m breaststroke heat. Surely a heat doesn't need to be seen live?
9;54pm: Show jumping to start. I've had enough writing, time to relax on the couch with some chips.
Tomorrow's swiming finals:
  • Women's 200m freestyle: No Aussies to medal, Go Slovenia!!!
  • Men's 200m Butterfly: Michael Phelps is in it; I've heard he's good.
  • Women's 200m IM: Rice to go for the double up. (though apparently she has a sore thoat - and apparently this required reporting of)
  • Men's 4x200m relay: Sadly the Aussies are no longer the best at this. The yanks to win by a loooong way.

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