Friday, August 22, 2008

Day Fourteen: Or, we need more walking events!

Things are really winding down now. I spent the whole day in meetings, and wasn't the slightest bit concerned that i might have missed a result. As it was Jared Tallent became the first Australian male since Edwin Flack to win two track and field medals. 102 years... wow... If that isn't pathetic, I don't know what is.

But still, that is not to diminish Tallent for having the (ok gotta say it) talent to win silver in the 20km walk and 50km walk; but what have Australian men (myself included) been doing for 102 years??? Get off the damn couch, put down the footy and the cricket bat, get out of the bloody pool and do some running!

You mean to tell me even during the 20s and 30s when no one outside of Europe, America and Australia so much as knew the right way to run around a track let alone know how many laps there are in 800m, that we couldn't even muster up one journeyman miler or distance runner to grab a bronze in say the 5000m and the 10000m? No one? Not even Ron Clarke??? The greatest distance runner of the 1960s, and he could only muster up one lousy bronze? Herb Elliott? Greatest mile runner in history, and decides after winning one gold to up sticks and go home???!

Hang your heads in shame Australian men. And be thankful that one male has finally risen out of the primordial soup that is Australian athletics, and in that great and proud discipline of race walking has reclaimed the manhood of this great, brown, big, flat, brown, big, flat great land.
Speaking of primordial soup, the Liberal Party is apparently going great guns now. According to Dennis Shanahan of The Australian "Brendan Nelson is fighting back". This is based on nothing except... well actually it's based on nothing; not even Shanahan is able to sustain the belief throughout the article - by the 7th paragraph "fighting back" has become "Nelson has tried to reassert his authority"; and by the end it's merely Nelson (and Costello) making "a lot of noise"; but hey it makes a nice headline, and certainly is an interesting compliment to Christian Kerr's argument also in The Australian that the mainstream media (unlike frivolous blogs) requires "balance and fact".

Oh and today's Morgan Poll has the ALP over the LNP 57-43.

There was one interesting sentence in Shanahan's opinion piece:

"Of course, Costello was not asked and did not comment on whether he would take over if Nelson stepped down. That's the point: Costello will not challenge Nelson, never intended to, continues to hope Nelson can survive and will head off anyone who does challenge."

And why does he want Nelson to survive? Because Costello hates Turnbull. What a great party man. He would rather the Libs go to the election and lose with Nelson, than win with Turnbull. And people wonder why I think the ALP prays that Costello will stay in parliament.
6:35pm: Watching Today Tonight preempting 60 Minutes by interviewing a stack of athletes in the same way that Channel 9 will on Sunday. (Of course 7 has signed up the more well-known athletes to ensure we won't see them on 9). Apparently Anna Coren is going to CNN in America. Please let this news be true.

Great comment by Eamon Sullivan to say that at the time getting silver hurts (and it should) but then you need to reassess and realise it's still pretty damn good (but still hurts).

But does having to read stories that Stephanie Rice is linked with Michael Phelps hurt more?? Yeah right; they're an item and Ian Thorpe's overseas' girlfriend is just media shy and they want to be kept secret...
7:02pm: We see a delay of the last 500m of the Men's K1 1000m, Ken Wallace gets bronze (another Gold to Great Britain - they're beating us 18 Gold to 11!).

Have to say tonight's athletics events are not in my remit, but that didn't stop me last night and I picked Gold in the women's Javelin and Men's 110m Hurdles and silver in the men's 400m and triple jump.

The men's pole vault is always an absolute lottery. I was in the stadium the night Sergei Bubka no heighted in the qualifying at the Sydney Olympics; so the one thing you can predict is that for someone nothing will go to plan. Here's hoping Steve Hooker can get thing to click.

The women's long jump is up in the air as world leader Naide Gomez of Portugal didn't make the final, so I'm tipping Maureen Higa Maggi of Brazil. But there aren't any real stand outs this year - in fact in athletics in general this year it's been a hard one to pick - the Americans have mostly stayed home to prepare for the trials, and those competing in Europe have been looking more at the Olympics than the Golden League - next year before the wrold Championships everyone will be competing and going for it before hand on the European season, and so it becomes easier to judge.

The women's 5000m will be won by Tirunesh Dibaba (yes she of the put your house, my house, your neighbour's house on her for the 10,000m fame). She broke the WR over the distance in June, so you could say she knows how to run the 12 and a half laps.

The big question of the night will be if Jamaica can break the 13 year old WR in the 4x100m... I'm going to say yes.

The women's 4x100m... hmmm the Jamaicans came first and tied for second in the 100m; gee who will win this one? Can they break one of the most infamous WRs - the one set in Canberra in 1985 by the East Germans? Here's hoping.
A fantastic article from The Times by a former English Table Tennis player on those rumours about the athletes' village being a hot-bed of sex. Is it true? Let him tell you:

"too right it is"

Yes it sounds like everything you may have dreamed about.

He also makes this interesting observation: Male gold medallists become hot property, but female gold medallists are no more desired than those that bomb out. Make of that what you will. (Most likely that women are picky, and men are just desperate).

Says an Australian table tennis player of the vibe:
It is unbelievable in there; everyone is totally crazy once they are out of their competitions. God knows what it is going to be like this weekend. It is like a world within a world.”

And from a British runner on the bloody swimmers having all the fun:
The swimmers finished earlier in the week and it was like there was an eruption.

Which is also why male marathon runners look so haggard - not only do they have to run 42km, as theirs is always the last event it also means they've missed out on all the fun (or perhaps haven't missed out, thus explaining their looking haggard!).
9:56pm: After 2 rounds of the lung jump the website tells me that Maggi is in the lead...
I'm going to say it: there is nothing more stupid than showing highlights of the 20km walk in slow-motion. C'mon!! They're walking!! You want them to go slower?? Speed them up; put some Benny Hill type music; then at least we might get a laugh, and ignore the fact that most of them are actually running (just running slowly).

Once again, kudos to Jared Tallent; kudos.
I'm going to change my position on basketball being in the Olympics. Yes the NBA is the high point for a basketball player, but the Olympics does mean a hell of a lot. And the fact is when it comes to international competition, the Olympics is the pinnacle. Tennis remains really no different from a below Grand Slam level tournament (why isn't it a mini Davis Cup tournament? Why the singles and double comps? Shouldn't it be Australia versus USA etc?) and should go, but basketball can stay.
10:12pm: Men's 4x400m... bad run by Hill in the last leg up the straight - didn't really seem to be putting everything on the line... I think we'll miss out... bugger by 1 hundredth of a second. Damn! (And geez, doesn't Raelene Boyle lay the boots in!!!)

The time is actually the third fastest by an Australian team (so Raelene admits they did run ok... though not Steffensen or Hill!!).
We see an incredibly long montage backed by (I think) Placido Domingo belting out some operatic aria. I can remember at the Barcelona Olympics they did a montage with "Time to Say Goodbye" playing as background. It was fantastic. The reason why I can remember it? Because it was the only one they did!!!!!! Less is more, people!
This is getting funnny now. I flicked over to catch the end of the footy on foxtel, and when I came back another montage is on... at least I think it's another one... it might actually be the same one!
Australia get through as a lucky loser in the 4x400m... which means we get to hear Raelene have another go at Steffensen and Hill!
After 4 rounds of the long jump Haggi remains in the lead (she went in the lead with her first jump, and has fouled every jump since).
The women's 5000m is at a walk-pace. How slow? My best time over 3000m as a 14 year old was 45 seconds faster than the pace they went through 3000m. If you are woman in this field and you can't kick then it's time to start worrying...

Tirunesh Dibaba is not one of those who had to worry. What a run. The final lap done in under 60 secs. So Dibaba does the 5k, 10k double and becomes the first woman to do so, and takes the title of greatest ever female distance runner.
The women's long jump is over - Maggi won with her first jump of 7.04m. Boring? Well Lebedeva with the second last jump of the competition jumped 7.03m. Would've been great to watch the reactions... oh well I guess that doesn't compare to the sensation of hitting refresh on a web page...
The pole vault is going, but I have to say this about the pole vault - it take bloody ages, and only get interesting once the chaff has been sorted out from the wheat. Still it is frustrating while watching the 5000m runner going past the pole vault to see that the competition is on, and yet Channel 7 don't even acknowledge it.
11:07pm: Pole vault update, Hooker clears 5.60m on his first attempt, and thereby goes into the lead as the only vaulter to have not had any misses. (Kinda time to start showing it wouldn't you think?)...

The women's 4x100m aaaaaaaaaaauuuuuuuuuugggggggggggghhh! What a stuff up by the Jamaicans! The Nigerians are ecstatic, as are the Belgium team.

Stewart for the Jamaicans took off about an hour early for the 2nd change. Bizarre. High School standard error.
11:21pm: Oh geez, give me a break, Hooker is in the lead in the pole vault final, and instead we go to a qualifying session of the diving? Disgraceful. (And even better is that the diving is delayed... I wish this was a one off mistake, but as we all know, Channel 7 have done this over and over this week). In protest I shall continue to not watch Dancing with the Stars and instead watch Australian Idol. (Apparently they're going head to head).

Matt White tells us the men's pole vault is coming up soon. lol. No doubt next White will let us know that up soon Carl Lewis will be going for gold in the 100m.

11:31pm: Matt White tells us the bar is at 5.60m and Hooker is yet to jump. So that's just a blatant lie.

Steve Hooker's "first jump" at 5.60m ...oooh will he make it??!

11:36pm: So Hooker makes the jump.. do they now jump to the live action (only 5 men left in the competition? No instead they show a montage of the German weightlifter whose wife died last year and he promised to win a gold for her (and did). Now I love a good story like that as much as anyone. But I have seen that montage a good 10 times now, and Channel 7 have sucked the life out of anything remotely heartening. No one is up at 11:30pm to watch montages. Show the bloody sport!

AUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHH, they go back to the diving. I'll tell you what happened - the Australian qualifies 2nd, and the other one qualifies 5th. It happened 2 hours ago!!

11:52pm: From the website I see that Hooker has cleared 5.80m on his last attempt. Now that is drama!

11:56pm: Matt White tells us Steve Hooker has just made his first jump. Another nice lie. He has cleared it, but he has also cleared his next. White's next update will be that Jesse Owens has just taken the lead in the long jump.

11:59pm: Hooker is guaranteed a silver. He has missed twice at 5.85m.....

12:00am: Matt White just says "Let's hope Steve Hooker can keep on jumping"

12:04am: Hooker going for his last attempt at 5.85m... He cleared it!!!! (Channel 7 goes with the men's 4x100m. Ok the pole vault probably stops during this, but geez talk about missing a highlight of the games - and remember we saw all 15 minutes of Craig Stevens swimming a 15oom heat live (and he came 5th)

12:09am: The Jamaicans just slaughtered the relay WR. From 37.40secs to 37.10secs. Wow. Bolt - 3 events 3 WRs.

12:10am: The pole vault is down to 2 men: Hooker and Russian, Lukyanenko. ... Both miss at 5.90m

12:13am: Matt White tells us the pole vault is down to 2 men, both have missed at 5.85m... liar.

This is how Channel 7 would do the moon landing.

Matt White: Welcome back from that classic repeat episode of Get Smart. Neil Armstong has just landed on the moon, but here's Buzz Aldrin coming down the ladder.

12:18am: Both have missed twice at 5.90m... (Channel 7 is having 5 minutes of adverts instead of quickly getting the competition up to live - which would be easy to do given the amount of time they take in between jumps).

12:20am: The Russian has now missed three times. If Hooker clears he wins. If he misses, they have a jump off... geez this is great stuff I can't believe Channel 7 could score such a bad own goal...

12:22am: HOOKER WINS!!!!!!!!! He clears 5.90m!!!!!!!!! (Channel 7 meanwhile are showing his first attempt!)

12:26am: Hooker on Channel 7 is going for his 2nd attempt.. don't think he'll make it... nope. What a shock, I must be psychic.

12:28am: Another advert. The ABC radio is live at least - Hooker is going for the Olympic Record.

12:32am: On Channel 7, Hooker is going for his third attempt. 10 minutes behind reality....

It's still amazing, and should have been even better. David Culbert is close to tears I think. (He says Hooker's sister went out tonight because she couldn't bear to stay home and watch - well she needn't have worried about that!)

12:39am: After another long ad break Matt White tried to make it sound like Channel 7 were right there. Sorry Matt, I don't know what you actually do on Channel 7 in non-Olympics time, but be sure I shall never watch it.

He breaks the Olympic record!

12:45am: White says "Something quite unique has happened out there at the Olympic stadium tonight". He is bloody well right: an Australian won gold, and the broadcaster missed it. (But remember we did see Craig Stevens come 5th live).

Well that's it for me: Athletics A+. Coverage F-.

No comments: