Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Day Twelve: Or, Oh my God You've Got to be Kidding Me

Well last night at 12:30am we saw why I love athletics.

Two nights ago I thought "bronze was not an impossibility"; last night I predicted McLellan would do "no worse than 4th" (I wanted to say a medal, but the way I've been tipping I didn't want to jinx her!).

But what a run! At only 21, she had the best start, and kept her head while all around were losing there's, and grabbed the silver (kudos to Bruce for calling her as coming second across the line).

But the best aspect was her reaction. She and the bronze medallist, Canadian Priscilla Lopes-Schliep both celebrated together in a moment of pure exaltation and joy. It is a defining moment of the Games.

The great thing about athletics (and sport in general) is that nothing is written in stone. The winner, Dawn Harper, had the 3rd slowest PB of the field, and the Lopes-Schliep had the 2nd slowest, and McLellan the 4th slowest. Form, history, experience all mean bugger all when you need to lay it down over 100m in an Olympic final.

To do what McLellan did you need to have ice in your veins. In her interview afterwards she was in shock, but displayed the reasons for her run - total commitment of mind and body:

"I walked out into that stadium and I've never, ever been so pumped in my life," she said.
"I was acting really strangely for myself.
"I was yelling out, I was saying `come on' really loud and I was just talking to myself out loud in front of everyone sand I never do that.
"I was really ready to go ... I just said 'no guts, no glory', and I got it."

London is long way away, and a lot can go wrong between now and then (just ask Liu Xang); but from the way she spoke last night, you know she's already focusing on it - and then silver won't be enough.
Apart from my call on Sally, my tips last night were pretty bad. Sanya Richards ran a terrible race and blew up in the straight to finish 2nd. Kiprop ran a very good race, but couldn't catch the best man in the field, and deserved winner, Ramzi (my prediction was rather too subjective). Piotr and Elkna came 2nd and 3rd in the Discus, with the victory going to current world champion, Gerd Kantor (why do I think Gerd, is not a name that is going to catch on in Australia). And Lolo Jones fell at the second last hurdle (not too cut up about getting that one wrong!). But I did pick the High Jump.

So apart from the fact I bet my superannuation on Richards, I did ok.
The Olympics are starting to wind down a bit now. There's not much on during the day - no swimming, rowing, cycling or gymnastics. There's some things on, but there's no real sense at work that you might be missing out on something good. Part of me is glad - I really should have re-thought the whole "let's do a running diary of each day" plan; but the other part of me is rather down - like you feel at the end of a big night out; it's late, you know the alcohol has reached the point where you know any more will only make the world start to spin; you should go home, but you decide, what the hell, let's have another round.
Which brings us to tonight's events.

It's not a big night of athletics (at least compared to last night).

The men's 200m - apparently some bloke called Usain Bolt is running, wonder if he is any good? Here's my tip; he'll break the WR - 19.27secs.

The women's hammer throw. Now you might not believe it, but I do actually have a favourite female hammer thrower (doesn't everyone?), but reigning Olympic champion, Olga Kuzenkova isn't competing here, so I'll go with the current world leader, Polish thrower, Kamila Skolimowska.

The women's 400m Hurdles. Who cares. It should've, could've, would've been Jana Rawlison's but oh well, I'll tip Jamaican Melanie Walker.
Te big track event for me tonight is Craig Mottram going round in the 500m heats. He needs to finish in the first 4 (or next 3 fastest losers). He is in a hot heat - Kenenisa Bekele going for the 5k, 10k double; and Bernard Lagat, the reigning 5k world champion. But Buster fancies his chances at getting a medal, so if he's good enough, he'll get through. Also he is in the last heat, so he'll know what time he needs to run to get through as one of the 3 fastest losers.
The Boomers take on the USA in the basketball apparently. It's amazing, the sport is dying in Australia, no one can be bothered going to watch a game, and no TV channel would go near telecasting it; and yet there has been more news about the game tonight than any other.

Would love to predict an upset, but if we are within 30 points by the end, we can declare victory.
Steve Hooker and Paul Purgess are also up in the pole vault qualifying. Hooker is on fire this year, and should cruise through. Burgess has been struggling, but hopefully can find something and make the final.
Big softball game on at the moment... Aussie's down 2-1 against the Japanese with an inning to go... wait a minute! 2-2.

Great throw by the Aussies to get the Japanese runner out at home. They're into overtime. Would be great for the Aussies to get through to the final against America; especially as this is the last time softball will be at the games. In a dumb decision the IOC dumped baseball and softball from the games. I have no problem with getting rid of baseball, but they only dumped softball because the IOC believes there shouldn't be any sports that are for one sex only, and softball was considered the female equivalent of baseball. So why is synchronised swimming still in the games??

Speaking of which, apparently it was on last night on SBS. I missed it. Am not sure if I will ever be able to get over the disappointment. Oh wait, I just have.

Aussies failed to score in the first extra innings... makes it hard.

Double play! Great work by the Aussies.

Rather bizarrely, it isn't being shown live - over on the website a running blog on the game is about 5 minutes ahead of the telecast I am watching... (so I know the Japanese batter will fly out)...
In a free ad for McDs, the McAustralia burger they've got going for the Olympics is good eating. My Dad thinks it needs a fried egg, but it's the best McDonald's burger I've eaten since about 10 years ago when one summer they had a McKahuna burger (blatant rip-off from Pulp Fiction, but still tasted great).

On the other hand I'm not so sure about the Whopper "inspired by The Dark Knight". I don't how a burger can be inspired by a movie - does it have plot? Are there special effects? Does the lettuce have character development?
Aussies get our runner to third. C'mon, need a run here.
Having spent some time in Japan, I can tell you they are mad about softball there.
Bugger side out.
Japan, 1 out with runners on 2nd and 3rd, not looking good.

Also I forgot that on ABC2 tonight they were showing Keating! Bugger, I meant to tape it (damn you Olympics, you've taken over my life!!!)

2 outs... side out! Whew...

Just noticed Lachlan Renshaw got run out in the heats of the 800m. He was in the heat with reigning Olympics Champion, Yuri Borzakovsky and world leading Kenyan Wilfred Bungei. Now that is a hot heat.
Oh for crying out loud, can someone just score a bloody run????!!!!
I see the silver medallist in the Heptathlon has been done for drugs. Here's the real dumb thing -she had previously been banned in 2003 for steroid use. Why on earth would someone get caught and yet try again?? Surely you would think, well I've learned my lesson etc. But nope.
The Boomers-USA game is due to start in 2 minutes, it will be interesting to see what Channel 7 will do if this softball game is still going.
10:02pm: Australia score!!! 3-2.

10:07pm: The Basketball has started - USA 14 AUS 6...

oh bugger Japan just equalized... (into the 12th... bugger, this I'm going to check out the score on damn it's still going, and the Basketball is on fire - USA 21 AUS 19!!!!) We need more than one bloody channel doing the Olympics!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (and no, SBS doing the China-Brazil volleyball match doesn't count)

In the basketball it's now 21-21!!!! For the love of God someone score in this bloody softball game!!

At the end of the first quarter, USA 25-AUS 24. Amazing. One of the great quarters in the history of Austrlian basketball, and we're stuck watching an excruciating softball game that is going on and on and on...

Just see on the website that Japan win. Now we just have to wait for the telecast of that to happen so we can go to the basketball (which I suspect will be delayed).
Oh well that about sums it up for me. Channel 7 in trying to please everyone, please no one they have a softball game delayed, that runs over so they can't show a basketball game live, which means also they won't show the athletics live... time to hit the record button.

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