Now that the Olympics are at an end, I wanted to take a few minutes to reflect on some moments that I thought represented the best and worst of these Games.
1) Michael Phelps - Talk about an iron man. 17 races over the course of, what, 10 days or so? Winning all that gold was quite amazing, too, as were all the world records. I even heard Spitzer pronouncing him the greatest Olympian. Phenomenal.
2) Beach Volleyball (May-Treanor/Walsh and Rogers/Dalhausser) - I put in a couple late nights the last two days in order to watch the gold medal matches in beach volleyball. Rogers/Dalhausser gutted out a strong win after getting off to a lousy start. I really thought we were going to see another Latvian-style upset, but thankfully the "thin beast" woke up and made a nice run. Hands-down, though, my favorite matches were watching May-Treanor/Walsh absolutely destroy their competition. These two athletes are simply amazing. I don't think I've ever seen a team so consistently on the same page with each other. It was also remarkable to see their mental toughness. I don't think they ever got down, despite a miss here or there. Most excellent!
3) Usain Bolt - Wow, what a speed-demon! His 200m performance was simply remarkable - perhaps even better than his 100m, where he coasted into the finish. For someone that tall to run so fast and so easy - it's truly a wonder. Normally you'd see a guy like that running a 400m or greater. Very nice.
4) Changing Times (China surges with gold, wins gold with the Games, too) - Aside from the oppression of demonstrations, I do think that China put on a very nice Games. There have been some complaints here or there, such as about stands not being full, but that's really quite normal, I think. The biggest challenge I imagine was getting visas to people to get them into the country (I've read that this was a challenge). Overall, though, I think this really represents China's coming out party as a major player on the world stage that knows how to play (mostly) nicely with others.
1) Usain Bolt - Well, we have to counterbalance Bolt's amazing performances with his theatrics and stupidity. My greatest annoyance was his pulling up at the end of the 100m because he was so far ahead. What a jackass. Run all the way through. It's really quite simple. Just do it. I hope he misses out on endorsements as a result of his antics, because he has not demonstrated adequate maturity to handle his place on the world stage. Disappointing.
2) Women's Gymnastics - I can't think of a single Olympics where there hasn't been some sort of controversy in women's gymnastics. Frankly, the system is still only 3/4 baked (better than half-baked, I suppose). Judges really need to provide short explanations for deductions. Perhaps more concerning than the judging, however, is an apparent flaunting of the rules by the Chinese. It was reported on NBC late last night (or, uh, early this morning) that the IOC has referred the matter of underage athletes to the FIG for review in light of new evidence presented. It's possible that up to 3 of China's athletes were under the age limit of 16. Now, I don't want to get into a discourse on why this rule exists, because I personally find it to be rather stupid, but rules are there nonetheless, and they're intended to provide for a fair competition. If all three Chinese gymnasts are found to be underage, China stands to lose all but 2 bronze medals, which would be a major shock. Hopefully it won't be found to be that bad, because it would be a crumby way to win a (higher) medal. Still, cheating is cheating, and the rules are the rules. Why is it always China that's pushing the limit on these things? Particularly disgusting now that they're the host nation.
3) Team USA Track (disappointing results) - Well, there's not much for me to say here. We had a few standouts, such as in the decathlon and women's discuss, but overall our track team has not been looking very good. Dropping the baton (men and women) in the 4x100m was pretty bad, as were the performances in the 100m. At least we swept the 400m. I dunno, maybe we didn't do too badly, but it sure doesn't seem like that's the case. It just feels disappointing. Next up: all the doping results. Let's hope nobody major is DQ'd and banned.
That's pretty much it for me on this. Overall, I'd say it was a good Games, but man do I ever need some sleep. :)