Well, today is the last full day of competition. Sigh. Ah, well, life will not only go on, but have a whole lot more time to do it in...
As I've noted, I like the long races -- I think it's because the point isn't just to be the fastest, but there's strategy involved and a lot of maneuvering going on, as a story develops. And early Saturday morning, another long race took place, as the women's triathlon was run. And swum and cycled. At the Olympics, they don't use the standards of the more brutal, marathon-length "Ironman Triathan," but it's still pounding. About a mile-long swim, 25 mile bike ride, and six-mile run. Last Olympics, bizarrely, after all that, it came down to a photofinish. That winner, Nicola Spirig of Switzerland, wasn't favored this year, though, because her top competitor was American Gwen Jorgensen, who's won her last 14 triathlons. They two were running side-by-side with about 15 minutes to go -- and there was some amusing jockeying. Spirig was in front, but Jorgensen was a step or two behind, "drafting for the wind block. A couple of time, Spirig tried to slow down, almost to a stop, so that Jorgenson would pass her -- but the American wouldn't. Eventually, they began talking to one another in some gamesmanship. Not long after, though, Jorgensen took off and left Spirig behind, becoming the first American to win the event, coming in first by almost half a minute.
There was an intriguing competition for the Bronze Medal, as well. Two Brits, roommates, best friends, and training partners. Almost step-in-stop, seemingly very friendly -- as I'm sure it was, up to a point. But that point was the reality that only one would get a medal. That ended up being Vicky Holland, who came in third just three seconds ahead of Non Stanford.
By the way, I had an idiotic gaffe yesterday when writing about the 50K walk race. I'd written how that was about 12 miles, and of course it isn't. As eagle-eyed reader (and scientist, which helps...) Greg Van Buskirk wrote in to remind me that, in fact, it's just over 30 miles. That's a long stroll in the park. My brain freeze was that, in my mind, I was converting kilograms to pounds, rather than kilometers to files. Since one kilogram is 2.2 pounds, I multiplied, moved the decimal point, and got it wrong...
And there was yet another long race that I quite like, the women's cross-country mountain bike race. I always find this a hoot, though a grueling one, as the cyclists crush their way up hills, around curves, over boulders, down inclines, across fields and more. With one lap (out of six) to go, the two leaders were within a half-second of one another. It was won by the Swedish cyclist Jenny Rissveds who pulled away by 37 seconds.
I've grown to like the rowing events all the more. Today they had the pairs sprints. I don't recall sprints all that much in the past, but they're becoming my favorite of the rowing. Rather than sitting with two-sided paddles, for the springs an athlete is kneeling, with a single paddle on the end, and stroking the beejeepers out of the thing. It's fun to watch -- and being a sprint, is much more focused.
The soccer final was one of the dramatic epics that you wouldn't even write for movies. Played n the home country, where soccer is a religious experience, where they've never won an Olympic Gold Medal, where they remember getting crushed in the most recent World Cup by with an horrifically embarrassing 7-1 loss to Germany, plays Germany in the Olympic final before the packed home stadium, plays to a tie, goes to a shoot-out, takes it down to the very last shot -- and that last shot is taken by the current god of Brazilian soccer, a player who only days ago had to be carried off the field on a stretcher, and he scores, to win the Gold Medal. But from a broadcast and historic perspective, what I especially liked when watching it live in the afternoon, is how NBC covered that last shot from several angles, and so you could so the maniacal reaction from so many different views.
Though NBC has been derelict in showing featurettes from Mary Carillo, they at least have still showed quite a few pieces by Jimmy Roberts, that are always very good themselves. Not a amusing, or as much about the culture of the land, but very thoughtful, entertaining, and eloquent about the athletes and competition. The one they ran today was about "firsts" at these Games.