We watch the Olympics all day so that you don't have to.
Excruciatingly tense game for the U.S. women's soccer team in the quarterfinal match against the Netherlands. After falling behind 1-0, it was 2-2 at the end of regulation, and still after another 30 minutes of Extra Time. All the more, the U.S. had three goals waved off because of off-sides, all three calls justified, though two of them were by about the width of a shoelace. But in the penalty kick phase, the U.S. goalie stopped two shots by the Netherlands and the American women only needed four of the possible five kicks to win. So, they're now in the semi-finals. Four teams left, including Sweden who crushed the U.S. in the opening round, and who the U.S. will play in the finals, but must first face Canada. Which remains an "if," given that the Americans don't seem to be playing at their peak. But still, they've made it to the semis.
It was great to see Katie Ledecky win her signature event, the 800-meter freestyle, for which (coming into the Olympics, and perhaps still) she has the 23 best times in the world, beating out Australian Ariarne Titmus. I think Titmus is terrific, and likely will be an even-greater competitor than she already is now, having won two Gold medals. But I was especially pleased to see Ledecky beat her for the third time in the games, my pleasure having nothing to do with Titmus but because I thought her Aussie coach was churlish when Titmus won the 400-meter race, dancing around and raving like a maniac. It got a lot of attention, and it seems many people thought it was a hoot. Excitement and happiness is one thing, but especially given how gracious Ledecky was in her loss, it made him look boorish and infantile, and as if he'd never been at a race before. In fact, many considered his swimmer the possible favorite in that race, not remotely a come-from-behind underdog.
I'm glad that during the 10,000 meters race (an event I always enjoy) they did an homage to Billy Mills legendary win at the 1964 Olympics, showing the last 15 seconds where this totally unknown American came from nowhere and out-sprinted everyone to win. I didn't see it, but actually heard it on the radio. Oddly, they covered the Olympics on the radio, as well as on TV, and had to take a shower, so I brought my transistor radio into the bathroom. And to this day, I clearly remember the stunned announcer screaming out, "HERE COMES MILLS!!!" My only disappointment with the homage to Mills was that they didn't mention that Disney made quite a good movie about Billy Mills (who was an American Indian and had a difficult, trouble life growing up on a reservation and later marrying a white woman), called "Running Brave," which starred Robby Benson.
Here's the last minute-and-15 seconds of the race. The huge favorites were r Mohammed Gammoudi of Tunisia and Ron Clarke of Australia. A big deal that gets overlooked by the announcers in their excitement is that at one point Billy Mills gets bumped an pushed to the outside. You won't hear it referenced (it was later), but you'll see it. The call is slightly different from what I heard, since this is the TV feed, but it's very similar -- since, ultimately, pure excitement just takes over.
And just for the heck of it, to show what a good job they did with the race (and as I said, the whole movie was quite well done), here's about five minutes near the end.
Note: It's say it's the "trailer," but it's not.
I didn't get to watch as much of the Olympics during the day as I normally do, since I got invited again to go out sailing on the Pacific Ocean with my cousin Jimmy Kaplan. So, I don't have as much to write about as usual. However, I justified taking the time off from my normal vegetation in front of the TV by recognizing that, rather than watching, I was taking part in a very late trials competition for the yachting preliminaries to make the USA Team. As you can see, we had tough adversaries with a couple of young girls to our right on solo sail board, and happily we passed them with ease and took our heat. We hopefully will be getting our credentials soon…
More to come…
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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