We watch the Olympics all day so that you don’t have to.
It’s pretty remarkable that Sunni Lee won the Gold medal for best all-round in women’s gymnastics. Not that she won – but that she’s second best on the team, and was only put in this position because Simone Biles had to drop out. A friend said, “I heard though that she has a history of rising to the occasion in big moments.” That may be, I replied, but…she’s still second best on the team. My friend paused a moment, then said, “True.”
The other thought I had was that for all the highly-deserved celebrating Americans will have for her win, I have little doubt – that when she returns – if she was walking down the street in far too many areas of the country, there would be people (who had celebrated her win) who wouldn’t know who she was and start screaming at her for attacking the U.S. with the coronavirus. Never mind that she’s not even Chinese – not that that should even matter in the slightest.
I was happy to see Australian Jessica Fox win the Gold medal in the Whitewater canoe slalom. She comes from a deep “Whitewater slalom” legacy – her father was an Olympian and 5-time world champion – and she herself is the #1-ranked competitor in that field, but she’s never won a Gold medal. And always seems to have a big smile on her face after every race, whatever the results. She had won the Bronze medal earlier in the Games, but this was her last chance in Tokyo. And she went last, since she had finished first in the preliminaries – and she had a tremendous race and won. And was utterly overjoyed. Here – you can see her tremendous run crashing through the rapids…and her exuberance after winning, along with leaping up-and-down on the medal stand. This 4-1/2-minute video has the preceding race to start, but if you want to jump to Fox’s seriously-impressive (and adventurous) Gold medal-winning run only, it starts around the 2:40 mark.
By the way, although Whitewater races are probably my favorite of the lesser-known minor events, I still have no idea why they have both canoe and kayak competitions. Yes, I know that the boats are not exactly the same-ish, and I’m sure to those in the sport, the difference is significant. I’ve yet to figure out why it cries out for both. But – since I love Whitewater slalom races, I’m glad they have the two.
The women’s volleyball team had a scare in their qualifying round final. They were ahead of Turkey two games to none, in a best of three competition. But Turkey came back to win the next two games, to even things up. And in the tie-breaker, which is only to 15 points, the score was 10-10 – until the U.S. came on strong and won.
As popular as swimming is at the Olympics, I only watch it with mild interest. There are certain races I like – anything freestyle, individual medleys and relays. But most of the others don’t do as much for me. Butterfly, difficult and powerful though it is, is too silly-looking a discipline for me to take seriously, leaping out of the water with arms whirling like a windmill and then diving back in, head plummeting down into a water, a bit like a professional game of Bobbing for Apples. As for the backstroke, seeing someone lying on their back, a position usually associated with staring up at the stars and contemplating your navel, is not something I can mesh with the concept of “racing.” The breaststroke is a perfectly normal and respectable stroke, except it’s such a plodding one that it always seems to me like it’s impossible to go fast using it. So, that leaves freestyle, which is about as ideal as a swimming stroke gets for racing. Actually, there’s one other stroke that unfairly gets short shrift in swimming competitions, and that’s the sidestroke. Sure, it may be especially relaxing, something you use for lolling about, but to leave it out completely seems so dismissive and unfair.
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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