The women's open water marathon is a 10K swim out in the sea surrounding Rio. Happily, this is not one of the areas that has been reported with high levels of pollution. That is mainly the boat harbor. It's certainly not the most exciting race to watch for most of it, not just for the long distance, speed, lack of great perspective and that most of what you see are heads and flailing arms. But I like it, like other somewhat similar events, that take place is such striking natural environments.
And still, for as long and monotonous as the race can be...this one actually had an incredibly exciting finish. How exciting? It was won by the Dutch swimmer, but I rewound my TV's DVR, and this is the photo I took of the finish for the Silver and Bronze, where you have to touch the official pad at the end. After swimming for almost seven miles, this folks, folks, is close --
By the way, the Italian swimmer finished second, over the woman from Brazil. The difference -- again, after swimming for nearly seven miles -- was... 0.02 seconds.
The announcers were Rowdy Gaines, who moved from his indoor commentary, and surprisingly Mary Carillo, who usually just does featurettes, and doesn't often get to do much play-by-play. This brings up a larger issue, though. Mary Carillo is one of my favorite Olylmpic announcers. Her featurettes are also such a joy -- fun and fascinating. Yet I haven't seen one during the whole Games so far. In the past, they've often brought her into the studio during the late night show and she's sat with Bob Costas to talk and them present her video. But I haven't seen that with their new set up. Maybe I've just missed them. Maybe they're holding them for later. Maybe they'll do it during primetime soon. Or maybe they've cut them down. I'm certain they haven't cut them out, because in the NBC special before the Games, she spoke with Costas of what she's been preparing, and they had clips. But geez, where are they?? If some have been on, at least NBC should make them easily accessible online, but their online site is such a disorganized mess, and I can't find them there. So...where are they?? We're halfway through.
In weightlifting, Sarah Robles became the first American women in 16 years, taking the Bronze Medal in the Super Heavyweight category. Before her lifts, she lets out a big scream, and afterwards in the studio she was asked why. "I like to clear my head of the...things. And that way, if my voice is the loudest one there, there won't be anything telling me I can't do it." (I also loved her talking about calling her grandmother first. She was very charming, well-spoken, happy, and noted that her mother was there with her, so they celebrated together. But as for her grandmother. "Well...y'know, they're old. So...well, you just make sure you get the call in.")
In the late afternoon, they had Greco-Roman wrestling. And that brings up another Olympic memory from the 1984 Games in Los Angeles --
Before the Olympics began, I sent in for tickets to as many events as I could. Some were events I really wanted to see, and some were for convenience. Either easy to get to or easy parking. The latter was why I sent in for tickets to Greco-Roman wrestling. I had no deep desire to see it, but it was held in Anaheim at the Convention Center, fairly close to where a friend, Adam Bezark, lived. I drove down there (about 45 minutes away) and parked at his place. Then, we walked over, about a 20-minute stroll.
Now, before heading down, when friends heard I had gotten tickets to Greco-Roman wrestling, I was roundly ridiculed -- by everyone. What a stupid event to go to. Why on earth are you going to that??!! HA, oh, you're a hoot. But I didn't care, I wanted to see as much of the Olympics as possible. And this had convenient parking.
It also turned out to have one of the most dramatic, signature moments in the entire Games. That's because when the American Jeff Blatnick fought in the super-heavyweight finals, he was a huge underdog against Thomas Johansson of Sweden. No American had ever won a Gold Medal in that event. But Blatnick had an even bigger story -- he had been diagnosed with Hodgkin's Disease, and overcame it. And in one of the most dramatic moments of the Olympics, as I said -- Jeff Blatnick won the match, and the Olympic Gold. By the score of 2-0. And the moment he did, in the memorable moment, he fell to his knees, and in pure emotion, held his hands together over his head in prayer, almost in total disbelief.
And I was there. And took this picture.
And when I got back home, and for the rest of the Games, and even beyond, people were no longer ridiculing me for being at Greco-Roman wresting, but rather saying in awe..."You Were THERE???!! God, how lucky!!!"
And they're right. It was lucky.
By the way, here's video of the full match, if you're interested. It's worth it, because of the emotional build-up to The Big Moment. But if you just want to see the exciting, emotional last 1:20, where the score is still tied, 0-0, and he scores his first point and then holds off to win, just jump to the 7:00 mark.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
Feedspot Badge of Honor