We watch everything, so you don't have to...
I was watching the 50K race walk, which is just over 30 miles, when an odd thing happened. (And yes, I watch long races where the competitors walk, okay?!) Former world record-holder Johann Yaniz of France had a long lead, when suddenly he stopped. And stood there, bent over for about 10-15 seconds. (This brought about one of my favorite exchanges between announcers I've heard during the game. The main play-by-play guy asked, "Is this allowed under the rules?" To which the expert analyst replied, "Yes. But it's not recommended.") Anyway, eventually several race officials came over to see what the issue was, since Yaniz clearly seemed to be having problems. What the announcers finally noted was that he "appeared to be having gastro-intestinal issues." And that appeared to be a fair assessment, given that he was given a towel to...well, let's just say to do some wiping. What was odd is that he remained standing there in seeming distress for about a minute -- he had that big a lead -- and the announcers figured he was out of the race. But when the walker in second place came upon him, he tapped Yaniz twice when passing by, and the Frenchman began walking again, stride-by-stride with him. This latest for a while until Yaniz fell back in the pack, though kept on. And about 10 minutes later, he collapsed. (Clearly, the distress was more than something that required a towel.) Yet even then, when race officials came up to him with a bag of ice, he got some strength from that, and then continued on. And then, 40 minutes later, with only five kilometers to go, he stopped again, bent over. But after about 20 seconds, he got encouraged by another walker and started up again. The initial video of his gastro-intestinal problems will clearly make its way around the Internet (and already has...), but what everyone will miss is how much distress he actually was in, and how he nobly he continued on. Later still, he stopped race-walking and just began "regular" walking, slowly. But continued race walking yet again. And completed the 12 mile race.
As may be clear by this point, I like long races. And I enjoyed the 50K race walk -- though was surprised that NBCsn gave it SO much airtime (they covered almost the whole thing, which was 3-1/2 hours), which I suspect means there aren't all that many morning events left. But it's still one of the more inexplicable events. I don't just mean Olympic events, but events, period. "Hey, here's an idea, what if we have a race to see who can walk the fastest?!!" To which the next guy asked, "If they really want to walk fast, why don't they just...well, run??"
By the way, the difference between the Silver and Bronze Medals was only eight seconds. During the last kilometer, the gap was even closer. It must be so frustrating to be only, say, five feet behind the racer ahead of you and know how easy it would be to overtake him, but are stuck with the rule that says, no, no, you can't go as fast as you can and run, you have to walk.
Rhythmic gymnastics just started. Oh, dear God, please make it stop. This is why they invented the remote control. There, good, it's off. I put badminton on instead. ("But it's sooo pretty." Yes, and so are flowers. But they aren't an Olympic event.)
I was looking at the schedule upcoming to help plan my days ahead, and saw that Sunday morning early they also have rhythmic gymnastic on again. Why this is held until Sunday morning, the last day, is a puzzlement. Maybe it's a case of "Geez, I don't know when we should put it on??? Okay, how about Sunday morning, we have nothing else there?" This is a theory I prefer. Anyway, with my planning done, I know what I won't be doing on Sunday morning...
I'm officially in hell as I write this. After watching badminton on Bravo for a while it ended. And so did their Olympic coverage there for the time begin. I checked back with NBCspn, and they still had rhythmic gymnastics, so I quickly switched back to NBC. And they had...synchronized swimming!!! Aghhh. ("But it's soo pretty." Yes, and so is ballet, but...well, you know.) Fortunately, the Golf Channel has the ladies Olympic golf. I like watching golf -- yes, I'm one of the few -- though am not sure if it should be an Olympic sport. But it is, and it sure beats Synch-R-Swim and rhythmic gymnastics. But then, so does hitting yourself in the head with a hammer...
Throughout the Games, NBC has show little, lighthearted pieces by some fellow named Rutledge Wood. Perhaps he's done a lot of the network, and I just haven't seen him. That's fine, but I'm been wracking my brain to figure out why NBC thinks he’s so wildly entertaining that they give him so much air time?? It's not that he's bad. He isn't all all -- in fact, he seems pleasant, and does a solid job getting across his sense of fun. But there’s nothing in his pieces under the surface, and the surface is as thin a veneer as one can possibly have. He did a piece today on games that Brazilians play at the beach. A perfectly fine topic “Mind if I play paddle ball with you?...Great, thanks….You’re SO good at this…Wow, you’re the world’s best…Thanks, bye.” And in the meantime, Mary Carillo sits in Purgatory. As well as all the wonderful Anne Thompson pieces that my friend Clare Duffy produces, which tend to show up on the pre-primetime syndicated Olympic Zone show or just online -- not to mention the featurettes with Tom freaking Brokaw, which I'm still waiting on. Just one piece so far by Mary Carillo. One.
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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