Archive for the ‘Olympics’ Category

Sorry for not posting in a while. Work has been busy. Extremely so.

Just got back from the Olympics on Sunday. I’ll try posting some pictures later on.

This image I got from the Slog. My friend witnessed similar behavior in Vancouver. She told me she saw a Canadian heckling Joe Biden about health care. This seems odd. No doubt a fan getting a little too enthusiastic about the US/Canada hockey game, which by the way was fabulous, we won.

But again this sign is in very poor taste. Would I point a cardboard sign at a television camera for a station in Saudi Arabia that says “At least I can drive.” Very poor sportsmanship displayed here, but I suppose tempers can get flared in these sorts of situations. Especially when you LOSE. Not that I care about WINNING. No, not at all.

Update: Okay, here’s some funny links I found via Ron Judd’s Olympic blog in the Seattle Times.

Piss off America. Oh and you lost the war of 1812.

Canada should just cheat.

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With the news that FINA has banned bodysuits in competitive swimming…

FINA, the international governing body of swimming, voted today to ban the controversial high-tech, non-textile swimsuits. Not only have the suits been responsible for a rash of world records but there has been a Wild West atmosphere among apparel manufacturers and swimmers, all trying to gain a competitive edge.

…I’d like to argue that the only surefire way to make certain that the athletes are all competing at the same level is to require them to swim in the nude. Sure, the athletes would go to town with the body hair removal but at least they would all have equal access to waxing parlors. These high-tech swimsuits are just too expensive for every athlete. And hey, it could get a boost from the Beach Volleyball fans.

1. Full body suit.

2. Rick Berens swimsuit malfunction. Notice the split in the butt. Apparently those suckers are hard to get on.

3. Your Beach Volleyball photos of the day. Photo via BSR-12’s photostream.

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Just found out that the hockey ticket I got for the Olympics next year in Vancouver is Canada vs. U.S.A. I’m dumbfounded. Schedule here.

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Here’s an great year in sports call-out to Jason Lezak, a professional free-style relay swimmer. Lezak always swims in relays and always swims the free-style leg, so he’s pretty much remained out of the limelight. Until now.

Usain Bolt wasn’t the only man in Beijing last summer to cover 100 meters under his own power faster than anyone ever had before. The other man who made locomotive history isn’t nearly as well remembered, but he should be. Without him, Michael Phelps doesn’t beat Mark Spitz, doesn’t win eight gold medals and isn’t the greatest swimmer who ever lived.

If you watched the Olympics, you’re heard of him. But there’s a good chance you don’t remember his name. You should. It’s Jason Lezak.

The whole article is a great read. Here’s the video.

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I just read an article about Peter Norman, the Australian 200m Silver Medalist at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics who stood on the podium with the Tommie Smith and John Carlos, the Americans who gave the Black Power salute. There is a new film about this moment in history. This is an absolutely touching story which I highly recommend reading in full. I can’t wait to see the film:

In Mexico, that was enough for Norman, who felt compelled to join forces with his fellow athletes in their stand against racial inequality.

The three were waiting for the victory ceremony when Norman discovered what was about to happen. It was Norman who, when John Carlos found he’d forgotten his black gloves, suggested the two runners shared Smith’s pair, wearing one each on the podium.

And when, to the crowd’s astonishment, they flung their fists in the air, the Australian joined the protest in his own way, wearing a badge from the Olympic Project for Human Rights that they had given him.

The repercussions for Norman were immediate. Seen as a trouble-maker who had lent a hand to those desecrators of the Olympic flag, he was ostracised by the Australian establishment. Despite qualifying 13 times over and being ranked fifth in the world, he was not sent to the following Munich games, where Australia had no sprinter for the first time in the Olympics. Norman retired soon afterwards without winning another title.

From John Carlos:

“Peter didn’t have to take that button [badge], Peter wasn’t from the United States, Peter was not a black man, Peter didn’t have to feel what I felt, but he was a man,” says Carlos.

Truly amazing.

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Via BoingBoing.

The International Olympic Committee has trademarked a line from the Canadian national anthem, “with glowing hearts,” and is threatening to sue anyone who uses the line in Canada, as part of the Vancouver Games.

This is par for the course. The IOC is a corrupt, bullying, greedy, hypocritical organization that uses trademark laws to limit the free speech and commerce of people who have the misfortune to attend or live near the games — for example, in Athens, they forced people to take off or cover up t-shirts that had logos for companies that hadn’t paid to sponsor the Olympics; and in Washington, they attacked decades-old businesses named after nearby Mount Olympia.

Read about The Olympic Mountains and the IOC here.

. VANOC would only challenge the commercial use of the mottoes if a business began using them to create a specific, unauthorized commercial association with the 2010 Winter Games, said the statement.

O Canada is over 100 years old and, according to the Department of Canadian Heritage, is in the public domain so may be used without permission from the government.

The committee is so serious about protecting the Olympic brand it managed to get a landmark piece of legislation passed in the House of Commons last year that made using certain phrases related to the Games a violation of law.

The list includes the number 2010 and the word “winter,” phrases that normally couldn’t be trademarked because they are so general.

The least they could do is copywrite something they actually wrote.

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Ouch. Talk about a lack of sportsmanship.

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This reverses the trend a bit:

Switching nationality in order to compete at the Olympics has become more noticeable in Beijing than in previous Games and it is beginning to cause concern among international sports bodies. The BBC’s Alex Capstick reports.

Becky Hammon failed to make the US women’s basketball squad for the Olympics, so she chose another option – to represent Russia.

Still you can’t argue with her logic:

“Well, I think you’ll find that if you do your research hundreds of athletes have done this. I guess I am the first one to just draw attention to it.

“America has done it. America has won many medals with athletes that are foreign born.”

And the US could win more medals from their foreign legion here in Beijing.

All three of their athletes in the men’s 1,500m have switched passports.

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Who knew? Via yahoo:

Spain’s synchronised swimmers have been banned from wearing a swimsuit with embedded waterproof lights which they had hoped would give an extra sparkle to their Olympic routine.

“It got very sophisticated because obviously the battery doesn’t last long and then we had to look at circuits and interrupters, so we have been working on it around two months with a crack team,” swimmer Andrea Fuentes said.

“It looks a bit like Christmas lights,” added the Spaniard, one half of the team that won silver at the last world championships and are favourites for a medal in Beijing.

Swimming’s world governing body, which sets swimsuit rules for a sport where sequins are almost obligatory, said the lights were an accessory but Fuentes still hoped they might back down.

“This is a very conservative sport … their excuse that is you cannot have accessories on your swimsuit, but they are sewn in. If you use those standards, sequins are a type of accessory.”

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Roger Federer’s disappointing season continued as his hopes of Olympic gold in the men’s singles was ended by an inspired James Blake.

The American had not beaten the top seed in eight previous attempts, but comfortably outplayed the world number one for a 6-4 7-6 quarter-final win.

The crowd was shocked to silence when Blake deservedly broke in the 10th game to take the first set.

I’ll bet.

At the beginning of the year I was looking forward to other players toppling the tennis giant. The sport was getting boring with just one guy winning everything. Now, I kind of feel sorry for the guy. He wants so desperately to be back on top, and perhaps that’s the exact problem. When you’re on the way up, ambition is a very useful emotion. When you’re on the way down, desperation to get back to where you were is hardly as effective.

I really put it out there that this guy may not be able to topple Sampras’ record after all. If I were Federer I would buckle down, maybe take a break, and just realize that that record is going to take a few years of investment.

At the beginning of the year, Federer believed this was going to be the year he’d make 14 Grand Slams. That hasn’t exactly worked for him. Take a step back, man. Relax. So says the armchair enthusiast.

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Here’s a blog post written by a man who tried a Speedo Lazer on in a Chinese community pool.

Three years of intensive research. A fabric developed in Nasa laboratories. 48 world records broken. Speedo’s new Lazer swimsuit has caused enormous waves in pro swimming world.

That’s all very well. But what happens if you wear it down at your local Beijing pool?

The initial response in the men’s changing rooms in Xiao Xi Tian is one of muted disgust.

It’s not so much the suit – that’s still in my bag – as the fact that I am woefully unaware of Chinese swimming pool protocol.

It’s a great read.

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A pretty girl who won national fame after singing at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games was only miming.
Wearing a red dress and pigtails, Lin Miaoke charmed a worldwide audience with a rendition of “Ode to the Motherland”.

But the singer was Yang Peiyi, who was not allowed to appear because she is not as “flawless” as nine-year-old Lin.

The show’s musical director said Lin was used because it was in the best interests of the country.

They faced a dilemma because although Lin was prettier, seven-year-old Yang had the better voice, Mr Chen said.

“After several tests, we decided to put Lin Miaoke on the live picture, while using Yang Peiyi’s voice,” he told the radio station.

“The reason for this is that we must put our country’s interest first,” he added.

I can absolutely say that both of these girls are beautiful. This is so sad.

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The Preppy Princess has a great series of photographs and links about the opening ceremonies from which I have snagged this one photograph to get you interested. My own comments on the opening games follow.

Observations in no particular order

  1. The ceremony was impressive and completely watchable. Nothing hokey and the giant LED screen was great. My favorite bit was the part where the printing blocks moved in waves and then at the end we find out these were being powered by Chinese people. The joy on their faces when they were waving to the crowd was inspirational.
  2. The Turkmenistan opening ceremony clothes were designed by the president. This reminds me that my friend has recommended a documentary film about the weird former president of Turkmenistan. (Rick if you’re reading, can you leave the title in the comments? I’m having trouble finding it.)
  3. There was just a commercial on TV for a laptop with Sumo wrestlers. At the end of the commercial it says proud sponsor of the Beijing Olympics. I hope they know that Sumo is Japanese.
  4. In introducing Malawi, Matt Lauer said that this is the country Madonna adopted a boy from. Can we expect him to bring up Borat for Kazakhstan? (In truth I didn’t wait up for Kazakhstan)
  5. Nice cut to George W. looking at his watch and looking as bored as hell. He is such an embarrassment. His posture is all asshole. Yo Chinese…when ya gunna end this?
  6. Spain comes in with Rafael Nadal looking so happy and excited. I just read this article on the BBC comparing the character of Nadal and Federer regarding Federer’s choice not to stay in the Olympic village. It doesn’t make Federer look good, but Nadal is clearly the golden boy.
  7. Sarkozy is there. I thought he wasn’t going to, but then he said he wanted to and the Chinese said don’t bother. Clearly, they changed their minds. But why did they show Sarkozy when the UK entered? No Gordon Brown?
  8. Russia enters and they immediately show Putin. You know it’s hard to remember the name of the current Russian President since no one really thinks of anyone except Putin as the leader. Prime Minister? Yeah right.
  9. Cut to Bush again slapping the American flag against his thigh.

Final thoughts. I’m going to try to have an open mind on these Olympics. They could be great.

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It’s easy to get disillusioned with the sport of swimming when reading an article like this. I’ve summarized the controversy which you can read about here.

  • TYR (swimsuit manufacturer) is suing athletes and USA Swimming because USA Swimming requires the American team to wear the Speedo LZR Racer swimsuit.
  • TYR is suing swimmer Erik Vendt who has a contract with them but will be wearing Speedo because of above bulleted point.
  • Vendt is counter suing because of the above and because “the lawsuit had taken a toll on his training and preparation. He was favored to claim one of two spots in the 1,500-meter freestyle, but struggled to fourth place in the final with a time more than 17 seconds slower than what he swam in the preliminaries.”
  • “In February, Speedo unveiled its next generation of suit, the ballyhooed LZR Racer crafted with help from NASA. Since then, 51 worlds records have been broken or equaled — 47 by swimmers wearing the LZR.”
  • “TYR came up with its own new suit, the Tracer Rise, that the company claims can improve performance even more than Speedo’s more publicized attire. Other companies have struggled to keep up, with Nike going so far as to let its swimmers wear Speedo suits at the U.S. Olympic trials without fear of breaking their contract.”

I have a novel suggestion. Why doesn’t everyone just swim in the nude like the original Olympians did. (I may be making that up.) I’m sure it would be much more fun to watch.

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It has been suggested that

A call to boycott any aspect of the Olympics is part of the current of not wanting to deal or directly negotiate with other nations on the “bad counries” list.

This kind of posturing makes America look incredibly immature — as if it has lost touch with the realities of statecraft and with its own important role as a global stabilizer.

Whether or not the President chooses to attend the opening ceremonies, the protest is working. I have little desire to see the Olympics because I feel the event is tainted. I predict that there will be many others like me.

Though our current government doesn’t seem to care what the people think (see here and here), I think the companies that are sponsoring the Olympics will be very concerned. NBC is probably not all too thrilled with the IOC right now for making such a bad judgement call in choosing Bejing.

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Apparently unnerved by recent unrest among Tibetans and fearful of protests in the heart of the capital, China has told broadcast officials it will bar live television shots from the vast square during the Games.

A ban on live broadcasts would disrupt the plans of NBC and other major international networks, who have paid hundreds of millions of dollars to broadcast the Aug. 8-24 Games and are counting on eye-pleasing live shots from the iconic square.

Please remind me exactly why China was chosen to host the Olympics. That was a really dumb move by the International Olympic Committee that I think they will end up paying for. I have no desire to see any of the games.

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The White House said Thursday that China’s crackdown in Tibet is not cause for President Bush to cancel his attendance at the Beijing Olympics.Presidential spokeswoman Dana Perino Bush’s position is that “this should be about the athletes and not necessarily about politics.”

She said that Bush, in accepting the invitation last year from Chinese President Hu Jintao to attend the Olympics, told him that the games would “shine a spotlight on all things Chinese.”

“That’s not necessarily a bad thing,” Perino added.

Exactly what is not necessarily a bad thing? Where does one begin listing the bad things that China is doing today? Was it just a sporting event when the U.S. boycotted the Moscow Olympics? And why exactly did China get the Olympics in the first place?

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Here‘s an interesting article about Oscar Pistorius, the parapalegic sprinter who has now officially been ruled ineligible from International Association Athletics Federation events which includes the Beijing Olympics.

The article cites compelling evidence that the prosthetic blades Oscar uses could give him an advantage:

Brueggemann found that Pistorius was able to run at the same speed as able bodied runners on about a quarter less energy. He found that once the runners hit a certain stride, athletes with artificial limbs needed less additional energy than other athletes.

Having said that, why doesn’t the IAAF concern itself with other cases that involve technological advantages? In swimming there’s an entire industry based on this creating technological advantages. Pity the athlete that can’t afford to buy the latest and greatest Speedo.

In the six months since its release, the Fastskin FS-Pro has already impacted dozens of national and international swimming records. Made from a new fabric conceptualized by Speedo, the FS-Pro offers a combination once believed to be impossible: It weighs less than half as much as most standard swimsuits yet maintains the muscle compression of a heavy body wrap. Swimmers will wear it and likely break more records this week at the national championships in Indianapolis.

It seems like the IAAF are selectively picking on the disabled.

Update: Happy to say CNN gets with the program albeit several months later.

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