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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Image Source: flickr One of the uplifting things about the Olympics is to have 80,000 people standing in respect for a victor as the national anthem of that athlete’s home country is played. 3 days ago, I stood at attention (as did 79,999 others) as the national anthem of Ethiopia was played for women’s 10,000 meter champion Tirunesh Dibaba. Tonight, I stood as the national anthem of Grenada was played for men’s 400 meter champion Kirani James. Great moments.

Allyson Felix and Sanya Richards-Ross have such efficient running styles and each qualified tonight for the 200 meter final. Olympic Stadium was buzzing again, with the women’s 100 meter hurdles being the event in which I had the greatest interest. Lolo Jones got out well at the start and it looked for a few hurdles like she might be able to do it, but she faded to fourth – another hard luck Olympics for her. It was an impressive field and an exciting race, won by Australia’s Sally Pearson.

Among my favorite moments are the seconds immediately before the start of an Olympic sprint final. The crowd noise dims to near silence; the competitiors are perfectly still in their stance. In the stadium, the sound system plays very feint music that sounds like a heartbeat. Then the starting gun, the runnners, and the crowd all explode at virtually the same monent.

One of the great things about the Olympics, though, is that incredible drama can rise up at any other time as well. And so it did at Earl’s Court this afternoon in two successive women’s volleyball quarterfinals. Japan eliminated China in five spirited, hard-fought sets, staving off a match point in the fifth set. That was followed by Brazil against Russia, the latter featuring the 6’8″ Ekaterina Gomova. Each team had the support of highly vocal fans, and Brazil prevailed, again in 5 sets and again staving off match points. Anyone who had a ticket for this session got their money’s worth.

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