My Friend the Tube

Monday, August 6, 2012

Image Source: studenttravelToday was a monster day for Olympic viewing – 4 events attended, spread from East to West. Table tennis, gymnastics, a women’s soccer semifinal between Japan and France, and men’s volleyball (including the U.S. handily defeating Tunisia). And London’s transportation system made it possible.

The Japan-France soccer match at Wembley was a good one – with France picking up their attack in the second half before bowing out 2-1. Later, at the volleyball venue, I kept an eye on the other women’s soccer semi-final in Manchester: the exhilarating match between the U.S. and Canada. The U.S. women will now get a chance to actually come to London for the London Olympics, since the final will be at Wembley.

Image Source: flickrI have a new hero. He is Bulgarian gymnast Jordan Jovtchev – 39 years old and with gray hair, competing in his 6th Olympics. Jovtchev made the final round of 8 competitors for a medal on the rings – which is, in my opinion, the manliest event in the Olympics. Jovtchev doubles as the President of the Bulgarian gymnastics federation – while still competing at the highest level of his sport, finishing 7th in these Olympics. Jovtchev had great crowd support (especially from those of us who thought “hey, if that gray-haired guy is out there, I can be too!”), as well as the reverence of his competitors. I want to eat whatever Jovtchev and beach volleyball golden oldie Emanuel Rego are eating.

It was good to see Brazilian Arthur Zanetti win the gold medal in the rings – the presence of several South American gymnasts in the finals today bodes well for Rio in 2016 and shows the development of gymnastics in countries other than the traditional powers.

Gabby Douglas faltered on the women’s uneven bars and finished last among the 8 finalists. But her body language is so positive, even in defeat. She came into the stands after her event and sat with her teammates (getting a warm hug from Jordyn Wieber) to watch the men’s vault competition. There was no sulking – they all seem to be enjoying their Olympic experience. A team gold medal will do that. Aliya Mustafina was a deserving winner on the uneven bars, and 27 year old Beth Tweddle gave her home crowd something to cheer about by earning the bronze.

When you watch the pace with which the competition unfolds, it reinforces how your fate as an Olympic athlete is sealed in a moment – and that moment could pass without you noticing, unless you grasp it. Everything the athlete has to offer needs to be brought to bear in that instant. 8 men or women walk into the arena for an event (the rings or the uneven bars, for instance) and they have one chance to do it. Mustafina has a look on her face that seems to say “this is my time,” and today it certainly was.

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