August 26, 2004

Tollefson not in the 1500m final

Maybe the Strib is holding back the news so it will be a surprise when NBC shows the race, but Carrie Tollefson didn't advance to the 1500m final.

Excellent running to make it to the Olympic semis after her training was geared to 5000m until 6 weeks ago.

Can the Russians sweep the women's 1500m? Or will Kelly Holmes win a fantastic double? We only have to wait 'til Saturday.

Posted by robe0419 at 7:59 PM

population-adjusted medal counts

here it is! The table that makes the chests of people from small countries swell with parochial pride ... Olympic golds won per million people.

You'll note -- or I noted -- that this being a New Zealand website that they slyly/stupidly calculated this as golds per million population, a metric on which New Zealand is doing very well after this morning's triathlon. If you look at medals per head of population, then Australia is well in front, a genuine testament to the money and commitment that country has put behind sportspeople who compete at an elite level.

To be sure, Olympic sports such as swimming, triathlon and yachting get more attention in Australia than they do in America. But it's not as if the Olympic sports are Australia's most popular sports -- as in the United States the real path to sporting riches is in the non-Olympic team sports; including one sport they don't really play anywhere else in the world.

Posted by robe0419 at 5:18 PM

August 24, 2004

the olympic spirit

Some random thoughts on the Olympics:

  • Bob Costas. Better than expected. Perhaps I just got a bad impression 4 years ago when he referred to the Australian athletes as "just terrifically humble" people ... Yeah ... hmmm ... But Larry Rawson's commentary on the women's marathon was awe-inspiringly awful. How does the man keep getting employed? Is he somehow popular with the non-running audience that tunes in to watch Boston, New York and the Olympic marathons? What is a "human hydroplane?"
  • Women's gymnastics. Tremendous agility, strength and co-ordination. But what is it with a sport that eats its young so much that these girls and women are mostly retired by 19. Still, at least they can go to college without the distractions of playing sport, right? Swimming used to be much the same way, but now you get swimmers remaining competitive into their 20s and 30s, when the athletes are more emotionally mature as well as physically mature all around.
  • How many times do we need to hear about Tom Pappas' Greek heritage. Now that he's dropped out, will they refer to this as a Greek tragedy. Why haven't we heard more about Bryan Clay, who's Japanese American and looks likely to get a bronze medal? Guess those Tokyo Games came 40 years too early for him to get on the Today show!
  • Finally, how inane was Matt Lauer's question to Jeremy Wariner about whether it was difficult to pass his team-mate in the home straight, about putting aside the team and running as an individual! That's what athletics is all about ... running as an individual ...

UPDATE (4.10pm CDT): A silver medal for Clay.

Posted by robe0419 at 1:00 PM

August 22, 2004

on and off the track

After 3 days of track and field, what to say ...

Athens in August is not California in April. A bunch of U.S. and N.Z. athletes who ran Olympic qualifying times at the Cardinal Invitational (Dathan Ritzenhein and John Henwood) and the Mt. Sac Relays (Shalene Flanagan and Kim Smith) didn't do so well. Cool California nights are ideal for running quick times, but bear little resemblance to the humidity of Athens.

Flanagan and Smith did not appear to have awful races, but were well down on qualifying for the finals; hopefully both will be around in 2008.

On the other side of the ledger, Deena Kastor's bronze! Wow. What a well-paced race, and an amazingly quick finish. Kastor appears to be one of those athletes who has worked hard, and reaped the benefits. (Click on the athletes' names for a bio, which often has a performance progression chart).

Posted by robe0419 at 4:18 PM

August 16, 2004

horses, people, whatever ...

Over at the NZ Herald website there is/was a picture accompanying an article on New Zealand's traditionally "slow" (read: no medals yet!) start to the games which is of Blyth Tait on his famous-in-New-Zealand horse, but is labelled as being of the much more attractive (unless you're really into horses) Evers-Swindell double sculls team.

In case they catch on, I have preserved it here for your benefit (PDF).

The article itself is worth a read, if only for a laugh at how the tone of the article, "let's hope we win some medals next week ..." compares to the overall coverage of American efforts.

Perhaps I was being too harsh on Katie Couric on Friday -- she did note that NZ sends a large team to the Olympics, for its size (the traditional New Zealand qualifier that inflates all achievements to world leading ones!).

If you think the coverage in the New Zealand papers is hopeful and fawning, the coverage in Denmark is apparently similar; since both countries find themselves in the position of being too small to just expect to win lots and lots of medals (like Germany or the United States), but too large to make winning medals a surprise (like Suriname).

Posted by robe0419 at 2:08 PM