The skies Thursday morning for the women’s beach volleyball final were gray and leaking. The air was heavy with foreboding, as if Mother Nature were ready to lend an assist in bringing down the indomitable United States team of Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh.
A near-sellout crowd braved a steady rain, wearing pastel-colored plastic ponchos that made the stands look like rows of dyed Easter eggs, to cheer on the Chinese team of Tian Jia and Wang Jie. They were No. 1 on the program because of a quirk in the international volleyball federation’s rules and No. 1 in the hearts of the home crowd, but a decided underdog to the defending Olympic champions.
May-Treanor and Walsh won their second gold medal, prevailing, 21-18, 21-18, at Chaoyang Park in a match that was every bit as close as the final score. The victory was their 108th in a row.
There will always be another. This is the eternal lesson of track and field. On a sweltering August night 12 years ago, Michael Johnson lashed the 200-meter world record to his back and seemed to drag it deep into the future. He ran 19.32 seconds, so fast that young men accepted that they would not see the record broken again in their lifetimes.
Usain Bolt was 9 years old on that night, growing up tall and skinny — “I was tall when I was little,” says Bolt — in Trelawny Parish on the north shore of Jamaica, an hour’s drive from the vacation resorts of Montego Bay and Ocho Rios. He loved to play cricket with his friends, and if he was talented, he was also a little lazy.
But one afternoon two years later, he ran too fast at a school field day and found himself on the track team, because Jamaica will compel a sprinter to sprint. Somewhere a clock began ticking, counting down the life of Johnson’s record, unseen and unknown, but inexorable.
At the age of 12, Bolt ran 52 seconds flat for 400 meters on a grass track in Manchester, Jamaica. He won the world junior 400-meter title at age 16, beating athletes who were four years older. He was impossibly precocious. “We knew what was coming,” said Bert Cameron, a Jamaican national coach who was also the 400-meter world champion in 1983.
On Wednesday night in the Olympic Stadium called the Bird’s Nest, Bolt ran 19.30 seconds to take down Johnson’s world record.
Great article in SI.
A new race is now on for Mr. Phelps: the rush to transform the swimmer’s Olympic feat into a marketing juggernaut, akin to Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods. But the window for marketing Olympians — even those with the rising stature of Mr. Phelps — can close fast. Many of the new legions of so-called Phelps Phans likely will not see his muscled torso in a pool again until 2012, an eternity for advertisers.
Even if all goes according to plan over the coming weeks and months, few expect Mr. Phelps to reach anywhere near the earnings of Mr. Woods. That’s because the golfer, who is estimated to make around $100 million annually from both his winnings and endorsements, is competing year in, year out on television.
By comparison, Mr. Phelps made an estimated $3 million to $5 million a year through his endorsements before these Games, a huge sum for an athlete in a sport rarely televised outside the Olympics.
Now that figure could double or more, as a result of his performance here, according to Mr. Carlisle.
“What is the value of eight golds in Beijing before a prime-time audience in the U.S?” asked Mr. Carlisle, riding in the back of a Volkswagen minivan through the streets of Beijing on Saturday. “I’d say $100 million over the course of his lifetime.”
Phelps v. Spitz: By the Numbers
Number of medals: Mr. Phelps exceeded Mr. Spitz’s seven by one, with two more men’s swimming golds available. He matched Mr. Spitz’s mark of seven world records.
Head to head: In their six common events, Mr. Spitz won by an average margin of 1.58%, compared to just 0.67% for Mr. Phelps. Mr. Spitz set world records in all six, by an average margin of 0.93% compared to the pre-Olympic records. Mr. Phelps set new marks in five of the six, for an average margin 0.75% faster than the previous standard.
Across all their events, Mr. Spitz’s average winning margin was 1.47%, compared to 0.86% for Mr. Phelps. Mr. Phelps’s new records exceeded the old by 0.7%, compared to 0.87% for Mr. Spitz.
Bolt will be hot favourite to make it a golden sprint double at the Olympics Games in Beijing after cruising into the 200m final.
After winning the 100m in a world record 9.69 seconds, he jogged next to rival Shawn Crawford in the last 60m to win his semi-final in 20.09 secs.
I think Bolt should run ‘through’ the line this time without celebrating during his race. You know what they say, ‘pride comes before a fall.’
I would hate to see Bolt trip over because he is trying to watch himself on the big screen while running…
I say go for the record – smash it – set a record that will never be beaten!
Current 200m WR holder, Johnson said “I’m ready to kiss it goodbye … if he keeps on doing what he’s doing.”
See 200m videos of Bolt and Johnson here.
The limits of prediction.
Great Britain’s heptathlete comes fifth.
I am no expert on lie detectors but what if someone genuinely believes something which is wrong?
I am sure many politicians would be found to be telling the ‘truth’ but this is different as we have seen from being ‘right.’
See Sotherton polygraph test here.
Most people will agree with me – they love the Olympics because it brings out a love for their country and the pride of being selected to represent their nation or to be able to support those selected.
I have had the privilege of wearing a Great Britain vest.
But, some people just don’t get it…
I would far rather patriotism being expressed through sport rather than war.
From the WSJ.
Assorted TV commentators keep opining that the Olympics are all about the brotherhood of man, rather than national ambition or patriotism. But don’t tell that to the fanatically nationalist Chinese — or to Kobe Bryant, the NBA star who is playing with Team USA in Beijing.
In an interview Friday on NBC, the world’s most famous basketball player told Chris Collinsworth how he got “goosebumps” when he received his Olympics uniform. “I actually just looked at it for a while. I just held it there and I laid it across my bed and I just stared at it for a few minutes; just because as a kid growing up this is the ultimate, ultimate in basketball.” The Los Angeles Laker went on to call the U.S. “the greatest country in the world. It has given us so many great opportunities, and it’s just a sense of pride that you have; that you say, ‘You know what? Our country is the best.'”
Mr. Collinsworth seemed either startled or impressed by such sentiment, and asked, “Is that a cool thing to say in this day and age? That you love your country, and that you’re fighting for the red, white and blue? It seems sort of like a day gone by.”
To which Mr. Bryant replied: “No, it’s a cool thing for me to say. I feel great about it, and I’m not ashamed to say it. I mean, this is a tremendous honor.”