Thursday, August 18, 2016

Olympics Thoughts, Early Week Two

Another collection of thoughts from watching the Olympics on Monday through Wednesday, on the second week of competition.
  • I caught the badminton men's doubles quarter-finals match between Malaysia and Korea, and it was amazing. The speed of the game and reaction times required from those guys is incredible. I know nothing about Olympic-level badminton, but the announcers were saying that the Koreans were huge favorites. Nonetheless, the Malaysian team took them to a third set and then pulled ahead, winning in the end by two points.
  • I've probably seen a steeplechase race at some point in a prior Olympics, but I don't remember it. This time around I'm finding it to be one of the more interesting races to watch - 3 kilometers, a bunch of hurdles, and even a water hazard after one of the jumps. Congratulations in particular to Emma Coburn, the first American woman ever to medal in the event with a bronze.
  • Poland's Anita Wlodarczyk won the women's hammer throw, setting a world record in the process. Her reaction right afterward was great, celebrating well before the hammer landed - she knew right away it was a great throw. Most of the time, the athletes are looking for scores or waiting on judges in those kind of events, but it was fun to see someone so confident right away for a change.
  • They really like their volleyball in Brazil. The home country's athletes always get big crowds and cheers, of course, but it sure seemed like the spectators were especially worked up for Monday's matches. I watched both the beach and indoor men's volleyball matches on Monday, and the crowd noise was huge. Nice to see both Brazil teams advance, although it's too bad that the beach win was at the expense of the US men. Same big fan base on Tuesday, but things didn't go so well as the Brazilian women's indoor team was beaten by China, and the top-ranked women's beach volleyball duo lost. It wasn't until the very early morning Wednesday that Brazil finally pulled off another big volleyball win, on the beach over the top US women's duo in the midnight madness match. They lost both the medal games, so Brazil ended up with just the one silver medal on the beach. The crowd was fully into every match, win or lose for the home teams.
  • The Brazil women's soccer team ran into the same Swedish defensive wall that took down the US women, and lost the same way, on penalty kicks. Unlike the US match, though, it sure looked to me as if Brazil was the better side almost the entire way through. I know FIFA makes rules changes even slower than MLB does, but I sure wish the game encouraged more of an offensive stance. Perhaps giving the team with more shots on-frame an advantage in the penalties, to discourage the kind of defend-until-time-runs-out stance we've been seeing.
  • This whole mess with US swimmers reporting being robbed at gunpoint is being blown all out of proportion. It's getting more coverage than a lot of the events. I'm not surprised - drama sells - but I'll be really happy when it goes away.

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