Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I Am Watching the Olympics (Day 4)

For the sake of full disclosure, the 3-year-old is watching Little Bill, which is about her favorite show these days.

But I will be watching the Olympics soon, and, when I do, I will be particularly interested in these events among the 23 sports in action today:

-- men's 81kg judo, in which Travis Stevens of Bellevue, Wash., has advanced to the semifinals;

-- men's skeet, in which Vincent Hancock of Eatonton, Ga., is bidding right now (!) to repeat as Olympic gold medalist;

-- men's whitewater canoeing, which is pretty fun to watch, and

-- women's team gymnastics and the redemption of Michael Phelps, which I'm sure will dominate NBC's prime-time coverage.

Previous reports:

123 comments:

  1. OK! My main man, Vincent Hancock of Eatonton, Ga., just blasted through six more made shots. He is leading the final shoot and currently stands one make ahead of competitors from Denmark and Qatar ...

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    1. When the Dane says "pull," it sounds like "pauuuuul."

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    2. Now through 21 shots, Vincent Hancock is up two on the guy from Denmark, while the guy from Qatar slipped to four behind and tied with a Russian who looks a lot like my wife's late grandfather, whom I loved.

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    3. Vincent Hancock never missed a shot in the final, and he becomes the first person to win two Olympic skeet medals. Hooray for Vincent Hancock of Eatonton, Ga.!

      The fellow from Denmark scored silver, and then the fellow from Qatar won a shootoff with my wife's Russian grandfather for bronze.

      It turns out that the Russian who I thought looked like my wife's late grandfather, Valeriy Shomin, is celebrating a birthday today. (Happy birthday, Valeriy Shomin, in spite of the shootoff loss.) He's freaking 41, three years younger than me.

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    4. First medals for Denmark and Qatar!

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  2. Here are the scores from men's basketball so far today:

    China 54 - 73 Russia
    Australia 70 - 82 Spain

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  3. Lithuania leads Nigeria in men's basketball 30-19 with about 2 minutes to go in the first half. It is a rare match-up between two nations that wear green.

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  4. Lithuania, who were crushed by Argentina in their first game, lead Nigeria only 34-27 at the half. Lithuania has made it to the semi-finals of the men's basketball competition at the Olympics five times in a row -- every time since they became an independent nation. They have three bronze medals and two fourth-place finishes. But the Lithuanians are probably feeling very nervous right now.

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  5. Lithuania is only 1-7 from behind the arc. That's not like them.

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  6. In the men's 81-kg judo, an American, Travis Stevens, was fighting the defending champion from Germany. The winner would advance to the gold medal round. It was such a close match that neither man could score -- so it was decided by the referee and judges. If you've ever watched the Olympics -- or, for that matter, paid much attention to bodies that arbitrate international disputes (such as the UN or the WTO) -- you should be able to figure how that went for Mr. Stevens.

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  7. Lithuania's rolling now. They're up 56-36 on Nigeria with less than a minute to go in the fourth quarter.

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  8. Meanwhile, Travis Stevens loses an officials' decision in his semifinal half-lightweight judo match with defending gold-medalist Ole Bischoff of Germany. Back in studio, MSNBC hails our man from Bellevue, Wash., for "a great fight" and calls the result "unfortunate" before, unable to help itself, adding, "if you're an American fan."

    Stevens, who was bloodied and seemingly exhausted after the semi, now has to get ready for a bronze-medal match yet today.

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    1. And 20 minutes later, Stevens loses the bronze-medal match, 1-0, to Canadian Antoine Valois-Fortier. Rats.

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    2. By the way, I had this event wrong in one of the earlier comments. This is men's half-middleweight (not half-lightweight) judo.

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    3. Medalists men's half-middleweight judo: South Korea gold, Germany silver, Canada and Russia bronze.

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  9. Earlier today in team equestrian, Germany--which, after a slow start in these Olympics, has had a pretty strong last 24 hours--won gold. Great Britain took silver, and New Zealand, bronze. That's New Zealand's first medal!

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    1. Indeed, I missed the individual-eventing results yesterday: Germany gold and bronze, Sweden silver. Kristvalla's Sara Algotsson Ostholt--who, like my wife, appears to be a short, smart, upper-30s mom of one daughter--claims Sweden's first medal.

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  10. Urgh! I missed men's C-1 canoeing earlier today: France gold, Germany silver, Slovakia bronze.

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  11. Lithuania beats Nigeria 72-53.

    Next up in the men's basketball, Great Britain (0-1) will take on Brazil (1-0).

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  12. The first of two men's individual foil fencing semis are underway ...

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    1. China's Lei Sheng just beat Italy's Andrea Baldini, 15-11, which means Italy will not today build on its all-time lead in fencing golds.

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    2. Next up is a South Korean, Byungchul Choi, and an Egyptian, Alaaeldin Abouelkassem. But, right now, the crowd in the fencing arena is being led in performing what the British emcee referred to as the "Mexican Wave."

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    3. "Referee, please ... start the fight!"

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    4. And we're off. The Egyptian is vying for his country's first medal of these games--and first-ever in fencing.

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    5. The 5-foot-8, red-shoed South Korean just made a lunge at his opponents legs, and the lanky, 6-foot-2 Egyptian soared into the air, landing on the South Korean's back and then rolling off and onto the corner of the competitive stage. After about 30 seconds of remaining on the floor, Abouelkassem returned to action, and now he leads, 2-1, with 30 seconds to go in the first of three periods.

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    6. The Brits always refer to the wave as the "Mexican wave" because no one in Britain knew about the wave until the 1986 World Cup, which was played in Mexico City.

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    7. Through two of three periods, it's now Egypt's Abouelkassem 5 to South Korea's Choi 4. This is obviously a pretty different match than the first semi, when China's Sheng got to 15 early in the second five-minute period ...

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    8. Three-minute period, I should've said.

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    9. Abouelkassem surges to 8-5 in what has become a pretty chippy match ... 1:48 to go ...

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    10. 56 seconds ... the Egyptian leads, 13-11 ...

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    11. 38 seconds, and the South Korean closes, 13-12 ...

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    12. 26 seconds, and we're in some kind of officials' review after the South Korean goes to the floor ... still 13-12 for now ...

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    13. The Egyptian is awarded the point, and then he quickly takes the match-winner, with 16 seconds remaining in the third period.

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    14. China's Lee Sheng presumably will be the favorite in the gold-medal match, as he finished eighth in Beijing. And this time, 6-foot-2 Abouelkassem of Egypt will be looking up at his foe; Sheng is 6-4.

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    15. Number2Son took fencing lessons a few years ago; he really liked it.

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    16. Now on tap is the bronze-medal match. Italy's Andrea Baldini will try to salvage what would be his country's 115th medal in Olympic fencing, tying France for the all-time lead. Fencing has been contested at every summer modern Olympics.

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    17. That's very good news about Number2Son. We need him in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.

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    18. Now we appear to have some kind of controversy around the electronics used in the competitors' uniforms to determine scoring.

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    19. South Korea's Byo\ungchul Choi is ahead, 4-3, and getting dressed again, so maybe we'll be returning to action soon.

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    20. Baldini test-poked Choi a few times and appears satisfied that everything is A-OK, and now we're back to business. The South Korean is up, 6-3, with 52 seconds to go in the first period.

      Ah, I spoke too soon. Now there's a scoring complaint and delay to review ...

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    21. 9-5, Choi, at the second period's start ...

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    22. 12-9 ... 1:30 to go in second ...

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    23. 17 seconds ... 14-13 ... Baldini challenging ...

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    24. EIGHT SECONDS in the second period, and we're tied at 14!

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    25. And the two competitors play out the equivalent of taking a knee, and we'll go to the third and final period deadlocked!

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    26. About 20 seconds into the third period, the South Korean whips his foil under the left arm of the Italian--just a moment before the Italian plunges his foil toward the South Korean's unarmed chest. But that's fencing for you! It's a game of inches. Byungchul Choi is your individual foil bronze medalist; Italy is denied a medal, and all of theHP French readers rejoice!

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    27. And here come our tall-boy combatants for gold!

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    28. Lee Sheng has been able to breathe a bit easier on his way to today's gold-medal match. He has allowed his losing opponents 9, 6, 8 and 11 points en route to the final; whereas, Alaaeldin Abouelkassem of Egypt has allowed his opponents 10, 10, 10 and 12.

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    29. It's 4-2, Sheng, in the first period, and now Abouelkassem's left arm is being examined. Could the Egyptian's historic Olympic march be halted by injury?

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    30. Sheng waits motionless, his head draped in a white towel.

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    31. Back to action ... Sheng 6, Abouelkassem 4 ... 28 seconds remaining in the first ...

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    32. It's 9-8, Sheng, with 1:13 to go in the second. This is a tense match of two aggressive and big men. Once the fencing starts, the crowd goes silent, and all you hear is the squeak of sneakers on the playing surface and the occasional grunt.

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    33. 30 seconds to go in the second, and now it's the Egyptian up, 11-10.

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    34. And that's how it will stay, going into the third!

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    35. The competitors tap foils, and here we go.

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    36. Alaaeldin Abouelkassem 12
      Lei Sheng 11

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    37. Alaaeldin Abouelkassem 13
      Lei Sheng 11

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    38. Alaaeldin Abouelkassem 13
      Lei Sheng 12

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    39. Alaaeldin Abouelkassem 13
      Lei Sheng 13

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    40. Alaaeldin Abouelkassem 13
      Lei Sheng 14

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    41. Abouelkassem spins on the piste, clapping for the crowd. He claims silver for Egypt's first medal of the Olympics. China takes gold, and South Korea wins bronze.

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  13. In men's basketball, Brazil squeezes out a 67-62 win over Great Britain.

    Next up, what should be a ding-dong battle between France (0-1) and Argentina (1-0).

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  14. The U.S. women's soccer team beat North Korea 1-0; they now advance to the quarter-finals.

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  15. Argentina has come out ice cold in their men's basketball game with France; the French lead 19-12 after one quarter.

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  16. Argentina looks much better in the second quarter, but France lead 32-29 at the half.

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  17. My kids used to love "Little Bill."

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    1. It's pretty good. Gregory Hines does the voice for Little Bill's dad.

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    2. Actually, Little Bill is quite good. The adult dialog is especially great. One thing, though: I'm pretty sure this show is where my daughter picked up the concept and complaint of something being "boring."

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  18. Women's half-middleweight judo medalists: Slovakia gold, China silver, Japan and France bronze.

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    1. I don't understand why poor old Travis Stevens was apparently the only judo person who had to fight for a bronze medal. It seems like everyone else who gets to the semi-finals is automatically a bronze medalist.

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    2. I know. That was some odd structure where both of the semifinal losers ended up having to fight someone else--and then the winner of those two matches won bronze.

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    3. The gold medalist in the women's event here was Urska Zolnir of Slovenia, not Slovakia--sorry. The 30-year-old hails from Celje. That's the first medal for Slovenia, so hooray!

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  19. I complain -- a lot -- about European sports and European sports officials, but FIBA's rules for basketball are much, much better than the NBA's rules.

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    1. Except for the rule that lets you tip a ball while it's in the cylinder. I don't like that one. But I like the others.

      Best basketball rules:

      1. KHSAA
      2. NCAA
      3. FIBA
      4. NBA

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    2. The Sweet Sixteen is so great.

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    3. It's the best tournament in the world.

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  20. After a fairly desultory first half, France and Argentina really got it going in the third quarter. With one quarter left, France leads 55-53 thanks to 8-21 three-point shooting. Argentina is only 2-16 from behind the arc; that's why they're losing.

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  21. France still leads 55-53 with 8:21 left.

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  22. Down the stretch, both Manu Ginobli for Argentina (26 pts) and Tony Parker for France (17 points) played like the champions they are. But Argentina's outside shooting woes never stopped. They went 4-23 from behind the arc, and that just killed them. France wins 71-64.

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  23. After one quarter, the men's basketball team of the United States leads Tunisia 21-15. The Red, White, and Blue are 0-8 from three-point range, but 9-12 inside the arc.

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  24. The U.S. now leads 26-15 with 9:13 left in the 2d quarter, and Tunisia has called time.

    I truly don't understand all the whining from the U.S. press about the NBA guys playing in the Olympics. Nobody complains when Brazil has an all-star team in the World Cup. And our team is much more exciting than Brazil's soccer team.

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  25. I haven't heard the press whining. It's the the NBA owners and Stern who want to change the format to make the majority of NBA players unavailable to play.

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    1. Listen to talk radio. They've been whining for weeks. As have a lot of newspaper columnists. And before this, they've been complaining for years. It truly bothers them to cover a competition where the United States is generally better than everyone else. They all want to cover the underdog.

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  26. Plus the officiating faced by our guys is absurd. So far we've been called for 8 fouls (Kobe has three himself) and Tunisia has been called for four. So this is one of those games where the more athletic team is also committing more fouls. You almost never see those games in normal play, but you will see them pretty much any time we play in the Olympics.

    The U.S. leads 39-30 with 2:43 left in the 2d quarter. We are 1-10 from three-point range.

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  27. I also enjoy watching LeBron much more in these games than I do in the NBA. He's figured out that if he ever drives to the basket -- like he does all the time for the Heat -- the FIBA officials will call him for a charge. So he mainly just plays defense, gets rebounds, and makes these fantastic passes to set up other people. He had four assists in the first half, and two of them were as pretty as anything you could hope to see.

    The U.S. leads 46-33 at the half. We are 2-12 from three-point range, while they are 7-16. We were called for 10 fouls, while they were called for only 5. Under those circumstances, a 13-point lead is really good.

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  28. The U.S. has heated up from three-point range in the second half, going 6-10 from behind the arc. That made it easier for us to blow the game open. Anthony Davis also helped -- he didn't play in the first half, but in the second half he has gone 4-4 from the field and 2-2 from the line, with 10 points and 3 rebounds.

    The U.S. leads 102-58 with three minutes to go in the fourth quarter.

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  29. The U.S. beats Tunisia 110-63. Anthony Davis goes 5-5 from the field, 2-2 from the line, and finishes with 12 points and 3 rebounds.

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  30. Ah, good ... good to see Jordyn Wieber smiling tonight.

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  31. WOW! The U.S. women's gymnastics team is just blowing up.

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    1. So tense ... a little girl at our church this past Sunday prayed that her grandmother would be OK watching the gymnastics this week, and I can so relate.

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    2. Hooray for Gabby Douglas! Hooray for Jordyn Wieber! And hooray for their moms!

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    3. And hooray for Aly Raisman and her folks! These girls were amazing.

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    4. Russia took silver; Romania, bronze.

      Wieber is of DeWitt, Mich.; Douglas, of Virginia Beach, Va.; Raisman, of Needham, Mass.; McKayla Maroney, of Laguna Niguel, Calif., and Kyla Ross, of Alisa Viejo, Calif.

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  32. I love this AT&T commercial where the guy listens to The Odyssey and then Moby Dick over his handset. I also love these Chevrolet commercials that Tim Allen narrates.

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    1. Third medal for Scmitt of these games ... gold in 200m freestyle ... Missy Franklin missed bronze by a hundredth of a second.

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    2. Missed who won silver and bronze--can't afford to check now and run in to spoilers. Will catch up later.

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    3. The gold-medal winner is Allison Schmitt, whose name I misspelled in different ways in earlier comments, and her "hometown" per NBC is Canton, Mich. Congrats to Allison Schmitt.

      France took silver; Australia, bronze.

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  34. This Nadia Comenici commercial narrated by Morgan Freeman--not sure the product ... Nadia Comenicis, presumably--is also excellent.

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  35. Channel 6 of Paducah just promoted one of its late-news segments, about swimming, by calling it "the sport that Michael Phelps made popular four years ago."

    Yeah, who had ever heard of "swimming" before Phelps brought the backwater sport to the world's attention in 2008?

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  36. The McDonald's commercial where the Egg McMuffin gets the brush off from the oatmeal who is smitten with the cup of coffee ... very cute.

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    1. What a crazy 200m butterfly finish for Michael Phelps and Chad Le Clos. Sweet pictures of the South African gold medalist's dad. Japan took bronze.

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  38. Women's 200m individual medley: China gold, Australia silver and United States bronze. The winner is 16-year-old Ye Shiwen, who has slashed seconds off her personal bests and neared men's times, drawing suspicion that she's on the juice.

    Bob Costas: "Major breakthroughs are part of sports. So, too, is doping."

    Meanwhile, congrats to Caitlin Leverenz of Tuscon, Ariz., tonight's bronze medalist.

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  39. Men's 4x200m swimming: HOORAY! I love Michael Phelps.

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    1. United States gold, France silver, China bronze.

      What a great race this was. The end of the NBC primetime show last night was giant.

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    2. During the Andrea Kremer interview after this race, one of the swimmers said something that seemed to indicate that putting Phelps on the fourth and final leg of the relay was designed at least in part to give him the extra four minutes or so of rest after his earlier, 200m butterfly race. Maybe I misunderstood, but, if not, that's astounding to me that just four extra minutes of rest might be so critical.

      Whatever, it worked. The three U.S. swimmers ahead of Phelps (Allison Schmitt's training partner and a Baltimore boy) gave him ample cushion to hold off the field at the end. Those three were Lochte of Daytona Beach, Fla.; Conor Dwyer of Winetka, Ill., and Ricky Berens of Charlotte. Other members of the team who also received gold medals--I'm guessing that is because they swam in various heat relay legs leading up to the gold-medal final--were Davis Tarwater of Knoxville, Tenn.; Matthew McLean of Sterling, Va., and Charlie Houchin of Raleigh. Houchin is a 24-year-old and Enloe High School boy whose parents swam for North Carolina State.

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