Because everyone is blogging about the Olympics
Four of us here at my school woke up at 3:30 am this morning to watch (live) Michael Phelps and co. swim for Phelp’s eighth and final gold medal of the games. I’ve been pretty disciplined with the thesis/practical project this week, and bummed to not really be able to watch much of the Olympics. But I do waste a bit of time online reading about what’s been going on–and then wasting even more time looking for highlight clips (NBC is not available to watch online here in the UK–and they’ve bee very diligent about pulling clips off of YouTube as soon as anyone posts anything.) But it occurred to me that I probably waste more time trying to find clips online than if I would just let myself watch for 1/2 hour or so each day. So the other day I watched my first event: the women’s 10,000 meter race–and was totally surprised at how moved I was. As the race ended, I had tears in my eyes. And I know everyone’s saying it, but I was in awe just to witness the perfection, endurance, skill, training, etc of these athletes (and laughed to myself that we all sit on our duffs at home, feeling inspired by these athletes who do the opposite of sitting on their duffs, setting world records and making it look easy). So this morning’s 3:30 am swim was the only other event I’ve watched live. And it was very exciting. But medal #7 (the 100 m butterfly, which I heard about before I got to see it)–HOLY. COW. He truly came out of nowhere, and I bet Cavic is kicking himself for taking his time to touch the wall.
From USA Today:
…he needed a million dollars worth of technology to confirm he won the 100 butterfly by .01. It took the governing body of swimming — FINA — to slow the frames to 1/10,000th of a second to be sure he had won his seventh gold to tie Spitz.
…A portion of the world media was casting a skeptical eye on that butterfly finish explanation, because nothing gets an Olympics controversy bubbling faster than the idea an American might have gotten away with something. All this — the close finishes, the debate, the swirling emotions — turned the week into an epic.
I’m also struck at the tinge of national pride I know this gives me and so many Americans. But to hear Phelps respond to provocative comments by saying “”I always welcome comments…That’s what American swimmers do. They rise to the occasion,” and then go out there and swim his heart out (“All it takes is imagination.”), I can’t help but smile.
And in case y’all in the States are wondering, Michael Phelp’s story has gotten loads of press over here, too. On TV they had a life-sized cutout of him in the BBC studio, and they would add gold medals to the cutout as the medal count rose. (BTW, I’ve finally figured out that I can watch the Olympics online on BBC, so I’ve been able to watch as I please with less wasted time looking). The whole world seems to have been pretty excited about this one, and was rooting for Phelps (one of the girls who woke up at 3:30 to watch this with me is from Germany; another from Japan). Also from USA Today:
Much of the swimming community was awed by his deeds. After helping explain the judgment on the butterfly finish Saturday, FINA executive director Cornel Marculescu looked ahead to Sunday’s relay — and a chance at No. 8 — and said, “Hopefully tomorrow swimming will see something extraterrestrial.”
So much for Swiss neutrality.
On another note,
When I was younger, I remember my family complaining how America-centric the TV coverage (NBC in particular) of the Olympics was. Well, I can attest that the Brits are just as bad–if not worse. The events they seem to televise the most–and at prime time are: badminton, speed cycling, sailing, equestrian stuff, archery…and any other sport where the Brits have potential medalists. In the 10,000 m race I watched, they spent plenty of time tracking their English runner, who was far behind medaling distance for the entire race. But hey, it’s cool. It’s important for a nation to rally behind their Olympians–and like I say, the Americans are just as guilty of biases. But Badminton at prime time! What is that?! Oh well. It spares me from wasting time watching interesting sports. ;)
And at least they have some phenomenal swimmers and an interest in swimming, so they gave it lots of press.