Posts Tagged ‘Olympics’

Olympic medal count wrapup

August 25, 2008

On the last day, the US men lost to Hungary in the water polo gold medal game. France won its first gold in men’s handball. You can easily lose sight of the fact that one medal is the same as another. Thus, a gold medal in basketball counts the same as a gold medal in handball, archery or other Olympic sport.

Michael Phelps tied for 9th place with Italy in the final gold medal count. The USA finished with 110 total medals, beating out the haul from Athens. China finished a fairly close second with 100 total medals (give or tka 4 or 5 medals if the women’s gymnastics team winds up disqualfied), Russia 3rd overall, the UK 4th and Australia 5th.

Jamaica received a total of 11 medals, most all in track and field, including several for the world’s fastest human ever, since Neanderthal days. That’s a medal for every 250,000 or so Jamaican residents. However, the Bahamas won two medals, for an average of one medal per 153,000 residents. Georgia got six medals, taking the advice of the IOC and not withdrawing their team after war broke out. Neighboring Causcasian states Azerbaijan got seven medals, Armenia got six. Iran only got two.

India won up with three medals, including its first ever gold in an individual sporting event. That’s one medal for approximately every 380 million Indians. If India had a per capita medal count like Jamaica’s, India would win, well there aren’t enough medals in the Games for that case. Mexico finally wins gold.  

According to the actual official Olympic web site, there were 958 total medals up for grabs. If your country won a single medal, then you tied for 69th place overall amongst the family of nations. If your country won two medals, then you tied for 57th place. If three medals, 51st place. If four medals, 44th place. If five medals, 38th place.  The US won 11.5 percent of all medals. China won 10.5 percent of the total, Russia 7.6 percent.

For the closing ceremony handover, Ken Livingston was denied his place on the stage by London voters back in the spring. Now visitors to London in four years will not have to worry about seeing bingers puking on the Tube. God save the queen.

Olympics day 16

August 24, 2008

How lucky can one guy be?
I kissed her and she kissed me.
Like a fella once said:
Ain’t that a kick in the head?”

The room was completely black,
I hugged her and she hugged back.
Like a sailor said quote:
“Ain’t that a hole in a boat?”

My head keeps spinnin’,
I go to sleep and keep grinnin’
If this is just the beginnin’
My life is gonna be beautiful.

I’ve sunshine enough to spread,
It’s just like the fella said.
Tell me quick,
ain’t that a kick in the head?

The Rat Pack was cool, and the movie “Oceans 11” was cool. What happened at the taekwondo match wasn’t. I won’t mention anything about hotheaded Latins or Cubans here. That would be perpetuating stereotypes on my part, and that’s something I would not want to do. Now as for the Irish…

No mention anywhere(?) regarding Team USA in the whitewater and flatwater events. Well that’s because the USA USA failed to garner a single medal of any kind in those events. Germany dominated. The Us Olympic Whitewater Team HQ is in the city where I live, and the Olympic trials were held here in a multimillion dollar whitewater training facility, actually an artifical whitewater river. If a gold medal had come of it, then I guess it would be on the front page of the local paper.

Kenya finally gets a gold medal in the men’s marathon. And sets the new Olympic record. Britannia still rules the waves in Olympic sailing.

Something else Team USA sucks at still, is trampoline. Yeah, something you could have, may have in your backyard, just like the ping pong table that may be in your garage. Millions of people here ping pong, but we still suck at that too.

Interesting just surfing through the NBC Olympics website, more interesting usually than the TV coverage. The US won its first gold medal ever in history in double trap shooting. The Olympian (hey I don’t have a training staff or iPod endorsements but I’m an Olympian too!) is currently a government issue US Army soldier at Fort Benning, Georgia. His skills are quite suitable for his day job.

Today in men’s water polo Serbia is playing Montenegro for the bronze medal. These two countries were like, the same country a year ago, as ‘Yugoslavia.’ Montenegro is a whisper of a country, having a population or around 600,000. Wonder if it would mean something for one to beat the other, aside from merely winning a medal. The US is actually playing for the gold in men’s water polo. As for women’s water polo, their wardrobe isn’t as revealing as that of other sports, so that explains why it hasn’t been as popular?

Olympics day 15

August 23, 2008

She was only sixteen, only sixteen
I loved her so
But she was too young to fall in love
And I was too young to know

What kind of sport is it where being under 16 is an advantage in competing at an adult level?

Seems that the Team USA track and field is going through the same woes as basketball had in the first half of this decade. Team USA has still done quite well, especially in the field part, and actually leads the medal count overall in track and field. But USA is supposed to dominate the sprints, and has not. Baton dropping is the latest American sports tragedy scandal. The US has been upstaged by some little Caribbean island known more to Americans for Rastafarianism, reggae and rum, not to mention jerk barbecue and all inclusive beach resorts. Maybe the sprints mean more to them, but as might be expected there are the accusations.

So the pollution has not been an issue.

Doesn’t the basketball gold medal game seem more like an NCAA tournament first round game, a 2 vs 15 or a 3 vs 14? I mean as far as talent differential goes. Don’t expect the Redeem to show up lackadasical as a 2 ro 3 seed might in the NCAAs first round. No, the rest of the world has not ‘caught up.’

IOC says, no major league all stars, no baseball. Would MLB do as the NHL does, suspend the season so its stars can participate? In football (soccer to us) FIFA has said, no. The World Cup will not be upstaged. And doesn’t MLB put on something called the ‘World Series?’ Cuba has dominated Olympic baseball, and that of course is due to political reasons. So the IOC is dangling this carrot in front of MLB. But does the MLB have the same kind of product as the NBA or the same marketing ambitions? Maybe with the decline of baseball in the US, they should go for compromising and providing players. Team USA baseball could kick ass again, whip the Dutch 30-0 as we well should.

The IOC will vote in October 2009 in Denmark about whether to add two sports for 2016. The other sports are softball, squash, karate, roller sports, seven-on-seven rugby and golf.

No cricket?? How about chess, that would be an interesting choice maybe players moving chess pieces around would count as ‘physical exertion.’ Softball can come back now that it’s clear other countries have a chance. Roller derby, now that’s something the US should kick ass in. Ballroom dancing I guess came and went. If BMX is in, roller sports should be in. Women wrestling? Mud wrestling. Golf should be added. There are course that already exist most anywhere, and if an Olympic site doesn’t, spending money on building a tour quality course wouldn’t be very objectionable. Adding rugby for 2012 would be great for team GBR. The IOC needs to think bigger regarding the martial arts. K-1 anyone??

Team GB has passed Australia for 4th place on the overall medal count, and it will be a photo finish with Russia for 3rd place in gold. GBR has three times the gold of France, who finished a splendid second in the race for the 2012 games. Team USA is set to top the overall medal count of 2004, and should finish #1 in the overall medal count in 2008. But China will be clearly #1 in gold. Jamaica has 10 medals, meaning one medal per 270,000 citizens. Jamaica mon it is the world’s most athletic nation.

East London, best known as the setting for a long running soap opera, is getting an extreme makeover for the 2012 games. London hopes to have an Olympic park that will top Munich’s Olympic park and will give people a reason to keep going back after the games are over. Ambitious goals. London will get a modern (like the rest of the continent) transport system. Now the question of how to man the Team GB football team.

If you are a royal subject (or have ambitions to be) and are “between 16 and 25, and more than 5’11” (180cm) tall for girls or 6’3” (190cm) tall for boys,” then look into joining Team GB handball.

Olympics day 14

August 22, 2008

Michael Phelps has left the building Beijing. He is flying to London to check out the scene for his next Olympic appearance. Then he will chill and figure out if he wants an Aston-Martin or a Maserati to replace his pedestrian BMW. I’m sure than unlike our presidential candidates, he really isn’t an elitist. An no dating fellow swimmers.

Reading any of the athletes’ blogs? Here’s some postings for today.

Have to mention in the medals race that South Korea has slightly more medals than Japan. Japan has double South Korea’s population, so go figure. Once upon a time Korea (North and South) was occupied by Japan for some 40 years. Japan made Korean athletes compete under the rising sun and only recently transferred credit of national origin for some of those medalists.

Futility in sport matters to some patriots.

Russia is doing better than the USA USA in overall medal count. The big red one has slightly more than half of the US’s medals, with a population somewhat under half of the US. Russia is shrinking, a sort of a population neutron bomb. America is getting bigger and bigger thanks to illegal immigrants and other sorts of huddled masses. Native (US citizens not talking about actual Native Americans exclusively) women aren’t responsible for the first-world’s healthiest population growth.

I was just reading, John Edwards may have had yet another affair, this time with a ‘mysterious’ Duke graduate. Sorry, that has nothing to do with the Olympics.

America is still trailing in the gold count. An Italian Olympic official had predicted last month that the US gold medal count would rise and beat out the Chinese by 11 medals. Time is running out. The same web page also has an article about an Aussie scientists who predicts the increased use of Viagra at these games. Gold medal count rise indeed.

PriceWaterhouse Coopers predicted a one medal win for China. It’s about the GDP of the country that determines its medal count, not my theories of athletic prowess and other national character traits. It’s the economy, stupid. The GDP trend is your friend for medals.

Meanwhile the former head of the IOC predicts that China will indeed be #1 in gold at the end of the day. With the current lead, kind of an easy prediction to make. Makes his hosts happy though.

I’m into data visualization, so if you haven’t seen this Flash representation of Olympic medals counts from the NYT, check it out. The medals counts of all Olympics are there for you on a slider. Countries are shown in geographic location as circles sized by the relative number of medals they won. You can watch the ebb and tide of national fortunes from the end of the 19th century to the 21st, just by moving the slider back and forth with your mouse.

Take the 1908 Games. Man, 100 years ago the Brits totally dominated the planet. The UK controlled 1/4 of the Earth’s surface back then, and they was da bomb in those Games, which they graciously hosted. The Brits had 3x the medals of the #2 country, their former colonies the United States. Sweden was third, and then the French, Canada and Germany. If athletic dominance could have been transmogrified into battlefield dominance, then the Brits would have been able to kick the Kaiser’s ass in no time.  I am sure though in 1908 that no one was thinking that way since King George V was Kaiser Wilhelm II’s cousin. Admittedly, the Brits dominated in 1908 because hey hosted the games. Transport and corporate sponsors were a wee more hard to come by back then. The US dominated their games in 1904 where the Olympics were merely a side show to the St. Louis World’s Fair (times have changed unimaginably, St. Louis hosting the Olympics!!???), the Greeks in 1896, Even the Swedes in 1912.

Check out this blog from the WaPost on NBC’s coverage of the games on TV. He has my kind of attitude.

The Olympics day 13

August 21, 2008

The US softball team, lost, in the gold medal game. This is like the Redeem Team losing its gold medal game. Reportedly the reason the IOC dropped softball from 2012 is the total and complete domination of the sport by the US, who outscored their opponents 51-1 in Athens. Now that the US has lost a game, will the IOC reconsider? Surely Ms. Jowell in London could slap together a softball field for the women to play on.

The horses have now been caught doping. They have been caught rubbing a substance like an equine Absorbine Jr. onto their aching leg muscles. Actually I would assume their handlers did it without telling them. Looks like Norway will have to give up their bronze in show jumping  to the Swiss.

Medal count – The US of course leads in overall count, China a splendid second. In golds, and that is the only one that matters to many people, China is still, and probably unsurmountably #1. The UK Great Britain or the GBR in Olympicspeak (seriously, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands don’t send athletes to the Games?) is establishing dominance steadily over its continental rivals in the EU (well that is if the GBR actually considered itself a part of the EU) with an overall medal count 1/3 greater than that of the French but only a population 20% greater. And as for golds alone, fageddaboudit. The French have never seemed very athletic anyway, worrying more about good food and not working too hard. Running for 20 minutes in excruciating pain so your fellow citizens won’t call you a quitter again isn’t la belle vie.

BTW if I put in the term “the good life” into Google Translate and ask it to give me the phrase in Japanese, I get のグッドライフ, which phonetically comes out as “no guudo riifu.” No doesn’t mean no in Japanese, although the Japanese can say no. “The good life” can only be translated as Japlish, meaning that there is no Japanese equivalent for “the good life.” I believe that to be correct.

Back to the subject. The Germans too have fallen on Olympic hard times. They have 1/3 fewer medals than the GBR, with a larger population. Far cry from the, I won’t bring up the details, of the 1936 Games and of the East German prowess of the 1970s and 1980s.

Speaking of East Germany, my local PBS station last night did some interesting counter programming. They showed an episode of “Secrets of the Dead” which featured the East German Olympic doping program during the 1976 through 1988 games. Not a proud chapter in Olympic history. The East German government literally killed people through their drugs program to gain socialist glory. The gender bending stuff in the late 1980s, really tragic.

President Bush is distracted by beach volleyball babes

August 19, 2008

Jeff Jacoby writes stuff like this for the Boston Globe. Why he is allowed to do this in such a liberal state, I don’t know:

Yet last week, when Russia contemptuously wiped its boots on that map, sending tanks and bombers to smash and kill their way across Georgia’s frontier, Bush’s response was feckless.

As the president horsed around in Beijing, posing with bikini-clad Olympic volleyball players, Russian ruler Vladimir Putin was directing Russian military operations against Georgia. The first response from the White House to Moscow’s naked aggression was milquetoast: evenhanded mush about the need for “a stand-down by all troops.” It took four days before Bush finally blasted Russia’s “dramatic and brutal escalation” in Georgia, and declared such behavior “unacceptable in the 21st century.” By then it was too late.

While was Bush was cavorting about town like a limp wristed dandy starting at the tight asses of the volleyball players, Putin was being a man’s man. Not he to be distracted by tits and ass. He was plotting the resurrection of the USSR while watching the Olympic athletes in their designer clothes march through the Bird’s Nest. Why is Russia’s population shrinking so much? They’re all being sent to the Gulag. Now if Bush were a real man, he’d go to war with Russia right now. With what we would go to war I don’t know, I guess we’d have to throw the cheese eaters in against them like we are doing in Afghanistan right now.

And what of the lame duck Bush. He has launched two wars during his presidency, but he started those five and seven years ago. What has he done for us lately?

The Olympics again

August 19, 2008

Surfin’ the Olympics, 21st century style…

This son of illegal Mexican immigrants won gold in freestyle wrestling. Most people would have wanted his parents booted out of the country of course, and a lot of people would have wanted the son to have been booted out of too, let alone be allowed to attend public schools. The story says he didn’t like to study, like many members of the Redeem Team, certain US Presidents and notable US Presidential candidates. So the champion wrestler declined to go to college. He is proud to compete for the USA USA. Are you?

Meanwhile, NBC posted this video of a coach who’s pissed at his pole vaulter, Jenn Stuczynski, for only winning the silver. I guess it wasn’t bad for having done that for only four years. I’ve had bosses, we all have had, for whom nothing was ever good enough. Some have even had parents like that. Either these bullies authority figures are trying to motivate through deprecation, or they just have unresolved issues.

Maybe this coach was simply having a bad day. His athlete only gets a silver, add to that he maybe has indigestion from bad Chinese food the night before, who knows? Note though that Jenn had gotten into a pissing contest with her rival Yelena Isinbayeva (can Bob Costas pronounce this name) and, lost. So I guess you can’t feel too bad about the whole thing.

The Russians (boooo! we can boo them again) are third in the overall medal race, trailing the host Chinese and the USA USA by a significant margin. However, if you add up the totals of all the former Soviet Socialist Republics, the old USSR would be the medal count leaders. In fact the good ol’ CCCP would be kicking Olympic ass. You’d hear this on the replay loop over and over. Yeah, you do have to figure that as individual Olympic recognized states, that they do have more athletes competing in certain events, but still. The old USSR had three votes in the UN, so what they hey.

Even if you only consider members of the successor-sort-of organization the Commonwealth of Independent States, then that group as a whole is scrapping with the USA USA and China for the overall medal lead.

BTW as of yesterday, August 18, Georgia (the country, not the home of the Libertarian candidate for President Bob Barr) told the Commonwealth of Independent States to kiss its ass, costing the CIS to this point five medals.

And which country really is the best at medalling? Should you count the most gold or the most medals over all? A medal is medal I think, unless you are that track coach I discussed above and that Swedish weightlifter. The best, fittest and most athletically worthy should be the one with the most medals per capita. In that case, even if China wins the most medals, most gold, whatnot it still can’t compete with the USA USA because China has four times the population. It won’t win four times the medals of the USA USA. Russia has less than half the USA USA’s population and is shrinking all the time. Mother Russia is on track to do considerably better than half the USA USA medal count, even with Vladimir Putin not participating on the judo team.

Next in the medal count so far are the Aussies, the Brits, the cheese eating you know whats, and the we’re-still-sorry-for-WWII Germans. Germany and France are neck and neck, and even though in the larger picture France has had to settle for being a splendid second, in these Games France is clearly superior, per capita, than Germany in overall medals. The UK has slightly more medals than France, and the UK has slightly more people than France.

Now if you only consider the gold, France is woefully behind the Brits and the Germans there, with the French medal count concentrated in the silver and bronze. Le Bronze indeed. So when it comes to l’or c’est l’argent ou le bronze. France est la deuxième splendide n’est pas? La troisème splendide?

The Aussies may be the world’s most athletic people, without doing further research. They have more medals than any of the old or new European countries, and with a population less than that of California or Texas.

South Korea has almost the population of France, but has slightly more medals than the more than double the population Japan. I hate to say it since I am half Japanese in origin, but Japanese performance is pathetic. Japan is still the second largest economy in the world, can’t it buy athletes like everyone else?

Now if you look at the bottom of the medal count, you could get skewed results from those nations with 1 or 2 medals but a tiny, winning their medal or medals by fluke, or because they have one particularly gifted athlete. Trinidad and Tobago have a medal for a population of only 130,000. So that’s one medal per 130,000 Trinidadians (and Tobagoans).

Now, if the Aussies or the citizens of T n’ T (what an acronym!) are the world’s most athletic and hard bodied people, which country is the most slovenly, lacking in human athletic achievement that the gods will curse the land for 1,000 times 1,000 years or for eternity, which ever comes first. Mexico with a population of perhaps 110 million has one medal. If the wrestler above had competed for Mexico (which he could, he is no doubt considered a Mexican citizen), he could have doubled the Mexican medal count. But Mexico isn’t the worst, even though it is 846 times less athletic than T n’ T.

The most unathletic country on the face of this planet is very the one that is the home of the billion dollar house, Yes friends, it’s India, home of 1.13 billion people and one Olympic medal for 2008. That’s one medal per, follow me with the math, 1.13 billion people. This is just inexplicable. Suffering succotash already.

Now what if this were to happen. For example, somebody in India would stand up and care about this situation. Then a rich dude, maybe the builder of the billion dollar house or his brother, will stand up and say “We will have the 2020 Olympic Games in Delhi, and we are going to kick world ass there.” Now, instead of spending around $1 billion US on a mere house, spend on an Olympic training program. Put the Indian training facility somewhere near Shimla in Himachal Pradesh, a setting sort of like that of Colorado Springs. Concentrate on the individual sports (pretty much all of India’s medals over the past century have been in field hockey. This year’s medal, a gold, was the first gold for India in an individual event) like shooting, archery, wrestling??

Well, actually an Indian billionaire has stepped up to the plate (India doesn’t have baseball) and pledged $10 million US as a start, and some of this money helped train the gold medalist. And there’s a plan to improve things. India will host the 2010 Commonwealth (not of the Independent States but of Her Majesty) Games and will bid for the 2020 Games to be in Delhi. Because the IOC gave the Games to China, they’ll have to give the Games to India sometime soon. Now, if baseball is reinstated for the 2020 Games, could they just call it cricket?

Phelps Phatigue

August 18, 2008

I, and probably millions of other Americans trying to watch the Olympics on TV, are suffering from Phelps Phatigue. This is a condition resulting from hearing about his medals seemingly every other minute (and at times every minute) that an NBC station is broadcasting. The presenters at NBC probably aren’t suffering, because they just read off the teleprompters. All the attention has had the effect of feeding the fascination held by the legions (or schools?) of Phelps Phans.

Now I understand for ratings purposes the coverage needs to be a bit jingo, and you need to show stuff that people want to see (beach volleyball mania) and you have to cover what the USA is good at (live b-ball at 8:00 AM, blowout highlights at 11). Now you also need to focus on several personalities because good TV sports coverage is personality driven, or has been for some time. See b-ball above. He is great for NBC’s scheduling. NBC can run endless promos in advance of his events, giving a countdown to the opportunity to witness greatness, in 60 minutes, 30 minutes, 15 minutes. And on cue, he does it. The man wins medals like clockwork. That subphoto finish in the 100 meter butterfly was great TV, and the loser (though he grew up in LA) was <jingo>from a country that we had bombed the shit out of 10 years ago.</jingo> 

I have nothing against Phelps or anybody else involved, and no offense to the Phelps Phans. It’s just that OK he set these records already, and now all the buzz on TV is about the other kind of gold, convertable to US dollars or euros, whatever he prefers. And we ain’t seen nothin’ yet. He’s the biggest thing in the water since Jaws. We will be seeing a lot more of him in the pool sporting Speedos, out of the pool on energy bar wrappers, MP3 player ads and who knows what else. I could think of things he should endorse. For example, with the news reports of his diet, IHOP and Papa John’s would be logical choices. Advertising insiders have been saying that he could make more than $6 million (not Zimbabwean dollars) per gold medal in endorsement deals (as long as he doesn’t endorse Barack Obama).

Believe me, if someone would offer me more than $50 million to hawk products and make a few personal appearances, I would even endorse greasy fast food, hell I’d endorse cell phone companies with bad customer service. I would only insist on a personal masseuse and blue and green Jelly Bellies while on tour. And he is much more deserving of the payday than say hedge fund managers, for whom $50 million would be a tip.

Phelps appears quite likely to compete in 4 years in London as well.

Just In: I just heard on NBC that if Phelps were competing as his own country (The People’s Phandom of Phelps) he would rank 6th in the gold medal count. If his endorsements work out, he could have a higher GDP than several countries too (is this really a joke?).