Aug. 17, 2008
It's been more than two weeks in country for me and I'll be shipping out in about a week's time. I keep looking for the drain and wondering where the time is swirling away... and would it be spinning clockwise, or counter clockwise on this side of the planet?
Our USA Women's Team is a competitive bunch! You could see the eye of the tiger in Shawn Johnson's eye tonight's "individual apparatus finals" opener (night one of three), but you had to look beyond the cute-as-a-button "Bugs Bunny" smile to see it. She performed virtually flawlessly on floor. One has to wonder: Had she been selected to be the last one to perform her routine... and had the new princess of the floor exercise Sandra Izbasa of Romania gone first, would the 1-and-2 positions have been reversed? VERY tough call, as nobody I know that's been in the sport a while could find any major flaws with Izbasa's routine, either.
Johnson had the stressful task of going first, then experience seven way-too-dramatic pauses between the end of her competitor's routines... and the flashing of the judge's scores on all six plazma screens located throughout the competition area. Shawn's score of 15.5 was holding up through five other competitors' performances. And then, the one rival who was thought to be her toughest competition... teammate Nastia Liukin.
Nastia had a wonderful routine on floor tonight. Liuken looked as elegant and lovely as ever with her classic ballet lines and technically astute tumbling passes. I'm thinking that she may have taken a little something off of that last tumbling pass, knowing that to risk it all and fail could bounce her out of the medals for Floor all together. She adds the bronze to her collection of Gold (Individual All Around) and Silver (Team).
Tonight Shawn seemed to enjoy winning silver - as opposed to upset losing Gold, as may have been the case two days ago in the Individual All-Around. Who could blame her then? She had asserted herself as the one to beat not just in this country (USA), but in the world. I like her attitude... a true champion with much poise and a great demeanor, no matter the commotion going on all around her.
Tonight's hard charger awards should go to two silver medal-winning foreign athletes.
Female: Oksana Chussovitina. I hope you know her story. She's 32, you know, and still blasting down the runway ready for takeoff. These are Olympics number five for her. In her first Olympics back in 1992, she earned a team gold medal in Barcelona competing for her native Russia. I saw her vault her best in international competition in Anaheim, CA at the 2003 World Championships. She was unstoppable. Why does she do it? To draw attention to her son and his disease - leukemia. She is a one-woman tower of power that has gotten both the private and public sector in Europe to notice and to make meaningful contributions to support medical research. -- Her first individual Olympic medal? Tonight... a silver on Vault.
Male: Gervasio Deferr. This robust Spaniard who is know for his vaulting (2X defending Olympic Champ) oddly did not qualify for vault in these games. With no other chance at winning a medal, this seasoned veteran seized the opportunity tonight of going late in the rotation after three favorites had roughed out their routines with obvious hitches. Deferr used the situation as added motivation. He snagged the silver behind yet another powerful member of Team China, Zou Kai, who adds the Floor Ex gold to his team gold. The best performance in the competition was Deferr's during the victory ceremony. So excited and energetic was he, kneeling down to "fist pound" the platform he was about to mount to receive his award. The man with perhaps the most Olympic medal experience coming into Beijing, Deferr may realize that this could be the last hurrah for a three time Olympian.
>All those eights aren't THAT lucky
I read about Omega's limited edition 2008 Olympics timepiece in the China Daily. Here's the deal: It's a replica of the Melbourne Olympics watch made back in 1956. For each of the 17 days of the 2008 Olympics, Omega is making only 88 of these watches. The only indication on the face that this is an Olympic commemorative edition watch is the subtle XXIX just below the center. However, on the back, the Beijing Olympic logo is etched into the bezel, and the timepiece is dated and numbered.
If I had one, I'd be tempted to wear it up-side-down on occasion, especially if there was a gold medal was hanging in my closet back home.
I finally caught up with Jean Pierre of Allentown today, who's been busy going up to Olympic athletes and asking them to take a few moments to vote for their representative to the International Olympic Committee. JP and I toured the Olympic Green this morning, covering much of the cultural exhibits and the just-as-elaborate corporate ones as well. We spoke with a distinguished Omega representative named Heinz at Omega's temporary "Oriental Village" store which is located on the Green during the Olympics. Heinz took the watch out of its glass tower for us to see up close, explaining that it will only be sold in Beijing while the Games roar on. It has a subtle (and supple) leather band that accents it's no frills understated elegance. This smooth-running machine is collector's item and an instant family heirloom for those lucky enough to have one. So who's buying them, we asked? His answer: Your typical gold medal-winning Olympic types who never want to forget the time they won it all in Beijing - and their coaches. The price: 88,800 yuan. Today, that's about $ 12,925 USD.
Time to go! Zaijian!