The Olympics have ended. The two weeks blew by in Usain Boltian fashion. They were fast, they were furious, and they did it all without Paul Walker. The games were, as usual, riveting. NBC gave us brought out the stars, the “stars”, and even trotted out Apolo Ohno’s broke ass for. . .actually, what was Apolo Ohno doing there? Modeling his goatee? It must’ve had something to do with Subway. I digress.
With Sunday’s closing ceremonies bringing the games to an end our Olympic fever has drawn to a close. The closing ceremonies were a grand, Brit-Rock fueled pat on the back that was well-deserved by the host city. But, if we as a people had Olympic Fever, watching the Spice Girls reunion pretty much served as a gigantic penicillin colonic that doused any remaining fervor. The fever has broken. We’ve moved on. What a marvelous ride it was, indeed, and how greatly do I look forward to the next one.
So here are the Olympic awards that I would like to hand out:
Most Psychologically Dominating Performance:
Misty May-Treanor and Kerry Walsh-Jennings, USA Women’s Beach Volleyball
While there were a lot of great performances during these Olympics (*Author’s note: Bolt crushing fools, the U.S. Men’s 4×200 relay) none of them compared to the two Queens of beach volleyball obliterating the Italians in the sands at Horse Guards Parade. It wasn’t the score that made this game so memorable. What made the performance so dominating was that the American’s made their opponent cry. DURING the match.
This wasn’t a YMCA game between 3rd graders. This wasn’t Gymnastics, where more tears are shed than the girls bathroom in a middle school. This was a rough-and-tumble, Olympic sport that was supposed to feature some of the mentally and physically toughest women on the planet. Marta Menegatti simply couldn’t hang. She got a sandy backhand across her pretty Italian mouth from Uncle Sam’s nieces and broke down like a tweenage girl that just got dumped via text message.
A mid-match cry at the F-ing Olympics? Silverback Gorillas don’t establish dominance that effectively in the Congo.
Australian Pursuit Cycling Team
Wait, those aren’t spacesuits?
Most Inexplicably Under the Radar Track Performance
David Rudisha, Kenya
David Rudisha is the fastest 800 meter runner ever. Despite being humble, tough, and now a World and Olympic gold medalist, he doesn’t get much publicity. To their credit, NBC did a piece on Rudisha, but other than that his phenomenal performance in the 800 didn’t get nearly enough love.
Why does he need me to climb up onto my blog and shout like a drunk hype-man trying to whip a rap concert crowd into a frenzy for Rick Ross (*Author’s note: I’m pulling this reference from personal experience. “I say Rick-eyyy. . .you say Roooo-Zaaaay!”)?
World records in the distance/middle distance events simply don’t get set at championships. Most championship distance races are like pre-season NFL football games. Sure, some of the names are big and there’s always a little excitement for a brief period of time, but for the most part it’s just a lot of guys jostling and trying to position themselves for the part that really matters. In this case, the finish.
Rudisha, the long-striding Masai runner, trains on a dirt track at his prep school where he still lives in a small house on the school grounds. His race was the single high-point of the Olympic Games for me, although I’m an admitted 800-meter honk, and I think that his superlative-exceeding race should have gotten more run than it did.
Where Bolt was the flashy, bombastic, arrogant show-stopper, Rudisha came, conquered, and showed that he was worthy of the warrior title that his people had bestowed on him after his first World Championship. (*Author’s note: a title that the Masai normally only give to lion hunters. I can’t express how cool I think this is. 1) That there’s a tribe that has warriors badass enough actually hunt lions 2) That his people think highly enough of him to give him such an awesome honor.)
Here’s the video of his race, my apologies on the poor quality.
He wins from the front (which never happens in Olympic 800 races) and I’m convinced that the move he puts on the rest of the field at 1:44 in this video is the greatest surges I’ve seen in any race. Ever. He tows the rest of the field around to an insanely fast race and hangs on to explode the old WR and leave me shouting at my TV for a non-American harder than I ever have before during the Olympics.
In case you couldn’t tell, I think Rudisha was undersold and could just as easily have gotten the same amount of hype as Usain Bolt. Admittedly, though, I am a Bolt-hater.
Yoshie Takeshita, Japan Women’s Volleyball
A lot of people said her career had gone down the toilet after 2008, a lot of people thought she would be too blocked up to go (over the net for kills), but she came back to wipe those doubters off.
Best 1-2 Relay Combination
Shawn de Jager to Willem de Beer, South African 4×400 Relay
How’s the old saying go? Jager before Beer, you get 8th place in the Olympic 4×400 final? As my friend Eric said about this winning combination, “If you go Jager to Beer, then you know you’ll have to finish up by taking a big Pistorius.”
In all seriousness the real story with this squad was that they had double amputee Oscar Pistorius on the anchor leg. After years of being kept out of Olympic competition he finally had a chance to run with the big dogs. He did not disappoint.
As a longtime fan of Pistorius, (*Author’s note: I wrote an opinion piece about him for my College’s student newspaper in 2008. ) I was proud to see him get his fair shot.
Sport That I’m Sad I Won’t Watch Again Until 2016 Award
(#3-Way Tie) Water Polo, Fencing, Rowing
Each one of these sports brought something to the table for me this Olympics and each sport will be sorely missed as I tune to the more mainstream events in America. I’ll break each one down briefly.
- Water Polo: an intense, grueling, bathrobe-wearing brawl, I found myself drawn to the sport. While on top of the water ripped men and women pass, shoot, and swim with reckless intensity, under the water the action is one part hockey, one part swimming, and one part shark attack scene from Jaws. I was shocked at the U.S. team’s amazing run and even more shocked by how enjoyable I found the sport.
- Fencing: While the players in water polo often look like they want to stab each other, the competitors of fencing actually get to. One day I watched a few hours of women’s fencing and the action was intense. The fencers were lightning quick, agile, and after each point they would rip their helmets off and celebrate like they’d just been acquitted of murder charges and won the lottery simultaneously. Great TV.
- Rowing: I found this sport to be exciting, foreign, and highly impressive. I’ve canoed, kayaked, and paddleboated around many a lake and river. To move anything through a body of water simply by using one’s athletic ability? To row so efficiently that you practically hover over the water? Amazing.
My only idea on these three sports to make them better? Combine them. Make rowing full contact. Make ramming boats legal and give each boat a sword collection of swords. If this sounds completely barbaric and insane, ask yourself, “what’s wrong with that?”
It looks like “The Itis” has died down. I think I may be cured. But, wait. . .what’s this strange tingling I’m feeling in my remote-hand? This strange urge to plant ass to couch and remain vegetated there for hours on end? Oh no. . .I may be coming down soon with an early onset case of footballpox.