Thursday, August 14, 2008

Beijing 2008 wrap-up: The what do you mean they don't give medals for fourth edition

Day 6

Your daily Olympic wrap-up. Apologizes for the delay...I was taping a podcast at The Score this afternoon (more on that later).

Notable Canadian performance: Mike Brown –Yes, he was fourth. Yes, that’s not a medal. But, Jesus people…what are you fourth best in the world at?

Notable international performance: Yang Wei – Yes, I’m getting a little sick of all the gymnastics too, but you have to acknowledge how impressive the Chinese team has been, most recently with Wei’s all-around gold. Can any other nation win a single gold? It’s beginning to seem less and less likely.

The Maple Leaf Gold: The entire Canadian fastball team - No matter what happens in the final three innings of the rain delayed game, the Canadian fastball team served notice that it will compete with anyone, by scoring a run against the US. It’s just the second they have allowed in two Olympics.

Maple Leaf silver: Ron McLean – Yes, that Ron McLean. He’s come a long way as a reporter since 1996 when the NBC crew managed to push him out of the way for the first Donovan Bailey interview after he won the 100m. Last night he refused to drink the Kool-Aid Mark Tewksbury was dishing out about the overall performance of the swimmers. Yes, there have been a lot of Canadian records set, but everyone is swimming fast. Canada’s performance in the pool has been much better in 2008 than in Athens. But, it’s still not good enough.

Maple Leaf bronze: Nick Weglarz – It would have been nice if the Canadian baseball team could have held on against Cuba (but, you only have to beat them once—when it counts in the medal round), but Weglarz’s 450-foot blast reminded me of why I like baseball.

Maple Leaf tin medal: Les Gramantik – Canada’s head track and field coach is going all old school in preventing the athletes from seeing their friends and family during the Games. I’m sure it’s been that hug from mom that has been holding us back all these years. Treating athletes like babies has always worked well, don’t you think?

The WTF was the Ceeb thinking award: While showing Canada’s water polo game against Australia, the Ceeb broke for commercial three times in the middle of a play. In all three cases, Canada was going on the attack. We all realize that they have to pay the bills (although aren’t they tax funded? Sorry, different topic), but could you imagine the outrage if they went to break just as Team Canada broke across the blueline in Vancouver. Show some respect, please.

Honorary Canadian award: The Aussie 4X200m women’s freestyle relay blasted to a new world record and handed the US its first ever loss in Olympic history at the distance. We all try to be mature about our sports watching…but beating the US is kinda fun ya gotta admit!

Canadian highlights for day 7: The women’s soccer team’s game against the US will either be a Great Canadian Sports Moment, or bloody awful. It could go either way, really. So, let’s go outside the box. Weightlifter Jeane Lassen has an outside shot at a medal (she’s the only Canadian ever to medal at the world championships). And, she’s from the Yukon!

International highlight for day 7: Track starts! When you break it down to its essence, the Olympics are really just a big track meet. The rest is just bonus coverage.


sager said...

Good stuff ... especially nixing the "Canadian records" jive. The water cube in Beijing is to fast times what Coors Field was to Colorado Rockies batters in the 1990s. Now there's an obscure reference!

Anonymous said...

Yeah-I am tired of this Canadian swim record jive. If so many of our swimmers are setting national records and still can not catch a third place olympicf medal, it just points out how far behind the other swimming nations we have fallen.
Funny that those who have been repeating the--but we broke a Canadian record--- mantra,did not seem to realize the they were reinforcing how poorly we have done in recent years--and are still doing.

Andrew Bucholtz said...

Maybe I'm too much of a stats geek, but I didn't find that reference obscure at all. Plus, Poz already made that's a good comparison, though. I don't think the state of swimming is as dire as some have portrayed, and Duane makes an excellent point about how well Brown did. You're right to question Canadian records and personal bests due to the LZR and the pool, but we still have a lot of swimmers placing top-10. Keep in mind that summer Olympic funding and the swimming program only really got back on track in the last few years. There's still a long way to go, but it's not a short road to success, and I've seen lots that makes me hopeful for the future.

Greg said...

Yes, he was fourth. Yes, that’s not a medal. But, Jesus people…what are you fourth best in the world at?

You're kidding right? The point isn't to finish fourth. It's to win. If you want to finish fourth, and you're happy with that, ask for participation medals for everyone.

Remember, it's our tax money that pays (in part) for the facility, training, travel, etc. for these athletes.

You may accept fourth, failure or the status quo. I don't. And we shouldn't as a nation.

Greg said...

Beavers just lost — by a lot — in the 200m IM and said "This is what I dreamed of."

And there folks is the problem. Canadians dream of an eight-place finish in an Olympic final. Americans, Russians, the Chinese, etc., dream of a gold medal.

Duane Rollins said...


I'm a big proponent of the argument that that the goal should be to win. It's what it's all about. If you've read me in the past you will know that it's a bit of a theme of mine.

But finishing fourth at the Olympic Games is not a failure.

The swim team has a long ways to go. But, I'm not going to jump off the bridge. In Athens we were struggling to make the semi finals and when we did we were in the outside lanes. Now, we are consistently making semis, but struggling to make finals (and typically drawing outside lanes when we do). That's an improvement. It isn't yet acceptable, but it's an improvement. In Athens, Brown was an exception--he made the finals and finished sixth. In Beijing, he's been an exception as well. And, although I'm not going to rejoice over a fourth, I can acknowledge this:

Mike Brown isn't the problem. He's actually gone beyond what was expected.

Road to Excellence only started last year. And we can all see what Own the Podium is doing on the winter side. We won't get into the top three nations in the Summer Games like we have in the Winter (we might actually win the medal race in Vancouver, which, if you've followed amateur sport in this country over the years you'll understand, is insane). But, we'll probably see a marked improvemet...

In 2016.

Now, you are seeing what the spending cuts in the '90s (ironically about the time we were having our best summer games ever, in 1996*) did. Those of us that love this stuff saw this coming a mile away, I'm afraid.

We will medal in China. Probably a couple this weekend, actually. But, how does that saying go again?

Oh yeah, you get what you pay for.

*1984 doesn't count because the Russians and East Germans weren't there

Andrew Bucholtz said...

Duane hit it right on the head there. The goal's to win, but you don't go from last to first without a substantial investment of time and money. Fourth, sixth and seventh are steps along the way. The end goal should always be to get gold, but our athletes who dedicate their lives to training and acheive a lot with considerably less resources than athletes from other countries should be recognized for what they've done. Being in the Olympics is an accomplishment in itself, making the semifinals a bigger one, appearing in a final even more so, and then comes medaling and winning. Just because the first steps aren't the ultimate accomplishment doesn't mean they aren't progress and aren't worthy of recognition, in my view at least. Guys like Brown who do far better than anyone expected them to are still impressive, even if they don't have a medal around their necks at the end of the day.

Greg said...

Then guys, explain to me why Beavers openly admitted he "dreamed of swimming in an Olympic final."

Athletes from other countries dream of gold. We dream of being there. That's the difference.

Money aside, the apathy toward the Olympics and our failures is rampant.

Athletes from other countries are embarrassed to lose — did anyone see the USA gymnastics team interviewed the other night? The captain held back tears through the entire thing.

What do Canadians do? Smile. Say "hi mom" and "I tried."

Duane Rollins said...

Our athletes dream of gold too. We just don't provide them with anywhere near the support needed to make that goal realistic. So, they adjust their expectations.

Our points aren't that far apart Greg. I'm just not prepared to throw the athletes under the bus when the problems are far deeper than that.