Olympics 2012 Part TwoSaturday, August 04, 2012 by: Mac Headrick
Today’s column is dedicated to the Olympics 2012. I have deliberately delayed this piece to take in some track and field events on Saturday. In last weeks’ column l outlined my intentions to follow the Olympics as time permitted. The following are my impressions of the first week.
During my career at the Algoma District School Board l have volunteered in the sports of basketball and football. I have always been oriented to support team sports. On several occasions l have debated publicly the question… is badminton really a sport? Of course, l know the answer. My motivation has always been to irritate the coaches involved in this sport. For the record l believe the skills necessary to play badminton (especially footwork, hand-eye coordination) would benefit any athlete in traditional team sports.
I found it ironic that badminton, normally a low profile Olympic event, would be a major story the first week of competition. Apparently some of the best female teams in the world deliberately lost matches in the preliminary rounds. This strategy was undertaken to gain an advantage in future rounds of play. Now, in my chosen sport, football teams will often sit out first string players to rest for the playoffs. Of course the replacement players will still try to win. To avoid this in the future perhaps the Olympics should return to “sudden – death” elimination. One loss and you go home.
Dylan Armstrong had an off day and finished fifth, thus no medal. Though l was disappointed, l really liked the way Armstrong dealt with his finish. Imagine the work this guy has put into qualifying for the Olympics. To quote Mr. Armstrong, “Fourth and fifth at the Olympics, l can deal with that at the end of the day. This is a tough sport.”
An athlete from South Africa, Oscar Pistorius, is the first amputee to ever compete at the Olympics. Mr. Pistorius runs in the 400-metre event. As a child he lost both his legs below the knee thus runs on carbon-fiber blades. There has been plenty of debate on the subject of whether or not the use of these devices (blades) gives this runner an advantage or not. I personally have no opinion one way or another. I certainly admire this man’s passion and work to get to the semi-finals (Sunday, August 5/2012) in this event.
Serena Williams won the Olympic gold metal in Woman’s tennis with a dominating victory 6-0, 6-1 over Maria Sharapova. I have never understood the concept of Olympics and the amateur. Even the top participants in less popular sports such as track and field can accept millions of dollars in sponsorships. I am not complaining but wonder how any athlete could be charged with accepting financial aid no matter what the circumstances.
Canada’s Paula Findlay finished last in the triathlon and felt the need to apologize to her country. Well, I am one Canadian who doesn’t feel the need to be apologized to. The athletes who represent Canada sacrifice so much in their pursuit of Olympic medals. Our country’s level of support for Olympic athletes pales when compared to the “super powers”. This was Findlay’s first competitive race in months as she is recovering from a hip injury. Paula is only 23 years old… there will be better days ahead.
Tomorrow the men’s 100 meter race takes place. Damn, these guys are fast. I chuckle every time l hear the athletes talk about a slow start. These remarks are followed immediately about how they shift into a higher gear for the last 50 meters. At my fastest l ran about a 9.5 second race. Of course the distance was 50 meters and that 9.5 second figure, well, it’s very generous to me.
So Michael Phelps is calling it a career after winning his 18th gold medal. In a way, Phelps and l have a lot in common. Alright, we have one thing in common. When in training Phelps has been known to consume 15,000 plus calories a day. I have done that. I’m in training but just haven’t picked any specific athletic endeavor. Watching three football games at a time is a sport, isn’t it?
Well l am off to catch up on today’s events.
As l see it l have nothing but admiration for our Canadian team. Winning medals is the icing on the cake.
GO CANADA GO