Sunday, August 24, 2008

The 2008 Olympics: The Best, biggest and most

The 2008 Beijing Olympics have ended. Actually, I think they officially concluded a few weeks ago, but the tape just made it to the states.

Any way you slice it, starting tomorrow I'll have to find a new way to fill my time at 7 p.m.

...and at 11:30 p.m.

...and at 6 a.m.

Anyway, with the conclusion of such an historic and epic Olympics I thought it only fitting to present my picks for the "best," "biggest" and "most," spanning the entire two weeks of the games. Let the superlatives begin.

**Best male athlete: Michael Phelps, who won 8 gold medals--the most of any US athlete, ever. And he did it in thrilling fashion, if I say so myself.

**Best female athlete: Nastia Liukin. The US gymnast won five medals: The all-around gold medal, the team silver medal, the uneven bars silver medal, the balance beam silver and the floor bronze.

**Biggest Butter Face: Kerri Walsh, of the U.S. women's beach volleyball team.

**Best team: Walsh and Misty May-Treanor, who never lost a set on their way to Women's Beach Volleyball gold.

**Most clutch performance: Phil Dalhausser, who chalked up 5 blocks in the final set of the gold medal Men's Beach Volleyball game.

**Most surprising performance: The Men's Water Polo team, which defeated Germany, Serbia and other water polo powerhouses on their way to their first silver medal since the '80s.

**Best finish: Jason Lezak, in the 4X100 freestyle relay. Lezak ran down Frenchie Alain Bernard after he and the French team boasted they would "smash" the American team.

**Biggest disappointment: Tyson Gay--the heralded 100m dash athlete who would challenge Jamaica's Usain Bolt failed to qualify for the 100m finals.

**Biggest choke: The US softball team, which was undefeated in the last 16,000 years, but lost to Japan in the gold medal game.

**Biggest choke II: Both the men's and women's 4X100m track relay teams dropped their batons and were disqualified from the finals.

**Best redemption: The US basketball team. The "Redeem Team" charged through all their old foes--Greece, Argentina and Spain twice--to bring basketball gold back to the US where it belongs.

**Most inspiring: 41-year-old swimmer Dara Torres, who won two silver medals and looked great doing it.

**Biggest heartbreak: American hurdler Lolo Jones, who sprinted out to an early lead in the 100m hurdles, but tripped up on the second-to-last hurdle and finished fourth.

**Most underrated: Mariel Zagunis, Sada Jacobson and Becca Ward--three US fencers who swept the women's sabre event and gave US its first three medals of the games.

**Best (and healthiest) rivalry: Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin. They may have been all buddy-buddy in front of the cameras, but I know deep down each one of these fine gymnasts were itching to put it in the other's face on the gym floor. Behind each hug was a silent thought: "I hope you fry on the balance beam..."

**Most confusing decision: The women's uneven bar finals--which saw the United States' Nastia Liukin and China's He Kexin record the exact same score, but somehow Liukin received the silver.

**Biggest underdogs: The US men's volleyball team, which started winning early and beat up on bigger, better programs like Russia and Brazil to claim gold.

**Most boring event: Platform diving. Ugh. Why did they put that crap in primetime?

**Biggest piece of crap broadcasting decision: Never airing any of the basketball games at any times but 4 a.m.

**Best celebration: Usain Bolt, who started thumping his chest even before he crossed the finish line, and did more gladiator poses than Hulk Hogan after he won the 100m dash.

**Best athlete not named Michael Phelps: Bryan Clay, who coasted to victory for the United States in the decathlon. He was so far ahead in points that all he needed to do was finish the final event--the 1500 meter run. He did, and collapsed after he crossed the finish line.

There's my list. What did I miss? What are your "Best," "Biggest," and "Most" moments of the Beijing Olympics?

1 comment:

Jenni said...

Long time reader. First time commenter. Thanks for the good reads.

Agreed with everything you said. The hubs and I are launching an official protest over the basketball games airing in the middle of the night. It's a conspiracy, I tell you.

Two of my favorite Olympic moments:
1. The medal ceremony for the men's volleyball team. Singing at the TOP of their lungs. It was an inspiring culmination to an amazing and horrible few weeks for those guys.
2. The medal ceremony for the basketball team. Between the tears and the singing...well, they've almost restored my faith in the humanity of NBA athletes.

No, I'm not normally a medal ceremony lover, but those two were terribly poignant and genuine. Loved it!