The final night of gymnastics event finals was certainly exciting. It was great to see Shawn Johnson finally get a gold medal and having Shawn and Nastia finish 1-2 in the opposite order was nice. It’s actually what I expected on floor the night before and I was so happy to see the scores. When Cheng Fei’s score of 15.950 was displayed for balance beam when she had almost fallen off, I was very worried that the judges were determined to score another gymnastics event horribly and I would be disappointed by the end results. However, I ended up happy with the results for the first two spots. The fact that Cheng Fei got the bronze medal is horrible for Anna Pavlova of Russia. Pavlova came in 4th place with 15.900 and I don’t think I’m alone in believing that she deserved the bronze medal. Russia finished the 2008 Olympics without a single medal in gymnastics. I doubt anyone would have predicted that before the competition began.
Jonathan Horton’s performance on high bar was amazing and I was surprised that the crowd actually booed when his score of 16.175 (putting him in 2nd place) behind Zou Kai of China’s 16.2. It seems a lot of people there agreed with me and thought Horton should have gotten a higher score on execution. I think the execution score of 9.275 was a bit low, even though it was higher than Zou’s execution. What is it about high bar judging? The 2004 Summer Olympics’ high bar scores are what caused the uproar that led to the scoring system change. Remember when Alexei Nemov had to try to calm the crowd down after his horrible score before Paul Hamm competed? The great part of this year’s high bar competition is that Horton was clearly thrilled to get an individual medal and he knew that he did a great job on his routine and couldn’t have done much better. It’s always good to see Olympians truly enjoying the moment and last night was a great night for the US gymnastics team.
The China vs. China women’s beach volleyball match early yesterday morning was amazing. The one team goes on to play Misty May-Treanor & Kerri Walsh in the finals, the other plays for the bronze. I’d be surprised if the Chinese teams don’t get two of the three medals in beach volleyball. I’m guessing silver and bronze, since I can’t see May-Treanor & Walsh losing their first match in about a year in the gold medal match. Both medal matches should be very exciting.
The USA women’s volleyball team upset Italy in a great match yesterday to advance to the semifinals. They definitely seemed like they didn’t have what it takes to beat Italy for a while, but came back to win the last two sets decisively (25-18 & 15-6) and advance. Hopefully, they’ll have what it takes to make it to the gold medal finals. Clearly, I wish all the US teams well, but I’m particularly interested in the men’s volleyball team, since one of the assistant coaches (John Speraw) is UCI’s men’s volleyball head coach and I go to as many of UCI’s matches as I can. After the tragedy the USA men’s volleyball head coach had to endure, it would be really nice to see a bit of an up side for him and for the men’s team to win gold. They’ve been looking very good so far.
I don’t know of anyone who watched Lolo Jones in the 100m hurdles who didn’t want to cry when they watched her hit the 9th hurdle. She was pretty far ahead of the pack and doing so well. Then, all of a sudden, she clipped the 9th hurdle and dropped behind to finish next to last. The fact that she was still able to pull herself together enough to finish the race (and not even come in last) is amazing to me. My heart went out to her (and her family) as they cried when her dreams of a gold medal were destroyed. Lolo’s 26 years old, so perhaps she can try again in the London Olympics in 2012, but it’s so sad to see someone doing that well and being completely at the top of her game and then faltering.
I just bought a copy of last week’s Sports Illustrated with Michael Phelps on the cover swimming. I haven’t read it all yet, but I did flip through and it’s almost all Olympics coverage. If you love the Olympics you should definitely pick up a copy while they’re still available. The Sports Illustrated where Phelps recreated the Mark Spitz cover (for more information, click here, supposedly hit news stands today, but my local book store gets the new issues on Friday, so I can’t comment on that issue yet. I’m sure it’s mostly Olympics coverage, too.