HOME STRETCH column–Sports Editor Pete Temple
Some observations about the Olympics, which are more fun than they used to be now that my sons are asking, “Which one is the Flying Squirrel?”
• NBC commentator Tim Daggett is obviously very knowledgeable about gymnastics, having been an Olympic medalist himself. But he is a bit over the top at times.
For instance, when the U.S. women’s gymnastics team was on the verge of completing its beat-down of the Russians, Daggett commented that mistakes made by Russian gymnasts were “catastrophic.”
No. Catastrophic is what happened in a movie theater in Colorado. Catastrophic is two young Iowa girls going missing. The Russians simply had a bad day, which I suppose you could call “unfortunate,” for them. And even then, they easily secured the silver medal.
• If you want true Olympic spirit, look no further than the tennis players. The effort these multi-millionaire professionals have been putting into these matches, with nothing but national pride on the line, is truly inspiring.
• Any badminton (or other sport) format that positions a team so that it is better off losing a round robin match than winning it, is horribly flawed.
While I feel for the fans who had to witness badminton players purposely serving the birdie into the net in order to lose their match (heck, even I could do that), it’s hard to blame the athletes. They were simply trying to put themselves in the best position to get a medal.
It’s the system that is broken. So fix it.
• One of the great things about the Olympics is this: It’s the only sports scenario in which people are absolutely thrilled to finish second or third.
• Although I do enjoy the controversies that seem to arise at the Olympics, some of them are overblown. If, for instance, U.S. women’s soccer star Hope Solo “tweets” that one of the broadcasters is doing a poor job, I see no reason why the broadcasters should get bent out of shape.
After all, some media people make careers out of bashing athletes whom they believe are performing poorly.
• This isn’t an Olympic note, but I found it interesting. There were 228 finishers in the individual portion of the Camp Courageous Sprint Triathlon on Sunday. Of that total, the number of Monticello athletes listed was: five.
This doesn’t take into account the three-person relay teams, of which at least one was from Monticello. And there may be some others on the list who are originally from here, but live elsewhere now.
Still, that probably leaves the local total at somewhere under 20, or fewer than 10 percent of the participants. Contrast that with the annual Panther Prowl, in which well over half of the runners/walkers are from our town.
Granted, a triathlon, even a sprint one, is much more difficult to train for and compete in than a 5K, particularly if you don’t own a bicycle or get opportunities to swim long distances. And I am no one to criticize; I wasn’t competing either.
So, I’m going to put my money where my mouth is. I’m making a vow right now to participate in next year’s event. It may just be as part of a relay, but if I have to train in swimming and borrow a bike from someone in order to do the whole thing, I’ll do it.