The Main Blurb
What is up with the decathlon? People say it’s the event that finds the world’s best athlete. To me, it’s the athlete that is adequate at the most events – maybe the “most well-rounded” athlete. If you put up the decathletes against the premier athletes in each of those ten events, they would be blown out of the water. But since decathletes can do all of them pretty well – and in two days! – they are very much appreciated.
This isn’t a railing on why the media hypes the decathlon – I really think the decathlon doesn’t get enough coverage during the Olympics. There are just a few details about it that confuse me.
The points system kind of reminds me of Around the Horn, a show on ESPN where four sports writers talk about sports. The crazy thing is, the host (Tony Reali, look him up) gives the writers points. It usually is supposed to be for a good point the writer made, but sometimes the points are given and taken away for no real reason. Actually, the motto of the show used to be “Where everything is made up and the points don’t matter!”
So it seems to be with the decathlon. Win the 100m sprint? One thousand points for you! Only throw the shot put 40 feet when everyone else is over 50? Only three hundred ninety-six points for you! You could crawl the mile and finish dead last, but you’ll win by four hundred points! Eat the wrong kind of energy bar and we’ll deduct two thousand points!
Okay, enough joking around. Believe it or not, the points system are determined by a mathematical formula! Here they are:
Points = INT(A(B — P)C) is for track events.
Points = INT(A(P — B)C) is for field events.
There’s a few more details about the points system, but too much math makes my brain hurt. I’ll trust that those keeping decathlon score know what they’re doing, and that these athletes are really good at all those things.
As for the term “world’s greatest athlete,” King Gustav V of Sweden told Jim Thorpe “You, sir, are the world’s greatest athlete,” way back in 1912. I do believe that quote (Jim Thorpe was an incredible athlete), but I don’t think it carries over to each decathlete, especially since the points system allows decathletes to play it safe in certain events. But I will concede that these guys are really, really, reallyreally talented and amazing at an insane amount of events.
…But I still think my discus technique is better than gold medalist Ashton Eaton’s.
Get this: Manteo Mitchell ran the heat of the 4x400m relay on a broken leg. He ran. On a broken leg. For 400 meters. He could have pulled up, like the Jamaican relay runner did in the same heat, and the quest for gold would be over. But he kept going. He ran the leg in 46 seconds! And he kept the Americans in the relay final! Thank you, Manteo Mitchell, for avoiding the pain and helping your teammates with your persistence. That was truly gutsy.
I was working in my classroom today, and I had my laptop and two classroom computers on, all with Olympic coverage. At one moment I had women’s water polo gold medal match on one screen, women’s soccer gold medal match on another, and track evening activities on a third. It was pure bliss.
Within five minutes, the US soccer ladies won gold, the US water polo ladies won gold, and Ashton Eaton won gold in the decathlon. Wow! And I got to see all of them!
Women’s volleyball continued to dominate as it swept a difficult South Korean team in the semifinals. This was the second time in the Olympics they had to play South Korea – I was glad they were able to escape. Next up: Brazil in the gold medal match. Brazil was the team that beat them in 2008 in the gold medal match.
BMX cycling is NUTS. Eight cyclists on a track at the same time? NUTS. One quarterfinal showed a crash that involved every cyclist on the track! All eight of them wiped out!
It was pointed out to me today that Europe will be shut out of the medals in soccer this year! The USA, Japan, and Canada took medals in the women’s round, and the four finalists in the men’s round are Brazil, Mexico, South Korea, and Japan.
Turns out that boxing may have a glimmer of hope after all…for the women! Clarissa Shields (from Flint, Michigan!) who is only 17 years old, took gold today. She was the only American to get on the top of the podium in boxing.
Track and field had a couple more double-medals today. Ashton Eaton and Trey Hardee in the decathlon went 1-2, and Christian Taylor and Will Claye went 1-2 in triple jump – the strangest, awesomest field event ever! You literally have to hop, skip, and jump to the dirt. Gold is only a hop, skip, and a jump away!
Tomorrow is nothing but finals and relay heats at Olympic Stadium. Qualifying is over – now it’s time for medals!
I watched some rhythmic gymnastics today. I poo-poohed it yesterday, but that’s before I watched it. I can totally agree that it’s an Olympic sport – maybe a little more than synchronized swimming. Trying to keep track of the ball or hoop or whatever they’re using is an event in and of itself. One girl bounced the hoop off her stomach and sent it in a perfect arc in the air. How long did she practice that? Two hours of bouncing a hoop off your stomach? Another girl threw a ball into the air and she caught it…with her thighs…behind her! Good grief!!
I keep forgetting to add this, but you should look at the athlete pictures on the NBCOlympics website, and then go to the london2012.com site and see the athlete pictures there. The pictures on the london2012.com site are hilarious! It’s like someone caught them walking down the hall, pulled out a picture, and snapped it without telling them to smile. I think these might be the credential pictures (where they’re told not to smile), but even the picture quality makes me think Instagram or cell phone. If you’re up for a good laugh, make sure to check out swimmer’s pictures.
Czech Republic Gold Medal Watch: We got another one!! Barbora Spotakova won gold in women’s javelin throw.
Tonight’s roundup: volleyball, taekwondo, wrestling, soccer, water polo, decathlon, javelin throw, triple jump, running events, boxing, flatwater canoe, flatwater kayak, BMX cycling, diving, rhythmic gymnastics, open water swimming, synchronized swimming!