Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Olympic Blurb 2016: Day 9

Today was an interesting day. Outside fun stuff meant I watched fewer events, and because I wanted to not hear about important results via Twitter, I kept myself off social media all day while I watched online replays of events like gymnastics.

But it wasn't just outside fun that affected my Olympic viewing. I wanted to watch the women's marathon on DVR before I found out the final results.

Gymnastics is important? Yes. Swimming? Absolutely. Track and field? A must.

Marathon??

Why in the world would I get so excited about the marathon??

My enjoyment of the marathon races in the Olympics did not come from my past year of running, which I need to preface before anything else. I have enjoyed the watching of the marathon since 2004, when I was able to watch a recording of the men's marathon in Athens while I was unpacking my dorm room in college. Italian Stefano Baldini won the gold, and eventual bronze medal winner Vanderlei de Lima of Brazil was attacked by a fan.

Marathon was the perfect event to watch while I unloaded all my stuff. For the most part, lead changes and surges take place at a slow pace, allowing one to work while listening with half an ear. The sights of the Olympic marathons are also spectacular - I am always reminded of the not-smog-filled race in Beijing when they passed all the major historical sights.

This 26.2 mile race is not dominated by the US. For the majority of marathons, they are won by African countries like Kenya and Ethiopia. If anyone else challenges, it makes the race very exciting indeed, even if they don't end up winning.

Sunday's race was fun to watch. It wasn't dominated by one athlete the entire time. About one-third of the way through, there was a pack of 12 women who had surged to the front. They were together for pretty much the middle third of the race, while the course had them doing several big repeated circles. In that pack were three Americans: Shalane Flanagan, Desi Linden, and Amy Cragg. These women had done their homework on running the perfect marathon, and it showed, even though they didn't end up medaling. In the end, Kenyan Jemima Sumgong won the gold medal.

It was just a race where the cameras showed women running, drinking water, falling behind, and surging ahead, and yet I really loved watching it! It was great watching marathons in the past, but now that I've done a little running (which isn't saying much; these ladies run at the pace of my usual 2-second full-blown sprint!) I understand the pacing they do and the things that they drink or do to keep them energized and moving. This can also be an example why I don't love cycling as much as marathons; I don't have that cycling background.

If you didn't catch the women's marathon on Sunday, make sure to DVR the men's marathon next Sunday morning. If they're like the women, they will start and finish inside the famous stadium where Carnivale is held, and run by the beach and in view of Sugarloaf Mountain. African runners may be a majority of the lead pack, but the race winners probably won't be exclusive to that continent.

Give it a shot! And make sure to DVR it; NBC likes to chop it up full of commercials and other sports highlights and interviews.

Let's jog over to the mini blurbs...

  • Today's round-up:
    • men's track cycling
    • men's golf
    • women's marathon
    • gymnastics
    • track and field
    • women's diving
    • tennis
  • Out of all the events I've watched, there are some in the sport of track cycling that just have me saying, "What the heck is the goal of this race?!"
  • Strange how most of the men's tennis tournament is the best 2/3, but the gold medal math is the best 3/5. That del Potro/Murray match was four hours long because of that! I'm not saying it was dull, but it sure was long!
  • Speaking of tennis, the fans in the tennis arenas clearly weren't year-round fans of tennis. They didn't quite have the etiquette of normal tennis fans. They were constantly being told to be quiet, and I saw two Argentinian fans be escorted out near the end of today's match for being too disruptive.
  • More disruptions during events: I saw two different people run across the marathon course while the lead runners were closing in on the finish. They didn't impede the runners and were caught soon after, but how did they get so close in the first place?
  • More disruptions outside of events: How crazy is that Ryan Lochte report of him being robbed? 
  • I believe that no US athlete won gold in the track and field stadium today. After eight days of swimming dominance, it's time to come back down to earth.
  • Mixed doubles tennis had an odd way to win: if both sides win a set, then they immediately do a tie breaker instead of a third set. First team to 10 points wins. 
You have homework today: if you watch NBC in the daytime or primetime, listen carefully to the music that starts the broadcast, and the music that goes into and out of commercial breaks. 

Good luck!

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