But then I moved near a beach.
About 10 minutes from where I now live is a beautiful beach on Lake Michigan. On that beach is a playground, pier, and eight or ten beach volleyball courts.
I have never given the beach volleyball a try, but I have walked on that beach. I wasn't barefoot - I was just taking a detour from my normal walk - and man, walking on that sand was so difficult. I suppose going barefoot would have been easier, but it's still not the same as concrete!
Now imagine trying to run in that sand while making sure a ball doesn't touch the ground on your side while also trying to spike that ball onto the opponent's side.
Well, now I have a new appreciation for beach volleyball.
I have watched both men's and women's beach volleyball these two days, and they are incredible. There were moments in last night's Walsh-Jennings/Ross vs. Laird/Artacho Del Solar where one of them would dive to dig the ball out, but then get herself up like a rocket to spike the ball after her partner set it! How they heck do they get so fast? IN SAND?!
Beach volleyball doesn't have as much history as sports like fencing or weightlifting, but it has a dedicated following and it requires you to be in the best shape. It's taken me three Olympics, but now I know that beach volleyball is pretty cool.
More mini blurbs:
- Today's viewing roundup -
- tennis (singles and doubles)
- men's weightlifting
- women's cycling road race
- men's fencing
- men's beach volleyball
- men's indoor volleyball
- women's rugby
- women's gymnastics
- men's soccer
- men's boxing
- men's table tennis
- women's diving
- My first audible cheer came in the quarterfinal viewing of men's fencing. American Alexander Massialas was trailing in his match and about to be eliminated. I know that the suits are all wired up and signal points, and 15 points means a match win. Massialas was down 14-8 and it looked like it was all over. But little by little, Massialas came back, until he tied and then passed his opponent! I yelled for joy. He almost did a similar comeback in the gold medal game, but had to settle for silver.
- If you were watching the women's cycling road race and said, "What the heck is a peloton?" I have the answer. Individuals or small groups can be in the lead or chase packs, but the peloton is the majority of the cyclists who all group together. This conserves energy by being able to utilize the slipstream of the people around you. *The more you know*
- I'm sure Mara Abbott wished she was in the peloton at the end of the race instead of being passed by three cyclists with 500 meters left in the race. She was leading, and she walked away with nothing. How heartbreaking.
- Saw my first rugby matches ever, and it's quite the sport! I'm looking forward to watching more of it in future days. The US women had to play two matches yesterday and today! As my father said, "It's like playing a doubleheader...in football." (They were eliminated today.)
- The US women's gymnastics team was crazy good. Please keep that up, ladies. You were so much fun to watch!
- I watched two small weightlifting classes compete yesterday and today in both men's and women's groups. They aren't bulking out with muscle, but they are insanely strong! If you haven't watched weightlifting yet, do me a favor and watch some.
- I was able to tune into some boxing, too, and I was amused that weightlifters and boxers enter the arena the same way: through a small tunnel surrounded by their coaches. But the boxers get flashing lights and loud music! Why don't weightlifters get that sort of treatment?
- I can't even count how many times I saw coaches trying to talk to players and the athletes not show any visual confirmation that they heard what was said.
- I noticed when Katie Ledecky was swimming her world record, gold medal swim in the 400m freestyle that a camera came down from the ceiling and gave an amazing view of her swim. At first I was worried the ceiling camera had come dislodged, but it was meant to do that. Once Ledecky was wrapping up her swim I saw the camera retract to whence it came. It's the Skycam of swimming.
- I had been streaming table tennis on a whim while watching NBC's primetime stuff on television, and happened to watch a match between Nigeria's Quandri Aruna and Chinese Taipei's (Taiwan's) Chuang Chih-yuan. During their warmups Aruna wasn't getting in a rhythm, and I kind of felt sorry for him. It's a widespread myth that table tennis players are mostly from the Asian continent, and anyone from another country is just an Asian transplant. Aruna is a 5' 11" Nigerian, and I would not have expected him to do very well. Little did I know that this was already the third round of competition, and Aruna swept Chuang handily. He was a beast, and it was so much fun to watch! There is an entire Nigerian delegation of table tennis players, and I hope they go all the way.
- The US swim team looks like it's ready to swim in Antarctica with those giant coats. Is it that cold in the arena?
- I love when people known for their individual events are thrown together for a relay. Exhibit A: swimming relays. All of a sudden it's not just rooting for a person. It's rooting for the country! Swimming relays are insane because the crowd gets so passionate about it.
- What won the relay for the US men? It was Phelps' turn after 50m - he stayed under the water almost 10 meters longer than anyone else and increased the lead to a body length by the end. I'm so stoked to have that relay back.