Thursday, July 27, 2017

Olympic Blurb: We're Mixing It Up

I recently upgraded my cable - I know; that's not the norm. Most people are downgrading or completely cancelling their cable! But when you're someone who has their cable strictly for live sports and Olympics coverage (and lives in an area with little to no antenna coverage) cable turns into a pretty big deal.

The reason I upgraded was to get the Olympic Channel, a 24/7 channel devoted to the Olympics that should probably just have the tagline: Made just for Claire. At this very moment it's showing men's track and field from the London Olympic Games, and I'm sure once we finish up the World Championship season they will focus all of their time on winter sports.

Speaking of World Championships, the Aquatic World Championships are going on right now, including diving, water polo, and swimming. I have been able to watch the swimming events, and was rewarded with a sneak peek of one of my most anticipated events of the Tokyo 2020 Games: the mixed 4x100 medley.

"Mixed" means that two men and two women compete on each team, and it's up to each country which person gets which specialty. It's not "men get the breaststroke and the butterfly, and women get the backstroke and freestyle." Whoever is the best goes in that style.

I have always had an interest in seeing men and women competing with and against each other - not to show that women are better than men or something like that, but to showcase both in their own ways. This event really shows that - the women aren't usually going to beat the men. In the backstroke - always the first leg of the medley relay - it was clear to see the five men and the three women trailing behind - but if that's all you get out of viewing that first leg, you're missing the point.

Here, watch the whole thing below:



Because each team can pick and choose where it has their women and men, it means that a team might look out of it early on, but then come roaring back. It creates even more unpredictability within the event, and that means more excitement!

My biggest fear is that teams are just going to stick with a standard format once they find it; most teams put the two men first and follow with the two women. This would make it incredibly boring. I want to see men and women racing in the pool together! In such a fluid event as this, don't restrict it by these annoying number-crunching analogies.

The most exciting part, to be honest, is when Lilly King - who had just broken the world record in the 100m breaststroke the night before - jumped in to do the second leg. With seven other guys! She was the only woman in the pool. And you know what? She was spectacular, At the wall she still had three men on her tail.

(This all sounds wrong and I know it - I apologize. Please take it in the way it's supposed to be taken.)

When you pick your two best women and surround your team based on them, it all falls into place, and I love that. For the United States, it was King and Simone Manuel.

In the end, aside from the first place (United States) and last place (Italy and Germany) teams, everyone else finished in a mob in the middle, so no matter the order, everyone ends up within the grasp of winning if you have four solid swimmers. Heck, there was a tie for bronze!

A few weeks ago I made a list of all the new events for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, and there were even more mixed gender events being added than just swimming. It's insane, it's exciting, and I will admit that I shed a tear when it was all done. It doesn't get much better than this!

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