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Olympics

Snow Bored

Fallon circle

Opinion by Guest Blogger: Peter Erich

Anyone else ready for Jimmy and Seth to take over their new NBC roles? I mean really – Slopestyle? Are there more than a dozen people who understand the rules of this?

It’s always a little tough getting through most of the events in the Winter Olympics. Short of cheering for the Night’s Watch in the one-on-one man-wight competitions, there are few competitions that appeal to your average sports fan. Be honest here – you understand what the Figure Skating connecting steps into a triple-jump look like? Would you recognize a curve combination in Luge even if you were on the damn Kufen? For that matter did you know it was a Kufen? Who among you have ever hit a K-point, and if you did, was it because you accidentally flew off the edge of a ski jump or because you were actually aiming for it?

The fact is Winter Olympic sports provide the opportunity to watch the smallest number of trained athletes in the world perform in some of the most exclusive (read that as non-street, unobtainable, obscure, or otherwise not-readily-available to your average sport enthusiast) sporting events known. With the possible exception of hockey*, these are not sports a growing kid aspires to in the inner city or the savanna or the ghetto, or even in the average neighborhood for that matter.

What drives the attention and excitement of most sports viewers is their ability to identify in some small way with the athletes they watch. Sure, most of us will never dunk, can’t dive from more than the edge of a pool, will never finish a mile in under 4 minutes, dismount cleanly from a bar, or even pin an opponent. But what makes us pay attention when someone else performs these feats is that fact that we think we could possibly perform any of these tasks.

We mostly all have access to a place to swim, to play B-ball, to wrestle, and to simply run. We have experienced and participated in many of the sports that make up the events in Summer Olympics, and so we can identify. Being the best at most of these events is self-evident; excluding the intricate and sometimes questionable judging of high dives and other subjective sports, the majority of Summer Olympic events are made up of things many of us have done or still do.

So hurry up Winter Olympics! Get done! Winter is no longer coming; it is leaving and it can’t take Sochi with it fast enough. Let the kids go back to the Wal-Mart parking lot to rule the pipe on their boards – we don’t have to put snow under a schoolyard pastime simply to make believe it is a sport. It will be time soon enough to watch real athletes from real sports. In the meantime, let’s go Jimmy and Seth!

* and let’s face it, even hockey at it’s Canadian craziest is still a sport with extremely limited viewing potential and following.

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True American Underdog Stories

Have no fear – Underdog is here!

The past two weeks have reminded me of why I love sports.  Seeing athletes compete for the pride of their country in the 2012 London Olympic games was quite refreshing when compared to the monetary forces which drive most of American professional sports.  The Olympics provided us with moment after moment of true exhilaration.  Records were broken, goals were met and above all else, America proved to be the dominant country as we blew out all competing nations with a stellar 104 overall medals, 46 of them of the gold variety.  Though Americans were favored in many of the competitions, there were still quite a few underdog stories coming out of the U.S.  For the sake of my closing Olympics article, I have highlighted the Americans I feel overcame the most difficult odds to successfully represent their country, states, hometowns, friends and family.  These athletes have all had their backs against the wall and made all of us believers in the Olympic spirit and what is possible when an individual is determined to overcome all obstacles.

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Had to overcome Olympic-sized overbite

Michael Phelps:  I know it’s hard to look at the all-time Olympic Medal leader and call him an underdog, but coming into the London games, Michael Phelps was just that. All the talk heading into these games was about Ryan Lochte, which looked reasonable after witnessing Lochte defeat Phelps in their first head-to-head matchup.  However, after the first night the Olympic belonged to Phelps again.  He ended the London games with 4 golds and 2 silvers, putting his overall career medal count at 22, 18 of which are golden.  Phelps proved that we should never count out a true Champion and Lochte has to wait another 4 years to make a name for himself with his performance instead of his mouth.

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Both needed extra conditioner to loosen super-tight curls after competition.

Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman:  The women’s gymnastics team was one of the easiest to root for coming into the games.  They were favored to win the team event, especially led by Jordyn Wieber, the favorite to win the individual overall gold heading into London.  However, both Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman outperformed their teammate Weiber, causing Weiber to not even qualify for the overall finals.  Gabby Douglas shined in the overall competition, becoming the first African-American woman to ever win gold.  Raisman went on to win two individual medals, a bronze on balance beam and a gold on the floor exercise.  Though Wieber is bringing a gold back to the states because of the U.S. victory in the team competition, Douglas’s two medals and Raisman’s three are what the American public will remember from the gymnastics segment of this year’s games.

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What’s it all about Al-Fe? The best since Flo-Jo

Allyson Felix:  Allyson Felix was known as a second place finisher.  She won silver in both the 2004 and 2008 Olympics in her best event, the 200-meter dash.  However, the third time was the charm for Felix, as she finally broke through for gold in London.  Felix was also a member of two relay races which also earned her gold medals, including the 4×100-meter relay team, which set a world record.  With her stellar Olympic performance, Allyson became the first woman to win 3 gold medals in track and field since Florence Griffith-Joyner in the 1992 Barcelona games.  She will no longer be known as a second place sprinter.

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The girls who say NoNo to LoLo, and Hello to GoGold

Dawn Harper and Kellie Wells:  LoLo Jones was the media darling heading into the 100-meter hurdle competition.  People had focused on her poverty stricken upbringing and her announcement that like Tim Tebow, she was a virgin.  However, Dawn Harper and Kellie Wells had stories of hardships that outweighed Jones’ by a landslide.  Wells was abused by her stepfather growing up.  A month after she ran away from home, her mother and abuser were killed in a car accident.  Prior to Beijing, she tore her hamstring and was forced to watch the Olympics instead of participate in them.  Harper, who actually won gold in the event in Beijing, has since battled through two knee surgeries, continuing to fight even after doctors told her to retire.  She always ran in Jones’ shadow and wanted to keep fighting to outshine the media sensation.  When the 100-meter hurdle race actually ended it was Harper who took home the silver and Wells the bronze, while LoLo Jones settled for fourth place.  Though Jones childhood and tough road are well documented, the end result is that the lesser known Olympians are bringing home the hardware and have earned their place in Olympic history just as much as LoLo.

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Schmitt schwims up a schtorm! No schit!

Allison Schmitt:  Heading into the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Michael Phelps’ practice partner and best friend was a female swimmer named Allison Schmitt.  While Phelps was making history in Beijing, Schmitt managed to bring home a single Bronze medal. Heading into these Olympic games, all the attention was one Missy Franklin, the new female swimming sensation who deserved all the hype. For the second straight Olympics, Schmitt was in the shadow of a U.S. swimming teammate.  After her London performance, Allison Schmitt never has to worry about anyone stealing the spotlight from her again.  Schmitt collected five medals, 3 gold, 2 silver and 1 bronze.  She was a member of the 4×100-meter medley team that broke a world record.  Michael Phelps’ training partner made a name for herself and is as vital a member of the U.S. Olympic effort in the pool as anyone.

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Who says it takes balls to play basketball?

Women’s basketball team:  The U.S. men’s basketball team was by far one of the most followed squads during the Olympics.  With names like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul up and down the roster, they were a favorite by people all over the world.  However, it was the U.S. women’s basketball team that was the truly dominant hoops team in the Olympics.  While the U.S. men won only their second consecutive gold medal, the women made it their fifth in a row.  While the men struggled at times and played close games throughout the tournament, such as a single digit win against Lithuania and yesterday’s closely contested gold medal game vs. Spain, the U.S. women spanked their opponents, beating France by 36 in the finals.  The U.S. women haven’t lost a game since 1992, winning their last 41 Olympic games.  Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird, Tamika Catchings and the rest of the team doesn’t get near the attention as their male counterparts, but if we were to compare either team to the 1992 Dream Team, the ladies have more of a case than the current NBA ballers.

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April comes before May, but in the end Kerri came before Kessy. Yeah – did anyone ELSE see that connection?

April Ross and Jennifer Kessy:  Everyone who follows women’s beach volleyball knows two names: Misty May and Kerri Walsh.  Heading into London, May and Walsh were the two-time gold medal champions and made it a three peat last week.  The team people didn’t know about was referred to as the “other American team”.  April Ross and Jen Kessy have been playing together since 2007, but were unable to qualify for the 2008 Beijing games.  However, even at an advanced age the two women fought for the last 4 years and qualified for London.  They were not content just making the games though, as they fought hard and shocked the #1 ranked team from Brazil in order to meet Walsh and May in the gold medal game.  Even though they came up just short against the defending champs, Ross and Kessy truly won themselves a silver medal, rather than losing the gold.

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… and the shin bone’s connected to the … oh shit, it’s not connected!

Manteo Mitchell:  One of my favorite moments from the game came from a little known U.S. sprinter, who had accidentally injured his leg walking up the stairs a day before his relay competition.  Manteo Mitchell didn’t think his injury was that serious and suited up for the 4×400-meter relay. Halfway through his run, he felt his leg pop as his fibula broke.  He yelled out in pain and wanted to stop running.  However, something inside him allowed him to finish his race on a broken leg, which allowed the U.S. to get 2nd in the heat and eventually win a silver medal in the competition.  I can’t imagine walking on a broken leg, let alone run 200 meters at an Olympic speed.  Mitchell’s achievement is easily one of the most heroic in Olympic history.

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Boudia beats Bo big

David Boudia:  Something I learned about the Olympics was that the Chinese dominate diving.  Going into the 10-meter platform final, China’s Qiu Bo was the heavy favorite.  At the 2011 World Championships, Bo beat the second place American David Boudia by 40 points.  However, Boudia, Qiu Bo and British sensation Tom Daly were all neck and neck throughout the final event at the London games.  Heading into the last dive, Boudia needed to be near perfect for a chance to win gold.  All he did was deliver the best dive of the entire competition, receiving a 102.6 score to beat the crowd favorite Daly and the World Champ Bo.  In closing a 40 point gap in a year’s time, Boudia became the first U.S. man to win gold on the platform since the legendary Greg Louganis in the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

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No jokes here – just plain Olympic gold

Kayla Harrison: Kayla Harrison is a 22-year-old Judoka.  However, she almost quit the sport 5 years ago when it was discovered that she was being sexually abused by her Judo coach for a period of 4 years.  The affects that this abuse had on her caused Kayla to question her self-worth and her ability to continue in the sport.  Eventually, in searching for a new start, she linked up with a new coach and moved away from home.  A few days ago, she managed to bet the #1 Judoka in the world and win the 1st ever gold medal by any U.S. athlete in the sport of Judo.  She has battled through the most horrific events imaginable to a young girl and has reached the mountain top in a sport that has provided both pain and joy to her.  

Can’t wait for the 2016 Rio Olympics to rejoin these amazing athletes and learn the stories of many other competitors who overcame obstacles similarly to these!


Fastest Man on Earth

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With that kind of incredible speed, he should be named INsain Bolt!

There are a plethora of nicknames that we issue to the athletes we follow as sports fans.  The King.  Air Jordan.  The Great One.  Tom Terrific.  However, the title “The Fastest Man on Earth” is by far the coolest out there.  Speed is an asset in every athletic activity.  Whether its basketball, football, baseball, hockey, lacrosse, tennis or soccer…if a competitor has a ton of speed, they automatically have an advantage.  Therefore, to be literally the fastest man on the planet Earth has a special relevance to it, and Usain Bolt has proven that he an athlete that all can greatly admire.

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I most humbly accept this latest honor to my unbelievably fantastic self!

For the second straight Olympics, he has won gold in both the 100 meter and the 200 meter dashes.  He ran the 200 meters in 19.32 seconds, which was a little less impressive than the 9.63 100 meter time he put up on Sunday for his first gold.  After his performance on the track, Bolt said “I’ve done something that no one has done before, which is defend my double title. Back-to-back for me…I would say I’m the greatest.”  While humility might not be a part of Usain’s repertoire, speed certainly is.  It is so damn hard to be considered the fastest man in the world and win both distances one time.  To come back four years later, and four years older is damn near impossible.  However, athletes of Bolt’s magnitude don’t understand what the word impossible means.

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Yeah, that’s the next competition – you see, I shoot an arrow and then out race it to the target. Great idea, right?

Bolt is also one of the best showmen in the sports world.  He doesn’t appear to have any pressure on him at any point in his races.  He rolls up the starting line with a huge smile, acknowledging the crowd with his entertaining antics.  He regularly pretends to be a DJ spinning records, then holds up his index finger and flexes his arm, pointing like a Greek God.  During the Beijing Olympics, he turned around and finished a gold medal race backwards, facing his opponents.  Today, during his gold medal run, he was looking at the crowd and then put his finger to his lips, making a Shhhhh gesture to the crowd.  Bolt stated he did so because “that was for all that people that doubted me, all the people that was talking all kinds of stuff that I wasn’t going to do it, I was going to be beaten, I was just telling them: You can stop talking now, because I am a legend.”  Then he dropped down and delivered 5 push ups just for good measure right after crossing the finish line.

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If ja can runna fastest, Jamaica the rules!

The 6-5 sprinter towers over his opponents.  He makes the second, third and fourth fastest men in the world look like children.  In an Olympics that have featured great performances from Michael Phelps, Misty May-Treanor and Kerri  Walsh, the entire U.S. women’s gymnastic team and others, Usain Bolt’s brilliance, dominance and swagger have been by far the most memorable athletic demonstration of the Olympic Games.  He has elevated his status in the world of sports to that of Jordan, Ali, Pele, Gretzky and the few others who don’t need a first and last name for total recognition.  His teammate Johan Blake ended up winning silver in both Bolt’s golden sprints, yet he had nothing but praise for his fellow Jamaican countryman who cost him the ultimate prize.  After the race, Blake said “Definitely, he’s a legend. He motivated me a lot.  It’s his time. It’s going to be my time soon.”  It might be your time at some point Johan, but I don’t see the “fastest man on Earth” slowing up anytime soon.


Federer Lets Murray Win Gold!

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I have the gold, and you have the silver. Now let’s see how it looks the other way!

A month ago, Roger Federer defeated Andy Murray of Great Britain in the finals at Wimbledon, as the Scottish born Murray came up just short in front of his home crowd on the biggest stage in tennis.  Yesterday morning, the two players matched up once again on the exact same court, only this time it was for a gold medal instead of a Wimbledon Title.  Unlike their last contest, Andy Murray was able to win  6-2, 6-1, 6-4 in a match that was never really close.  The British fans went crazy for their hometown hero, and although the Olympics is a step below the Grand Slam tournaments for professional tennis players, the fact that the London games were played in Murray’s homeland made them extremely special for the Scot.  Which leads me to my main conclusion: Roger Federer wasn’t beaten as much as he let Andy Murray get a win for the home crowd.

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Feder-err?

Coming into the Olympic Games, the talk of the tournament was Federer’s quest for a gold medal so he could complete the Golden Slam of his career.  He has failed to capture gold in any of his four Olympic Tournaments, in a 12 year span that he has dominated all other tournaments in the world.  This leads me to think that the Olympics are not that important to Roger.  Federer has proven himself in all phases of tennis and with his eye on the U.S. Open later this month, he was not prepared to give the all out effort that Andy Murray would.  Therefore, rather than bust his ass to beat Murray, he let the lesser player have a day in the sun.  Federer gave his all to ensure he would receive at least a silver in his previous match against Del Potro, and was satisfied with bringing home the second place prize.

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We wish you a Murray Christmas and a happy New Year!

Murray has played in 4 career Grand Slam Finals, losing all of them.  In three of those matches, he has come up short against the man he beat to capture gold today.  Like I previously mentioned, the last time was less than a month ago.  What could have possibly changed in that time to produce such a difference in the result that we saw today?  Did Murray want this Olympic title more than he wanted Wimbledon?  I would have to think Wimbledon is by far more desirable for the Great Brit.  I truly believe the thing that changed the most was Federer truly felt that after beating the hometown boy in Wimbledon, he owed him one.  Even if Federer didn’t fully give Murray the match, it appeared he took his foot off the pedal and did not play with the same intensity or fire that he has always demonstrated in his career.

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I can’t wait to play this match! The Olympics means so … it’s what? It’s over already? Where was I?

Federer had his serve broken four times in a row!  That never happens to Roger, one of the great servers of all time. The most telling sign to me is that Roger didn’t even appear to be upset by the result.  After the match, Roger said “Don’t feel too bad for me, I felt like I won my silver, I didn’t lose it. So I feel really happy.”  He doesn’t at all sound like a player he gave is all and left it all on the court.  He went on to say Andy  deserves “credit for getting in the lead and using the crowd to come through. He did an unbelievable job.”  It sure as hell sounds to me that Roger was right with the crowd in his support of Andy Murray.

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Fantastic! Now I have something to open me beer without usin’ me front teeth.

Murray is the first British male to win gold in the Olympics since Josiah Ritchie in 1908. Those games were also played on the Wimbledon courts in front of a hometown.  So it took British players 104 years to win the Olympics, and coincidentally both times it took place in a home Olympics?  There is something really fishy about today’s result and I can’t be the only one who agrees with this assessment.  I can’t wait for the next time these two square off, just to watch Federer beat down Murray and show how much better he really is when he tries.  Although assists are not a category often kept in tennis, Roger Federer showed his best Steve Nash impression, allowing Murray to stand on the podium and collect all the accolades that comes with winning the Olympics in your home country.


Record Breaking USA Performances

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I wave my Chinese-made American flag every day!

I am proud to be an American.  The USA has gotten off to a ridiculously fast start to the 2012 Olympics and yesterday was a prime example of why.  Between a dominating Basketball game, a stunning showing in the pool, and a heartwarming performance in gymnastics, the USA  faithful found multiple ways to set Olympic records.  It seemed as if every time I turned on the television and turned it to NBC all I saw was a different American standing on the top podium while they bent over and received the coveted gold medal as it was placed around their neck.

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Basketball been berry berry good to us

Even though the USA’s comical dominance in men’s basketball yesterday didn’t result in a medal…yet, it was still a big enough win to set multiple records in their respective event.  From the opening tip anyone watching this game would have been able to see something special was about to go down.  The New Dream Team set records for most points scored in a game (156), 3-pointers in a game (29), most points by an individual player (Carmelo Anthony, 37, in a remarkable 14 minutes), most team assists in a game (41), and the largest margin of victory ever (83).  If you didn’t watch this game I hope you can find a platform that is showing it again because it was without question the most dominant display on the hardwood I have ever seen.

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That’s an upside down “N” for an upside down game against Nigeria

“You have to take a shot every 24 seconds,” USA coach Mike Krzyzewski said, “and the shots we took happened to be hit.  Our guys just couldn’t miss tonight, I hope we saved some [3s] for the other games.”  Coach K wasn’t the only one impressed with the team’s performance.  Carmelo’s record-breaking performance even left himself in awe.

“It’s kinda hard to explain it,” Melo said of the dominant stretch he had. “If you haven’t done it, you won’t really understand what I’m talking about.”

Kevin Love said, “It was unbelievable. I was at a loss for words watching. Every time he shot the ball, I just went up, stood up, held the three fingers in the air. I knew it was in.”

With this momentum, the USA team should keep their focus and continue to strive for the ultimate goal of winning the gold. If they don’t win the gold then there is no more comparing them to the 1992 Dream Team.

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Your mission, Mr. Phelps, should you decide to take it is to win enough gold to buy down our national debt

In the water a familiar face finally took the reigns back as America’s greatest swimmer.  After a disappointing start to the 2012 Olympics, Michael Phelps reminded us all why he is the greatest swimmer of all time.  Coming into London, Phelps announced that this would be his final Olympics and that he was going to try his hardest to break the all-time medals record.  Well, Phelps accomplished his goal and more.  Yesterday, Phelps added to his record he set at the beginning of games and also etched his name in the record books once again by becoming the first ever male swimmer to win the gold in the same event in 3 consecutive Olympics (200-meter individual medley).  This gold marked Phelps 16th Olympic gold (most ever) and 20th medal overall ever (most ever).  This Olympics has been extremely emotional for Phelps.

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Yeah, we all knew there’d be a picture like this sooner or later

“Once it’s all over, it’s going to really hit me emotionally,” he said. “I know for my mom it’s very emotional. I’m the last Phelps to come through. She’s watched my sisters go through the sport and retire.”

Phelps reemergence is coming at the expense of new American favorite, Ryan Lochte.  In what Lochte considered “His Time,” Phelps has stolen the thunder back and has made everyone forget what the Florida Gator had accomplished thus far.

“I wanted to get all golds in my events, but you know it didn’t happen,” Lochte said. “I’m going to have to live with that and move on and learn from it. Try not to make the same mistakes in the next four years.”

Lochte might be disappointed in 2012 but once the Rio 2016 Olympics rolls around you can bet on Lochte being the favorite in every single event he takes part in.  Phelps has one more race and I know I will be on the edge of my seat cheering for him to bring home gold number 17.

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Come on! The damn medal is half as big as her.

Not many 16 year-old’s can brag about lifetime accomplishments.  Gabby Douglas, known to most as “The Flying Squirrel,” became the first ever African-American to win the women’s gymnastics all-around title Thursday night.  The 16-year-old Douglas can now brag about a lifetime accomplishment.  The 4′ 11″ Smith is a little ball of energy and just puts a smile on the faces of anyone that watches her perform.  Between her smile and her energy, Douglas’ fame is not going to end here in London.  She is going to go on and take the world over like no female gymnast ever has.  I already foresee a spot for her on Dancing With the Stars and I can assure everyone that whatever late night show you watch she will be on it sometime in the next month.

Gabby won 2 Gold medals this Olympics and did it with not much in her favor.  As a matter of fact, Douglas wasn’t even on pace to be on the Olympic squad when she was competing in national competitions in 2011.

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Russians upset by no goodnik Flying Squirrel. Where is Moose?

“I don’t ever recall anybody this quickly rising from an average good gymnast to a fantastic one,” said national team coordinator Martha Karolyi, who gave Douglas her “Flying Squirrel” nickname.

Karolyi was amazed but Douglas was in shock.  “I wanted to seize the moment,” Douglas said. “It hasn’t sunk in yet. Team finals hasn’t sunk in yet. But it will.”

All in all, the USA had one of it’s best Olympic days ever yesterday and I was very proud to witness it.  This is what the Olympics are all about, pride and determination.  Congratulations to Gabby Douglas, Michael Phelps and the Men’s Basketball team and good luck to all the athletes whose events are still to come.  LET’S GO USA!!!


The University of Florida Should Be a Sovereign Nation

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Hey – the Chinese haven’t even got a knockoff of this yet!

Unless you live in a cave, you know that the Olympics are going on.  This year’s London Olympics offers 302 events, over 10,500 athletes, and 204 different Nations (technically they are called the NOC, National Olympic Committees) .  There is one group of athletes, though, that has won so many medals already that they could call themselves the 205th nation.

 

 

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Golden bagel with Lochtes

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Got stock in UF? If not, BUY, don’t SELL. Like Elizabeth here.

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Float like a butterfly. Or swim like one!

The University of Florida has 40 different athletes representing their SEC powerhouse.  Just a couple of days into the Olympics, they are already proving why they have the best athletic program in the world.  As if Tebowmania wasn’t enough to keep UF on the map, their Olympians have come out of the gates on fire. The famous “Gator Chomp” has been prevalent throughout the trials all the way to London and those who proudly sport Orange and Blue have not been disappointed yet.

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How big is Florida’s effect on US medals? This big!

Ryan Lochte smoking Michael Phelps in the 400-meter medley to notch the first of the Gator medals, made UF’s success rate look promising from the start.  Dana Vollmer followed Lochte’s impressive victory with swimming gold of her own in the women’s 100m butterfly.  Elizabeth Beisel won the silver medal in the women’s 400m IM and Lochte picked up his second medal in the men’s 400m Free Relay where he and his teammates finished with the silver.  That makes four medals for UF athletes and counting.  Sure, when you hear four medals you don’t think that it is anything too special, but that’s more than Australia, Canada, and even the home town team, Great Britain.  Right now the Sovereign Nation of the University of Florida, otherwise known as the Gator Nation, is one of the best ranked nations in this competition.

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Not soccer moms yet, but soooo soccer.

With Abby Wambach and Heather Mitts at the forefront of the favored women’s US Soccer team you can expect more Gator’s to being wearing some heavy hardware throughout the Olympics.  Let’s just hope orange, blue, and gold don’t clash.


U.S. Pool Party in London

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Coverage of all events on every channel. Wow – I never knew that’s what they meant by the English Channel!

I love the Olympics.  Maybe it’s the fact that they only come around once every four years, maybe it’s that I just love sports in general and I get to watch so many different ones in a span of two weeks, or maybe its the fact that I believe when athletes compete for their country, it brings on a whole new level of meaning.  After watching the spectacular events from last night’s Opening Ceremony, I woke up today incredibly pumped for the day ahead of Olympic competition.  The amazing part of the Olympics is that I can literally flip through the different channels at all times of day and catch such uniquely different competitions taking place at the same time.  After watching the brilliance of tennis star Roger Federer on CNBC, I flipped up to MSNBC and watched an Irish boxer kick the shit out of a Nigerian.  It was the perfect balance of Federer’s brilliance and Irish ass kicking to start my Saturday off right.  However, it is really just a teaser for the sport I am most looking forward to later on.

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Pooling resources

Swimming was always something I enjoy doing as a child, though I was never really that good at it.  Hence, I had to pull out of a triathlon a couple of years ago due to my fear that I would drown during the race.  Still, I love watching Olympic swimmers in action, as they have to be some of the best athletes in the world.    Today, the pools of London will be closely watched as the Olympic schedule features two of the most intriguing story lines of the U.S. vantage point.  17 year-old Missy Franklin will swim her first Olympic race during the women’s 4×100 freestyle relay final, and we will have our first match-up of the legendary Michael Phelps and up and coming Ryan Lochte during the men’s 400-meter individual medley final.

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No, that’s NOT Amelia Earhart

Missy Franklin is one of the athletes that is expected to breakout during the 2012 Summer Olympics.  The 17-year-old has come onto the scene in the past couple years, earning the 2011 Fina Swimmer of the Year award (I hear that’s pretty, pretty good).  In her early career, she has collected seven medals in major international competition, including three gold, three silver, and one bronze in World Championship races.  During 2012 Olympic qualifiers, Franklin impressed the swimming world by qualifying to swim in four events during the London games.  She won the 100-meter backstroke, setting a new American record by finishing in 58.94. The 100-meter backstroke event will clearly be her best shot for gold, but Franklin has an excellent chance of earning a few medals during these games.  I believe the relay team tonight will place and make the podium, starting of Franklin’s Olympics in grand fashion.

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Bling master Phelps

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Michael may be in the pool, but Ryan’s got it Lochte’d

The best individual rivalry heading into the Olympics has to be between Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, and we will have Round 1 of this matchup later today.  The two men will swim the same race twice during the Olympics, the first being tonight when they face off during the 400-meter individual medley final, which will be shown at 2 p.m. on the East Coast.  The U.S. public remembers Phelps making history as he broke the all-time record for most Gold medals in a single Olympics by winning 8 in Beijing.  Phelps needs just three medals of any color to break the record for most all-time in any Olympic sport, which I guarantee he will manage during the London games. However,  even though Phelps is easily the most recognizable Olympic swimmer and athlete the U.S. has to offer, he hasn’t been the best swimmer over the past four years.  Ryan Lochte has come onto the swimming scene hard, and in the 2011 World Aquatics Championships in Shanghai, Lochte went 2-0 against Phelps in their head to head matchups.  Lochte also won the 400-meter IM, the race the two men will compete in tonight.  Phelps is the all time record holder in the race, but due to Lochte’s emergence, he is not favored to win the race.  During Olympic qualifiers,  Lochte defeated Phelps by .83 seconds and has a chance to rewrite the history books Phelps set back in 2008.  I believe Phelps will get one of the three medals he needs to set the all-time record, but it won’t be the color he really desires, as Ryan Lochte appears to be ready to take the throne from the legendary Michael Phelps, and will capture Gold tonight.

However it turns out, it will be an awesome day in London and I can’t wait to see how the swimming and all the other competitions play out!


USA Olympic Basketball Team Picked

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They are just so dreamy!

When you think of the USA Men’s Basketball Olympic Team, you immediately remember the 1992 “Dream Team.”  The 1992 team was the first American team to feature active NBA players and is considered the greatest team ever put together in any sport.  Let me break it down for you. The Dream Team consisted of Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone, John Stockton, David Robinson, Christian Laettner, Scottie Pippen, Clyde Drexler, and Chris Mullin.  Unless you live in a shell or have never heard anything about professional basketball you should have heard of majority of these players.  The USA coasted through the Olympics embarrassing country after country and letting the world know that this is America’s sport and no one will change that.  Even though the USA is ranked the #1 in the FIBA world rankings, they have found it difficult to portray the same dominance that they showed in the 90’s.

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Balls of Bronze – the clanking heard round the world.

In 2004, the USA finished with an embarrassing bronze medal and received criticism from a country that does not accept anything but gold in this competition.  If we lose a gymnastics competition or two who cares, but the basketball team must bring home the gold.  The 2008 team redeemed the 2004 team’s failure by winning it all and restoring balance to the basketball world.  This afternoon the 2012 squad was announced and I have to say that as an American I am very proud of the team we are sending to the London Olympics.  Led by veteran’s Kobe Bryant, Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony, the USA will look to sweep through these Olympics with what I feel is the best team since 1992.  Besides the three I have already mentioned, the USA will have the talents of Russel Westbrook, Chris Paul, James Harden, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Love and Tyson Chandler.

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Dreams anew for 2012

A lot of people look at this team as undersized and inexperienced, but what I see is a team that is built for the modern-day game.  If you read the names of the 2012 team you will find only one true Center in Tyson Chandler and then no other dominant big men.  Don’t try to come at me with Blake Griffin and Kevin Love because neither of them represent the typical big man that NBA fans are used to.  They are both great players in their own rights, but players like Ewing, Robinson, Barkley and Malone are true big men.  Some people will look at this like a negative, but with the way that international basketball is played now, the big man is a formality and no longer a necessity.

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Olympic Veteran’s Day

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This is Carmelo, Kobe and Lebron’s third Olympics that they are playing together so the veteran leadership is present and accounted for.  For some reason there are some skeptics out there that feel this year’s squad can’t match up to the 2008 team.

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US might be Ibaka the saddle again!

“They are just like us, they also have players with a lot of talent,” the Oklahoma City power forward said Saturday in his first full day of training with the Spanish team. “They are a different team to 2008, but their players are still very good.”  I hope that the USA team doesn’t take condescending comments like this lightly.  Sure Spain finished with the silver medal back in 2008, but there is no way they think they can actually match up with all of the best scorers in the NBA.  The NBA scoring champion 7 out of the last 8 year’s is currently on the USA team.  I honestly feel that the roster that we have going into the Olympics could have competed with the Dream Team.  Now I am not saying they would have beaten the Dream Team, but any game between them would have definitely been competitive.

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Chris Paul dreams big for 12

Chris Paul thinks that this team is much better than the ’08 squad.  “When I think about ’08, we were really good then. But like me, LeBron and D-Will, all of us talk about, you’ve got to think about how much better all of us are now than we were in ’08,” Paul said. “All of us as players, we shoot the ball better. Guys are more athletic, guys are more confident. One through 12, no question we’re deeper than we were in ’08.”

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We work Harden most!

If you didn’t notice, OKC will have their big 3 on the roster and James Harden couldn’t be more proud.  “Great characters, workaholics, just humble guys, humble guys and blessed to be in this position,” Harden said of himself, Durant and Westbrook. (Guys) who work hard and just set ourselves up for greatness and to achieve, and just to be on the same team with these guys means a lot.”

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Deron the right track for Olympic gold

Spirits are up and the gold medal is America’s to lose.  Will all of these high expectations be too much for America to handle?  I think not.  I expect to see the USA dominate throughout the Olympics and bring home the gold.  If that doesn’t happen it will be considered on of the biggest tragedies in American basketball history.  How do you feel this USA team will finish the 2012 Olympics?