The comments and feedback we’ve received have been fantastic, thank you so much for the support during the Games. But 2008 is but 8 months old, and there’s a great deal still to come this year – the athletics season, the Marathons in Berlin, Chicago, New York and no doubt loads more sport to write about and start debates on! So stick around for what will hopefully be a good end to an already spectacular season of sport, courtesy Beijing.
Zurich athletics – the Olympics in one day
But we’re back on the road again and looking forward to the upcoming sports action. There is no rest for the athletes from Beijing, because the biggest single day athletics meeting in the world takes place this Friday in Zurich. The “Weltklasse” (world class, literally translated) is often described as the Olympic Games in 3 hours, and this year it features 41 medalists from Beijing, as well as 14 Olympic Champions.
There are also some mouth-watering “rematches” to look forward to – Merritt vs Wariner at 400m, Lolo Jones vs everyone in the 100m hurdles, and Blanka Vlasic vs Tia Hellebaut in the high jump. Other athletes looking for post-Olympic “redemption” are Sanya Richards (400m) and Alyson Felix (200m)
There are also appearances by Kenenisa Bekele, fresh from a double gold in Beijing, Yelena Isinbayeva, fresh from (another) world record, and the Kenyan women who took out gold at 800m (Palema Jelimo) and 1500m (Nancy Langat, though in Zurich, she’ll be running the 800m, which could spice it up a little). Top of the bill though should be Usain Bolt, who has said he’s “not tired” from his triple-medal winning, world-record breaking exploits in Beijing. Whether another world record is on the cards is difficult to say – I doubt it, given the conditions, the travel, the timing of the season, but with Bolt, who knows?
His coach is reported to have said that had he not slowed down, he’d have run 9.52seconds, which I think is on the extreme side of hyperbole, given that he’d have to find probably 0.2 seconds in the second half of the race, and his Beijing celebrations likely cost him no more than 0.1 seconds (though one commenter, who claims to have “an expert eye” reckons it was more than this). I think I’ll trust the data, and not the “expert eye” – expert eyes are subject to bias and sensationalism, which seems to flying around lost these days…
The only two remaining contenders for the big jackpot of $1 million are Jelimo and Vlasic. Vlasic looked all but unbeatable until Beijing, so the pressure is on her to regain the ascendancy, while Jelimo looks, well, pretty close to unbeatable unless she falls horribly off the pace (she’d need to dop 2 seconds to be caught by the second place runner, such is her dominance).
In any event, we’ll certainly be following the action and bringing you any news – world records in the distance events might be on the cards – Bekele looked so good over the last 3000m of the 5km that I wouldn’t dismiss the chance of a real attack on that time. But, the big issues is travel fatigue and the same post-Olympic malaise we’ve been suffering from!
Looking back on the Olympics
The other thing that needs to be done is to look back on the Olympics a little more reflectively. Everyone will of course take their own top moments out of the Games, and for most, Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt will top their “Highlights” reel.
However, if one looks a little harder at the “whole” of the Games, there are some pretty interesting stories to be found, and over the course of the next week or so, I thought it would be interesting to look at some of those issues.
Among them will be:
The cost of Olympic success?
My country, South Africa, won a glorious SINGLE silver medal, which has caused an outcry over here (hopefully, action will be taken). China on the other, topped the table with a staggering 51 golds, and Great Britain had their most successful Games in 100 years. We’ll have a look at the strategies and systems adopted with a bit of scientific and management eye in the coming days.
The great Olympic nations: Who is the most successful Olympic nation for its size and economy?
China won 51 gold medals. Of course, you say, they have 1.3 billion people, they should win a truckload. The Bahamas on the other hand, won 2 medals with about 300,00 people, that’s an impressive performance. We’ll look at POPULATION PER MEDAL and also GDP PER MEDAL, in what is quite an interesting analysis. The results may surprise.
Swimming world records: Where to next?
Swimming world records fell at an almost unprecedented rate in Beijing – there were 25 world records, and only ONE Olympic record was not broken. But that doesn’t tell the real story – there were at least 3 races where the team coming FOURTH broke the old world record but did not win a medal! Of course, we expected that would happen, given the Speedo LZR swimsuit’s impact on performance, and the pool, but we now need to have a look at what it means for the sport of swimming.
Our own “top” lists
Of course, we have to make up our own list of reflections – greatest performance, best athlete, biggest disappointment. That’s the fun part, but we’ll certainly give it a crack in the coming days, perhaps first up.
I’m sure other cool topics will come up in the course of discussion, so we’ll keep it open for now and say join us for that in the next few days for more Post-Beijing discussion, and of course, comments from the world of sport. The show goes on!