Monday, August 11, 2008

Sometimes, Even I Watch the Olympics

As a general rule, I'm not a big fan of the Olympics. The IOC and the international bureaucracy that runs things reminds me of every other international cabal running something -- the words "corrupt, inefficient and self-important" come to mind. And I'm someone who's not offended by rank commercialism, even when it's accompanied by hypocrisy. I just find it annoying.

But I'm like any other sports fan -- a great athletic performance will make me watch. Michael Phelps' drive for eight gold medals is another example of someone who's driven to be the best mixing great talent with brilliant focus and sheer will. Watching him with the 400 IM over the weekend was fantastic, because he seemed to dominate the race like a legendary champion should. It was a performance like something Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan would give you -- he just overwhelmed his opponents.

But last night? Last night, Superman needed help from some teammates in the Justice League. And nothing's quite as entertaining as making a bragging Frenchman eat his words. You have to love this quote from Jason Lezak, the American who swam the anchor leg and won the race with a phenomenal comeback...
When he flipped and thrust off the wall, he was still half a body length behind. That's a country mile in a sprint race. The United States was going down and taking Phelps' quest for eight gold medals in a single Games with it.

No way.

But just as quickly as that glimmer of despair flitted through Lezak's mind, it was shoved aside by fresh determination.

No way met no quit.

"I changed," he said. "I thought, 'That's ridiculous. I'm at the Olympic Games, I'm here for the United States of America. I don't care how bad it hurts, I'm going after it.'
Yes, it's hokey. But sometimes, it's still great drama, and you can't help but get sucked in by it. And that's without the added benefit of mocking the French team.

Now, if they could just get rid of that long, boring opening ceremony...


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