Friday, August 3, 2012

Gold Rush

Okay, say what you will about the United States, we can't find leaders educated enough to keep religion out of secular issues, we can't establish public medical insurance, we have a joke of an intercity rail transit system, we have no textile industry left, there are forty-five nations more literate then we are, and at one time we had a vocational school that had the audacity to put the words "clown" and "college" together in its name, but listen now and believe me later: When we send our best swimmers and gymnasts to the Olympics, we crush the competition!  Canada has single-payer health care; we have Michael Phelps.  France has the TGV; we have Gabby Douglas.  (See any French gymnasts on that all-around medal podium?)  We have the most cars and the worst air.  But - we also have Rebecca Soni.
Michael Phelps won his twentieth medal last night - his first individual gold of the London Olympics and his third consecutive Olympic gold medal in the men's 200-meter individual medley relay race (a different stroke for each lap, folks!).  So whom does he join in the latter distinction? Er, no one. Phelps is the first man to win three consecutive Olympic gold medals in the 200 IM ever.
Now, I've heard of the Janet Evans Invitational.  If it hasn't been done already, someone ought to name a swim meet after this guy! :-D           
I don't know what to say about Gabrielle Douglas that hasn't been said already, except that people are making too much of the fact that she's the first black American Olympic women's all-around gymnastics champion.  So what?  Like Stephen Colbert, I don't see race, and unlike Stephen Colbert, I don't mean that ironically.  How about pointing out something even more spectacular? How about pointing out that Gabby Douglas is the third consecutive American Olympic women's all-around gymnastics champion?  Before 2004, Mary Lou Retton was the only such champion.  
American Alexandra Raisman was edged off the medal stand by Russian Aliya Mustafina, who won the bronze medal. (Another Russian, Victoria Komova, won the silver.)  Raisman tied in the overall scoring with Mustafina but came in in fourth, presumably because of the International Gymnastics Federation's rule that breaks the tie by rewarding the gymnast with the three best scores.  I suspect that Mustafina won because of her choice of music; while on the balance beam, the music playing was Pink Floyd's "Shine On You Crazy Diamond."
And how about Rebecca Soni in the pool? I mean, Wednesday night she reclaims the record in the 200-meter breaststroke with a time of 2:20, then she breaks that very record a day later with a winning time of 2:19:59! 
So, yes, all in all it was a great night to be an American, and a good night to forget all the bad stuff about These States.
And Michael Phelps isn't quite done yet.  He has two more races tonight - the 100-meter butterfly and the 4x100-meter relay medley.  Swiftest, highest, strongest! (Note superlative degree.)   

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