Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Olympic Vortex

I thought I'd have time to write more about cycling with the recent end to the Tour and Olympic track and field still one week away. But good Lord, the Olympics just overwhelm don't they? I neither have the time right now to write or follow the Games but the discipline of my attention span is notoriously poor, so a few notes on the first week in London:

  • This year's Tour de France champion was British rider Bradley Wiggins. He was the first Brit in the Tour's long history to finish in yellow, but also the first former track cyclist to win in Paris. Wiggins has multiple medals, including several gold, from the velodromes in Sydney, Athens, and Beijing. This year's champion in the Giro was Canadian rider Ryder Hesjedal, the first Canadian to claim the pink jersey. He also came to the cycling via early successes in mountain biking, including an Olympic appearance in Athens in which a flat tire spoiled a probable ride to the podium. With all this in mind who would win the Olympic Road Race on the first day in London? Savy veteran Alexandre Vinokourov of Kazakhstan stole the race from upfront as the favored Brits tried to control the race from the peloton and set up their best sprinter Mark Cavendish.

  • A vivid illustration of the difference between being an Olympic champion and becoming the stuff of Olympic legend. Human laser-beam and fastest-man-on-the-planet Usain Bolt joined his Jamaican teammates for a trip to the dining hall in the Athlete’s Village. The place quickly erupted into a prolonged standing ovation of fellow Olympians. The throwers in his entourage quite literally found themselves in the role of bouncers and personal security detail for the guy.

  • I was secretly hoping to see one of the legends of sport - Roger Bannister - light the Olympic torch in London. His fame isn’t tied to the Games as much as to his challenges with a stopwatch on the Iffley oval in Cambridge. Bannister’s shot at Olympic glory fell to pieces in 1952 as he faded late in the race to fourth. It was this failure ironically that motivated his efforts in training that produced the world’s first fourminute mile two years later, after which, he retired to a career in medicine. I was hoping the Games organizers would look past this technicality, but they chose not to.

  • There are reports that marathon world-record holder and part-time Albuquerque resident Paula Radcliffe will be a scratch for next Sunday’s womens marathon. Old foot injuries continue to bother her. Radcliffe hasn’t raced much over the last few years and one has to imagine she may have hung up the flats before now had London not been the host of this year’s games. American marathoner Desi Davila is also a likely scratch. Alternates from the Trials would be Amy Hastings or Janet Bawcom, both already qualified and set to compete in the 10000m. The next alternate would be none other than Deena Kastor. It remains to be seen if any of the alternates are prepared to run.
2012 London Olympics
 - Olympic 800m Recap
 - Olympic 1500m Recap
 - Olympic 3000m Steeplechase Recap
 - Olympic 5000m Recap
 - Olympic 10,000m Recap
 - Olympic Marathon Recap
 - Week One: The Olympic Vortex

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