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Friday, August 22, 2008

Day 8: What Happened

IAAF Recap

Men's 50k Snoozefest: My Italian mother-in-law, a letter carrier for the USPS, will be happy to hear an Italian won a walking contest. But she'll say "Walk for less than four hours? He's so lazy!" Note: to absolutely no one's surprise, the Russian world-record holder failed to live up to his pre-Games dominance.

4x400 Relay
semis: No drops, no surprises. In the men's competition, 3:00.74 was the last qualifier, and the USA might actually get a race tomorrow.

Women's Long Jump: Maurren Higa Maggi led through the final round, when Tatyana Lebedeva got off a very good jump. Tense moments while they measured; the Russian came up one centimeter short. Blessing Okagbare was advanced to the final only because Blonska's heptathlon drug sample came up positive, and she got bronze out of it. Brittney Reese took fifth, and while it's hardly a disaster it was also a significantly inferior performance to her q-round.

Men's Pole Vault: An upset, as Aussie Steve Hooker dealt Evgeniy Lukyanenko his first defeat of the year. Derek Miles was fourth on the countback, leaving the USA's jumping medal count at 1-for-21.

Women's 5k: This was supposed to be a dogfight between Dibaba and Defar, but ridiculously slow running until the last few laps made it less than a true test of 5k ability. Dibaba ran her last lap in under 60 seconds, and Abeylegesse took her second silver of the games.

Decathlon Day 2 (100H, DT, PV, JT, 1500): An American star not only won as expected but totally dominated the field. Bryan Clay now belongs in the annals of Olympic history with Bruce Jenner, Rafer Johnson, and Dan O'Brien--but NBC never once hyped him in the run-up to the event. Idiots. For once, winning the 1500 actually meant something, as the silver medal came down to the final strides at the finish line. Young Cuban Leonel Suarez might have blown it there, but he is the future in this event. Call up a British bookie and put your money on him in London '12 right now.

Women's 4x100: The Jamaicans thought the US dropping the baton was so great they decide to try it too. Well, they probably didn't want to do it, but the faster the runners the more precarious the exchanges. Russia ended up gold, and the Belgians took silver. Kim Gevaert, among the most popular of all athletes in Belgium, announced just three days before the opening ceremony that she will retire at the end of the season. She anchored them home for her first and only Olympic medal. She could not stop crying.

Men's 4x100: Jamaica, another World Record: 37.10. The last half of their relay is fantastically fast, and so is the track, so anything else would have been a surprise. Can you believe Trinidad's silver is their first Olympic medal in this event?

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