Thursday, August 9, 2012

London 2012: Day Thirteen, Part Two

I already took a look at today's women's 10k Open Water swim and tomorrow's men's race, as well as action at U.S. Open in Indianapolis; check out that post.

Meanwhile, we’ve got some swimming drama brewing. Some, including Swimming World’s Jeff Commings, have called for South African Cameron van der Burgh to give up his gold medal after admitting to taking extra dolphin kicks on his start. In his column, Jeff cites FINA’s use of video evidence to reinstate disqualified swimmers, including Park Tae Hwan in the 400 free at the Olympics, but I disagree with his logic and opinion. FINA has never used replay to disqualify a swimmer AFTER the fact, and the use of underwater footage in officiating remains disallowed.

Van der Burgh admitted to the extra kicks, but many of his competitors took extra kicks off the start as well. If FINA retroactively disqualifies him, half of the finalists probably deserve DQ’s. Who were the top eight swimmers that took no extra kicks? I can’t even say for sure that all made the semi-finals. At this point, FINA must admit that extra kicks have happened for years and allow the use of underwater cameras in the future to stop this bending of the rule. I don’t see any other way to rectify this situation.

In other news, members of FINA have shown interest in removing the women’s 800 free from the Olympic program and inserting the 1500, which would equalize the men’s and women’s Olympic programs for the first time in history. I agree that the men and women should swim the same events, but why not keep all the current events and insert the 800 for men and 1500 for women? I see no reason why there should be no event in swimming longer than 4 minutes and shorter than 15-16 minutes. That’s a huge gap that should remain filled with the 800.

Of course, if the extra distance events join the Olympic program, calls will reemerge for the 50s of stroke to become Olympic events as well. While I agree that these specialists definitely deserve their shot at Olympic glory, the IOC has shown no willingness to add events and certainly not eight more. With that said, equality in distance should come before the 50s, so I think FINA should focus its attention on that cause for now.

Meanwhile, the Olympics keep on going, and today one man received the crown as the world’s greatest athlete, American Ashton Eaton. While I enjoy watching the events, moreso I marvel at the competitors’ ability to perform at a top level in ten different events as dissimilar as the 100m dash and the javelin throw and the 1500 run, all within 36 hours. For sure, whoever wins deserves the title of the greatest at the moment. Meanwhile, Usain Bolt has earned his second gold medal of the Olympics in the 200m over countrymen Yohan Blake and Warren Weir. No one had ever before defended the gold in the 200m and certainly not won both the 100m and 200m in two straight Olympics.

While Bolt’s time of 19.32 missed his world record time of 19.19 and his Olympic record of 19.30 from four years ago, he has shown some serious mental and physical strength this week to defend his titles over the young Blake. Blake beat Bolt in both events in Jamaica’s Olympic Trials, and late last year, Blake posted a 19.28 in the 200, the second-fastest time ever. What a performance for Bolt to win once again. He will have one more gold medal shot at these Games in the 4x100 relay coming up later in the week, where the favored Jamaicans will need the talents of all three medalists in order to defend their title.

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