For some reason though, this year all that changed. I have a theory about this. Like most of my theories it’s a half-crazed one, but one that I enjoy pondering and spouting off about. I think it’s because we finally have an enemy again. Back in ’84, even though the ruskies weren’t there, they were still the enemy. You still identified those bold C.C.C.P. initials with factory built super-machines bent on destroying the amateur “kids” we sent against them. Then, at some point after Glasnost and Perestroika, they started to fade away, and with that fade went my interest in the Olympics. Seoul, Barcelona, Athens – I didn’t pay but a minute’s attention to those games.
Fast forward to 2008 and we’ve got a new enemy it would seem these days. A rising dragon if you will. Obviously I’m talking about China and it’s new generation of factory built super-athletes, although surprisingly many of them seem rather midget like, or wisp like. Heck, some of the time I can’t even discern the “men” from the “women” (and I use those terms lightly when discussing their “women’s” gymnastics squad). They are the new C.C.C.P. The new enemy we must face every 4 years and defeat in battle. And if we don’t bring our absolute best – they look like a force to be reckoned with. This then must be the reason I’m so addicted to this year’s Olympics.
Well, that and bikini clad female beach volleyball players playing in downpours of Beijing rain. which might have something to do with it.
So what’s this got to do with horse racing? Not a whole lot, really. In my typically insane fashion, I find myself looking at the Olympics through the eyes of a horseplayer. Like I mentioned before, it’s a crime against humanity that I can’t key a trifecta ticket on Michael Phelps to win the 100 meter breaststroke with a longshot Australian and a kiwi New Zealander underneath. Likewise, I should be able to make an exacta play keying on Jamaican speedster Usain Bolt. Sadly, there is no (legal) way for me to do so at this point in time, more’s the pity.
So what’s a horse racing fan to do when they find themselves glued to the tube, painted in red, white, and blue and watching a cacophony of sports they’ve largely never cared about before? Write a random blog post, of course! What follows are my observations, musings, and random thoughts about what we’ve seen thus far at Beijing. The few times I’ve ventured off-topic here in the past have been comical disasters, but I’ve tested the waters a bit by posting a lot of this over on blogcatalog and enjoying the back and forth banter it generated. Here’s my top 10 thoughts on the 2008 Summer Olympics.
1. Michael Phelps is god. I now sacrifice chickens to his honor – well, to a crude paper mache replica of his likeness. I call it “Mikey.” Seriously though, why the hell would anyone talk trash to that guy to fire him up? And why can’t I key him on top of a trifecta when he races? He’s the Curlin of swimming. No, check that, he’s the Secretariat of swimming. That finger touch victory of his for gold #7 – the highlight of the Olympics by far.
2. Misty May Treanor (U.S. women’s beach volleyball) is in love with me – she just doesn’t realize it yet. It’s okay Misty, I understand. I’m just heart broken that I won’t get to watch you anymore (unless you return for 2012), although I did stay up past midnight last night to watch you and Kerry Walsh crush China to win the gold! I’m usually not one to go for girls that could probably kick my ass, but in Misty’s case I make an exception. Like a true American, I love a winner!
3. Ditto for Chinese beach volleyball babe Xue Chen. She just hasn’t found a way to express her love for me as she doesn’t speak English. I can tell though…it’s the way she looks at me through the television set. It’s like she’s saying “please, let me be your love slave.” Sadly (for Xue), I’m already spoken for, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy watching her prance around in the sand in her bikini- and unlike Misty she ought to be back in 2012 for the London games. It’s hard to cheer for the “enemy” – but she’s hot enough that I don’t really give a darn. If loving Xue Chen is wrong than I don’t want to be right.
4. I’m mad as hell that I don’t get to see a Misty vs. Xue matchup in the gold medal game, but it’s all good as Misty and teammate Kerry Walsh brought a much needed gold home for the U.S. Sadly (for me), Xue and her teammate lost to the Tian/Jang Chinese team and Xue was forced to settle for a bronze medal after beating Brazil. I’d have had no problem with her losing a tight one to Misty and Kerry and taking silver. Silver looks good on her – but gold looks a tad better on the Americans in my opinion.
5. Nastia Lukin should’ve won gold on the uneven bars. The judges who denied her the gold should be hung, drawn, and quartered like common brigands.
6. Shawn Johnson or Nastia should’ve won gold on the vault when the Chinese gymnast Cheng Fei fell. Heck, the Chinese got so many “WTF?” scores to their benefit while our gals got screwed. For what it’s worth – I think Shawn and Nastia kick total ass. Way to go girls – you kept your head’s up AND brought back gold medals. All while facing the best that the “People’s Children of China” could throw at you! Shawn should have a bright future ahead of her as she’s got one of those infectious personalities that you simply have to love. Seriously, who on earth could not have been rooting for this girl? I actually wanted her to beat Nastia for individual overall gold.
7. Chinese gymnast Cheng Fei looks like Dr. Zaius from Planet of the Apes. Some won’t like it, but it’s the truth.
8. Speaking of the female Chinese gymnasts, there’s no way half these girls were a day past 12. There was something deeply disturbing about watching a bunch of 12 year olds prancing around in skimpy clothing. I know many think “so what, that means you got beat by 12 year olds!”, but the truth is that the smaller/younger a person you send out there to compete, the more of an advantage you have. It sounds like the IOC is finally getting serious about investigating that He Keixin girl, but to be honest I thought others looked younger.
8. I don’t think Cris Collinsworth, former Cincinatti Bengals WR, is quite the right guy for the job to be discussing fencing matches and bicycle races – but at least he isn’t Bob Costas. I don’t know what it is with Costas that sickens me. Actually I do – it’s the hair. Bella on the other hand – watching him on tape delay covering the gymnastics routine was exactly like sitting at a major race with a diehard horse racing fan. That was great television.
10. I still can’t believe I live in a world where trampoline, table tennis (ping pong), and handball are sports countries can win gold medals in, yet baseball is on it’s way out and American Football is no where on the radar. I know – next let’s add laser tag! Or Pokemon! Or Magic-the Gathering!!! Like I said last week – at least send our thoroughbreds overseas to clean house against the Chinese ponies.
All in all it’s been an amazing two weeks, and I kind of appreciate the distraction from the daily grind that the Olympics offered. Our Equestrian team did pretty well – so there were some equine tie-ins to the whole thing. They just didn’t get as much television time as some of the other sports.
So hats off to the finest in the world. Especially our own beloved Team USA. We OWNED the water cube (except for diving, of course), and if it weren’t for those pesky Jamaicans, we’d have owned track and field as well. The Chinese can keep their claim to table tennis. That’s one sport I’ll never give a rats about – bikini clad competitors or not.
I’ll be back on topic tomorrow night with a look at the Travers – which looks like a heckuva race coming up on Saturday.