Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Tuesday Top Ten: Favorite Summer Olympic Events

I've been hellishly busy as of late, thanks to work, travel, and spending every other non-sleeping minute of the day watching the Olympics.  This happens every Olympics, summer or winter, and it's just that much easier to become obsessed when the games are played within a couple times zones of me, so that I can watch a lot of things live.  Hell, I'm watching Kerri Walsh-Jennings and April Ross lose their battle Agatha and Barbara as we speak.

There isn't an event that I won't watch, but here are my ten favorite Summer Olympic events (in no particular order):

1.  Track and field - men's 100m
This was one of my favorite Olympic events because, even as a kid, the idea of "the fastest man in the world" was so compelling.  The first Olympics I remember was the 1984 Los Angeles games, where Carl Lewis won the 100m (and grabbed three other golds while at it).  This is still compelling for me because it really is just pure speed, and as many a coach has said, you can't teach speed.  Watching Usain Bolt is literally awesome.

2.  Team fencing
I hadn't watched much fencing until this Olympics, and I always thought it was cool.  I mean, it's sword fighting.  But this time around, I actually figured out some of the rules, and that it's more than just who touches the other person first.  And then, I watched some team events, where they rotate fencers over nine rounds, and the first to 45 points wins.  Good stuff.

3.  Gymnastics vault
Whether it's the men or the women, the vault is awesome.  People chucking themselves into the air is always cool, but then when they can stick a landing after running full speed, doing a cartwheel off of a springboard, and then three twisting flips in the air, it almost defies physics.  And, of course, this even provides us with the most spectacular crashes in gymnastics.

4.  Women's beach volleyball
It's always a party atmosphere during beach volleyball, and I like the two-on-two format better than the six-on-six indoor volleyball format.  And, of course, let's not kid ourselves, any straight man who says he doesn't enjoy watching bikini-clad women in extremely good shape is lying.

5.  Platform diving
They are diving from over thirty feet in the air and somehow (for the most part) not belly flopping.  You remember that first time you ever went off the high dive as a kid, and it seemed like it took forever for you to hit the water.  They are three times as high as that, and they are doing flips and going into the pool head first.

6.  Swimming - any IM or medley relay
The IM events are crazy to me because you have to be really good at all four swimming strokes.  I don't think I would be able to properly do the breaststroke or butterfly if I practiced for a year.  And the medley relays are cool because it's the best of the best in each stroke.

7.  Archery
The TV coverage never really does archery justice because all you see is the archer release the arrow and then a close-up of the target to show where the arrow hits.  What you don't get a fell for is that they are shooting from 70 meters away, and the ten-point circle is as big as a CD.

8.  Track and field - 400m hurdles
Because someone thought, "Hey, you know what the hardest track event needs?  Hurdles."

9.  Rubgy Sevens
I realize this is a new event, but it's pretty sweet.  In case you don't know, rugby sevens differs from regular rugby in that it's only seven minutes a half (instead of 40), and there are only seven players on each team (instead of 15).  Basically, what that means is that it's like the flag football version of rugby, but without flags and still with all the action of rugby.  Definitely a good addition to the games.

10.  Table tennis
It's just insane how good Olympic table tennis players are.  They are playing about ten feet behind the table, and just killing the ball, but with precision and crazy spin.  It's almost disheartening, since you're thinking that ping pong is a fun, relatively easy game.  I tell you this:  these people would eat you alive.

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