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2008 Olympics: Shining Second Day

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In the words of Dr. Dre, it was a good day. At least for the United States it was. And, of course, "day" is relative since there are constantly events going on, so there's stuff that happened overnight… well, you get the idea.

It will most likely be referred to as "The Relay" from here on out. Michael Phelps was the big name, swimming the lead leg of the men's 4×100 freestyle relay, but the talk the entire race was about how, much like the American women and Dara Torres in the 4×100 IM relay, it would take everything happening just right for the US to reach the top of the podium.

Phelps, Cullen Jones, and Garrett Weber-Gale did their part to at least keep things close headed into the final leg, but the French team, the team that said, "We are here to smash [the Americans]," had about a half-second lead.

Jason Lezak, the team captain, swimming in his third and possibly last Olympics, did his best, but had only cut that lead to 0.18 seconds headed into the last 50 meters. Then, simultaneously, Lezak shifted gears, and French captain Alain Bernard got a hitch in his rhythm, and before you knew it, the US wound up a mere 0.08 seconds ahead of the French to take gold.

Hopefully this teaches the French what we Americans already knew, that you never, ever give the other team billboard material. Of course, the best highlight of the whole race was Michael Phelps' absolutely primal yell in celebration of a team victory. It is also a win that gives him gold medal number two and an excellent shot at an eight medal sweep, since he has now finished the two races where he wasn't the favorite.

As if that wasn't enough action:

  • Phelps' good buddy Katie Hoff tailed at the last second but still managed a silver medal in the 400m freestyle. Pretty good for a girl who was expected to finish fourth or fifth in the field.
  • Speaking of fading, the men's soccer team got behind the heavily favored Dutch team early on a 16th minute goal by star forward Babel, then took advantage of the Netherlands trying to sit on their lead to tally two goals in less that 10 minutes and take a 2-1 lead with roughly 15 minutes left. Unfortunately, a penalty led to a free kick, which led to a goal in the last minute of injury time to give the US only one point instead of three headed into their last group match against Nigeria.
  • Who knew King Kong was in town? Well, almost. Seventeen-year-old Chinese weightlifter Qingquan Long set a new junior record by lifting a total of 290 kg in three lifts to take the gold medal in the 56kg weight class for the clean-and-jerk.

There was also the men's basketball team, but it isn't like a 101-70 win over China is anything remotely surprising. Make sure you tune in if you like bloodbaths, since their next game is against Angola. Also, the US is on a roll in both men's and women's beach volleyball.

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About Geeves the Butler

  • “In the words of Dr. Dre, it was a good day.”

    When did he cover Ice Cube?

  • STM

    Ah yes, history shows the team that declares it’s going to smash the others gets dudded .. like Gary Hall jnr in 2000, who said the US would smash “Australia like guitars” in the 4x100m men’s freetsyle relay at the Sydney Olympics.

    Of course they didn’t, and had to watch the Aussie team playing air guitar, and of course Down Under now adds “we’ll smash them like guitars” to its rich sporting lexicon.

    On a serious note, Lezak was a revelation at the weekend. Australia swam its gold medal in the first leg, and the froggies must have been kicking themselves and asking how they lost it having built up such a lead.

    As you point out Geeves, it’s the billboard material that is usually the big sinker. I thought France were a walk-up start until Lezak made his amazing run. Good on the US … it was really great to watch, even with my own countrymen trailing in for a bronze.

    I hope Phelps can grab his 8 gold this games.