Santa Maria Sun / Sports Lead
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 19
The Bleacher Bum Chronicles Vol. XXVIIISummer Games, make me feel fine
BY THE BLEACHER BUM
It happens once every four years. Over the course of 16 action-packed days, the best athletes in the world gather, each vying for gold in the spectacle of the Olympics. The 2012 Games begin on July 27, and though London may seem like an odd choice for a host given the climate, it’s the third time they’ve been held in that city in the modern era, an Olympic record.
One thing the Olympics bring to a city, besides tourism revenue, is revitalization. London officials are hoping the Games will draw life into the industrial east end of the city. In addition to building an impressive, futuristically green Olympic Park, which will serve as the basis for a technological center patterned after Silicon Valley, they’ve upgraded public transportation, putting in new high-speed rail lines and cable cars.
The improvements are likely to help the 10,000 athletes staying at the Olympic Village get to their venues with greater ease, and they’re going to need it to cover all that ground. In all, 302 events in 26 sports will be played over the course of the XXX Olympiad, and that’s just fine with me. If you’re like me, you prefer the Summer Games to the winter version. There’s just more going on in summer; not only do you have all the track and field events, but also soccer, volleyball, gymnastics, and of course, swimming and diving.
Once again, all eyes will be on USA Basketball—this year nicknamed the “Supreme Team”—a collection of the NBA’s best who’ll be attempting to defend their gold medal from 2008 in Beijing. Though the distance between the United States and the rest of the world has shrunk significantly since the “Dream Team” days of Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson, the U.S. appears to have a new commitment to playing together as a team. A solid core of the 2012 team, including Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant and New York Knicks center Tyson Chandler, stormed their way to a FIBA World Championship in 2010. Durant returns with several of the league’s biggest stars, who led Team USA to the gold medal in 2008, including Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Chris Paul, and Carmelo Anthony. Let’s hope there’s enough basketball to go around.
Besides hoops, there’ll be plenty of storylines to follow across the board. In swimming, the talk of the London Aquatics Centre is sure to be the showdown between rivals Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte in the 200- and 400-meter Individual Medley events. Phelps, if you’ll recall, dominated in Beijing, winning eight gold medals in the pool. However, Lochte is the current world record holder in both events, and upset Phelps at the U.S. Olympic Trials in the 400 meters. Phelps dropped the 200-meter freestyle to focus his attention on training, and no matter which man takes home the gold, both races will undoubtedly prove epic.
Given the setting, soccer will take center stage for much of the Games. Brazil is the early favorite, looking for the country’s first Olympic gold medal, but will face a difficult road against Great Britain, Spain, and Uruguay. Even though the U.S. team won’t be participating, you won’t want to miss the later round games, especially if the host country is still in the running.
In track, Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt will seek to defend his title as “World’s Fastest Man” in the 100-meter dash. However, he faces his most difficult test in fellow countryman Yohan Blake, who beat Bolt in the 100 and 200 meters in Olympic qualifying races. In the 400, South African Oscar Pistorius is likely to draw a great deal of attention as the first amputee to compete in the Olympics.
Though Orcutt swimmer Josh Prenot narrowly missed making the U.S. team in the breaststroke, the 2012 Games will feature a few local names to watch out for. Duane Solomon, originally from Lompoc and a CIF state champion at Cabrillo, will be running in the 800-meter track event. Chloe Sutton, a swimmer born at Vandenberg Air Force Base, will compete in both open water and pool events, including the 400-meter freestyle event. And Todd Rogers, a beach volleyball player who lives and trains in Solvang, will look to win his second Olympic gold medal along with his playing partner Phil Dauhasser.
Before I conclude and get ready for Danny Boyle’s Opening Ceremony, what is it about the Olympics and odd artistic statements? The garish 2012 Olympic logo has received as much attention as any particular athlete; some people have suggested the abstract mash resembles a swastika. Others have gone so far as to say if you arrange the shapes just right, it appears to read “Zion.” This includes the country of Iran, which complained the logo was racist and threatened a boycott of the Games. Oh, nothing brings the world together quite like the Olympics.
Conspiracy theories aside, have you seen the Olympic mascots? They’re apparently supposed to represent steel drops from a mill in northwest England, but instead they look closer to a couple of cyclopic Futurama aliens on vacation. Where do they come up with this stuff? These are the things that keep me up at night.
But what do I know? I’m just a bum. And that’s my view from the bleachers.
The Bleacher Bum hopes the “Supreme Team” doesn’t ever show up on the Taco Bell menu. Contact him at email@example.com.
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