Calamity Strikes USA Women’s Gymnastics Team, Manages Second in Qualification Round

A huge surprise and disappointment for the US women’s gymnastics team, Samantha Peszek from McCordsville, Indiana had to sit out the qualification round of the floor exercise due to an ankle injury. This placed the US team at a huge disadvantage. Only four would be able to perform, meaning every performance would count. Normally, they would be able to exclude the low score.

Bridget Sloan started the floor exercise. Bridget had to be the hero here, and the pressure was clearly on. She was spectacular, nailing landing after landing. Bridget had to go first and made it all look easy, but slipped at the end and slid out of bounds. Sigh, she had done so well up to the finish!!

Next up was Alicia Sacramone from Winchester, Massachusetts. Alicia is 20 years old and is the captain of this team. She too went well out of bounds, costing her ½ point. She nailed her final move, but the former world champion could not take the pressure and it means she will not advance to the individual event finals on the floor as a result of that slip.

Could any more befall the American squad? Nastia Liukin, 18, from Parker, Texas stepped up next, with a huge amount of pressure on her. Liukin was the first of the American team to perform on par with the Chinese, scoring 15.350.

Shawn Johnson, 16, from West Des Moines, Iowa had the world on her shoulders. Shawn is the current world champion in floor. She made a slight error, but nailed the rest of the routine. Shawn was superb, scoring a total 15.425, bringing the US within shooting range of the Chinese. China averaged 15.187. Despite the hurdles they had to overcome, the US averaged 15.012.

They Survive, Stumble Into Second Place In Qualification Round

The US team was in the qualification round without Samantha Peszek due to an ankle injury. Now, they had to face the vault. China averaged 15.456 in this event. That is phenomenal.

Liukin started and nailed her vault and scored 15.100.

Bridget Sloan executed a beautiful vault next and scored 15.275.

Shawn Johnson followed and executed a very difficult vault. She had a slight slip at the end, but scored 16.000 due to her superb execution.

Alicia Sacramone was last and had to do two vaults. She nailed the first one 15.850. On the second she made a slight step to the side. Her score, 15.625. The US beat China in the qualification, scoring an average 15.556 to China’s 15.456.

Awesome Ladies, Awesome.

Samantha returned for the uneven parallel bars. Her ankle was wrapped, but only the dismount could hurt the ankle. She nailed the dismount, showing her ankle was OK for this competition. She had a great routine and scored 14.800.

Bridget Sloan was selected for the team as a result of her performance on the Parallel Bars, but unfortunately she nearly missed the bar and had to settle for a score of 14.800.

Shawn Johnson had a killer session landing an incredibly difficult dismount perfectly scoring 15.325.

Chelsie Memmel totally fell off the bar. The mistake was extremely rare and at a time the US was clearly depending on her score. She has an ankle injury that only allows her to perform this event. And now, due to her slip, she will not advance to the individual event finals. Score 15.050.

Nastia Liukin has a chance at the Gold in this event, but this was not her day. The performance was great up until the end, and she blew the dismount, falling backwards onto the mat. Score 15.950. Even with the fall, she is so good, that she will still qualify for the individual event finals.

The team did not have a good session here, and China scored much higher on average, 15.662 to 15.281.

In the final event, the balance beam, Alicia Sacramone was wonderful in her exercise, and started the Americans with a score of 15.950.

Nastia Liukin next. Phenomenal peformance for a score of 15.975. We had hoped for better, but this was still awesome.

Shawn Johnson was next and had a routine that shined. Her smile as she nailed the dismount said it all, it was ear to ear. Her score? 15.975!

The US out averaged the Chinese in this event 15.850 to 15.762. They will need to be better to win the Gold.

The Chinese qualified first and the US Second. This will allow the Chinese to go last in the finals, which is a significant advantage. These ladies have a major challenge ahead.

US Men’s Olympic Basketball Team Makes Short Work of China…

The US basketball team started off their competition against China.  The Chinese established themselves early, letting the Americans know they should not get too complacent.  The teams in the Olympics are prepared and they are well coached.  When a team is selected from well over a billion people, you have to respect their ability.

The US led 20-16 after the first, but the Chinese nailed a three pointer at the start of the second period.  The challengers in red were serious contenders here.   And they were keeping it close.  As you know, the US lost in 2004 despite bringing power-house players and only managed the bronze.  That loss was bitter, but it demonstrates that individual talent does not make a basketball team.  One can observe this in the All-Star games.  You get to see your favorite star, but typically not much of a ball game.

It looked like the energy on the Chinese team was about to wane, but then they nailed another three pointer and kept it within reach.  Henry Kissinger was in attendance in body, but not in spirit; the man was clearly snoozing, not cheering.  Even the elder Bush looked challenged to stay awake.

The US team started getting aggressive, but they could not sink baskets, and gave China the opportunity to catch up.   China was shooting 7/11 from the perimeter.  The US tried a three pointer, and missed again,  netting them a catastrophic 1/10 from behind the 3 point line.  You can’t do that in international basketball and not get challenged…or beaten.

They tell us that the referees can be horrendous in these games.  The reason, they come from different countries and this often presents language barriers.   In addition, there are subtle differentiations in the rules from nation to nation, which can lead to confusion on the court.  But so far, their calls were looking as good as most US officiating, and this Chinese team was still within 2.

Kobe then reminded us what greatness is about.  The US stole the ball and fed it up to Kobe against two Chinese defenders.  Kobe stuffed it between the two as they looked totally helpless to stop him.

The US kept on letting the three point shooters from China nail basket after basket.  While the US could only muster one 3 point shot, China had delivered 9!!  That added up to 27 points of China’s 32 points.

As the US tried to come back, Kobe missed another 3, putting the Americans in a sad position.  The US was 1 out of 11 outside the three-point line.  They have to learn, blocking a 3 pointer by the opposing team is just as good as getting one.  If you are going to depend on going to the basket to win, you cannot allow teams that focus on the 3-pointer to get shot after shot uncontested.

Yao Ming is a freak of nature.  At 7’6″ he towers above the US players.  One has to wonder how the Chinese, that average between 5’5″ and 5’7″ in height could deliver such a monster to the games!  But there are well over a billion Chinese, so anything becomes statistically possible.

The US continued to do what they do best.  Driving to the basket and drawing the foul.  Lebron James nailed the basket, but missed the chance to make it a three.

Now the rebounds and drives to the basket started to pay off.  The US generated a 16-3 run taking a commanding 13-point lead as the Chinese looked totally dismayed.  3 pointers aren’t going to win all by their lonesome, so perhaps the coaches for the US were right after all.  Just let the Chinese have all the 3s they want, but control the rebounds and the inside and let the game come to you.

The rest of the half was rather mundane, with the US ending up by 12 at 49-37.

The Chinese love basketball, and are great fans of the US teams.  The popularity of the game could result in as many as 800,000 basketball courts in the China by the end of this year, and there are still players waiting an hour or more to get into a pickup game.  They aren’t our equal in basketball yet, but their numbers are scary.

The US drew first blood in the second period as Kobe faked a 3 and drove to the basket.  He had China flatfooted on that move and the US went up by 14.

The US domination was on the 2.  They were only one for thirteen outside the 3 point line.  In reality though, if you control the inside, you control the game.  That was apparently the US strategy, and heaven forbid they start hitting a few of those 3s.

The US started getting lazy in the 3rd letting the Chinese get multiple offensive rebounds, but the Chinese started missing their shots.  Missed shot after missed shot by the Chinese led to a 16 point lead for the US, a cushion that was not going to be overcome.

The US was demonstrating they were unselfish here.  They looked like a team playing tenacious defense, wearing China down.  Fast line changes and US speed were starting to make the Chinese team look a bit foolish.  And then, James hit a 3 to take the US up 18.

It appeared that, as the game went on, China was getting more and more tired as the US team was just warming up.  Maybe the US should play a pick-up game to warm up before the actual game!!  They weren’t even looking slightly fatigued after almost three periods, so their strength is in their stamina and heart.

The Chinese started fouling ugly and the US started hitting free throw after free throw.  Chris Bosh was fouled, but only put down one out of two.  Even with that the US led by 21.  And the Chinese started to get humiliated.  Steals, easy baskets, and the US started to show that the Chinese were dramatically over-matched.  US by 24.

Another steal by Wade that leads to an easy stuff and the US margin expands to 26!  The Chinese could not find the basket anymore.  This game belonged to the US the rest of the way.

The 4th was no different, calling it play by play would just take up unnecessary space.  The Chinese were humiliated 101-68.  Over a 40 point margin!!  The US all-star squad demonstrated that the criticism of their ability to play as a team is vastly overdone.  They are a team and hopefully US Champions on their way to the GOLD!

Beach Volleyball in the Olympics: Treanor/Walsh and Gibb/Rosenthal Win!!

What man doesn’t love women in bikinis!! But here is a chance for everyone in the world to love them. The beach volleyball competition in the Olympics. Japan had to compete against the taller Americans. The Japanese are the specialists in finesse and the Americans the champions in smashes and kills.

It was a close match, because Japan had such incredible athleticism. They played wonderfully, but they had a major disadvantage in any net game. Height matters if you are above the net, and the US ladies were above the net.

We tend not to like sports that offer a height advantage. We like sports with rules that make it equal among athletes regardless of their height. Let’s see how well shorter athletes perform in events where the net is 5 feet tall, but we don’t make Olympic rules. The Japanese are the shortest in this competition at 5’8″ and 5’9″.

Misty May Treanor/Kerri Walsh did beat Kusuhara/Saiki; it was not easy. These ladies could be on their way to gold having won 102 matches in a row AND DEFENDING THEIR GOLD MEDAL!

Gibb/Rosenthal Win Volleyball In Torrential Downpour

It was raining cats and dogs, but that didn’t slow down the Americans as they took the Netherlands team in consecutive sets 21/16 and 21/15.  The Dutch looked like they were just glad to get it over with.

The crowd had thinned considerably, leaving most of the seats in the stadium empty for the game, with only diehard fans staying through the entire match.

The Dutch looked completely helpless against Gibb and Rosenthal as they couldn’t seem to keep the ball within the lines on kills and could not defend kill shots by the Americans.

Three US Women Sweep the Fencing Medals!

The US women, a Notre Dame junior, a Yale graduate, and new Duke Freshman swept the women’s fencing-individual Sabre.

Zagunis took gold for the second time, and in 2004 was the first US fencing Gold Medalist in a century!!!!

Becca Ward – Bronze US |  Sada Jacobson – Silver US  |  Mariel Zagunis – Gold US

Champions all!!!