Another Olympics has come to a close, and we've had the usual barrage of doping controversies to mull over, varying from scurrilous insinuations about 16-year-old girls to justified concern over rehabilitated (and unrepentant) ex-dopers winning medals. So, what else is new? Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of this Olympics is how comfortable we’ve become with drug use in sport. It’s reached the stage where news of an athletics gold medalist testing positive for steroids barely merits the jaded raise of an eyebrow. Yet Nadzeya Ostapchuk is the only Olympian (so far) to have been stripped of a medal in 2012, which compares favorably with five medalists in Beijing, nine in Athens, and eight in Sydney. This has either been the cleanest Olympics this century, or, if you’re of a more suspicious frame of mind, the one with the least effective drug testing. Some people certainly suspect the latter; witness this extraordinary article on Ye Shiwen from the host nation’s most popular non-tabloid newspaper. But let’s put talk of genetically modified swimbots aside, and look at what’s actually happened in the world of swimming, because it’s certainly been noteworthy.
Via the KingJames Instagram feed. Genuinely asking here. On one hand, I guess you get a high vantage point of the swimming action. And one would think, up in the nosebleeds, there would be less kerfuffle over the best basketball player in the world attending a swim meet. On the other hand, you're the best basketball player in the world, attending a swim meet. Why not go front and center with a big, foam "We're #1" finger and go crazy for Missy and Phelps, front and center. Plus, everyone loves the smell of chlorine in the morning! Smells like victory.
We're about halfway through the slate of swimming events in the 2012 Olympics, and things have not turned out exactly as expected. (Allison Schmitt's gold in the 200-meter freestyle and Matt Grevers's in the 100-meter back are the notable exceptions.) Ryan Lochte failed to medal in his 200 free; Michael Phelps didn't win gold in his 200 fly, and several youngsters swam out of nowhere to make waves. Let's take a look at who's standing atop the latest Poolside Podium.
GOLD: The Next Generation of Women
Ruta Meilutyte finished her 100-meter breaststroke and broke down in tears, as if she were trying to dissolve into the water. They were overwhelmed tears, though happy tears: Meilutyte had just put in a blazing 1:05.56 in Sunday's preliminaries, the fastest time of the whole field of swimmers. Later that night, in the semifinals, the 15-year-old Lithuanian outdid even that, pulling away to finish with a 1:05.21 and give her the top seeding for the final.
Knowledge is power. Educate yourself. Use this Olympics glossary and impress your friends with your new-found understanding of everything.
GLOSSARY OF TERMS
Adams, Guy:Los Angeles bureau chief of Great Britain's The Independent; harsh critic of NBC's Olympics coverage; currently in Twitter detention.
Adolph (trampoline):A front flip with 3.5 twists.
aerial (artistic gymnastics):Singular: essentially a cartwheel, but with no hands; plural: second-best System of a Down song.
apron (boxing):The part of the ring canvas that extends beyond the ropes.
arm stand dive (diving):The dive that starts from a handstand; only on platforms and not springboards, because that would just be too crazy. This isn't the X Games.
artistic impression (synchronized swimming):One of the two categories that the event is judged in (the other being technical merit); all about how the choreography, music, and presentation make the judges feel; is as subjective as it sounds.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Monday.
A disastrous showing by American gymnasts Danell Leyva and John Orozco on the pommel horse relegated their country to fifth place in the team finals, and the Chinese gymnasts won gold for the second straight Olympics. The Americans' struggle casts doubt on their unique pommel philosophy, known as "Butter the Horse!," though U.S. team coordinator Marta Karolyi put forth the possibility that maybe they didn't "Butter the Horse!" enough.
Scene: Shane Ryan on his computer Monday afternoon, fighting the good fight, trying to love his country despite the best efforts of technology. It's the 200-meter freestyle, one of the premier events of the swimming program, and Ryan Lochte is fighting for his second gold medal against Chinese swimmer Sun Yang. Ryan starts up the live feed with trepidation, knowing that whatever system is used for streaming the Olympics tends to freeze if more than 37 people log on at the same time. And indeed, the feed skips at first, but thankfully recovers in time for the start of the race. Lochte is third after 50 meters, and third again after 100 meters. Ryan knows it could be a dramatic finish, and he leans forward, forgetting the technical issues that have plagued him for three days.
The swimmers turn at the wall, but the moment Ryan blinks his eyes — maybe because he blinks his eyes — the feed dies. Panicked, he lets the site try to correct itself while opening a new window and restarting the whole process. In window one, the little white dots revolve in their hateful circle. In window two, an advertisement plays — to capitalism's eternal glory, the frequent ads always stream in perfect quality — before the site loads. It all leads to a coincidence that inspires Ryan's subsequent insanity, a brief fugue state in which he runs naked through the streets of Chapel Hill laughing hysterically and shouting the names of former gold medalists, a crime punishable by 30-to-life in North Carolina. Both windows recover in time to show that the race is over, and the French guy who swam out of his mind to deprive the U.S. of a 4x100 gold has won again. Ryan has pulled off the rare feat of spoiling the event for himself without actually seeing the finish, and that's why he can never run for political office. End Scene.