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.
My man Daniel G., inventor of Saber-Medal-Trics — a system that uses SI's comprehensive medal predictions to evaluate current results and project the final tally — e-mailed me with the good news that Tuesday was a watershed day for the Americans. We're now on pace to win one more gold medal than Sports Illustrated projected and seven more overall, while China is on pace to win one gold fewer than projected, and seven fewer overall. Here's the updated projection for the final tally:
U.S.: 43 Golds, 106 Total China: 41 Golds, 90 Total
It's now looking like a certainty that the Americans will win the overall count, and the only drama left is the race for golds.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday.
American gymnast Aly Raisman won a bronze medal on the balance beam event final, and followed that up with a gold on the floor exercise. Beleaguered U.S. gymnast Jordyn Wieber finished seventh in the floor exercise when she experienced an unfortunate bout of Apparatus Confusion Disorder (ACD), leading her to mistake the floor for the uneven bars and jump around making weird swinging motions until she was tranquilized by her coach.
Reader Daniel G. has invented Saber-Medal-Trics, which takes Sports Illustrated's overall medal predictions and reviews results to date in order to project a final count. After Tuesday's events, Daniel reports that the U.S. is on pace to equal their projected SI gold-medal count, and beat the projected overall medal number by five., while China is on pace to win one more gold and six fewer medals total. With that knowledge, here are the projected final tallies:
So, so close. Speaking of China, it's worth congratulating Chen Yibing, a.k.a. "the king of rings," on his composure after getting absolutely jobbed in the event final. Chen won gold in Beijing, and it appeared he had done the same in London when the last competitor, Brazil's Arthur Zanetti, finished his routine. But the judges gave Zanetti a 15.9, and Chen (15.8) was relegated to silver. I challenge anyone with even rudimentary gymnastics knowledge to watch both routines (Chen at 6:15 mark, Zanetti at 25:30) and argue that Zanetti deserved gold. My friend Spike put it best: "One was art, and the other one was very good. And the very good one had a step on the landing." But Chen, though he professed to feeling bitter, stayed completely calm, congratulated his opponent, and didn't let his disbelief show. Total class act from a guy who had every right to be furious.
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.