London 2012: Olympic shift officially underway
LONDON -- I was talking to one of my coworkers last night as we were sitting there watching some hot steeplechase action. She said it feels almost like there are two sets of games and the more I think about it, the more I realize she's dead right.
The first week has a focus on the pool. If it's in the water, all eyes are on it. Whether it's Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, or "The Missile" Missy Franklin, it's what the water cooler talk centers on and where the storylines live. Well, that and the mat, where we revere in the it-girls of every four years, the gymnasts.
Maybe it's because that's where the expectation for U.S. success was coming into the games. I mean Phelps did just become the most-decorated Olympian in history, while Gabby Douglas did lead the Americans to gymnastics gold.
However, in the second week the shift focuses to Olympic Stadium and "athletics" as they call it in Europe. You know it as track and field. There are definitely intriguing questions and proverbial bells to be answered. The biggest was perhaps taken care of quickly, in under 10 seconds. Usain Bolt nailed down his legacy and silenced the naysayers with another 100-meter gold, receiving the medal on the 50th anniversary of Jamaica's independence.
The remaining track and field event I was most looking forward to was the women's 100-meter hurdles. Dawn Harper and Lolo Jones looked good in their preliminary heats, but watching the Australian Sally Pearson at work was simply breathtaking. She's a technician, gliding over the hurdles with such a rhythm as if to suggest they don't even exist. That surely proved to be the case as Pearson blitzed her way to gold in the event.
Meanwhile, I'm learning plenty about sports I had topical knowledge of at best coming into the games. I can score an equestrian show jumping match and tell you what happens if there's a tie, courtesty of the Brits and Dutch jump-off on Monday. When I watch judo, I'm just waiting for the walk-off ippon (takedown ending the match).
Tuesday night, I was back on the Olympic Zone with a feature on Team USA women's basketball head coach Geno Auriemma. The most interesting thing Auriemma told me was that away from the court he's not at all competitive. It shocked me, but I guess at his age (58) he doesn't feel the need to compete off the clock. With his resume there's definitely no need.
Where will tomorrow take me? Who knows? We're always on-call here at Sports Desk.