The Layup Drill: the good and the bad of the London Games

By Jason J. Cruz
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY

Welcome to the Olympic Wrap-up Edition of the Layup Drill. As we say farewell to another Summer Olympics, we look at some of the memorable performances, the good and the bad, of the Games in London.

Adrian wins gold medals in pool

Nathan Adrian

Overshadowed by Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte before the Games, Nathan Adrian held his own in the pool. The Bremerton High School graduate won two gold medals and one silver medal in London. He won an individual gold in the 100-meter freestyle and won a gold when he anchored the 4 x 400 meter relay.

As you may know from the numerous commercials, Adrian’s mother is a self-proclaimed “Tiger Mom.” Adrian, whose mother is Chinese, stated that if Adrian did not want to go to swim practice, there were always chores at home for him to do. Adrian chose to swim. The strict discipline Adrian endured as a child must has helped him become one of the best swimmers in the world.

Not only did Adrian succeed in the pool, he drew a lot of female fans for the amount of camera time he received in his swimsuit. Move over Michael and Ryan, the 23-year-old Adrian will be back in 4 years.

UW volleyballer wins silver medal

Former UW volleyball player Tamara Miyashiro won a silver medal as the U.S. women’s volleyball team were upset by Brazil in the finals. Miyashiro saw playing time on the team as its defensive specialist.

Hawaii’s Chun gets bronze in wrestling

Clarissa Chun, a 30-year-old, 105-pound freestyle wrestler from Hawaii, earned a bronze medal in her division. Chun was the only member of the women’s team for the United States.

Chinese hurdler bids farewell to career

One of the bittersweet moments of the Olympics occurred with 110-meter Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang, as he fell trying to complete his first hurdle in his first heat. Xiang had come into the Olympic Games troubled with an Achilles tendon injury and it looked as though it became his undoing. Xiang was disqualified from the race as he laid on the track in pain. Although the race was long over, Xiang shook off help and hopped on his uninjured leg down the track, avoiding the hurdles until the very last one. Xiang hopped to the last hurdle and kissed it before the finish line. Without saying anything, the fans in attendance and the millions watching knew that Xiang was symbolically saying goodbye to his career.

Xiang flashed on the scene at the Athens Summer Olympics in 2004 when he shocked the world by winning the gold in the 110-meter hurdles. He became a hero in China and earned several sponsorships. However, injuries prevented Xiang from competing in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, as he did not finish his first race there as well due to injury. Xiang has not finished a race in his Olympics career since winning gold in Athens.

It was a major disappointment for many Chinese fans who were drawn to the track after his win in 2004. Immediately after his fall, many Chinese took to its form of Twitter to discuss Xiang’s falter with the hashtag “#Liufell” appearing 3.8 million times 20 minutes after the race.

Badminton players booted

One of the more embarrassing moments of the Olympics took place in women’s badminton when a unique strategy turned the whole arena against the players and caused officials to disqualify them.

The Chinese, South Korean, and Indonesian teams deliberately served the shuttlecock into the net, letting it hit the ground even though they had the opportunity to hit it back over the net. This was so that they would not have to face tougher competition in the next rounds. Eight players in all were disqualified for failing to live up to the Olympic credo of trying their best in the sport.

Blind archer on the mark

South Korean Im Dong Hyun, despite being legally blind and unable to see from his right eye, set a world record in Archery. Although Hyun did not medal, South Korea took home 3 golds in archery, including a team gold for the women. For Hyun, it was a remarkable achievement.

Ross wins gold with women’s gymnastics team

Kyla Ross won a gold medal as part of the U.S. women’s gymnastics team. The 15-year-old Ross, who is part Filipina and Japanese, contributed to the team with her scores on the uneven bars and beam. While Gabby Douglas received most of the headlines, Ross helped to ensure the team a gold medal.

Asian gymnasts dominate

Despite some first night jitters, the teams from China and Japan won gold and silver, respectively, in men’s gymnastics. The Japanese received additional good news when Uchimura Kohei won the all-around competition. It was heavily anticipated that Kohei would be a star in London and he delivered. Kohei has won the world championships in men’s gymnastics for the past 3 years — a feat never accomplished before. Kohei received a huge profile piece in the New York Times a week before the Summer Games.

U.S. women’s soccer gets even with Japan

It was a rematch from the 2011 Women’s World Cup as the United States faced Japan once again for the gold medal. Despite a late rally by the Japanese women, the United States redeemed themselves from the World Cup loss to win a gold medal.

South Korean makes statement after bronze medal match

On the men’s side, the South Korean men won a bronze medal after it defeated Japan for the right to be on the medal stand. In a political twist, a South Korean soccer player did not participate in the medal ceremony, instead holding up a sign advocating for South Korean sovereignty over a group of the country’s islets, breaking Olympic rules forbidding players from making political statements. Japan has disputed ownership for the group of islands. It was an interesting case, having the two countries square off both politically and on the soccer field.

North Koreans upset with video gaffe

Earlier during the Games, the North Korean women’s soccer team refused to play when the South Korean flag was displayed on the scoreboard prior to its opening match. The match with Colombia was delayed an hour until organizers apologized for the error. Of all the errors a scoreboard operator could make, that one seems like one of the harshest.

Some interesting observations

Many cite these Olympics as a benchmark for women as many set new marks in different sports. I also noticed women participating in sports that seemed non-traditional to me. There were a surprising amount of Asian women weightlifters in the games, including the opening ceremonies flag bearer for the Philippines. Perhaps I am discounting the power of women as the Japanese women’s wrestling team dominated the Summer Games, winning three out of the four available gold medals. Throw in Clarissa Chun’s medal and it should make you rethink that Asian women aren’t just good at table tennis and gymnastics.

In the end, China finished second to the United States in overall medals. South Korea finished fifth behind Great Britain and Russia.
Although I am not a big fan of the opening or closing ceremonies, I am a huge fan of watching the Olympics. I will definitely miss all the sports we’ve neglect for four years. Until the 2016 games in Brazil. (end)

Jason Cruz can be reached at info@nwasianweekly.com.

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