Saturday, August 4, 2012

Olympics day 7: Pursuit of Perfection

3 Aug 2012 Friday

Seven days of amazing competition has bathed the world in excitement and emotion as many athletes strive to be the best and give it their all in the pursuit of perfection.

And what better way to wind down a celebrated Olympic career than by winning gold again! In the Men's 100m butterfly, Michael Phelps becomes the first person to win gold in 3 consecutive Olympics in the event. This is his 21st Olympic medal, his 17th gold in his career, and he's only got the 4x100m medley relay left, an event the American team has dominated for years.

Russia's Evgeny Korotyshkin claims the bronze. And South Africa's Chad Le Clos, who beat Phelps earlier in the week in the 200m butterfly to get gold, is left with silver. In the interviews following the race, reporters wanted to know what Le Clos and Phelps were saying to each other as they laughed at the end of the race. Chad Le Clos revealed that he told Michael Phelps that he was his hero, and that Phelps had replied that he was looking for great things to come in Le Clos' beginning career. And as the sun sets on the brilliant and spectacular career of one American swimming legend, a new day dawns on two new talents on the American women's team.

17 year old Missy Franklin wins gold in the Women's 200m backstroke and sets a new world record of 2:04.06! She's been dubbed the female Michael Phelps, and she's shown amazing talent at these games. Russia's Anastasia Zueva gets silver and Elizabeth Beisel of the U.S. took bronze. This makes it Franklin's 4th Olympic medal, her 3rd gold medal overall--Franklin won gold medals in the 100 backstroke and 4x200 freestyle relay, and a bronze in the 4x100 freestyle (Powerhouse rival Australia won gold and Netherlands the silver in that event back in 28 July 2012). Franklin still has the team medley relay race left to go, once again going head to head with powerful rival Australia.

In the Women's 800m freestyle, 15 year old American swimmer Katie Ledecky wins gold and sets a world record of 8:14.63! Spain's Mireia Belmonte Garcia follows with silver, and Great Britain's Rebecca Adlington claims the bronze.

A big surprise in the Men's 50m freestyle race, the splash and dash, the most exciting and fastest swimming race of the games! France's Florent Manaudou stuns the world by pulling off an upset and winning gold, the first ever for France in the event. A relative unknown in a field full of swimming superstar sprinters, Manaudou beat out world record holder and 2008 Olympic champion Cesar Cielo of Brazil. American Cullen Jones takes the silver. Florent Manaudou's older sister, Laure Manaudou, a 2004 Athens 400m swimming gold medalist, was there to congratulate him. Florent Manaudou credits his sister and his sister’s boyfriend, fellow sprinter Fred Bousquet, 2008 Beijing 4x100 free relay silver medalist, with helping him train to achieve his incredible win. It's a fantastic win for the newcomer and sets up France on its way to becoming a swimming powerhouse.

And over in Men's 50m Rifle Prone competition, Sergei Martynov of Belarus wins gold and sets a world record, with a perfect score! This is his 6th consecutive Olympics, having won bronze in Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004; he placed 8th in Beijing 2008, but finally comes to these London games to score a perfect 600 and win the gold he has been striving for since the 1988 Seoul Olympics! Belgium's Lionel Cox wins silver, his first major competition medal. Rajmond Debevec of Slovenia takes the bronze.

Meanwhile at the archery range, Oh Jin Hyek wins South Korea's first ever Men's Individual Archery event gold. Japan's Takaharu Furukawa settles for silver. And China's Dai Xiaoxiang wins bronze.

And the South Koreans are on a roll today, with a surprise win in Men's Team Sabre Fencing! It is South Korea's first ever team gold medal. They were ranked 6th out of the 8 teams competing, but they beat out 4th ranked Romania, leaving them the silver. Italy takes the bronze, just as they did back in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. I luved watching the sheer joy and celebratory cheers the South Koreans showed at their surprise team win.

In your face, Lil' Kim!

And now, let's talk about what has to be the most fun event ever at the Olympics: Men's Trampoline! Yes, trampoline is an actual sport!

And it's a 1 and 3 finish for China. The gymnast with the coolest name ever, Dong Dong, wins his first ever gold in the event! It was a flawless, amazing performance by Dong, who jumped higher and did more difficult elements in a challenging routine compared to all others.

Four years ago, at the Beijing 2008 games, he was in 3rd, while his teammate Lu Chunlong took top prize. This time, it's reversed. Dong Dong wins first place, and Lu Chunlong gets bronze.

Russia's Dmitry Ushakov manages to squeeze himself between Dong and Chunlong for the silver. It was a great competition and a well deserved win for Dong Dong!

Day 7 of the Olympics also marks the beginning of my favorite events of Olympics: Track & Field

In the Women's 10,000m race, Ethiopia's Tirunesh Dibaba wins gold, easily defending her Beijing 2008 title. She is also the 5,000m Beijing champion. Dibaba is right on track to become the greatest female long distance runner ever! Sally Jepkosgei Kipyego of Kenya settles for silver, and her fellow countrywoman, Vivian Jepkemoi Cheruiyot won bronze. Ethiopia and Kenya have a long history of dominating these events. In fact, two Ethiopians, Werknesh Kidane and Beleynesh Oljira finished fourth and fifth, respectively.

Another Beijing champion returns and successfully defends his title. Poland's Tomasz Majewski wins the Men's Shot Put gold, leaving Germany's David Storl the silver. Reese Hoffa of the United States finally claims an Olympic medal, a bronze, in his 3rd Olympics. And what a sweet bronze win for Reese Hoffa, whose adopted mother, Cathy McManus (formerly Hoffa), was in the crowd for the first time at an Olympic event, cheering on her son.

When Reese Hoffa was 4 years old, he and his 6 year old brother were playing with a lighter and accidentally burned the house down. Soon after, faced with poverty and hardship, with no support of any kind, his unwed teenage mother gave them up for adoption. Hoffa felt guilty that it was his fault that his mother had abandoned him and his brother. A year and a half later, he was adopted by a white family. And though he was raised by a good family who cared for him and loved him, his adoptive mother always felt that Reese was holding something back.

It would take 19 years of endless searching for Reese to finally find his mother and brother. And the first thing he said to his mother when they finally spoke on the phone was, "I'm so sorry about the fire,". His birth mother, Diana Chism, couldn't believe that he thought it was his fault that he and his brother ended up in an orphanage. Over hours of telephone calls and face to face meetings, Reese would learn of the hardship his mother faced and understood her decision to give him and his brother up for adoption, to give them a better life.

And he also came to realization that he was blessed with two mothers and that he was really fortunate to have been raised and loved by his adopted family. Reese Hoffman distinguishes his two mothers by calling his adoptive mother A-mom, his birth mother, B-mom. He considers himself blessed to have been adopted by a loving family who loved him, protected him, and gave him the opportunities to grow and develop his talents.

Though he was born Maurice Antawn Chism, he choose to keep the name Reese Hoffa, to honor his true family, his adoptive family, the people who took him out of an orphanage and gave him love, a home, and helped raise him to become a great athlete and a better man.

And tonight, with a chance to finally reach the podium and medal in the Olympics, Reese found himself poised on the edge, releasing his best shot and hoping that it would be enough. And when that ball landed, his adoptive mother declared, "That's the bronze right there!", and she was right. A mother always knows.

She knows when her child is happy; she knows when her child is in pain. She knows when to intervene; when to hold back, and when to let go, even if it hurts her the most. She knows what it means to sacrifice; she knows what it means to love. And watching this once small child grow up to become an Olympic champion, two mothers can rest assured, knowing that they've each done the right thing.


  1. Oh bless you, Mr Swings! Do you know how hard I am trying to avoid the Olympics??? I was doing so well... and then you start blogging again - and there is no way that I'm going to avoid you!

  2. Missy Franklin is truly amazing, plus she still has to go home and finish her last year of high school!

    On one of the features about her, her dad said that she had to turn down several very lucrative endorsement deals because she wanted to maintain her amateur status for competing in high school. It is refreshing to see that not everyone sells out when the money comes calling.

  3. @ Miss Scarlet: Perhaps this will help.

  4. @Mr Lax... Yes! I thought that that was jolly clever!

  5. Scarlet, I just couldn't resist. I luv the Olympics! And your country is on a roll winning all these medals in rowing and cycling and track and field!

    lx, It is great to see such a wonderful athlete and young person whose passionate about the sport and knows it's not all about the money. It say a lot of good things about her character and the environment she was raised in.