Tag Archive | Summer Olympics

Olympic Update (and this one is not pretty)

Even as health organizations around the globe try to piece together solid and very grotesque evidence with the waterways in and around Rio de Janiero, only nine months remain until the Olympics get underway.  The sailing and rowing venues are carrying many illnesses which could affect dozens of male and female athletes if something major doesn’t get solved soon.

This article by Brad Brooks from Wednesday, December 2 paints a very ugly picture.  Please read with caution:

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/B/BC_OLY_RIO_2016_FILTHY_WATER_3RD_LD_WRITETHRU?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

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Olympic Update

Major Construction Update as Several Venues Are Nearing Completion

I had to briefly pinch myself, but the construction people in Rio are proving me wrong again.

Many venues from swimming to basketball, wrestling, fencing, judo, and taekwondo have been taking shape since the last major update from the Rio Olympic Committee on their website dated September 18.

If you want more accurate updates, check this link out which features most of the key venues already nearing completion:

http://www.cidadeolimpica.com.br/en/construction-progress/

Volleyball Venue Draws Rave Reviews During Test Event

Brazil teams nearly come close to sweeping all three podium events

With the AVP wrapping up their season in early September, it was a good excuse for the host nation to get some much needed spikes in at gorgeous Copacabana Beach.

The beach volleyball venue is drawing stellar reviews because of its’ location and the general proximity to most clubs and restaurants that dot the city of Rio at night.

Even though it rained the first weekend of September on the temporary arena which is installed in front of Avenida Princesa Isabel, Brazilian teams came close to nearly sweeping all three medals during the FIVB test event.

Already qualified for the 2016 Olympics, the dynamic ladies duo of Larissa França and Talita Antunes took out the current world champions and winnners of the St. Petersburg event earlier this summer in Barbara Seixas and Agatha Bednarczuk 2-1.  The bronze medal was claimed by the Dutch pair of Madelein Meppelink and Marleen Van Iersel won in two sets over Brazil’s duo of Maria Antonelli and Juliana Felisberta da Silva.

In the men’s draw, Samoilovs/Smedins beat the Germans Markus Bockermann and Lars Fluggen for the gold, while Brazilians Saymon Barbosa and Guto Carvalhaes overcame 2016 Olympic qualifiers and current world champions Bruno Schmidt (no relation to former Olympic basketball great Oscar Schmidt) and Alison Cerutti for bronze.

Another cool thing coming out of that tournament is that the FIVB will take a small page out of Major League Baseball’s instant replay system.  Each team will get two challenges per set.  If a point is wrongly awarded or denied (especially on hard hit spikes following a long rally), that team can ask the referee to call for a video replay.

And just like in the NFL, if they lose the ruling, they will lose a challenge as well.

But I thought I would save the best part for last and this note deserves special attention for all the readers that call Brazil home:

Você também pode participar do revezamento da tocha olímpica

That’s right, those people residing in Brazil could take part in the Olympic torch relay next summer.

Sponsored in part by Coca-Cola, Nissan, and one of the largest banking and financial services firms in Brazil called Bradesco, they are leading an online search to find residents living in Brazil to take part in something very special.

After the traditional ceremony in Athens, Greece takes place on April 21, the torch will eventually be flown to Brasilia following a relay by Brazilian Olympic organizers starting on April 27.

The link below gives a brief summary of all of the cities and towns that dot the entire Brazilian landscape when the torch will be carried both on foot and sometimes by plane for over 95 days leading up to the start of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

The second link is for my fellow MPB’s to nominate someone living in Brazil:

http://www.rio2016.com/en/news/news/brazilian-public-to-be-stars-of-rio-2016-olympic-torch-relay

Deadline is October 15 (the link is in Portuguese):

http://www.rio2016.com/revezamento-da-tocha/

Olympic Update: As expected, Los Angeles earns bid for 2024 Summer Olympics

I think this is an excellent move recently done by the United States Olympic Committee.  This was after many vocal citizens and public officials in Boston dropped out after nearly two years in the running.

I see the move hopefully going for Los Angeles for two reasons:

  1. They know how to run an Olympics.  For those young enough to remember that glorious summer of 1984, even the CBC network in a program simply called The Golden Summer told Canadian viewers at the same time where Frank Gifford and esteemed Olympics host Jim McKay were counting down the final seconds in what would be ABC’s final ever televised Summer Olympics–this piece clearly showed how much fun the “City of Angels” really enjoyed:

2. Los Angeles already has the infrastructure in place, and the LAPD is very familiar with traffic patterns.  The only difference if they are chosen again in 2017 is that the world is a much bigger place.  Even without many nations present during the then-former Soviet boycott in 1984, this is a much different era compared to the then-record 140 nations Peter Jennings mentioned so glowingly during the 1984 Opening Ceremonies.  But unlike Boston or Chicago, staging the Summer Olympics would have meant major gridlock–not just for the athletes and the media, but especially for the fans, the thousands of business workers who use the streets and expressways every single day to deliver goods and services and the many thousands of loyal residents who call both of those proud, tradition-rich American cities home.

For the record, the International Olympic Committee will vote in September 2017 as Los Angeles will go up against prior Olympic hosts in Rome and Paris, along with Hamburg, Germany and Budapest, Hungary.

Olympic Update: The 411’s on Rugby Sevens

Also referred to Sevens or seven-a-side, rugby sevens will be making a different splash of sorts at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.

For starters, there will not be 15 players to a side like there was when the last rugby union was contested in 1924.  A more revised, TV friendly set-up where only seven players will be on one side of a field measuring 330 feet long by 230 feet (a little longer than your standard NFL football field setup) will make the game move on at a more modest pace.

Among the seven players (instead of the 15 in old-time rugby union matches), there are three forwards and four backward people.  A typical setup would have the Props on the top edge (free safeties if you want to think in football terms), surrounded in the middle by the Hooker (similar to a pulling guard).  The other players are considered as the Scrum Half, Fly-Half, Center, and Winger/Fullback.

Five subs sit on the bench, which mostly resembles your typical soccer bench and not the open sidelines with Microsoft Surface photo booths surrounding NFL sidelines these days.

Other key rules that make this sport very easy to follow include the following:

  • Five substitutes, with five interchanges (instead of having 7 each way).
  • Seven-minute halves, though ten-minute halves are allowed in the final of a competition (instead of 40-minute halves, in the 15-a-side version).  When other national matches take place, it was a 10 minute half and a 12 minute half for the championship match like it was during April at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas.
  • One or two minute halftime period (instead of 10 minutes).
  • Matches tied after regulation are continued into extra time, in multiple 5-minute periods until the draw is broken.
  • All conversion attempts must be drop-kicked (similar to Australian rules football, instead of having the option to place-kick).
  • Conversions must be taken within 40 seconds of scoring a try (instead of 60 seconds).  All conversions are worth two points.
  • Three player scrums (instead of eight).
  • Kick-offs: in sevens, the team which scored kicks off, rather than the conceding team, as in the 15-a-side game.  All passes are to be behind players instead of in front, otherwise a penalty would be called.
  • Yellow cards will warrant a 2-minute suspension (instead of 10 minutes) to the offender.  The offender will head off to the sin bin, and a subsequent power play will be awarded to the opposing team. But unlike what we see in ice hockey, if the opposing team scores a try (successfully gets the ball across the opponents’ end line) during that power play, the offender may not return to the field after the 5 point score is made.
  • Referees decide on the advantage quickly (where one play would usually end up in an advantage, totally different rule in the 15 a side game).
  • In major competitions, there are additional officials present (called in-goal touch judges) to judge success of kicks at the goals and hence the game will not be delayed as touch judges moved into position to judge conversion attempts.

Besides the host nation, the United States joined other qualifiers in powerful nations like South Africa, Fiji and New Zealand (both men and women).  Other key nations to watch out for include on the men’s side:  Great Britain, France, and Argentina while on the ladies side of the ledger, the United States will go up against the likes of Australia, Columbia, and Canada.

The competition will take place from August 6 to 11 (weather permitting, of course).

Here is the final match from this past February at the HSBC Sevens event, when Fiji came in undefeated as they took on the powerhouse that is New Zealand:

Only time will tell if Rugby Sevens will catch on with the rest of the world, especially in the United States and Brazil.  But after watching a match on NBC after a Stanley Cup playoff hockey match involving the Chicago Blackhawks beating the Nashville Predators, I was immediately hooked.

Olympic Update: Why are Rio’s waters so deplorable to swim, let alone to row?

Today (Thursday) while thumbing through the August 17 issue of Sports Illustrated magazine, there was a small headline on the quaruple regional cover of NFL stars looking for a breakout season this coming autumn and this simple headline:

RIO 2016:  One Year Out

Alexander Wolff, veteran college football/basketball/Olympics writer since 1980, wrote an article which can be summarized simply as painting a very dark and sickening picture as crews frantically try to showcase the world how much their construction efforts will make 2016 the most picturesque Summer Olympics in history.  Even with showing off some truly fabulous pictures of Rio’s gorgeous scenery, there comes this hard dose of reality that when we think of the saying on Brazil’s national flag–they seem to have the first part down in Order down pat.  But where is the second and the most important part, that part being called Progress?

If you get some time to pick up the issue at your local Barnes & Noble or check it out at your local library, this article is too important not to ignore.

Again, please hear me out–I do not wish to hear about any tourists, Cariocas that are proud to call Rio their home and all of the Olympic athletes that are busy in training no ill will of any kind.

If you wish to comment on this article once I post a link to it, I would be very interested to read how Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes has simply been saying all along, “The water is safe”.

All I can say with my heart of hearts is this:

Cry me a river, build a bridge

but until that day (if and when it ever happens) when various government and environmental officials declare with near 95% certainty that the water is deemed safe to swim or row in, the Rio Olympics Committee is running out of time.

Rio has proved me wrong once before, where I boldly said in this space on how they were going to handle the thousands of people during their most popular sport in hosting the 2014 FIFA World Cup.  But in the end, with only minor reports of looting reported by many online and television outlets–cameras caught Brazilian fans screaming and dancing for joy after each victory like they were Cameron Crazies after the Duke men’s basketball team wins an NCAA Tournament game, before eventually looking dejected after their shocking 7-1 loss to the eventual World Cup champions of Germany.

And especially to my favorite MPB’s who comprise a majority of fans in my blog, my latest burning question is an obvious one:

Do you honestly believe that Rio’s water is still unhealthy to swim in, let alone drink?  I would be interesting in reading your thoughts sometime on this sorry subject.  In the meantime, please enjoy your weekend.

One year until the Olympic Games begin

Wow, how time flies.

Before my favorite MPB’s and loyal fans of this blog scream loud and proud,

Viva La Brasil

We still have the biggest and most perplexing question of all whether sports historians will place Rio as one of the coolest and most picturesque venues in Summer Games history.  That involves the deplorable condition of their water, especially in the area around the southeastern end of Guanabara Bay which meets the Atlantic Ocean.

I recall reading an article in the New York Times a while back (in which I talked about in a prior blog) saying in part that it would take upwards of possibly ten years for qualified environmental workers even with gaining possible assistance from members of the EPA in the United States that might take on the gargantuan task of digging out sewage and properly making the water safe for use in the rowing events.

Starting to get excited, even just a little bit?

More importantly, where is the jetinho (the knack)?

But if you look at the NBC Olympics website, they already have their introductory video (as part of the overall NBC Universal mega promotion campaign) set up and general 411’s on each of the 34 contested sport that will commence in and around Rio.  Of course, it will start out with Brazil’s most popular sport two days before the flame is lit in various soccer venues and conclude 2 1/2 weeks later with the men’s marathon finish line at the venerable Sambadrome (the same venue that is used for a few nights before Lent begins in the worldly popular event called Carnaval).

For a quick primer and map, along with three Portuguese speaking YouTube videos showcasing construction of some key venues, click on this link:  http://olympictalk.nbcsports.com/2015/08/05/rio-olympics-2016-map-competition-venues/

As promised, I will provide another update towards the end of the month in showcasing the basics of the now suddenly TV friendly sport called Rugby Sevens.

I first became hooked moments in late April after a Chicago Blackhawks first round Stanley Cup playoff game in the United Center against the Nashville Predators.  That Sunday afternoon at Sam Boyd Stadium (the normal home of the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels football team) was simply incredible in seeing all of that end to end action.

Just you wait until you see how this game is played.  IMHO, this will probably be the Summer Olympics equivalent to what curling has become for the Winter Games since 2002 in Salt Lake City, Utah–a sport with a rabid cult following that is easy to follow, but sometimes difficult to master.

Have a great day.  See you with my next Rising Artist blog soon.

USA Women volleyball dominate FIVB Grand Prix and win Gold at Pan Am Games

This past weekend was exemplary for Team USA’s women’s volleyball teams.

With a little less than 375 days to go until the flame is lit inside legendary Maracana Stadium, a majority of the squad swept all seven matches culminating with a three set win over China 25-23, 25-19, 25-18 (even though China hung tough during most of the opening set briefly holding a four point lead early in the match) at the CenturyLink Arena in proud volleyball country that is Omaha, Nebraska.

A nationwide television audience saw history in the making as NBC televised its’ first ever international volleyball match outside of the Olympic Games.  The American women won this tournament for a record sixth time.

Led by a pair of international rookies, recent college graduates Karsta Lowe (UCLA) was named Tournament MVP in helping spark Karch Kiraly’s team in overall scoring with 79 points to go along with 65 kills.  With Alicia Glass recovering from an injury, Molly Kreklow (Missouri) ran the offense like a finely tuned orchestra conductor in being voted as the Best Setter in this round-robin tournament.  Both ladies were joined on the All FIVB Grand Prix Tournament team by Christa Dietzen (Second Best Blocker) and Kelsey Robinson (Second Best Outside Hitter).

Fourteen other ladies also scooped up some hardware of their own on Saturday night, outlasting the 2012 London Olympic Gold Medal winners from Brazil to claim gold at the Pan American Games in Toronto.

Up ahead for the three-time indoor/beach Olympic volleyball gold medal winner in Karch Kiraly…

A chance to earn one of the two Olympic berths for next summer in Rio will take place at the FIVB Volleyball World Cup, which runs from August 22 through September 6 in Tokyo, Japan.  A Who’s Who of women’s volleyball royalty will be playing 11 games in this event comprising of 12 nations–including Brazil, Japan, China, Italy, and Russia.

If somehow Team USA misses that chance to earn that coveted Olympic berth in the Land of the Rising Sun, there will be one more pre-Olympic North American-Carribean Championships in the Dominican Republic that takes place from May 10-16, 2016.

Other Olympic news of note

Two time defending Olympic beach volleyball gold medalist Kerri Walsh-Jennings continues to rehab her dislocated shoulder, in which she injured it for the second time on July 10–this after sitting out a month shortly after suffering a similar injury on May 27.

She hopes to return to the sand sometime in the middle of August with her new partner, 2012 London Olympics silver medalist and perennial AVP winner April Ross.

It did not surprise me that Boston formally withdrew their United States bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics on Monday.  With their geography in having most of their residential streets and expressways practically on top of each other and the simple fact that Bostonians refused to pay higher taxes just to land the Games themselves, this announcement will hopefully give new hope to a former Olympic city who knows how to put on such a spectacular event.

In case you were wondering, San Francisco and Washington, DC hope to join the 1932 and 1984 Summer Olympic hosts in Los Angeles.  All bids have to resubmitted by September 15, but the full IOC vote will occur sometime in 2017.

For the record–Budapest, Hungary along with Hamburg, Germany and former Olympic hosts of Paris, France and the 1960 site in Rome, Italy have already placed formal bids.  However, don’t count out the 2015 Pan Am Games host in Toronto, who staged a spectacular event witnessed by US fans on “The Worldwide Leader in Sports”.  ESPN has shown since acquiring the U.S. Open tennis rights from the original longtime carriers in CBS Sports that they can survive (even though cable subscribers are dwindling at a pace not seen since 2008) without covering NASCAR or IndyCar auto races on a full-time basis.

Personally, I hope L.A. wins the nod because they know how to put on a great show.  When I saw the 1984 Olympics on television as a youngster, there were very few negative moments–outside of Zola Budd tripping Mary Decker Slaney in the 1,500 meter dash.  Everybody really enjoyed themselves, including “The General” in Robert Montgomery Knight in helping guide college phenoms at the time including Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, Chris Mullin, and Wayman Tisdale to the last ever American Olympic basketball gold medal won by amateur players.  And with the news coming more fast and furious with land being developed in two parts of Southern California, only time will tell before Christmas whether or not the St. Louis Rams and the Oakland Raiders or maybe the San Diego Chargers might be packing their bags so the nation’s second largest TV market could host NFL football for the first time since the Rams packed up from their one-time home in the “Big A” (now the “Big E”) in Anaheim.  If you want more proof, a recent meeting at aging Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego was attended by no more than twelve people.  My guess is, it depends on what the local politicans will carry out some plans and with the two widely discussed proposals to build those multi-million dollar complexes conveniently located next to the freeways, it will be interesting to see what happens towards the end of this upcoming NFL regular season.

Next time I will give an Olympic update will be sometime in late August, as I plan to give you the loyal MPB’s and other fans of this blog the 411 on rugby sevens.  Combining some elements of Australian rules football and the tackling (minus the extra set of shoulder and knee pads for protection) along with the wide-open running commonly seen in American football–the updated timing rules definitely make this sport very TV friendly.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the rest of your week.