Monday, July 7, 2008

Olympic Anticipation

With the trials for the Olympics happening all weekend I'm starting to get really excited about the upcoming games. There's something about the spirit of the competition that really gets me interested. One country versus another in intense but friendly competition to achieve national dominance.

The sport I am most excited about is swimming. This seems to be a sport of American dominance. And not only American dominance but Maryland dominance. Both Micheal Phelps and Katie Hoff hail from the Free State. Between the two of them there is the possibility of 13 medals. And not just a possibility, but a really legitimate chance at 13 medals, most of them gold.

Phelps is trying to break Mark Spitz's record of 7 gold medals in one Olympics. He's swimming in 8 events, 5 solo and 3 relays and holds the world record in several events. So he has a very realistic chance of winning 8 gold medals. EIGHT!!!! That is truly absurd. And incredibly awesome at the same time. Every Olympics gives us the chance to see athletes at their bests, to see new records set, and to bask in national pride. But seriously talking about someone win 8 gold medals seems like lunacy. And I can't wait to watch it.

Hoff on the other hand is trying to rebound from a dismal 2004 performance. Basically she tanked in her races and then threw up after getting out of the pool. Pretty embarrassing. But then again she was only 15, and that is a lot of pressure for someone who cannot even drive. So with 5 races this summer, expect big things from the older, wiser and stronger Hoff.

There's even a super feel good story in swimming this time around. Dana Torres, 41, qualified for two events. That's right, there's a 41 year old mother is swimming for America in the Olympics. And before you start with the steroids talk, wait a moment, she has never been linked to performance enhancing drugs, she volunteered for the pilot program for wider drug testing in the sport, and she has been tested 12-15 times since March. She's not just denying it, she's actually trying to back up her claims. Which, call me naive, but gives me faith that she really is clean.

The one thing I am not excited about is the new Speedo LZR suits. Part of the fun of watching swimming was the mostly naked men with the Adonis bodies. And now they're covering these up. While I understand these new suits are helping to break world records, I am not thrilled. I am not willing to make the argument that because they enhance performance, they should not be allowed. I mean if Nike is giving its endorsed athletes a chance to switch to this suit, it must be good. And I'm all for records being broken, well, broken by Americans. And I'm for any competitive advantage that doesn't involve drugs. But man, I'm going to miss those rock hard abs.

Overall, its going to be one hell of a time for swimmer in the US. I'm excited for the rest of the Olympics as well, track and field is always exciting and gymnastics is fun to watch. But the supposed ridiculous dominance in swimming is going to be what I don't want to miss. I mean, 8 gold medals, who are these people who think this is so possible?