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Olympic iPhone Apps review

Yea, I only reviewed the free ones.  I have a Cowbell already (from my visit to the SLC ’02 Olympics) so couldn’t rationalize buying an electronic version.

The Vancouver Olympics start on Friday and there are quite a few iPhone apps in the app store to help keep you up to date on the latest.

NBC has a formal application that is complete with news, schedules and some (delayed) video from the games.  We’ll have to see if there are any competition videos or whether it just remains the ‘touchy feely’ Olympic stories NBC is famous for producing.   It also parses in the Twitter updates from Olympic athletes, such as Apollo Ohno.

NBC Cheer is a great app for annoying anyone within listening distance of you.  You can select the standard “USA-USA” cheer but then overlay things like ‘cowbell’ or ‘whistle’.  I just tried it out on the wife who glared at me with a ‘shut-that-f#$%-thing up’ look after only a few seconds.  A must have to be sure.

2010 Vancouver is a guide for those who find themselves in Canada during the Olympics.  It has information on venues including maps and directions on how to get to different spots.  It also has a list of official twitter events (including the Torch, which has a twitter feed I guess and some of the IOC tweets).  Good to have if you are going.

CTVOlympics is all the coverage you could want, from a Canadian point of view.  It has a news and photos section along with some venue information, and might be a good alternative if you just can’t stand NBC’s take on things.

China 2008 Olympic gymnasts cleared in age controversy, but 2000 medalists under more scrutiny

The New York Times is reporting on a ruling that is ending the debate on the ages of China’s gymnasts in the 2008 Beijing games, but opening the debate about the 2000 Sydney team.

”We are satisfied with the information provided by FIG, and we now consider the (2008) matter closed,” said Emmanuelle Moreau, spokeswoman for the International Olympic Committee.

”Clearly they feel that there is more to be looked at for Sydney,” Moreau added. ”We encourage them to pursue their inquiry and shed some light on these cases. We now rely on them to get to the bottom of that and get back to us.”

Unfortunately, the report doesn’t say ‘why’ they believe this to be the case, what killer piece of evidence they’ve obtained or anything to that effect. We’ll have to see what comes out in the next few days.

Syndey Olympics in 2000 mimed (lip synced) their opening ceremony too

Are these real fireworks you now have to ask?

It only took 8 years to fess up, but after the controversy in Bejing about the lip syncing of two little girls in the opening ceremony the Syndey Olympic Commitee has confessed that the Sydney Symphony did not actually play during the opening ceremony, but instead mimed their parts to a recording by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

Needless to say the Australian press is having fun with this:

The admission has columnists in Melbourne — which has a longstanding rivalry with glitzier Sydney — crowing over the fact that its musicians ghosted a crucial performance by their arch-rivals.

Khatuna Lorig carries the US flag in the closing ceremony

She’s been part of the Unified Team of the former Soviet States.

She’s been part of the Georgian Olympic team

And now she’s an American, and better still, she’s carrying the flag for the US team in the closing ceremony.

It’s a great honor, voted on by the athletes themselves. She’s been living a bit of the American dream as have many other recent immigrants, and she’s said carrying the flag is as important to her as winning a gold medal.

Olympic timekeeper Omega released photo finish photos of Phelps .01 victory

After saying they would not be releasing the photos of Michael Phelps amazing .01 second win in the 100-m butterfly, official Olympic timekeeper Omega has finally changed their minds and released the close up photos of the finish. And if you look at them, you won’t really know yourself because it looks like a tie. But professionals in this sport can clearly see that Phelps is the winner.

“In the third set of images, with Phelps on the left, it is clear he is really pushing hard, while Cavic, on the right, is just arriving,” Chianese told The Associated Press on Saturday.

Phelps’ time of 50.58 seconds was confirmed after a review down to the 10-thousandth of a second; Cavic’s time was 50.59.

Chianese explained that it requires 3 kilograms (6.6 pounds) of pressure to activate the touchpad. “Any less and waves would set it off,” Chianese said. “You can’t just put your fingertips on the pad, you really have to push it. We explained all this directly after the race to (Cavic) and his coach.”

Pretty-voice Yang Peiyi will perform in closing ceremony!

The Honk Kong Standard is reporting that the little girl who was judged ‘not pretty enough’ to be the face of China will have a role in the closing ceremony in Beijing. Yang Peiyi, the voice behind Lin Miaoke’s lip syncing, has become a sort of symbol to many and demands that she be given a role in the closing ceremony have been growing throughout the Olympics.

Both will be in the closing ceremony.

Both will be in the closing ceremony.

Officials remain tight-lipped over the plans, but it is understood seven- year-old songbird Yang Peiyi – who was heard but not seen at the opening ceremony – will take a special place in a rousing closing bash in Beijing.

It is believed that a double bill of both Yang Peiyi and Lin Miaoke will be featured in the closing ceremony, but we’ll have to wait to see to be sure.

The Sporting News is also reporting their was quite an outcry from Chinese citizens about this as well.

How the Soviets cheated in the 1980 Moscow Olympics

This is a fascinating story about how the Olympics were tainted in 1980 by Soviet ‘officials’ in track and field (yup, it is possible to cheat in athletics). One of the very few Western reporters who went to Russia for the games wrote this fascinating piece about the scandal that most in the US have never heard of before. How the top two triple jumpers in the world had 9 out of their 12 jumps ‘flagged’ for fouls, and how other events were rigged in favor of Warsaw Pact states:

In previous Olympics, the members of the Council of the International Amateur Athletic Federation, which supervises Olympic track and field, had always stationed a red-coated member of the council on the field, one for each event, to keep an eye on the judging — a good idea since all the officials are from the home country.

But after the first day, the Soviets came to Adriaan Paulen, the IAAF’s president, and complained that their officials were upset and insulted because the IAAF officials were watching them so closely.

The unspoken message was that if Paulen would remove the IAAF council members from the field, the USSR and its allies would support Paulen’s bid for re-election as IAAF president in 1981. Whatever his motives, Paulen ordered the council members off the field.

How much did NBC make on the Olympics? How about CCTV?

In case you were wondering how CCTV is paying for their new office building.

NBC is relatively happy with their ratings for the Olympics this year. Approximately 30 million people have watched the games. In contrast, in China, state broadcaster CCTV had about 840 million people watch the Opening Ceremonies and other events.

Now the fun part.

CCTV paid less than $17 million for exclusive broadcast rights in China but could reap $394 million in Olympic advertising revenue, according to Group M, a media company that tracks television advertising revenue here. By comparison, NBC paid almost $894 million for U.S. broadcast rights and is expected to garner $1 billion in ads.

IOC officials have said this is the end of China paying lowball prices for the rights to the Olympics. Come the next games, it is expected that CCTV will have to pay at least $100 million for the rights. CCTV, with 18 channels and a $2 billion budget can probably afford it.

Olympic closing ceremony will only have 7,000 people

The Olympic Closing Ceremony this Sunday (tape delayed in the USA until Sunday night 7:00 PM EDT) will only have 7,000 people participating, unlike the opening ceremony which had 15,000, according to Olympic organizers. The ceremony, which is in final rehearsals at a university far outside of Beijing is suppose to be ‘amazing’ and will include an 8 minute segment telecast from London, home of the 2012 games.

“It’s just unlike any other closing ceremony I’ve ever seen,” said Neal, executive vice president of NBC Olympics. Usually a simple vehicle for extinguishing the Olympic flame and setting the stage for the next games, this year’s ceremony will have a great deal of entertainment, he said.

None of the 15,000 performers in the closing participated in the opening ceremonies. Some people have lobbied to have Yang Peiyi perform in the closing ceremony, after her voice was used (but not her face) in the opening ceremony.

IOC **finally** decides to investigate the age of Chinese gymnastics star He Kexin

Which one still can't get a drivers license?

Faced with huge international pressure and a general sense of ‘give me a break’ the IOC has finally caved into demands and declared they will conduct an investigation into 12 14 16-year-old Chinese gymnastics star he Kexin (and any possible coverup by Chinese authorities).

An IOC official told The Times that because of “discrepancies” that have come to light about the age of He Kexin, the host nation’s darling who won gold in both team and individual events, an official inquiry has been launched that could result in the gymnast being stripped of her medals.

The investigation was triggered as a US computer expert claimed today to have uncovered Chinese government documents that he says prove she is only 14 – making her ineligible to compete in the Olympics – rather than 16, as officials in Beijing insist is her age.

Pulling up documents from ‘closed’ servers (closed after people started to notice the age discrepancy) computer security experts are displaying some of the website information that shows her age as being 14, despite what is in her passport. You can view the documents at the security experts blog.

Jacque Rogge is not dead. IOC President warmed out of cryo-freeze to criticize Usain Bolt

Not dead

Many have wondered ‘where the hell is Jacque Rogge’ during the Olympics? His presence was noted at the opening ceremonies, but for the next 10 days he was AWOL and unspotted nearly anywhere. He managed to make an appearance the other day at the softball tournament (i.e. proving he was not detained in jail for trying to protest in China) but then quickly disappeared, only to re-emerge last night with some harsh words for 200m winner Usain Bolt:

Rogge said: “That’s not the way we perceive being a champion. I have no problem with him doing a show. I think he should show more respect for his competitors and shake hands, give a tap on the shoulder to the other ones immediately after the finish and not make gestures like the one he made in the 100m.

“I understand the joy. He might have interpreted it in another way but the way it was perceived was ‘catch me if you can’. You don’t do that. But he’ll learn. He’s still a young man.”

On the one hand, this was pretty odd. Usain Bolt has been one of the highlights of the Olympics. His ease of winning some of the most sought after titles in the games has been extraordinary. Despite knowing the final result, I myself watched last night and as he finished his turn with a five yard lead my jaw dropped and I spoke aloud ‘holy bejesus’ as I expect a number of other Americans did too. And then he sped up…

But on the other hand, as I watched his celebrations I did say to myself ‘Americans have celebrated like this at previous games and gotten raked over the goals by the British press and others for being too arrogant, too jerk-like.’ I did wonder if this had been an American winning this event and celebrating in such a manner how large the cry would have been from the European media.

As Bolt is a Jamaican and thus, not an American, he generally will get a pass for his behavior. Perhaps Jacque Rogge was on the right track last night in calling for some dignity.

Want to go to the Olympics? Go to college in the USA

The Olympics are that way

The Olympics are that way

While the US may likely lose in the ‘gold first’ medal table (but prevail in the ‘total medal’ table) the one thing that is becoming obvious is that one of the clearest paths to the Olympics is to go to college in the United States. Watching some of the athletics and other sports, I’m constantly surprised at that announcer saying ‘while he maybe from Zimbabwe, he goes to school in Arizona’ or ‘he’s running for Trinidad now, but he used to run for the University of Oklahoma’.

I’ve tried to pull together a list of all the Olympians and where they went to college, but it’s pretty much a lost cause. There’s simply too many and no orderly way of pulling them all together. I can say that of the 8 or so sprinters in the 100m, nearly all went to school in the USA.

I’m going to try to put that list together. I think it would be interesting.

Matthias Steiner, born in Austria, weightlifting for Germany, winning the gold for his lost love.

Austrian blood, German uniform, and a gold medal for his late wife.

I am not a fan of weightlifting, and it is generally a pretty boring sport to watch on TV, unless there is an accident and the barbell goes crashing. But yesterday I was flipping the dial and managed to catch the gold medal lift of Austrian German Matthias Steiner, followed by the insanely wonderful celebrations he commenced jumping all over the stage relishing in his accomplishments. (his lifts start about minute 7 on that video)

So I did a bit of searching and found that Steiner was actually born in Austria, but switched to Germany once his citizenship came through due to some disagreements with the Austrian federation. I also then found out what was giving him his strength–the tragic death of his wife in 2007 from a car accident. He threw himself into his sport to deal with the grief, giving all he had to his chosen sport. He had trained 3 years without being able to compete internationally while his citizenship was being processed. His wife passed away before the paperwork came through.

As he stood on the gold medal platform, he clutched a photograph of his late wife along with his gold medal.

One hopes he finds some peace now.

Who is Michael Phelps dating?

Answer: Whomever he wants.

Really, when he gets back he’s got a ton of text messages and cell phone calls to return from pretty much every woman in America.

However, they are going to have to get in line between the two leading contenders. Fellow swimmer Amanda Beard has long been a rumored ‘friend’ of Michael Phelps, and many gossip columns in New York swear that Lily Donaldson is Michael Phelps’ official girlfriend (and no, I have no idea who that was either until I looked her up).

I imagine later in life when Michael Phelps is asked by his son or grandson ‘why did you date all those famous models’ his answer will be a simple and envy-worthy ‘because I could’.

More photos of Lily here.

The Olympic Medal Table race–more golds or more medals?

Who's got first? What? Second, third base.

A ritual source of controversy surrounding the Olympics is ‘how to rank’ the countries that have medals–most golds or most medals? The IOC currently (but unofficially) lists medals in the order of ‘most Golds’ first, where as many in the US media list ‘total Medals’ as their ranking guideline. So who is right?


Some small minds feel it is all a conspiracy based on political underpinnings, but the truth is actually a bit stranger. Officially, the IOC does not believe in a ‘medal table’. It’s not something they ‘officially’ produce.

Strictly speaking, medal tables aren’t supposed to exist. According to the Olympic Charter, “The IOC and the OCOG (the local Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games) shall not draw up any global ranking per country.” Instead, the host stadium is supposed to display a “roll of honor” of the individual winners.

That wording was inserted into the charter in 1924 after organizers in some cities began ranking countries.

However, staring in 1992 the IOC started to release some tables, and when they did it was in the ‘gold first’ format. As the IOC says ‘nothing is official’ they don’t really take a policy one way or the other (though they do list past Olympics by the ‘gold first’ standard).

The Chinese media has taken the position that ‘One Gold is worth more than 1000 Silvers’, but others feel this sort of measuring system shortchanges the athletes. For example, countries that have no shot at gold will cut all funding for a specific program that has a chance at Bronze at best. A ‘gold or nothing’ attitude leaves some so-so athletes from getting the chance to develop. It also allows some countries with a ’super star’ to overshadow a country with a more developed and roboust sporting infrastructure.

For example, at present, Tunisia has 1 gold and 0 silvers and 0 bronzes. The next on the list is Hungary with 4 silvers and 1 bronze, followed by Belarus with 3 silvers and 7 bronzes. Who is having a better Olympics? Tunisia, Hungary or Belarus?

We’ll see when it ends. There are 302 events this Olympics and 185 have already produced a medal. Quite a few more to go.