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Olympics

Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell–what the heck does Usain and Asafa mean?

The Jamaican newspapers have asked a pretty interesting question–what kind of name is Usain and Asafa, the first names of the two Jamaican sprinting stars?

The name ‘Usain’ was picked out for the sprinter by his aunt, Betsy Davis.

When The Star contacted her yesterday, she said that she could not immediately recall what the name meant, jokingly stating it was 22 years ago that she chose it. She did, however, mention that the runner’s pet name, ‘Vijay’, was a Hindi word/name meaning ‘victory’.

While attempts to contact the star (Asafa Powell’s) parents were not successful, postings on a website dedicated to the former 100m world record holder revealed that the name ‘Asafa’, means ‘To rise to the occasion’. It is of African origin.

Liu Xiang pulls up and drops out of Olympics

China is in shock. Defending gold medalist Liu Xiang of China, the great hope for a Chinese gold in track and field, has pulled up injured in a preliminary of the 110m hurdles and dropped out of the Olympics. Most of China is in utter and complete shock. In fact thousands left the Birds Nest stadium after he pulled out of the race.

“Liu Xiang has two injuries, one in his foot and one in his leg,” his coaches told a news conference.

“One of the injuries is an accumulated injury. In the past he has not dropped out of any competition easily.

“His right heel injury has been a problem since six years ago, even before the Athens Olympics.

In China Liu Xiang is as popular as Yao Ming–perhaps even more popular as Yao has to compete with Kobe Bryant and Lebron James, but Liu Xiang sort of stands alone (and is also seen endorsing products, in the society pages, etc). This is a major blow to the Chinese hopes for track and field glory, but many folks who follow athletics were expecting something like this. They knew of his injury and the absolutely sick amount of pressure that was placed on Liu to win gold.

The Olympics curse of Matt Emmons?

You might have heard the story of Matt Emmons who was oh so close to a Gold in the Athens Olympics. He only had to hit the target in the general vicinity of the bullseye to win, but when he started shooting he shot the wrong target and lost.

Well it’s deja vu all over again. He had to get basically a 6 out of 10 possible to clinch a gold today, and his gun misfired causing him to lose one shot and get 4th place in the overall.

And you thought Dan Jansen had it bad.

Where is Michael Phelps father Fred Phelps?

At home in Maryland, apparently. He’s been tracked down by the Baltimore Sun but has refused interview requests. Just for background, the family has had a bit of a rough time with estrangement and whatnot, but things do appear to be better now. It’s just the Senior Phelps didn’t want to distract from the attention due his son.

“This is just about Michael,” he said. “This is his glory, his time to shine, and I want him to get everything he wants.”

Rest assured, while Phelps is in the Beijing pool, his father is paying close attention, cheering from back in Maryland.

“I’m just on pins and needles every time he hits the water,” Fred Phelps said.

UPDATE : New story and photo here.

Photo finish of Phelps’ .01 victory will not be released

The New York Times is reporting that the actual photo finish of the Michael Phelps’ 7th gold medal will not be released, despite the requests from many in the media.

Apparently Omega has underwater video that slows the action even more than the one-hundredth of a second that Phelps won by….

Christopher Clarey of The International Herald Tribune tracked down Cornel Marculescu, FINA’s executive director, at the Water Cube to ask him about the decision to not release the images. Marculescu said it was a matter of policy, and that the Serbian team was satisfied with the ruling after seeing the images — so there is no need to share the images.

As mentioned last night, the margin of victory is approximately 19.766mm, but I for one would really like to see it close up if they have the footage available.

UPDATE: Check out Sports Illustrated’s frame by frame. You can see the difference.

Phelps won by 19.766 mm

My dad just did the math and it works out like this:

Phelps was splashing 1,977.066 mm per second. the ‘loser’ paddled at 1,976.675 mm per second – so he won by 0.391 mm per second difference x 50.58 seconds . . .19.766 mm –

Ethnic minority kids in Olympic opening ceremony were all kids from Han majority.

About two seconds after the announcer on tv said “these kids are representative of the average kids in China” my friends (from China) all said ‘bull crap”. The kids were dressed in fancy ethnic costumes of the 56 various ‘minorities’ in China but if you looked at them they were all very attractive and cute, and as we found out recently, all members of the Han majority.

Disney's small world puppets have escaped.

In other oddities, the soldiers who were inside the ‘Chinese characters’ demonstration have admitted they all wore adult diapers as they were in place, under the stadium, for upto seven hours before the ceremony with no time for a toilet break.

Olympians unhappy with religious center at Olympic village

A quiet protest is underway at the Olympic village by a number of athletes unhappy with the services. At all Olympics, a religious center is set up to handle athletes spiritual needs. Chaplins and Imans and other religious persons were brought in from around the world with multi-lingual abilities to help athletes prepare mentally before their events. But in China, the government steadfastly refused to allow any foreign religious leaders in, and instead is making do with Chinese volunteers, few of which speak the language of the athletes fluently.

The quality of the religious services center came into sharper focus on Saturday after the fatal attack against Todd Bachman, the father-in-law of the coach of the U.S. men’s volleyball team, at a popular tourist spot in Beijing. To help athletes with their grief, the U.S. team had to scramble for official permission to get a chaplain who spoke English fluently into the village.

Phelim Kine, a researcher for New York-based Human Rights Watch, an advocacy group, said the ban on foreign chaplains runs counter to the Olympic charter’s “dedication to fundamental ethical principals and freedom of expression.” He also said the International Olympic Committee shares the blame.

“This is yet another example of IOC’s failure to enforce and to stand up to China’s efforts to roll back basic freedoms that have been taken granted at previous Olympics,” Kine said.

Olympic Opening Ceremony dancer Liu Yan seriously hurt after rehearsal

Rumors are swirling that the ‘Silk Road’ solo dancer, who was to dance atop the ‘carpet’ during the Olympic Opening Ceremony, was seriously injured in a fall after a practice and may have permanent damage, possibly never walking again. Liu Yan, a famous Chinese dancer who was suspended above the swirling painting was in the hospital in Beijing following the rehersal. Details are still quite sketchy.

Beijing Olympic organizing committee spokesman Wang Wei acknowledged at the daily press conference today that she was hurt during the accident and remains hospitalized but declined to comment on the reports of her paralysis.

“This is a very private question. I understand that she was seriously injured, but I’m not sure whether she is paralyzed or not,” Wang said.

Russian sportsmanship sadly lacking in loss to ‘Georgian’ volleyball team

Russia and ‘Georgia’ took to the imitation ‘beach’ in Beijing and played a rather close match which saw the Georgians win and the Russians get knocked out of the tournament. Despite the pleasantries on the sand with hugs and handshakes, when the Russians got to the microphones they let lose a tirade that can only be described as ’sore losers’

“They are not even Georgians,” said Shiryaeva.

“Sore losers,” said the president of the Georgian Volleyball Federation, Levan Akhvlediani. “The Russians should go home.”

“It is very stupid for Georgia to start a war with Russia because we are very big and they are very small, but that is always the way in history with Georgia,” said Uryadova.

“They probably don’t even know the name of the Georgian president,”
snapped Shiryaeva.

“Mikhael Saakashvili,” said Santanna who — for the record — was born in Brazil, lives in Brazil, has a Georgian passport and has been there twice. “I met his wife at the athletes’ village the other day. She was lovely.”

“They are Brazilians,” repeated Shiryaeva.

Wherever they are from, they won.

Australian Olympic official John Coates tells British swimmers to take a bath before swimming

The Guardian is reporting the the rivalry between the UK and Australia is not exactly a ‘clean’ one.

After Rebecca Adlington’s 400m freestyle gold set the tone for Britain in the pool here, John Coates, the head of the Australian Olympic Committee and an International Olympic Committee member since 2001, was asked for his thoughts. “It’s not bad for a country that has no swimming pools and very little soap,” he said.

Well at least it wasn’t the same old ‘Big Gnarly Teeth’ comment that is leveled at most UK residents.

Olympic Boxing officials under scrutiny–shades of Seoul ’88?

The Olympic boxing rounds are underway, and no one is quite sure what is going on with the scoring. British and Ukrainian judges have launched formal protests in the way the officials ’seem’ to favoring the local fighters.

“I knew they were going to give him everything he wanted,” said Murray, who trailed 4-0 after the first two minutes. “I’ve been watching the scoring here the first four days, and I knew it was bad, so I was expecting it. … I think they were giving him a score for anything, and I had to work to get all of my points.”

British coach Terry Edwards echoed his fighter’s complaints, calling the scores “absolutely stupid.”

“The judges took it away from him,” Edwards said of the early rounds, when the score deficit forced Murray to change his style. “I thought they were very generous to the Chinese. You expect a slight bias, but you come to the Olympic Games and expect a level playing field.

Because Olympic / Amateur boxing utilized points scored in somewhat random and odd ways (many boxing fanatics cannot even understand it at times) the potential for officials to have far too much of a say in the outcome of a match is always a possibility.

Yang Peiyi, the pretty voice behind pretty-faced Lin Miaoke (who ‘sang’ at the Olympic Opening Ceremony, so we thought)

UPDATE Aug 23: Pretty-voice Yang Peiyi will perform in closing ceremony!

Watching the Opening ceremony it was pretty obvious that the little girl singing before the parade of ‘ethnic minority’ children wasn’t actually singing live. In the heat and the noise of 90,000 people, no voice would have been that clear or solid, so it was pretty obvious it was a taped.

However, today we learned the Mili-Vanilli truth behind the song. While Lin Miaoke had the ‘look’ of a cute Chinese girl singing, she didn’t really have the voice to be singing in front of an audience of billions. The true voice was with Yang Peiyi, who didn’t have the look and was relegated to singing in front of an audience of a few sound engineers.

Yang Peiyi had a pretty voice. Bloggers should spread the word about this to help her get the credit she is due.