Some news and some entertainment (I hope)
This just in: The soccer women are through to the quarters.
Yup, you’re reading it here first, they got in when Germany beat Korea 1-0 in a game that ended about an hour before Canada took the field to face Sweden.
It’s still to be determined who they play and we’ll get that figured out after the game that I’m sure you’re all going to watch.
I now return you to your regularly-scheduled blog.
You get a load of the story about the Aussies thinking Canada’s too rough at field hockey?
Half-rugby, half-field hockey is how one guy described the Canadian style of play.
I don’t know, but I went to the game and the last thing I thought was that Canada played tough.
In fact, there were so few collisions of any kind I figured most of the players’ energy went into avoiding people rather than even slightly bumping them.
And I thought Aussies were tough.
My new favourite play?
The penalty corner in field hockey.
Just ‘cause the three guys put on those Hannibal Lecter masks and hide in the net while the attacking team pretty much tees up a shot from point blank range.
There’ve actually been a couple of cool things I’ve seen in competition that I hadn’t seen before.
The penalty corner’s one for sure (although The First Lady says I missed out not seeing a penalty flick) and the other is the sprint that starts water polo games.
Two guys bolt out of the net, dashing to get the ball and the first possession of each quarter.
Sorta reminds of two dudes trying to race to get the last flotation device at the swim-up bar.
You may be reading a lot of softball by yours truly in the next week and a half, or for at least as long as Canada’s in medal contention.
Got over to the venue today (last night back in Ontario) and it’s a doozy.
Set in a real neighbourhood, with small streets, apartments and small businesses as opposed to the wide open spaces around them, it’s relatively quiet, quite brand new and sort of reminds me of a spring training ballyard.
And my good friend Tom Withers, the Associated Press expert on all things women’s softball, told me he picked Canada as the bronze medalists so maybe there’ll be more than a few trips to the park in my future.
I remember covering the women back in Athens in ’04 and they were a good story en route to a fifth-place finish, if they can get to the semis and the medal round here, they might become a great tale.
And, really, that’s what makes it so cool about covering teams over here – at least for now.
They tend to build momentum and interest back home and it’s much nicer to write about a developing story than, say, a one-time wonder who’s event starts and finishes all in one.
|Doug's new nickname in Beijing: Tank.|
Like my new ride?
Makes it easy to get through – or over – traffic.
Seriously, though, not sure why they’ve stepped up blatant security but we saw soldiers with guns outside the media centre and a few locations around the main Games venue. And this nifty little number got left overnight ride at the entrance to the Main Press Centre.
So now that I’m, like, an archery expert, I’m really intrigued by the sport.
Asked Toronto’s Crispin Duenas the other day about his training regimen and he ran through it extensively.
He does cardio, of course, lifts weights for upper body strength and works on his calves so they give him a steady base when he has to shoot.
And then he told me about working with a sports psychologist on relaxation techniques so he can slow his heart rate, which I presume makes it much easier to shoot with accuracy.
I asked him how that’s coming:
"After I’ve run around and everything and walked around and I’ve been awake for a while, I can get it down to 54 just by thinking about bringing it down. Not by doing anything special.”
Fifty-freaking-four! A hundred and fifty-four might be more like for a slug like me.
Andre V of Toronto gets into the mailbag with:
‘Hey Doug, did you try some hotpot?’
Nope, not yet, it’s one of the delicacies I’ve yet to get to. But I will.
The cool part of the dining experience at our media village is we get breakfast as part of the cost and there’s always some local flavour to the meal.
Today, you could have had eggs, bacon, a frittata and a bagel.
Or, you could have done like me and gone with the hargow and noodles.
It’s sort of cool to watch the fans watching sports they’re quite unfamiliar with and here – like it was in Athens – it’s baseball and softball that are strange to the people.
So much so that I’m sure some unassuming first-time local fan’s going to take a foul ball off the forehead.
Today at softball, a couple of lasers got hit down the lines into groups of fans who were chatting, watching the grass, checking out the sights and paying no attention.
Luckily, no one got clocked. But someone will, I’m sure.
All you people who’re wondering when I’m going to get back to the business of basketball (and I hope there’s one or two out there), the answer is not for a couple of days.
But when I do, I’ll find out all I can about Roko because, while I’ve heard good things about the way he’s playing from independent observers, I haven’t had a chance to check him out myself. Probably Thursday.
-Okay, off to see the football women in action. Back tomorrow.