You can douse that flame now, thank you
So, it’s over. Or almost over.
The ceremonies are about to start, I got a couple more to write for that pesky newspaper but, then? Then it’s over and somewhere in this vast land there are a bucketful of Tsing Taos with my name on ‘em.
This is the first time in the six Bun Tosses Like This I’ve been to that we’ve had this sort of thing to write so I’m not sure if I get all teary-eyed and wistful and mushy and melancholy or what.
Too out of character.
Final impressions though? Maybe a few
The Games have been extraordinarily well run, with attention paid to the smallest of details, with volunteers that couldn’t do enough for you, a transportation system that should now be the benchmark for every future Games.
The venues? Some were breathtaking, the Bird’s Nest from the outside more breathtaking than any. But some were banal. The ballparks were pre-fab, the basketball arena could have been dropped in Wukesong from any NBA city. The archery field (Pitch? Yard? Facililty?) was tres cool but the soccer pitches were surrounded by running tracks and that made the action seem kilometres away.
And there was a sterility that was a bit disconcerting, to tell you the truth.
There wasn’t a lot of joy among the people, it didn’t seem. They were happy, no question, but unbridled excitement? Not so much. It was strange.
All in all, they were a Good Games.
They didn’t approach Great.
Remember yesterday’s question about taekwondo and its suitability to be an Olympic sport?
Well, how about the Cuban guy kicking the ref in the head after his bout?
Reports are circulating that none of three judges gave him a point for it.
Every four years, it seems, I go to a track meet. One quadrennial it’s in Athens, the next it’s in Beijing and there’s every chance the next time I see athletics will be in 2012 in London.
But I gotta tell you, they got some cool stuff at track.
Was watching the men’s javelin on Saturday night here and they’ve got these little remote control cars that run the length of the field taking the javelins back to the throwers.
They’re just like the little cars – maybe a tad more enhanced and powerful – than Super Son or your kid used on the driveway when they were toddlers.
Not sure where the guy was who was controlling them but he was having a gas. He’d do little figure 8s or sharp turns or run the things backwards for a few metres.
Made a night at the track a bit more entertaining.
Pau Gasol is much tougher wearing a Spain jersey than he is with a Laker uniform on.
Maybe it’s familiarity with his teammates, I’m not sure. But you can bet Kobe Bryant’s going to remind him at some point in the NBA season when he reverts to his usually soft self.
It was like oldtimers night at the Bird’s Nest when I was there.
They interrupt things for medal ceremonies, of course, and taking part were the great Cuban Alberto Juantorena and the legendary Sergei Bubka.
I don’t know all that much about track but those are two giants and I think other sports should use great athletes from the past more often.
Of course, I don’t know who that’d be in many of the sports but they should do it anyway.
Oh, right. The basketball game.
It was a great one, the best I saw here (missed the Argentina-Greece quarter-final, unfortunately) and a fitting end to what had been a rather uneventful tournament.
Spain was great, watching them cut and move without the ball and make pinpoint passes in traffic was a clinic in international play. Rudy Fernandez is going to be a helluva good NBA player, that Portland team is going to be very, very much fun to watch.
The Americans, though?
A cut above. They played as a team, they played with purpose, they never once strayed from the idea that they needed to work together.
I remember months ago against Jose Calderon what he thought about the Olympics and his initial reaction was that if the Americans played with purpose, they’d be virtually impossible to beat.
He was right.
Caught up with Carlos Delfino very briefly after Argentina's bronze medal win over Lithuania.
He’s pretty happy with the chance to go play in Russia, especially for the money he’s going to be making. And when someone on the edge of the conversation suggested he’d be back with the Raptors – who still have his NBA rights – he sort of shrugged and said, “maybe.”
There’s one in every crowd.
Dwyane Wade’s shooting free throws in throws in the middle of the third quarter of the gold medal against Spain and some comic in the upper deck starts chanting ‘M-V-P, M-V-P.’
Guarantee you he wasn’t from here.
Okay, as I mentioned, it’s time to be done for now. And there’s an excursion to the Great Wall on Monday here, a long, long flight home on Tuesday so I’m not sure when I’ll get back to these parts again. Probably not until Wednesday sometime so don’t fret that your comments are being ignored.
And don’t worry, I may have some time on the flight to get to the mail that’s been building up.
It’s been a blast stepping out of the basketball world for three weeks or so, hope you liked it. But it’ll soon be time to be Raptor-centric once again.