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Ron Judd's Olympics Insider

Ron Judd, an Olympics junkie and Seattle Times columnist who has covered Olympic sports since 1997, will use this space to serve up news and opinion on the Summer and Winter Games -- also inviting you to chime in on Planet Earth's biggest get-together.

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August 19, 2008 5:09 PM

Tues Prime-Time thread: Track, gymnastics, softball news

Posted by Ron Judd

Good evening, DTZ. Good morning, Beijing. Good riddance, Tim Daggett.
Once again, we'll recap NBC's prime-time offering to alert you whether -- and if -- you need to tune in, and if so, when. And, of course, the best of CBC.


The U.S. women's softball team went on to beat Japan, 4-1 in extra innings, to advance to the gold medal game. Their opponent will be the winner of Japan vs. Australia/Canada, the latter two playing one another now, with Austrailia leading 2-0 in the third inning.

NBC East has signed off. You know everything they do. CBC is switching from BMX (don't look for it until tomorrow on NBC) to women's softball, where Canada is about to take to the field.

Past midnight in the East, and NBC still has not shown American Jonathan Horton's silver-medal performance on the high bar, which was on CBC more than an hour ago. Oh: There it is now.

Breaking news, courtesy of CBC: In women's softball, the U.S. and Japan are scoreless in inning eight when Crystal Bustos (who else?) breaks the game open with a three-run homer. U.S. leads 4-0 and still at bat. Winning puts them in the gold-medal game.

CBC is showing what appears to be live prelims of the men's BMX racing. The truth: It looks a bit silly. Like grown men on tricycles.

Meantime, in a lake somewhere nearby, the Olympic inaugural 10K women's swim has been completed. Gold to Larisa Ilchenko of Russia, silver and bronze to Brits. Get this: The winning time for this race is nearly two hours -- 1:59:27.7. Yikes.

America's Chloe Sutton finishes 22nd. Another note of interest: A Paralympian with one leg, Natalie du Toit of South Africa, finishes 16th at 2:00:49.9.

CBC is interviewing hurdles bronze medalist Priscilla Lopes-Schliep, an Ontario native who runs at Nebraska. She's the first medalist for Canada in track and field since 1996. On NBC, Johnson is on the Costas couch. She's wearing peace-sign earrings and flipflops. Somehow, her feet, which dangled off the Costas couch for her last appearance, now touch the floor! Did she grow? Did NBC saw off the legs? Hmm.

This is illustrative of how the coverage will go now that NBC is almost out of live events for the Eastern broadcast. CBC has shown all the major competitors in the women's balance beam, won by America's Shawn Johnson, and moved on to men's apparatus finals. NBC only moments ago showed Johnson's performance, and promises Nastia Liukin's soon.

NBC's eastern broadcasts picks up the women's balance beam, as does CBC's west coast broadcast.
NBC shows the 100m hurdles, below.

Neither network has gotten to it yet, but you have to feel for U.S. hurdler Lolo Jones, who hit the ninth hurdle and stumbled from first to six in today's 100m final. She collapsed on the track and didn't look like she wanted to get up.

Afterward, she had this to say:

"You hit a hurdle about twice a year where it affects your race. It's just a shame that it happened on the biggest race of my life. About the middle part of the race, the hurdles were just coming up very fast, and I just told myself what I always tell myself, 'keep things tight.' But it's kind of like a car. When you race in a car and you're going max velocity and you hit a curve, you either maintain control or you crash and burn and today I crashed and burned."

CBC is showing the men's 1,500-meter final. We wonder if Bernard Lagat is watching as Rashid Ramzi, running for Bahrain, wins the gold on a hot night in the Bird's Nest.

Just in from the US Olympic Committee. Nastia Liukins' medals this week in Beijing have tied the record for the most by a U.S. woman at a single Olympics. She's matched the five won by Mary Lou Retton and Shannon Miller.

The breakdown:

Mary Lou Retton (1984, Los Angeles) - 1 gold, 2 silver, 2 bronze
Shannon Miller (1992, Barcelona) - 0 gold, 2 silver, 3 bronze
Nastia Liukin (2008, Beijing) - 1 gold, 3 silver, 1 bronze

Miller remains the top medal winner in U.S. women's gymnastics history with seven, adding two gold medals at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games to the ones listed above.

Sorry: We may have nodded off there. NBC is back to men's gymnastics, after uncharacterstically long coverage of men's springboard diving, then day-old qualifying in the men's 200 meters, featuring Usain Bolt.

CBC is doing a piece on the 40th anniversary of the Smith/Carlos black-power salute on the medal stand in Mexico City. The point: Because of their stance, and the Civil Rights movement in general, as it applied to sports, modern black track athletes never have to question a legal playing field. Or, as the voiceover puts it, "The only talk of 'rights' in this Olympics will come from broadcasters and sponsors."

It's a salient point.

NBC, after showing the men's 110 hurdles prelims, sans Liu Xiang, switches to men's springboard diving from the Water Cube. The Chinese are threatening to go 1-2.

Speaking of the network, a colleague, columnist Ann Killion of the San Jose Mercury-News, is in Beijing and hearing from folks back home about NBC. And they sound like a lot of people in Seattle. Read her thoughts here.

Up first: Track, with women's 200 meter prelims. Veronica Campbell-Brown of Jamaica and Allyson Felix of the U.S. were eyeing one another, going about three-quarters speed in their heat. Marshevet Hooker of the U.S. perhaps pulls up a bit too soon in her heat and gets third, which could be a disadvantage for the next round, in terms of lane assignments. Although as she says: "Any lane's a good lane for the next round."

Third heat: Muna Lee of the U.S., who had the fastest time earlier at 22.71, squared off with Sherone Simpson of Jamaica, the silver medalist in the 100 meters. Simpson wins the heat at 22.60; Lee is second at 22.83. All three Jamaicans and all three Americans qualify for tomorrow's final.

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Blogroll and links The official International Olympic Committtee site, with news releases, a searchable Olympic medals database and other archival information. Olympic news site from one of the Games' primary sponsors.
NBC Olympics columnist Alan Abrahamson's column/blog
Chicago Tribune Olympic sports writer Philip Hersh's blog U.S. Olympic Committee's athlete web site. Ed and Sheila Hula's Olympic News Service (subscription). News service with audio, video and text coverage of Olympic sports, during and between Olympics. Free, but charges for live video feed subscriptions. Beijing Organizing Committee Web site. Vancouver Organizing Committee's 2010 Winter Games site. London 2012 Summer Games site. Sochi, Russia's 2014 Winter Games site. Candidate city Chicago's summer 2016 bid committee site.
Olympic swimmer Tara Kirk's highly entertaining WCSN blog
Bellevue Olympian Scott Macartney's WCSN alpine ski-racing blog
Other WCSN Olympic athlete blogs.