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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 22, 2008 5:55 PM

Friday prime-time: There IS life after beach volleyball

Posted by Ron Judd

Good evening, Disadvantaged Time Zone. Good morning, Beijing. Good grief, it's the third Friday in a row! Some random thoughts on live and not-so-live events in Beijing will follow.

5:57 p.m.
NBC is showing the heats for the women's 4 x 400 relay. The big question: Can the U.S. hang on to the baton? The suspense builds.

6:05 p.m.
Here's the first handoff: Mary Wineberg to Monique Henderson. It's out .. it's good! The U.S. leads.
Second handoff: Henderson to Natasha Hastings ... also good! And the U.S. has pulled ahead of Jamaica, Mon.
Third handoff: Hastings to Sanya Richards for the anchor leg. Richards has a big lead around the first turn, but Jamaica and Belarus are reeling her in. Hastings slows to save herself for the final (she only needs top three finish), but wins the heat. Success!

The U.S. men's team also managed to qualify for tomorrow's finals.
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Speaking of the baton. Here's America's Lauryn Williams, about her flubbed handoff with Torri Edwards, in the women's 4 x 100 relay (emphasis added).

"We saw a few of the replays and it looked like it was a good handoff. The stick had a mind of its own. It wasn't my fault and it wasn't Torri's fault. It's just unfortunate."

Like we've always said: You've gotta be smarter than the stick.
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Catching up on some track:

Take a moment to celebrate Brian Clay's gold medal in the decathlon, where the Athens silver medalist racked up 8,791 points. The final will be shown on NBC later tonight (as of yet, 90 minutes into the eastern broadcast, it hasn't come on.)

Just think: If Clay was a gymnast or swimmer, he'd be on the cover of Sports Illustrated next week wearing 10 medals.

Note that there are no live events in track on tonight's TV coverage, because there are no morning events in the Bird's Nest on Saturday. It's an evening-only session.

Among those events: Bernard Lagat and Matt Tegenkamp go in the final of the 5,000 meters at 5:10 a.m. tomorrow, PT, in the Bird's Nest. The men's and women's 4 x 400 relays follow to wrap up track and field, except for the marathon at 7:30 a.m. Beijing time on Sunday. Normally, this race would end in the stadium just before the closing ceremony. But Games organizers put it in the morning to avoid afternoon heat.
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6:28 pm.
Mary Carillo, continuing her quest to collect and analyze every bit of fluff in China, is doing a piece on "kung-fu fighting monks," which Bob Costas finds particularly hilarious. (Hey, it's not her fault; she has reeled off these thumbsucker assignments with grace. in fact, we'd like to see her take the main anchor's chair sometime other than the dead middle of the night. NBC needs some female voice in that spot, and she's imminently qualified. Free Mary from the fluff!)
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What other big events are left? Most of them are tomorrow. As is typical, only a handful of medal events will conclude Sunday in Beijing, the day of closing ceremonies. Among the best of what's left:

The U.S. women play Brazil for the gold medal in volleyball, the real kind, no sand, at 5 a.m. PT tomorrow.
The U.S. men play Brazil for the gold in volleyball at 9 p.m. tomorrow, PT.
The surprising U.S. plays Hungary for the gold medal in men's water polo at 12:40 a.m. Sunday, PT.
Jacques Rogge declares the Beijing Games the "greatest ever" in the wee hours of Sunday, PT. It will not be shown live in our time zone, but it will be a lie in all time zones.

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6:45 p.m.
If you're looking to see Usain Bolt's run in the men's 4 x 100 relay (from Thursday night in Beijing), NBC says its track coverage will begin approximately 2:20 into its primetime broadcast tonight. Mixed in with this will be coverage of the decathlon.
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More catching up: The men's pole vault was won by Steve Hooker of Australia, with an OR of 5.96 meters. Silver to Evgeny Lukyanenko of Russia at 5.85. Bronze to Denys Yurchenko of Ukraine at 5.70. America's Derek Miles was fourth. We're still looking for an explanation of what happened to much-heralded favorite Brad Walker, the former UW athlete and reigning world champion, who no-heighted during qualifying.
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7 p.m.
Wake up, mountain bike fans. This is your one and only Olympic day. We doubt you'll see any of today's races on NBC, but CBC has just launched coverage of the women's race. The men's race gets underway at midnight, PT.
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9:00 p.m.
Here's what will pass as decathlon coverage on NBC prime: They show the final event, the 1,500 meters, which they introduce by saying Clay already has an insurmountable lead. Translation: If he lives, he wins. Big suspense. No highlights of the earlier competition, or a sense of when he wrapped it up. An absolutely botched opportunity.
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10 p.m.
Just got off the phone with John Furlong, CEO of the Vancouver organizing committee for the 2010 Games. He is in Beijing (at the soccer final, at the moment; it is being broadcast on CBC) and had lots of impressions about the Games there -- and ways they'll be markedly different in Vancouver. Furlong says that with the Beijing Games now winding down, he and his people "already feel" the focus of the Olympic world shifting toward lower B.C.

Vancouver, as is the tradition, will have a small spot in Sunday's closing ceremony in the Bird's Nest. More on this later, both in the paper and online.


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Blogroll and links

www.olympic.org: The official International Olympic Committtee site, with news releases, a searchable Olympic medals database and other archival information.
www.nbcolympics.com: 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
www.usolympicteam.com: U.S. Olympic Committee's athlete web site.
www.aroundtherings.com: Ed and Sheila Hula's Olympic News Service (subscription).
www.wcsn.com: News service with audio, video and text coverage of Olympic sports, during and between Olympics. Free, but charges for live video feed subscriptions.
www.beijing2008.com: Beijing Organizing Committee Web site.
www.vancouver2010.com: Vancouver Organizing Committee's 2010 Winter Games site.
www.london2012.com: London 2012 Summer Games site.
www.sochi2014.com: Sochi, Russia's 2014 Winter Games site.
www.chicago2016.org: 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.