Team USA In Showdown With China For Gold Medal Tally Over Final Days
As the Olympics enter its final weekend of competition, the U.S. “leads China 90-80 in the overall medal race,” but the Gold Medal “duel is too close to call,” with the U.S. holding 39 Golds through Thursday compared to China's 37, according to a cover story by Kelly Whiteside of USA TODAY. With “63 events remaining -- 15 of those in track and field, a sport in which the USA excels -- the medal title is again within reach.” China “traditionally dominates diving, table tennis and badminton -- sports that had mostly wrapped up before the final weekend.” In the Games' final days, the U.S. “likely will continue to pile up medals in track and field and basketball.” USOC CEO Scott Blackmun in an e-mail said, "The Olympic Games is a competition between athletes, not nations" (USA TODAY, 8/10).
A TALE OF TWO PUNCHES: In London, Kevin Rawlinson notes IOC President Jacques Rogge Thursday attended the finals of women’s boxing, which made its debut in the Olympics this year. Rogge said, “It was fantastic. I’m a very happy man. There has been some criticism of whether women should be boxing and of their level and technique. Today we have been vindicated. That was a good decision. It’s only the beginning" (London TELEGRAPH, 8/10). Meanwhile, the AP’s Greg Beacham noted Int'l Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) President Wu Ching-Kuo “expects to replace the sport's computerized scoring system with the traditional professional judging system before the 2016 Rio Olympics.” Ching-Kuo said that it is “all part of his plan for Olympic boxing to look more like the pro game.” The AIBA intends to “move to the pros' 10-point scoring system, which takes into account every aspect of fighters' skills, not solely their ability to land clean punches.” The eventual move “will trigger a fundamental shift in an amateur sport that has withered in the U.S. and other countries where pro boxing dominates.” Olympic boxers will “no longer be able to train merely to master the quirks of the computerized system, which records a point when a majority of ringside judges push a button indicating a fighter connected with a punch” (AP, 8/9).
OUT OF PLACE? In N.Y., David Segal notes BMX is making its second Olympic appearance this year, and the sport is the Games' "stab at the highly coveted youth market.” However, hipness is “not easy to fake, and there is something a little awkward about the Olympics’ attempt to drag teen cool onto the premises.” BMX at the Olympics “lacks some of the basic elements that make a sport exciting,” like lead changes. Much of the suspense “comes down to wrecks -- who will wreck and how badly." Given the “carnage on display Thursday, it is safe to assume that whoever designed the BMX racetrack really dislikes BMX racers.” Segal: “Or has no regard for their safety. Or kind of enjoys watching them crash.” The “worst of these wrecks occurred in the first run of the third heat, in the men’s quarterfinals, when seven of the eight riders were suddenly splayed on the tarmac” (N.Y. TIMES, 8/10).
GIVE HIM A HAND: Celtics annoncer Mike Gorman is calling handball matches for NBC during the Games, and he said, "I’m trying to investigate now that I’m more into it why it hasn’t caught on in the United States." Gorman: "One of the problems that I’m hearing is that it is an infrastructure issue. ... But you’d think it would catch on, and NBC is aware of what a hit it has been during the Olympics.” Gorman added he “may have to lobby” Celtics Managing Partners Wyc Grousbeck and Steve Pagliuca to “buy a team and have it play” at TD Garden (BOSTON GLOBE, 8/10). Meanwhile, TEAM HANDBALL NEWS' John Ryan wrote NPR’s Stefan Fatsis for several years "has proudly worn the mantle as Team Handball’s #1 mainstream media proponent and fan," but ESPN's Scott Van Pelt is "coming on strong and aided by the nationwide blowtorch that is ESPN Radio." Van Pelt has continually tried to talk up the Olympic handball tournament during his daily radio show, and he is now "even sporting USA Team Handball gear" (TEAMHANDBALLNEWS.com, 8/10).