The alternate universe of the Olympics

Random thoughts from the Main Press Center, where there are 7,000 televisions, each showing a different Olympic event. I swear that one is showing pinochle:

* Michael Johnson says this Olympics has been a disaster for US sprinters. US sprinters have won 15 medals – twice as many as Jamaica. Somehow, both of these sentences are true.

* If the world were made up entirely of Taiwanese people, Su Li-wen would be an Olympic legend today. In a bronze-medal taekwondo match, she fought basically on one leg.

It was like watching the last scene from “Karate Kid” in the Olympics – except she didn’t do that crazy crane thing… and there was no towheaded twerp screaming, “Sweep the legs, Jonny!” to the Croatian girl she was fighting… and she didn’t win.

OK, it was nothing like the “Karate Kid.” But it was still pretty cool. She almost won, and I would not have been surprised to see Mr. Miyagi walk out during the break between periods and do his bizarre clap-the-hands friction massage.

* US women soccer team plays Brazil in World Cup semifinals. Goalkeeper Hope Solo is inexplicably left out of the starting lineup. US loses, 4-0. US plays Brazil in Olympic gold medal match. Hope Solo plays. US wins, 1-0. Hmmm.

* USA Track and Field should petition to add Hope Solo to its men’s and women’s relay teams. Baton-exchange crisis? Solved.

* If pinochle were admitted as an Olympic sport, which nation would that favor? Which nation is a pinochle powerhouse? China, probably.

* I want to know what was in Chinese diver Chen Ruolin’s head tonight.

She is 15. She looks about 12. She is standing 33 feet above a pool. This is her last dive. She is in second place. Until this moment, China has won every gold in the diving program. In two seconds, that streak could end, the hope of China sweeping all eight diving gold medals could end, and it would be her fault. Not one of the 17,000 people in the Water Cube makes a sound.

She dives: 10. 10. 9.5.

She wins.

This stuff is so much better than “Lost.”

* I think Dayron Robles is the most fearsome sprinter in the world today.

I mean, Usain Bolt looks like a sprinter. So when you lose to him, you must be like, “Ok, fine. This guy is eight feet tall and could cover the distance from Dover to Calais in one stride. I can live with that.”

But Robles?

Seriously, who runs a sub-13-second 110 meter hurdles in spectacles? That’s almost like smack talk without saying a word. He’s saying, “I’m going to smoke you over the next 110 meters, and I’m going to look like the IT guy down the hall while I’m doing it.”

That’s serious intimidation.

* Norway beat Korea in the women’s handball semifinal by scoring the winning goal with 0.01 seconds left, meaning Korea is now an official member of the Milorad Cavic/Alain Bernard Club.

* The best thing about these Olympics that you probably have not seen: The US men’s and women’s volleyball teams (not beach). In the women’s semifinal today, the US beat Cuba in three games that were not even remotely close.

Bear in mind, Cuba is to women’s volleyball what Godzilla was to Tokyo. Basically, when you play them, it’s often wisest to run and hide, screaming.

The videotape of the 25-20, 25-16, 25-17 win will be sent to the CERN particle accelerator in Switzerland to determine whether the game actually ruptured the space-time continuum, hurtling the Capital Gymnasium into an alternate universe.

It did, actually. The Olympics.

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