30 Olympic questions spilling out of the XXXth Games

As the Olympics draw to a close in London, a TV spectator in the US is left with a host of random questions.

Matt Dunham/AP
Dominican Republic's Felix Sanchez waits for the baton during a men's 4 by 400-meter relay heat during the 2012 Summer Olympics, August 9.

Repeat performance

1 - How rare is it for an athlete to win a gold medal eight years apart with an identical time? That’s what Puerto Rico’s Felix Sanchez did in winning the men’s 400-meter hurdles as he did in the 2004 Athens Games in 47.63 seconds. 

Football folly

2 – Can National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell really be serious about trying to get football on the Olympic program? The sport has never seriously established itself outside of North America. Plus, how can you hold a tournament during the Olympic fortnight when games are traditionally played a week apart?

Bare-skin billboard

3 – What happens if an Olympic swimmer shows up some year with a personal sponsor’s name or logo –not that of an official Olympic sponsor - tattooed on his or her body? Will officials insist it be covered by a wetsuit?

Track pioneer

4 – Now that South African double-amputee Oscar Pistorius has run the 400 meters in the Olympics on J-shaped Cheetah blades, will other disabled athletes soon follow his breakthrough or will he remain a lonely crossover athlete?

Remember L.A.

5 – Didn’t anybody concerned about congestion in London during the Games remember what happened in Los Angeles in 1984? The California freeways were as quiet as they may have ever been as many residents headed out of town. Certainly the apocalyptic forecasts for nightmarish traffic never materialized. 

Airtime regulars

6 – Have two Olympic athletes ever received more network airtime than American beach volleyball players Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor? Their matches are much longer than races in swimming and track, so the time devoted to their matches could probably fill a cable channel.

Lights worth a look

7 – London’s Olympic Stadium may not be that architecturally distinctive, but has any main Olympic venue ever had cooler looking lighting than those triangular light banks rising from the rim of London’s stadium?

Fast finish

8 – Would Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen’s breakout gold medals have raised nearly as many suspicions if in her 400-meter individual medley win she hadn’t swum the last 50 meters so fast? Her time was even better than the men’s champion, Ryan Lochte, in the same event.

Champion denied

9 – What was so wrong with Larisa Latynina’s request that Olympic officials wouldn’t let her present Michael Phelps with his record-breaking 19th Olympic medal? Latynina, the Russian gymnast who held the record, traveled to London to be pass the “torch” to her successor.

Study in contrasts

10 - Has any broadcaster ever made a better and more radical leap in Olympic play-by-play than NBC’s Doc Emrick, who went from calling lightning-fast hockey games at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games to describing slow-paced water polo in London?

Pride of Jamaica

11 – Can you imagine an Olympic athlete more perfectly named than speedster Usain Bolt? If communications giant Sprint hasn’t approached him yet with an endorsement, what can they possibly be waiting for?

Stereotype breaker

12 – There are hundreds of great personal stories at the Olympics, but is there better one than John Orozco’s? The son of a retired New York City sanitation worker, the Puerto Rican-American gymnast grew up in the Bronx and bagged groceries at a local bodega to help with the family’s finances. Certainly an atypical background.

AWOL spectators

13 – Can there be any doubt that future Olympics must have a plan in place to quickly fill unused blocks of VIP and sponsor seats?

Regal presence

14 – Has there ever been an Olympics with more royals in evidence, starting with the queen’s dual opening ceremony appearance – both in person and in that taped James Bond sendup? 

Filling big shoes

15 – Who has the necessary gravitas to replace Mike Krzyzewksi as coach of the men’s team of multimillion-dollar US basketball stars? And will NBA Commissioner David Stern succeed in limiting Olympic basketball to college-age players?

16 – How hard must it have been for women softball players to watch the Olympics, and to cope with the fact that their sport was booted from the Games after the 2008 tournament in Beijing? (Reportedly, it was voted “off the island” in a secret IOC ballot out, partly because softball was not seen to be as internationally competitive as desired.)

Olympic hopefuls

17 – If all the sports knocking on the Olympics door, waiting to get in, which might stand the best chance? Lacrosse? Roller sports? Or possibly mixed-gender Ultimate Frisbee?

Looks like a Pringle

18 – How happy must Kellogg’s be that people have taken to referring to London’s Olympic velodrome as The Pringle because of the building’s bowed roof? That’s a lot of free advertising for the potato chip-like product Kellogg’s only acquired earlier this year.

Sporting reminder

19 – Given the shameful tanking of matches in badminton by eight Asian players looking to gain better medal chances by losing preliminary matches, should the Olympic oath be recited before each event as a reminder to athletes in all sports? The oath calls for competing “in the true spirit of sportsmanship, for the glory of sport and the honor of our teams.


20 – Whenever athletes ties for third place, as happened with American gymnast Aly Raisman twice, is it really that important to resort to some arcane tiebreaking procedure? Wouldn’t it simply to be better to reward two bronze medals?

Comical moment

21 – Has there ever been a funnier predicament for an Olympic VIP than that experienced by good-natured London Mayor Boris Johnson, who got stuck suspended above Victoria Park  while riding on a zip line? Johnson, the chief cheerleader for the Games, was waving two Union Jacks and having a ball when the malfunction occurred.

Pair of Michaels

22 – Since Michael Phelps has said on numerous occasions how much he admires Michael Jordan, would Jordan be well advised to connect with Phelps in some way? Perhaps by making him a partner in running the NBA’s lowly Charlotte Bobcats. Phelps would bring a winning aura, even if just as public ambassador.

Net height

23 – Is it time to raise the height of the net in men’s volleyball? The top of the net is shade under eight off the floor, yet there are seven-footers playing the game. Russia’s team is actually taller than the men’s US basketball team.

Team branding

24 – Was there a more inspired idea for naming a national squad than calling Great Britain’s medal-wining contingent Team GB?

Amazing marksman

25 – How inspiring must it have been for the world’s visually challenged population to learn that legally blind South Korean archer Im Dong-hyun won a gold medal while setting a world record?

Environmentally friendly

26 – Will London’s decision to build large, recyclable temporary venues for some sports lead to more such facilities at future Olympics? The Basketball Arena, nicknamed “The Mattress” because of its appearance, is the largest temporary arena ever constructed for the Olympics. After the games parts of it will be reused or relocated. 

Spitting image

27 – Was that Dominican gymnast who spit in her hands before vaulting possibly influenced by the batting routine of David “Big Papi” Ortiz, the Dominican slugging star of the Boston Red Sox, who spits on his batting gloves between pitches?

On-route race watching

28 – Did any TV coverage put viewers more in the middle of the action than that provided in the cycling road races? The shots from a motorbike were a testament to high-speed driving skills and fearless camera work.

Royal couple

29 – Wouldn’t you love to know what the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (Will and Kate) most enjoyed watching as they made their Olympic rounds – that is beyond cheering for fellow royal Zara Phillips in the equestrian competition?

Stunning scenery

30 – Will there ever be another Olympic host city that makes such spectacular use of its urban backdrops as London?

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.