|All Points West: Itís only another Games, right?|
|June 17, 2016 Frank Marquez|
Since itís right around the corner, letís talk about the Olympics.
The World Health Organization said June 14, Tuesday, the games should go on as planned, according to news reports. Athletes and spectators, except for pregnant women, should not hesitate to go as long as they take precautions against infection with the Zika virus.
Good. I plan to be watching it from the safety of my home.
Meanwhile, the U.S. gymnastics team is loading up for bear. If you donít know the name now, you might after a fortnight of competition when the world meets in Rio de Janeiro in August. Simone Biles, all 4-foot-9 of her, is the clear favorite to bring home gold, in fact, several gold medals. She does all her training out of Spring, Texas, at the World Champions Centre. According to a few sources, other gymnasts say her talent outdistances even former favorite Gabrielle Douglas from Virginia. Bilesí contemporaries say all other U.S. gymnasts will be vying for silver, because what else is there?
In other news, the number of Olympic Games has grown from nine sports in the first event in 1896, to 28 to be contested in this yearís competition. While the International Olympic Committee dropped baseball and softball in favor of golf and rugby, for the purpose of limiting the number of teams and athletes, Iím miffed. The boys of summer, out? Iím sure that it had something to do with world viewership, and the bottom-line gate, not unlike how professional sports works here in the United States. Show me the money! Interestingly, several sports bodies that include a three-on-three basketball, BMX cycling, a triathlon, and judo, have applied for the 2020 games in Tokyo. Another unique sport vying for exposure was the Chinese martial art Wushu, which for the fanís sake, missed making the list. It was a showcase sport in Beijing in 2008, but thatís not how the Chinese billed it. At any rate, wise counsel said there was already too much in the way of combat sports.
U.S. Olympic swimming trials, scheduled from June 26, Saturday, to July 3 in Omaha, Nebraska, will feature everyone who is someone in the nautical world. Donít think about buying a ticket. The event has been sold out for all eight days of competition. Thereís a small chance you might get a glimpse of the pool though. CenturyLink Center Omaha will sell 200 standing room only tickets for both the preliminary and evening finals sessions, prices ranging from $15-$40. Look for the usual cast to be there: Anthony Ervin, Michael Phelps, Missy Franklin, Natalie Coughlin, and Ryan Lochte.
The United States basketball team is expected to announce its 12-man roster later this month.
Mike Krzyzewski of Duke University will join with Jim Boeheim of Syracuse, Tom Thibodeau of the Minnesota Timberwolves, and Monty Williams of Oklahoma City Thunder as part of a coaching tour de force. Letís just hope that someone on the team listens to them. There will be few notable players from the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers teams currently playing in the NBA Finals. The Warriors had a 3-2 advantage at press time. Game 6 is scheduled for June 16, Thursday, and a possible Game 7 scheduled for June 19, both games televised on ABC. Check local times. Conspicuously absent from the U.S. team roster, Stephen Curry withdrew himself from consideration. Otherwise, his superstar counterpart LeBron James will only have a few weeks to rest before the first practice at training camp on July 17.
Always a favorite and a mainstay in the games, track and field, which usually dominates the sporting news in the second week of the games, will decide who goes and who stays at the trials in Eugene, Oregon, on July 1-10. Why doesnít this happen year round? We get such flukes as the Jamaican bobsled team who get their 15 minutes of fame. Look among the 200 or so athletes, like Kara Patterson, whoíll fire a javelin, or Ashton Eaton, whoíll likely compete in the Decathlon. Either one of these athletes could be on a Wheaties cereal box at the end of August.
When it comes to boxing, there are more layers involved. To reach Rio, virtually every American boxer must first win at the U.S. menís trials, where only one boxer in each weight class can advance to the Olympics. In doing so, according to the ESPN story describing the arduous process, they must fight and win a minimum of four bouts over six days. Going the consolation rout, the number of bouts could increase to seven bouts in a week. There are exceptions. For example, because Lightweight Carlos Balderas has a high ranking in the World Series of Boxing, he does not have to fight in the trials, thereby already disqualifying the lightweight champion. If Balderas cannot fight for some reason, then and only then, will the trials champion step forward.
As for the hoopla, the games in Rio wonít be as spectacular as the ceremony in London nearly four years go, but thatís what British tabloid, The Guardian reported. Its report cited how the test event at the velodrome was cancelled because there wasnít a track for the cyclists to race on. Dress rehearsals? Whatever happens, the Games will go on.
Regardless, weíll be here for every shining moment, from the lighting of the torch to the final billion-dollar pageantry of the closing ceremony. Tune in August 3-21. Check out nbcolympics.com/full-schedule for details.