Though sports rarely capture my attention for more than a fleeting moment, something happened this year during the Olympics that got me hooked. Almost every day I would find myself checking the medal counts, and reading about the myriad events, many of which I’d never heard of. The fact that it was streamed live on the internet was a huge factor in my short obsession. I watched some of NBC’s coverage, but their America-centric programing left out so many things. On the web, I got to see almost every event, some quite bizarre.
The strangest for me was sprint cycling. I’m still not sure of the rules. I don’t quite understand why they lazily meander around the track, watching each other like a couple on a romantic bike ride, before bursting into the sprint the sport’s name promises.
Of the sports you don’t often see, my favorites were water polo and canoe slalom. Those water polo guys (and ladies) seem like the most fit people ever, treading water while shoving each other and throwing a ball around, whizzing past your face. Gotta be tough. I thought I’d really enjoy fencing. It’s sword fighting! But their tiny weapons were too thin to tell what was going on properly.
Surprisingly, I also enjoyed regular, non-beach volleyball. The bigger teams meant longer, more interesting vollies, and more wowing saves and whatnot. One of the most engaging events I got to see was the US vs Canada women’s soccer semi-final. Entertaining to the end. I watched the men’s basketball final, but the over-enthusiastic officiating made it too disjointed to be as entertaining as it could’ve been.
I tried to entertain my newly found Kenyan pride, but they certainly weren’t impressing, other than David Rudisha’s world record in the 800m. Their only other gold was in the men’s steeplechase, which is the country’s specialty it seems. They did considerably better in Beijing.