Tuesday, July 03, 2012

A contrarian's view on the Olympic trials!

The best moments for me at Olympic trials was both Jason Lezak and Allison Schmitt.

I love Allison Schmitt's "all-or-nothing, go-big-or-go home," and of course her "turn-and-burn-and-go-ballistic," approach to swimming. It's refreshing to see someone completely unmeasured and primal in regards to how they approach the pool.  Will Rebecca Adlington or Federica Pellegrini chase her or will they swim a metronomic pace ignoring the turbulence well off in the distance?

The Italian in me says Pellegrini will say "game on" and we will be treated to the best race of the Olympics.

Jason Lezak finds out the next day he's an Olympian. The emotional bell-curve on that one was extraordinary for me that day. I admire his fortitude, his ability to shake off rejection, to stay focused and deliver. His work ethic and what he has contributed to American prestige within the Olympic movement will be talked about for decades.

Michael Phelps: It's official: I completely underestimated his greatness. I just thought he was simply just the "greatest swimmer ever" rather than an adjective that transcends that overused phrase called "greatness." We may never see a swimmer like Phelps evermore.

I am in awe as to how a person can spend 1/4-of-the-time preparing himself for the Olympics when compared to the time his noble competitors spent and still be able to "hand most of them their bums" when the horn goes off! That is just jaw dropping.

I was "schooled" in a hour long conversation about Phelps by an Olympian... Actually it was only 6-minutes worth but he went over the same 6-minutes ten-times in a row....  (Silver medalist, Montreal in an IM relay.)

Then Mark Savage spoke to me about what Phelps possibly had to give up to be the best. It was actually very depressing. When you break down, it probably works out to be most of best experiences one can have in life. For instance, I went to my first dance when I was in the sixth-grade. I kissed my first girl when I was 15. Perhaps experiences like that or the social equivalent were largely postponed, delayed or never happened for him? Maybe that is why he wants out? 

If Phelps wins a "mere" three-or-four gold medals in London... Well, the city of Baltimore should erect a larger than life bronze sculpture; (say like 15-feet tall), and create a square around it for people to mingle. Call it the Michael Phelps Square as a reminder that a regular guy from Baltimore, albeit overactive, possibly socially awkward too, can rise up and do something nobody else will ever be able to do after following through on a decision he made as an 11-year-old child. 

Anthony Ervin has an amazing attitude and was quite inspiring: he leaves the sport in 2000, cashes in his medal for $17,101 and gives it to the Tsunami efforts circa 2004. The first word that comes to mind when I think of his approach to life and sport is... Zen.

Yes, he is a swimmer, a rocker, and a humanitarian and I look at him as source of inspiration as well.

Ryan Lochte: He deserves all the success he has garnered. I hope he makes a fortune and I hope he keeps it too. He can put together a solid interview. He is charismatic, charming, and legitimate. He should be selling people in my demographic $5,000 Jaeger LeCoultre timepieces and starring in movies rather than wearing shoes with wings or high-tops made out of "kryptonite". He should forego the "grills" too and concentrate on selling Toyotas and eventually the Lexus brand. He could be formidable personality. (Look up Kathy Ireland; she is worth $350-million dollars now which is more than Martha Stewart and it all started with a line of Kathy Ireland socks.)

Rebecca Soni is a good sport and she looks pretty in pink. Her breaststroke seems effortless but as usual, a craftsman always makes thing look easy. I love it that she goes to USC but I hate it that she loves Ayn Rand. 

Rickey Berens: I was so rooting for him and he made it. Happy guy too. Soni got a good catch!

Melissa Franklin: Wow! Honesty and enthusiasm drips off her like hot fudge off a Sundae. Impressive talent too and the whole package is refreshing to see as well. I thought people like that only existing on TV circa 1964. Her parents did a great job; well done guys!  BUT... here it comes:  it frustrates me how much money people will make off of her goodness, honesty and integrity. I define this as exploitation for the money she is currently raising for a "non-profit" governing body is not a non-profit in my opinion. 

Dara Torres: Dara got more people into Masters Swimming than Michael Phelps. Dara, please reconsider retirement and swim one FINA meet a year - make the finals and inspire middle age women on the shopping network to look as good as you.

Janet Evans: You're heroic, fun and an icon! - I love your book too. Perhaps you and Mark Schubert should start a club?

Amanda Beard & Craig Lord: Thank you both for putting me on the radar! 


Anonymous said...

"Amanda Beard & Craig Lord: Thank you both for putting me on the radar!"

jaja.. sorry, what has Amanda Beard to see with Craig Lord?

Tony Austin said...

One of my first blog posts was critical of Beard posing nude in Playboy and USA Today linked to me.

danthefiddleman said...

And what about Jessica Hardy? The world-class breaststroker comes back after her 2008 Olympics debacle to qualify in two freestyle events.


Don't get me started about Missy Franklin. It began feeling creepy after about the 5000th time they talked about MISSY FRANKLIN to the neglect of just about everyone else. The producers of the Olympic Trials coverage obviously thought they'd found the perfect church-going, God-fearing, heartland-dwelling, family-loving, all-American girl who would be palatable to a large audience. The perfect figurehead for the team. Someone who you'd never catch sucking on a bong (or anything else for that matter).

I hope that she does well in London, but I'm sorely tempted to root against her to spite NBC.


P.S. Did you notice how they covered Teresa Crippen? If I recall correctly, I first saw her in the 200 fly semi. The commentators mentioned that she came from a family of swimmers. Period. In the final, they finally said something about Fran, but only that he had "drowned." Like it was his fault. They didn't want to disturb the waters with any ripple of controversy that might reflect poorly on USA swimming or the United Arab Emirates or, God forbid...


Tony Austin said...

As for Teresa Crippen - Accurate observation!

Open water swimming is more dangerous than boxing and MMA put together. FINA and USA Swimming have done nothing scientific whatsoever to find both a safe water and safe air temp mixture to swim in.

Anonymous said...

Tony Austin said...
One of my first blog posts was critical of Beard posing nude in Playboy and USA Today linked to me.

jaja.. and for "Cry" Lord?

Yo comentaba en una página de natación de mi país. Allí advertí que Lord aprovechaba cualquier ocasión para despreciar a los nadadores españoles.
España no es una potencia en natación pero la saña que ese empleaba cuando escribía de la natación española era intolerable: salvo una nadadora que le gusta, el resto es mierda.
Parecía que tuviera algo personal contra nosotros y yo lo puse a parir. No sé si él leía ese blog o fue coincidencia pero desde entonces moderó sus críticas.

Tony Austin said...

I am NOT surprised. Oh, he goes after the Italians too.

He showed up on this blog to criticize me and we tore him apart.

Liliana said...

I read this on Lochte's official site:

"On day 2, Lochte was at it again, beating Phelps in the 200m freestyle, showing the world a piece of what he plans on bringing to the London Olympics.The talented swimmer is definitely impressing millions of people, exceeding even his own expectations so far in the trials. Read more [...]"

Someone should inform them Lochte lost that race, or, they deliberately lie to their naive fans.

Tony Austin said...

HAHAHAHA! YEAH, Let's inform them. :-D

I am doing a post of your letter, and I am posting a photo of President Harry Truman holding a newspaper that says "Dewey Beats Phelps" Instead of Dewey Beats Truman.

Like Ryan Lochte, a newspaper was so sure Dewey was going to win they published the "results" so as to get in front of the public first.

Liliana said...

There is more of that..this is from "Lochte unfazed by challenge of tackling Phelps" article:

"Lochte beat Phelps in the 200 metres individual medley at the 2009 world championships in Rome then did it again at last year's world championships in Shanghai, and beat him in the 200m freestyle as well."

We all know Phelps didn't even swim 200 IM in Rome...

Tony Austin said...

ROTFL - I got to add that too.

Tony Austin said...

Please send a link

Liliana said...

Lochte unfazed by challenge of tackling Phelps


Ryan Lochte: A new legacy


Bill Ireland said...

Its interesting to see your new more complimentary opinions about Phelps. I am not as surprised by how he did. He stayed casual for 3 years, didn't overtrain and then really punched it this year. That was a much better strategy than Ian Thorpe's full retirement followed by trying to recapture everything in a single year. Its actually what he did last time too although last time he punched it up for the 2007 worlds unlike this time.

His dropping the 200 Free makes a lot of sense from an energy conservation standpoint. With heats, semis and finals, he is still going to have 14 swims but they space out better. I still don't understand Lochte's choices in events--why he went for the 100 fly and not the 100 back is something I don't understand. Lochte is going to have 13 swims, and its going to be very challenging for him to get Phelps in the 200 IM after swimming the 200 back. Not smart scheduling for someone who is 27, not 23 like Phelps was in Bejing. Should be a fun meet though.

liquidasssets said...

Pellegrini and Adlington will give Schmitt the races of her life, but you forgot Muffat, who is a threat to beat them all and sweep the 200-400-800.I agree that it's cool to see Schmitt take it out and hang on, though. Negative splits are great but they always leave me wondering if they could have gone faster had they paced it differently.

Tony Austin said...

OF COURSE! I forgot the French! Stupid me.

The French will be as lethal as the Chinese in 2012

Amit said...

Wow, well its no secret that Phelps was dialing it in after Worlds in 2009. But I don't see the point of calling out your teammate 2 weeks before the Ollympics!

First-time Olympian rips Michael Phelps’ work ethic | Fourth-Place Medal - Yahoo! Sports http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/olympics-fourth-place-medal/first-time-olympian-rips-michael-phelps-ethic-163142038--oly.html

Tony Austin said...

WOW! His comments were 99% accurate but his timing was off. He should have said this last year.

I am told by somebody whose name I can't mention that when Phelps does make it to the pool, he works extraordinarily hard.

WIth that in mind, Phelps in my opinion has squandered his political power and some of his legacy due to burn out.

Tony Austin said...

... and a good deal of potential income as well.