Olympic History with BMX racing

Be a part of Olympic history by watching the BMX racing tonight!  It is the BMX debut at the Olympic games, and it is a whirling exciting sport to watch.  You won’t regret it.

Olympic Halfway Point: I’m still feeling very Olympic Today

Six days before the Olympics started I posted some things to watch as the Olympics approached. It’s now my unofficial Olympic midway point, so I thought why not check in on the list…With another week to go, I can’t wait for even more moments from these Beijing games. 

Could Michael Phelps Do It?

UM…YES!!!

Phelps did the improbable, some thought impossible and won eight gold medals at a single games. He’s become the most decorated athlete in Olympic history and has changed sports forever with his accomplishment. In the moment, it’s easy to consider a Phelps win automatic, but history will look back on this as week of dominance unsurpassed in sport. 

Will air pollution remain a story?

Well, kind of. 

The weather has been so rainy in Beijing this week that particulate matter and smog have been less of an issue than at one point was feared. But there’s still another week to go and track and field is set to take center stage. 

What will US Olympic ratings be?

Looking at these numbers, the Olympic games have thrilled NBC thus far. With the Phelps drive for 8, the women’s gymnastics, and Dara Torres amazing efforts at age 41, this week had east coasters staying up late. 

Yao Ming is a national hero. 

It’s now clear (at least to me) that China will love Yao Ming no matter where the Chinese Basketball team finishes up. Ming was the flag bearer at the opening ceremonies, and with good reason. He is a national hero and his pride for his nation and his people was palpable both then and during the US/China basketball game earlier in the week. 

Will we be able to look at the Olympics the same way again?

I asked if in the age of steroids, would we watch amazing athletic achievements and not wonder if chemical enhancement was the cause. The accomplishments of Dara Torres of Michael Phelps might have been questionable, but for two things. World records fell with ease this Olympics. The new swimsuits and the fast pool are being credited with the increased speed. Second, Torres and Phelps voluntarily participate in an increased drug testing program in an effort to prove they’re clean. So far we’ve watched and I have believed….

Michael Phelps, American Story

One of the interesting aspects of the Beijing Games is the continuing drama of east meeting west. While I was one of the many that marveled at the collective effort of the Chinese opening ceremonies. I have watched genius Chinese diver Guo Jing-Jing and the Chinese gymnastics teams win gold.

There is a remarkable contrast in American sports. Michael Phelps is the quintessential American sports star. Joining the recent ranks of Tiger, Lance, and Jordan, Phelps is another example of what Americans hold dear in their heroes. Our heroes are driven, focused, and determined, much like the the Chinese. The big difference-our heroes are an all volunteer army. While the Chinese are compelled at a young age to their given trades. Our sports heroes choose their path, and long for dominance. We admire their dedication to simply being the best at what they do. Our sports heroes may have been pushed by their parents, but our government doesn’t falsify their passports to make them fit age requirements or pull children out of their homes to train for greatness.

Our heroes are made, not born. Made in America.

Olympic Tragedy-Stabbing in Beijing

In what appears to be a random act of violence two Americans were stabbed in Beijing. For more on their identities go here. The assailant killed himself shortly after the incident. For more see MSNBC

China Opens Olympics

I can’t come up with a clever title for this post. Its the morning after and I am still completely blown away by China’s efforts in their wonderful opening ceremonies. At once a history lesson, a celebration of culture, and a show of brute discplined force, the Chinese elevated the Opening Ceremonies presentation to a definition of country in an artistic form. 

 

A recap is beyond my capacity and certainly isn’tnecessary. The flawless use of human artistry (dancers that paint a landscape with their strokes, man-powered raising and falling blocks, a thousands of illuminated dancers creating perfect

 circles and doves) and technology (the Olympic Rings woven into an LED fabric flown above the stadium, a 500 foot long LED screen that unrolled over the floor, a projection surface that wound all the way around the stadium). After the parade of nations, the Olympic flame capped off the night with a lighting ceremony at included a famous Chinese athlete literally flying around the stadium to light theultimate Olympic flame. Director Zhang Yimou created an artistic spectacle unparalleled in it artistry, spectacle, and sheer scope. 

China wows the world

I am a lighting designer by trade. My background is in theatre and TV, now I work in architecture. It’s late and so I will have a fuller post tomorrow, but anyone not blown away by what the Chinese were able to accomplish with their opening ceremonies just wasn’t watching. 

What a way to say hello to the world China. Congratulations.

Americans in Glass Houses……

A recent poll showed that over thirty percent of Americans polled are not interested in the Olympic games. I have no idea whether these numbers are typical or not, but it got me thinking about the “China backlash” these games might recieve.

It’s far too simplistic and ethno-centric to be surprised at the restricitve nature of the Chinese government now. When the IOC was considering China, specifically Beijing, there was an appropriate time to lodge complaint.

While we liberals here in America rail against the human rights violations of the Chinese government (and we should) we should stop expecting it to change for a magical two weeks during the games. We also need to stop punishing the Chinese people for the acts of their restrictive government. The people of China are immensely proud of their culture, their people and their traditions. While there is much that we would see improved about China, no one in their country protested when Coca-Cola branded the Olympic torch. All societies have flaws.

It is ironic that some in the west have chosen now to protest, now to become indignant. We don’t stop and think of the possible human rights violations that went into our super-cheap goods at the local Wallmart. We don’t hesitate at picking up that oh-so-cheap H&M jacket. We watch movies on $50 DVD players. It has been our acceptance of cheap goods like these that has allowed this restrictive regime to open enough spigots of capitalism to enjoy an economic resurgence on an epic scale-while at the same time elevating millions out of poverty. I am no apologist for the Chinese government, but I think it is egotistical and elitist for the richest nation in the world to criticize the Chinese when the working poor in this country have no healthcare, stagnant wages, poor educational access, and even limited access to food. 

Every location that hosts the games puts a unique stamp on them. The games have been held in Berlin, Moscow, Rome, and Munich every one of those games became a reflection of our changing world and society at the moment they were held. The Beijing games now join the pantheon of world spectacles. A new moment where one flawed, under explored, culture puts it’s best face forward for two weeks. We should embrace them into the world community, expect better of them, but also of ourselves.