Enigmatically entitled “Call of the Wildman- Goonies Style,” in an apparent hat tip to local Kentucky hero/television celebrity Turtleman. Enjoy…
Do you want the good news or the bad news first? If you said good news, you’re wrong. You always ask for the worst news first. Always.
So, here it is. It’s not looking too good for the U.S. in badminton, guys. The men’s doubles team of Howard Bach and Tony Gunawan lost to Keat Koo and Boon Heong Tan of Malaysia, 21-12, 21-14. It was the U.S. team’s second straight loss in group play and basically eliminated them from advancing in the tournament. The duo will play again on Monday, facing Naoki Kawamae and Shoji Sato of Japan. Rena Wang, representing the U.S. in women’s singles, will also play on Monday, facing Xin Wang of China.
Oh, Tony, always the jokester.
Ready for the good? Diving! Kelci Bryant and Abby Johnston were the surprise silver medalists in women’s synchronized springboard three meter event. It was the first medal finish for U.S. diving since 2000 and the country’s first ever medal in synchro (as the young, hip divers call it).
For a thorough Day 2 recap from the Chicago Tribune, click here.
Lexingtonian Lee Kiefer advanced to the quarterfinals of fencing today with a 15-9 win over Canada’s Monica Peterson and later, a 15-13 victory over South Korea’s Gil Ok Jung. Kiefer, who competes in foil and is ranked fifth in the world entering the Games, is the youngest competitor in the event at age 18. She will face Italy’s Arianna Errigo in the quarterfinals later this morning.
Catch this t-shirt!
Let’s hope that the USA men’s basketball team can find their way to their first game on Sunday. The team has apparently run late for their events the past couple of days, showing up at the wrong gates before seeing the basketball arena on Thursday and before their opening press conference today.
See Anthony, this is how you raise the roof.
That’s okay for now- hey, more pictures of players in sleep masks on busses!- but they’ll need to arrive on time for their game Sunday against France (9:30 am ET). Although Joakim Noah is out with an ankle injury (either that or the Brits banned his hair from the country), Tony Parker should be recovered from his eye injury and a formidable opponent at the point for Team USA. Aside from Parker, France’s other key players include Boris Diaw (team captain, 6’8” forward, and all-around glue guy), Nicholas Batum (lengthy forward whose most valuable contribution will be his defensive skills, especially when matched up against LeBron and Kobe), and Kevin Seraphin (John Wall’s teammate on the young Washington Wizards who’s still improving and is tough as nails).
With Team USA as the gold medal favorites, most figure France and Argentina to be the most competitive matchup in Group A. However, France is widely considered a medal contender, and Team USA will need to show up in full force to walk out with a win. And on time.
With the Opening Ceremonies set to tip off (kick off? blast off? I don’t know, I’m used to working in sports metaphors) tonight at 7:30 pm ET, I figured it was time for a handy update post. Below are the links for KSRC’s Olympics previews, with more to follow in the coming days. U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!
@KristenGeilKSR for running commentary during the Opening Ceremony, live from Pazzo’s.
Earlier this week, five-star power forward Chris Walker committed to Florida, joining his AAU teammate Kasey Hill (a five-star point guard) and prompting Mrs. Donovan to call the bakery right away. The two are ranked seventh and sixth in their class, respectively, prompting many recruiting analysts have been quick to crown Florida the number one recruiting class in 2013.
It’s still way too early to label Florida the best 2013 recruiting class in the SEC, let alone the nation- especially when John Vincent Calipari is involved. Kentucky has secured only one commitment from the class of 2013, in-state power forward Derek Willis, but the Cats are expected to land multiple other players in the top ten- the Harrison twins, Jabari Parker, and Andrew Wiggins are all major possibilities, with James Young widely expected to be the first to commit aaaaaaany time now (seriously, James, let’s go).
Come to Papa.
Still, even though there’s still a lot of recruiting to be done, Florida is already being talked about as title contenders- and strangely, I’m a fan of this. I think it’s refreshing to hear about a rival SEC team on the national stage, and I’m ready for a little more excitement in the SEC than we had last year. If Florida maintains its status as our “rival” on the SEC schedule (which is currently up in the air), we’d have two marquee games on our conference schedule (one of which that would be at Rupp) that could potentially be top-ten match ups. Add in the Billy the Kid vs Coach Cal storyline with the freshmen phenoms and best basketball teams in the conference, and you get a ton of national exposure, big-game experience, and preparation for the post-season- all of which are things Coach Cal strives for when making the schedule.
SEC basketball has had its reputation beaten down a little bit in the past couple years. Realistically, Cal can’t get every recruit that catches his eye, and if we can’t have them, I’d rather the recruits go somewhere else in the SEC to strengthen the conference overall and give us some quality basketball to watch. Our non-conference schedule will be ridiculous in 2013, and it’d be great for the momentum to carry us into a strong conference schedule. Steamrolling the SEC last year was a blast, don’t get me wrong- but let’s add some drama to 2013.
This may have been the background on my phone for awhile- pictures of Olympic divers’ faces in midair. Tell me you’re not LOLing.
I was a pool rat growing up and spent many a summer on the swim team. While I was willing to attend the eight am practices way out Iron Works Pike, I was not so thrilled when my mother made me do diving team as well. I was never one of those kids doing backflips with reckless abandon, but I WAS that kid who spent far too long testing the board for appropriate bouncability level. I had to be bribed with an ice cream cone to participate in my first dive meet, and after hitting my head on the board while attempting an inward dive, I was pretty much convinced that diving would kill me if I continued. In short, I was (am) kind of a chicken. So, for the good of my future college scholarship, I quit- but not before I did a back dive off the high dive to regain some of my dignity. My little sister, on the other hand, became famous for being the first bikini-clad five year old to win the belly flop off the high dive contest on the fourth of July one year. I’m an embarrasment to the family.
Now that I’ve eased you in with a funny picture and a personal moment(don’t you feel like we know each other better now?), Olympic diving is a step up from the swim team days. There are four events for men and women each, eight total- 3m springboard, 10m platform, 3m synchronized springbroad, and 10m synchronized platform. Synchronized diving truly baffles me. Truly. At least with swimming, you can see the people around you and you have a routine and music to keep you on track. With diving, it’s such a series of split-second, minute movements that I physically cannot comprehend how it’s possible. Also, how do the divers know when to start their dive? Does one of them get to count down? These are important questions and I will not rest until they are answered.
Anyway. the USA is sending eight individual athletes and three synchro pairs, and the Americans have something to prove. Traditionally, we’ve been the cream of the crop in diving; however, the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave was shut out of medals in both the Athens and Beijing games and have been on a downward slide since the mid-90s. And guess who’s creeping up to take our medals? THAT’S RIGHT- CHINA. Basically, this sport will be China vs. the World. The Chinese have won 13 out of 16 gold medals in the past couple Games. Even Canada has won more medals than use with three silvers in the recent Games. That doesn’t sit well with me.
USA’s best shot at a medal may be in the men’s synchronized 10m platform. Nick McCrory and David Boudia earned three perfect tens out of six dives in the Olympic diving trial finals (Boudia’s dimples are also a perfect ten in my book, but that’s beside the point). Troy Dumais and Kristian Ipsen are also an interesting team to watch, if only for the age difference; Dumais will be entering his fourth Olympics, while Ipsen isn’t even 20. USA diving should be on an upswing, and they’re optimistic about their chances.
Other divers to watch internationally: hometown boy Tom Daley, who SHOCKED THE WORLD by winning the 2009 world title at the tender age of 15, and Qui Bo of China, who practiced as a little kid by jumping off trampolines into sofa cushions (I did that too, but somehow I’m not an Olympic diver. Ugh). Alexandre Despatie of Canada has somehow made it to the Olympics in one piece- no seriously. He’s had a broken foot (still finished second in springboard in Beijing four months later), and he also had to have surgery to reattach some of his scalp after hitting his head on the diving board last month and also suffering a concussion. On the women’s side, Chen Ruolin of China (who is four feet eight inches… good gracious) has dominated since she started competing at age 13, and Tania Cognatto of Italy will be going for gold in her last Olympics at the ripe old age of 27.
Olympic diving kicks off with women’s synchronized 3m springboard on July 29 and ends with the sure-to-be drama-filled men’s 10m platform finals on August 11. Consider yourself informed.
If I make it through this post without ONE explicit joke about shuttlecocks, I’ll consider it a success.
So, badminton. I happen to consider myself something of an expert on the sport. I mean, we had the two week course in high school gym like every other school in the state, but my knowledge goes far beyond the elementary. In fact, I am a college-educated badminton player. That’s right. Upon receiving my first semester schedule at Transylvania University (oldest school west of the Alleghenies!), I noticed that I was enrolled in a half semester of badminton. What luck! For three hours a week, I received a liberal arts education in the sport. My peers and I were schooled in the sport’s history, critically analyzed the advantages and disadvantages of serving first, and held thought-provoking debates about synthetic versus natural shuttlecocks (Tha-…but… eeek… JOKE SUCCESSFULLY WITHHELD).
Not really. Mostly we just played badminton a lot.
You get surprisingly sweaty playing badminton for an hour.
Back to the Olympics. I’ll break it down, mathematical. Five events (men’s/women’s singles, men’s/women’s doubles, mixed doubles). 172 athletes (three from the USA). Mix of group and knockout play (drama!). July 28-August 5. And, Asia.
Yup, Asia generally dominates the world in badminton (side note: what is it about badminton and table tennis that makes Asia kick our ass so consistently? You can’t say racquet sports, because we’re better at tennis. I just want to know!). Since the event’s inception in 1992, Asians have won 69 out of 76 events. That’s a lot. China, in particular, is the favorite nation this year with four of the world’s top-ranked players out of the five events (the men’s doubles team is ranked number two). China could easily sweep all five events. Read that again to fully comprehend. I’ll wait.
… Good? Okay, proceeding to the video portion of this blog. May I present to you, defending gold medalist Lin Dan: the world’s greatest badminton player and the sport’s closest thing to a celebrity. He’s a southpaw and apparently nicknamed Super Dan. Get it? Like Superman? It took me a second. Okay. Highlights.
But you know what’s even cooler than his badminton skillz? HE’S A REBEL! A BAD BOY! A bad boy in a sport known in the U.S. for its prevalence at garden parties, no less! Who knew that was possible? Dan once allegedly punched a coach after a bad call. Not only does he punch other people’s coaches, but he once punched his own coach at training camp! Forget long rallies with the shuttlecock (pause), I want to see a fight! I want to see Lin Dan hit Prince Harry with his badminton racquet! I’m all worked up just thinking about it.
Enough about Lin Dan. Enough about Asia. On to some other tidbits.
-USA is represented in men’s doubles and women’s singles. Howard Bach and Tony Gunawan will pair up in their attempt to SHOCK THE WORLD- which could conceivably happen, seeing as how they won the 2005 World Championship- the first ever gold medal for the USA in badminton. Rena Wang recently won a gold in women’s singles for the 2011 Peru International Badminton Championships. Bach is Vietnamese, Gunawan was born in Indonesia, and Wang speaks Mandarin- hopefully our melting pot approach gives Team USA the chance to compete with China, etc.
-In mixed doubles, EnglandGreat Britain (how American of me) has a hot-shot duo in Chris Adcock (BITING MY TONGUE SO HARD) and Imogen Bankier. The pair will look to ride the home court advantage, which has spurred them on in previous instances. They’re only seeded tenth and coincidentally, have only been playing together for ten months- but Adcock is a lefty and Bankier is a righty, making them a tricky matchup for opponents.
-And finally, in news of the weird, Australia’s badminton team suffered food poisoning today at the team’s training camp in England. They are expected to recover by Thursday. No word on which London food was the offendor, although knowing their culinary reputation, I’m sure the possibilities are endless.
Well, that was fun. Let’s do it again sometime, only with diving. I promise less sexual innuendos will be involved.
Start preparing now. Digger Phelps will be in attendance when UK hosts Florida for College Game Day. He’ll also make stops at Assembly Hall and the Yum! Center, but I’m not sure he can expect the same… er, hospitality from Indiana and Louisville that he’ll get at Rupp.
Is it to early to suggest the student section start coordinating “LISTEN TO ME!” chants? Should signs be involved somehow? Fatheads? Or have we moved past Fatheads into the next inevitable fad? (Fatbodies? Full-body cutouts? I don’t know. I’m not an undergrad) Either way, rally, students. Rally for the cause.