Monday, June 30, 2008

Back for Good: Euro 2008 in review and Second Week of Wimbledon

So I'm back after last week's test run, and it's time to get serious.

This is the NOW Sports update for Monday, June 30, 2008:

Euro 2008: Spanish Victory Concludes Exciting Tournment
Spain defeated a heavily favored German side in yesterday's final in Vienna, Austria after Fernando Torres scored the game's only in the 33rd minute. This is Spain's first major victory in 44 years, during which Spain had come close but was never able to succeed in winning a European or World Cup championship. This is also the first time since France won in 1984 that a team won all of its group stage matches and went on to win the championship.

The Spanish side totally dominated the game, with many big opportunities and close calls while the Germans, who had previously won three European titles and three World Cups, barely came close to even scoring a goal. For Michael Ballack, it was another opportunity missed and he'll likely have one more chance in two years at the World Cup in South Africa.

The final put to an end a great tournament that was highlighted by the Cinderella-like run of the Turkish team, who always scored late goals to progress through the championship. It's unlikely that we'll forget their epic performance against Czech Republic in their last group match when they scored three late goals to overcome a 2-0 deficit. Nor is it likely that we will forget how they beat Croatia in penalty kicks in the quarterfinals or the scare the Turks gave the Germans in the semifinal.

Amazingly enough, this tournament was at times heartbreaking, occasionally climactic, and never boring. For the occasional fan, it's a wonder how much time we as fans invested in the tournament, even though the English didn't qualify this time around. Much of the thanks here in the United States can be given to ESPN for their coverage that made EURO 2008 more accessible than it ever has been.

So thanks to Austria/Switzerland for being great hosts, and thanks to the European soccer teams for making this a tournament that soccer fans won't soon forget. On to 2012, when Poland/Ukraine will have their turn to host Europe's biggest quadrennial sporting event.

Wimbledon's Second Week:
Today is coined as the greatest day of the year in tennis as ALL Round of 16 matches are being played today at Wimbledon. So theoretically, the top 16 men and women that made it this far will have played today at the All-England Lawn Tennis Club.

At the time that I am writing this, Venus and Serena Williams have already advanced to the quarterfinals of these championships. The Williams sisters seem to be our only hope for a good American showing this year after no American men were able to progress through to the second week of Wimbledon.

Meanwhile, attention continues on a possible Federer/Nadal matchup in the final and Nadal is looking better than ever on these grass courts while Federer continues to succeed on his best surface. Some other men's players to look at: Andy Murray (Britain's only hope for a title), Rainer Shuettler (who seems to be making a comeback of some sort after making it to the Aussie final 5 years ago), and Marat Safin (who defeated Djokovic earlier in the tournament).

Notes on the women's side: Jelena Jankovic was the latest victim of the upset syndrome that seems to have plagued many big stars of this tournment. She lost to Tamarine Tanasugarn, a 30-year-old player from Thailand who will next face Venus Williams. This is the farthest that Tanasugarn has gotten at Wimbledon or any other grand slam.

U.S. Olympic Trials: Gay Runs Fastest 100m Ever (Sort of)
So at the Olympic Trials in Track and Field at Eugene, Oregon, Tyson Gay was able to make the Olympic Team after winning the men's 100m final with a time of 9.68 seconds, the fastest time anyone has ever ran a 100m in any condition.

However, it doesn't count as a world record because he ran with a tail wind of approx. 4 meters per second, two meters over the allowable tailwind. Still, 9.8 seconds is pretty fast.

World records did fall, however, at the Swimming Olympic Trials in Omaha, Nebraska. Michael Phelps swam a world-record time of 4:05.25 in the 400 meter Individual Medley on the opening night of the trials. He outswam his friend Ryan Lochte who kept up with Phelps until the final 50 meters where Phelps won it off of the last turn.

Katie Hoff also broke a world record following her swim in the 400m Individual Medley. She swam a time of 4:31.12, breaking the record set by Australian Stephanie Rice three months ago. At age 19, Hoff will certainly be one to watch in the upcoming Olympic Games. Tonight's finals will feature swimmers in the women's 100m butterfly and 400m Freestyle as well as the men's 100m breaststroke.

That's today's update, I'll update you guys again tomorrow, hopefully bright and early.

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