Sunday, August 10, 2008

Day 2 RECAP: USA-China Rivalry Intensifies on the court

It's been more than 12 hours since Michael Phelps won his first Olympic medal and a lot has happened since then, and it was all part of Day 2 at the Games of the XXIX Olympiad.

USA defeats China in Historic Basketball Game
With a potential viewing audience of more than 1 billion people, tonight's game between the United States and China was a milestone in the history of global basketball. The "Redeem" team of the United States blew out China, 101-70, in a game that will be more remembered for the Chinese reception to the sport of basketball.

We all knew that China loves basketball, but viewers outside of China had never really seen it until now. While in a sports fan's aspect, this game was about the United States trying to win their first major international tournament since they won gold in Sydney in 2000, a global observer will note that this game had a much more significant aspect.

The game was a culmination of the rise of sport in China, a rise that is much taller than the height of Yao Ming. It was a much anticipated game that showed the power of sports at its best. Dignitaries like President George W. Bush and Chinese president Hu Jingtao were present at the 18,000 seat capacity Olympic Basketball Gymnasium. The talent and performance of the cout symbolized the harmony between two great world powers, as corny as that does sound.

More importantly, the game was a merge of two nations that loved basketball. While China was rooting for its host nation, there was no doubt that the Chinese loved watching the United States team. This game showed how much China loves basketball and the determination of both the team and its fans to make it to the medal round.

Let's bring this game back to a sporting aspect. The United States looked very fluid although they still have improvements to make. The game remained very close throughout the first half before Lebron James, Kobe Bryant and the rest of Team USA pulled away in the third quarter. Much improvement was seen in this national team compared to their performance four years ago in Athens or even two years ago at the World Championships in Japan. From their performance today, it is clear that the U.S. is back and determined to win gold.

For more on today's game, click on this link at Yahoo! Sports.

U.S. and China tied in medal count at end of Day 2
The United States and China each have eight total medals at the end of competition on Day 2 of the Olympics, though China is well ahead of the U.S. in the gold medal count. Here are the top 5 standings:

Country Gold Silver Bronze Total
China 6 2 0 8
USA 2 2 4 8
South Korea 3 2 0 5
Italy 1 2 1 4
Russia 0 3 1 4

While the United States was able to claim a gold, silver and two bronze medals at the swimming competition earlier today, China was able to get golds pretty much everywhere else.

China began what could be a full domination of the diving competiton when the team of Guo Jingjing and Wu Minxia won gold in the 3m Synchronized diving final. The two will face each other in the individual 3m event. Meanwhile, China also won gold in judo and shooting while winning silver in archery's women's team final, an event dominated by the Koreans.

In other gold medal finals, Thailand's female weightlifter with a really long name (Prapawadee Jaroenrattanatarakoon) won gold in the women's 53kg weightlifting final. Italy's Matteo Tagliariol won gold in fencing's men's individual epee final, an event dominated by Europeans. And in the women's cycling road race, drenched riders raced through the streets of Beijing and Great Britain won its first gold medal of these games behind British rider Nicole Cooke.

Preliminary matches and games continued in many sports. In men's soccer, the United States was seconds away from clinching a spot in the knockout round when a foul led to an equalising free kick by Gerald Sibon during injury time. The 2-2 tie with the Netherlands sets up a must-win game with Nigeria on Wednesday as both nations are tied at the top of the group's standings. Argentina, Italy and Brazil all advanced to the next round following respective wins in today's preliminary matches.

In men's basketball, Greece fell flat to Spain in a rematch of the Men's World Championship game held two years ago. With a lack of offense, Greece lost to Spain by a score of 81-66. In other action, Lithuania stunned the defending gold medalists Argentina after Linas Kleiza shot a three-pointer with 2.1 seconds left to give Lithuania a 79-75 win.

James Blake advanced to the next round in a rain-soaked opening day of tennis competition that saw only nine matches completed. Michael Phelps advanced to tomorrow morning's semifinals of the men's 200 meter freestyle while his teammates swam a world record in the preliminaries of the men's 4x100 meter freestyle relay. China led the scoring in qualiications of women's gymnastics while the United States dealth with injuries on their squad but was able to qualify for Wednesday morning's finals.

I've decided to add some little details that I thought may be interesting to you as we progress through these Olympics, watching them on television and online as well as reading the latest results of wire services.

1. Anthem Cut Short
During Michael Phelps's medal ceremony, the United States national anthem started late and was then cut off. Phelps just smiled as the crowd cheered his win with him, not knowing what do. After the morning finals session, the anthem was played again to make sure there are no more glitches. After all, it is an anthem that will be played many times at the Water Cube over the next several days.

2. NBA on NBC jingle is back for Olympics
During today's USA vs. China basketball game, NBC used its famous John Tesh jingle used in NBC broadcasts when it used to show NBA games years ago. Brought back a lot of memories...

See Music of John Tesh is eternal

3. Watching with you live from New York (not China)...
I guess NBC is on an honesty policy as I have heard multiple broadcasters say during the Olympics coverage, we are watching with you from our Olympic studios in New York. At first, I thought, should they be saying that? Then I remembered that they are being honest with us. While we appreciate the truth, I'd rather hear from announcers live in Beijing, but I guess that's too much to ask.

I'm trying to get better at these recaps and updates so bear with me, because I, too, am reporting live from my apartment in New York. NOW Sports will be back later today to preview Day 3 of competition. For now, I'll get some sleep.

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