Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Thurs Aug 7: Less than 24 hours until the Opening Ceremony...

We've looked at baseball, softball, soccer, basketball, gymnastics, track and field and swimming as well as NBC's planned broadcast and online coverage for the games. With only less than 24 hours until the Opening Ceremonies, let's take a look at some of the top Olympic stories in some of the biggest sports that we haven't looked at.

1. Chinese Domination of Diving
In Athens 2004, the Chinese nearly swept all of the medals. Of the eight available sets of medals in Athens, China won six gold medals, as well as two silver and one bronze. Guo Jingjing is one of the favorites to win gold in the 3m Individual and Synchro competitions after winning the last four world championships in those events and the gold in Athens. Qin Kai could pull off the same kind of victory in Beijing when he competes in the springboard competitions. He dominated in Melbourne last year and he is poised to do the same this year.

The only one that may have a chance to upset the Chinese is Russia's Gleb Galperin, the only non-Chinese gold medalist at last year's world championships. Meanwhile, Canada's Alexander Despatie and American Laura Wilkinson are trying to write comeback stories in Beijing. Despatie was recently named to the Canadian Olympic team after his fractured right foot sufficiently recovered last week. Wilkinson, now 30 years old, won the platform event at the U.S. Olympic Trials and looks to get a medal after placing fifth in Athens four years ago.

2. Possible Federer-Nadal Final in Beijing Appeals Tennis Fans
Tennis fans have a lot to look forward to at this year's Beijing Olympic Games as Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have the potential to meet each other again in an epic final, this time with an Olympic gold medal at stake. After last month's epic Wimbledon final, many will wonder whether Nadal can win the elusive triple of French Open, Wimbledon and an Olympic Gold Medal, all in one summer. But some may believe that Nadal may be too worn out from the year to win a gold medal, or even make the final.

Meanwhile, Federer is looking for a gold medal as well. After Federer was ousted from the second round in Athens, the Swiss flagbearer is looking to avenge his grand slam losses to Nadal with a gold medal in Beijing.

China may have a lot to cheer for as well in the sport of tennis. Zheng Jie is China's best chance to win a gold medal after becoming a semifinalist at this year's Wimbledon. China is also the defending gold medalists in women's doubles.

For more of an Olympic Tennis Preview, visit this link at

3. Sarah Hammer looks for top cycling prize in Beijing
Track cyclist Sarah Hammer of the United States retired prior to the Athens Olympic Games to focus on other things but decided to come back after realizing that she has a legitimate shot at a medal. She is the reigning world track cycling champion and multiple gold medalist at the world championships. But the one thing that she hasn't had her hands on is an Olympic medal and she hopes to get one in Beijing.

Meanwhile, Mark Cavendish is looking to follow up his success at the Tour de France with a medal in Beijing. The British rider that won multiple stages in France this year on the road will be making his pursuit for gold on the track in the Olympic Velodrome.

Look out for the Australians, however, to dominate the track while the Swiss is most likely to grab gold in mountain biking. And BMX Cycling is looking to grab the attention of young viewers across the globe as it makes its debut in Beijing.

4. Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Look to Dominate the Sand
This sport is apparently so hot that the finals have been placed in the morning so that it can be broadcast live in primetime. And the primary reason why is because of the United States team of Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh and their dominant success in the past four years. After capturing gold in Athens, they are currently in a 101-match, 18-tournament winning streak. On the AVP Tour, they have won every single tournament that they have entered.

But the Chinese may very well be a threat as they have had several wins in multiple FIVB women's tournaments. Wang Jie and Tian Jia are the second ranked team in the world on the FIVB tour and lost to May-Treanor and Walsh in the 2007 World Championships. Besides the Chinese, never forget the about the Brazilians. They were in the finals of both the men's and women's finals in Athens and just seem to be naturally good in volleyball.

5. Chinese National Pride
While I don't think that politics and the Olympics should ever combine, we can't ignore that it does. These games mean so much to China as the communist nation tries to polish their image and give the nation that has been known for their harsh policies on human rights and their suppression on protests a much more positive spin. China is a rising economic power that looks to celebrate their recent global power success with these Olympic games. Prior to 2001, China has been seen as an isolated country. Now the nation with a rich and long cultural history seeks to open its doors to the world and share its new found success with the rest of the globe.

More importantly, these games will serve as a test for the Chinese government to see how they will react to criticism, especially on their policies regarding Tibet, human rights and pollution. How the people of China will react to these games are important too. A lot of sacrfices were made by the Chinese people for these games and we'll see if it is all worth it by the time these games end.

So those are the top 5 stories to look out for throughout the Olympic Games, which now stand at less than 20 hours away. Come back here to NOW Sport Daily more frequently as the games approach.

No comments:

BEIJING 2008 Tentative NBC Schedule (BLOG POSTS BELOW...)