Thursday, August 28, 2008
Sämsta sedan 1896
Here's a list of some individual things that went wrong for Sweden, or are otherwise shameful in some way:
—Ara Abrahamian, the Greco-Roman wrestler who was a victim of knowing the rules better than the referee did. He should have wrestled in the gold medal match, but instead wrestled in the bronze match so that he could gave up his medal in protest. (The day after the closing ceremonies, the wrestling court ruled in his favor.)
—Susannah Kallur, a popular hurdler who was favored to win, hit the first hurdle in the semifinal race. She was interviewed by an SVT reporter immediately afterwards, and under continual pestering cried a little bit. "For heaven's sake, leave the poor woman alone!" I shouted at the TV. Turns out many other people did too: SVT got lots of angry mail, and the whole story headed the media for days. There were newspaper interviews how awful it was that a TV reporter made her cry, and then they interviewed Kallur's mother to ask how she felt about it, and then Kallur herself, and then the reporter, to ask him to defend himself... it was an amazing feeding frenzy, almost American in its scope.
—The women's soccer team left the tournament after their quarterfinal loss to current world champions Germany, who played badly in every game except against Sweden. And on a related note, while talking about the soccer tournament on the late-night wrap-up show, commentator Rickard Olsson said about Team Germany that it was hard to feel sorry for them, you know, after that whole Hitler thing. SVT is conducting an investigation...
—Carolina Klüft, apparently bored with years of dominating the heptathlon, entered only her worst events, triple jump and high jump, and did miserably.
—Stefan Holm, a known-to-be-prickly-and-perfectionist high jumper who just couldn't get it together.
—Sailing team Fredrik Lööf and Anders Ekström thought they were finishing in second place, but a judge said that they were in third place. The team only had a couple of minutes to lodge a protest, and since they thought they had finished second, they didn't. Their protest at not being able to file a protest is still underway, I think.
—Swimmer Therese Alshammar had a "wardrobe malfunction" right before her swim. (Link does not go to pictures!)
—Skeet shooter Håkan Dahlby, who shot the vey worst he ever has in a competition and was in tears afterwards.
—A Swedish taekwondo referee was kicked in the head (on purpose) by the Cuban he had just ruled against.
Swedish TV coverage was good. They did show lots of Swedish athletes, of course, but also showed finals and semifinals of event in which Sweden had no players/teams. There were no stories that I could tell of athletes overcoming hardships and "Doing it for their little brother Timmy, who has a deadly but heartwarming disease," as Wait! Wait! put it. On the other hand, post-hoc coverage of Sweden's failures was thorough and merciless.
One thing they did that I really liked was that in the early wrap-up each night, they had a biomechanist, a sports psychologist, and a practical philosopher (!) discussing the day's events, and often with a guest commentator as well to talk about about specific events. The ones we saw included boxing, wrestling, swimming (plus an explanation of how the suits work), diving, and most hilariously, the triple jump, featuring a slow motion re-enactor on wires.
So it's always a little sad when the Olympics is over—when else do you get to see so much handball?—but on the other hand, now we can get away from the TV and get back to work, school, and blogging...