From Slate, some speculation that Caster Semenya sandbagged the 800 meter final in order to avoid further gender-related scrutiny.
After the race, track and field aficionados questioned her tactics. The BBC’s David Ornstein said it appeared that Semenya “had more left in the tank.” His story quoted BBC commentator Kelly Holmes, who won this event in the 2004 Olympics, suggesting that Semenya hadn’t made her best effort: “She looked very strong, she didn’t look like she went up a gear, she wasn’t grimacing at all. I don’t know if her head was in it, when she crossed the line she didn’t look affected.” Meanwhile, Sports Illustrated senior writer Tim Layden tweeted that Semenya “seemed oddly disengaged most of race and not tired at end.”
I watched the race and Semenya’s finish was odd…she made her move super-late and was moving at a tremendous pace when she crossed the line. Had she worked her way up to the front before the final turn, she may have beaten the field by several lengths.
Update: Here is a more nuanced analysis of Semenya’s effort in the 800 meter final.
Perhaps there is nothing to her performance other than that she runs a more even pace than her rivals.
A comparison between her semi-final and this race is interesting in this regard. In that semi, she went through 400m in just over 58 seconds, 600m in about 1:28 and then closed the final 200m in 29.5s, looking like she had something in reserve.
Tonight, she went through 400m in 57.69s, then through 600m in about 1:27.1, and then closed in a touch over 30 seconds. My point is, her performance in the final was slightly faster at every stage than the semi, until she closed slower over the final 200m. To finish SLOWER than she did in the semi implies that she has little reserve and that she is closer to the limit than she looks. She wasn’t actually that fast over the final 200m, it’s just that everyone else was very slow!
The WSJ is producing some homemade highlight videos of important Olympic events, sort of like what one of the Tenenbaum children might conjure up.
Nevermind that Marissa Mayer is a pregnant CEO…Malaysian air rifle shooter Nur Suryani Mohamed Taibi is set to compete at the London Olympics while eight months pregnant. Shooting with a potentially moving/kicking baby on board can’t be easy.
The International Olympic Committee does not keep records on the number of pregnant athletes, but a search of news reports suggests that only three other pregnant women have competed in the Olympics, all of them in the Winter Games. And Nur Suryani looks likely to set the record for the most heavily pregnant competitor in Olympic history.
Shooting may be less strenuous on a pregnant body than many other sports, but it is also a sport in which fortunes can hinge on fractions of millimeters, with breathing, balance and concentration considered paramount.
Nur Suryani has a solution when she steps onto the rifle range in London: “I will talk to her, say, ‘Mum is going to shoot just for a while. Can you just be calm?”’
But just when you are thinking “yay ladies”, consider that when the Japanese soccer teams flew to Europe on the same flight, the men sat in business class while the women were seated in coach.
It was precisely a year ago that the Japanese women’s soccer team won the World Cup, beating the United States in the final and giving a boost to the spirits of a nation that had been battered by an earthquake, a tsunami and a nuclear disaster.
But when they flew to Europe on Sunday along with the men’s team, the women were in coach seats while the men were up in business class. The Japanese Football Association said the teams had left Tokyo together on the same Japan Airlines flight.
“I guess it should have been the other way around,” Homare Sawa, the leading player on the women’s team, told Japanese reporters this week. “Even just in terms of age, we are senior.”
And don’t even get started on Saudi Arabia and many other Middle Eastern countries. Recent “progress” aside, these countries are still sickeningly misogynistic regarding athletics.
Update: Taibi ended up finishing 34th out of 56 in the qualifying round.
With the Olympics about two weeks away, consider this a final you-can’t-unsee-it reminder that the 2012 London Olympics logo looks like Lisa Simpson performing oral sex.
It’s not as bad as some of the others on this list (oh, that Mon-Sat logo), but it’s still exceptionally unforgettable. Enjoy the wall-to-wall Olympic coverage for the next two weeks!
I don’t know whether she still looks this fit or not, but Dara Torres is going to try to make the US swim team for the 2012 Olympics. At 41 in Beijing, she won three silver medals; she’ll be 45 when London rolls around.