Adieu, Olympians! Ten Greats We Say Goodbye to After London.

As the Olympics close, let’s take a look back at some of the champions Team USA has fielded over the years. Not all will be returning in four years to continue their glorious runs. Here are some of the Olympians we will miss most from international competition and the next Summer Games in Rio in 2016.

10. Coach Mike Kryzyzewski – Men’s Basketball

Coach K put the Redeem in Redeem Team. (AP Photo)

Coach K took over a foundering international program and brought it back to greatness, kicking a learning curve rather quickly in earning bronze at the world championships in 2006, then leading Team USA to win first the 2008 Beijing Olympics and then the 2010 FIBA World Championship. He melded members of both those championship teams into a dominant force here in London in 2012, and earned a gold medal in a close defeat of Spain in another epic final.

9. Kirsty Coventry – Women’s Swimming

Kirsty Coventry, Zimbabwe

This swimmer for Zimbabwe competed at Auburn and has won 7 Olympic medals all-time, though she finished out of the medals in London.

8. Todd Rogers/Phil Dalhausser – Men’s Beach Volleyball

Dalhausser, left, is a force up front in men’s beach volleyball, and he may return. But Todd Rogers is done in Olympics play.

It’s no guarantee that Phil Dalhausser will be back, but it’s likely. However, Todd Rogers’ Olympics career ended in the elimination rounds with a loss to Italy. Rogers, turning 39 soon, served as player-coach for his beach volleyball team with Dalhausser, and the pair dominated Olympic play in Beijing in 2008 as the No. 1 ranked team, winning the gold medal.

7. Kobe Bryant (and LeBron James?) – Men’s Basketball

Kobe was part of two gold medal-winning Olympic teams – here in London 2012, and the Redeem Team in 2008.

Various issues prevented Kobe from joining the USA Olympic Team until 2008 in Beijing, but he was a huge part of the Redeem Team’s performance returning the United States to international basketball glory. He doubled his medal haul with another gold today in London, and has said he will not compete in Rio.

There have been thoughts that LeBron James would not compete in four years, but that seems ridiculous.

6. Abby Wambach, Christie Rampone, Heather Mitts – Women’s Soccer

U.S. Women

Abby Wambach (right) and Christie Rampone (left), along with Heather Mitts, have been integral parts of incredible success for Team USA at the Olympics.

Who knows what the state of US Women’s Soccer will be in 2016 four years from now, or even what Wambach’s conditioning will be? We may have seen the last of her and others in the Olympics.

Rampone was there in 2000 when Team USA won silver, and saw Mia Hamm and the rest of the 90s legends off in 2004 when the USA won gold. She captained Team USA to golds again in 2008 and this year, finishing with three golds and one silver in leading the USA defense.

Heather Mitts hinted on Twitter that she was done playing soccer after winning the gold, and helped Rampone lead the defense in the last three gold medal performances in 2004, 2008 and 2012.

Wambach had one of her signature moments in 2004, heading in a goal in extra time to beat Brazil 2-1 to win the Gold Medal. Unfortunately, she broke her leg in the final game before the 2008 Beijing Olympics began and couldn’t compete, but she was back to help USA power to a gold medal in 2012, scoring a critical penalty kick goal against Canada in the semifinal.

5. Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman and the Fab Five – Women’s Gymnastics

USA women's gymnastics

From left: Maroney, Ross, Raisman, Douglas and Wieber put on quite a show, winning Team Gold and more in London. (Getty Images)

These two American women took the nation by storm during their dominance of the women’s gymnastics competition, with Raisman coming into the all-around final in the lead but Douglas clinching the gold for her own. Raisman would end up winning gold in the Floor event final and bronze on the beam, with McKayla Maroney winning silver on the vault final to go with the epic Team Final gold medal performance that won the hearts of many. There’s a chance Douglas, Maroney and Kyla Ross return, but there are never guarantees (as seen with Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin), and Raisman and Jordyn Wieber will likely be too old.

4. Natalie Coughlin – Women’s Swimming

Natalie Coughlin is tied with two other female swimmers – Jenny Thompson and Dara Torres – for the most Olympic medals by a female American athlete all-time. (CNN/SI)

Coughlin medaled once here in London – a participant in the bronze medal women’s 4 x 100m relay team’s qualifying heats. This was her 12th Olympic medal – tied for most medals by an American female all-time. She won SIX medals in 2008 in Beijing, the first American female to do so. In Athens in 2004, she won gold in the 100m backstroke and 4 x 200m freestyle relay, silver in the 4 x 100m free and medley relays and bronze in the 100m freestyle. In 2008, she won gold in the 100m backstroke again, silver in the 4 x 100m free and medley relays and bronze each in the 100m free, 200m Individual Medley and 4 x 200m free relay. A fantastic swimmer and co-captain of the swim team, she will be missed if she doesn’t return for Rio.

3. Misty May-Treanor/Kerri Walsh Jennings – Women’s Beach Volleyball

Kerri Walsh Jennings (left) and Misty May-Treanor lost only one set in three Olympics, never losing a match and winning three consecutive gold medals.

Golden again in London, Walsh Jennings is possibly coming back, but to watch her and May-Treanor dominate their sport, not losing a set until 2012 and NEVER losing an Olympic match, not even in group play, was one of the greatest treats over the last 12 years. They played with incredible verve, emotion and grit, often making nearly impossible digs and scores when they most needed it. Like other athletes known for intimidation and will, they could turn it on when needed and overcome seeming adversity to win when they needed it most. And they’ve come back from injuries and  even having children to continue this dominance. Utterly incredible. May-Treanor, who was iffy about competing in these Olympics to begin with, goes out on top after all.

2. Usain Bolt – Men’s Track and Field

Bolt lived up to his name, winning six golds in six events (four individual, two team). (Getty Images)

The superstar Jamaican runner will be 30 by the time the Rio Games roll around, and he’s said it would be “very hard” to compete at that time, at the level we’re used to from him. He’s been entertaining to watch, incredibly entertaining. Bolt, probably the most aptly-named athlete in recent memory, knows only the top of the podium at the Olympics. He was part of three World and Olympic Record setting performances in Beijing, winning gold in the men’s 100m, 200m and 4 x 100m relay with Jamaica. Here in London, he clinched both the men’s 100m and 200m gold medals, breaking his own Olympic record in the 100m (the world record had since fallen), and he helped set a new World Record in the Men’s 4 x 100m Relay Final, sweeping the golds with Jamaica for the second straight Olympics. Six events, six golds. Dominant in the fashion of another Olympic all-time great we’ll say goodbye to.

1. Michael Phelps – Men’s Swimming

Michael Phelps – the all-time greatest Olympic athlete. (Matt Slocum/AP images)

This needs no explanation. Phelps is the greatest Olympian of all-time. His 18 gold medals alone equal the next highest TOTAL medal hauls. He has 22 total medals, most all-time. His performance in Beijing in 2008 was super-superhuman, with the finish in the 100m Butterfly an all-time epic finish and his participation in the Men’s 4 x 100m freestyle relay one of the greatest moments in Olympic history. Even though he failed to medal in the 400m Individual Medley in London, he is unparalleled by any other athlete in modern sports competition for his dominance. Abbysinia, Michael.

Michael Phelps’ all-time Olympic Medals:

 

Gold 2004 Athens 100 m butterfly
Gold 2004 Athens 200 m butterfly
Gold 2004 Athens 200 m medley
Gold 2004 Athens 400 m medley
Gold 2004 Athens 4×200 m freestyle
Gold 2004 Athens 4×100 m medley
Gold 2008 Beijing 200 m freestyle
Gold 2008 Beijing 100 m butterfly
Gold 2008 Beijing 200 m butterfly
Gold 2008 Beijing 200 m medley
Gold 2008 Beijing 400 m medley
Gold 2008 Beijing 4×100 m freestyle
Gold 2008 Beijing 4×200 m freestyle
Gold 2008 Beijing 4×100 m medley
Gold 2012 London 100 m butterfly
Gold 2012 London 200 m medley
Gold 2012 London 4×200 m freestyle
Gold 2012 London 4×100 m medley
Silver 2012 London 200 m butterfly
Silver 2012 London 4×100 m freestyle
Bronze 2004 Athens 200 m freestyle
Bronze 2004 Athens 4×100 m freestyle

 

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Final Team USA Medal Tally from the London 2012 Olympic Games

Competition in the London Olympics has come to a close, and it was an incredibly entertaining and emotion-packed fortnight of sports. We saw a lot of incredible moments and feats of strength and agility. The London Games were fantastic, and now it’s on to Rio in 2016.

Team USA was dominant, winning the most gold and silver and total medals of all participating countries and finishing only to Russia in bronzes. The United States finished with 104 total medals – 46 golds, 29 silvers and 29 bronzes. China was second in the medal standings with 87, followed by Russia with 82, host nation Great Britain with 65 and Germany with 44. Both the U.S. and Great Britain had all-time best Olympic performances.

In team sports, Team USA saw fantastic gold achievements in women’s water polo, women’s soccer, women’s and men’s basketball, women’s gymnastics, with a silver finish in women’s volleyball. Team USA swept gold and silver in women’s beach volleyball and the men’s decathlon, the contest of 10 track and field events that traditionally touts the “World’s Greatest Athlete.” So by logic, the U.S. has the two greatest!

Fantastic individual performances by Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Missy Franklin, Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman, Sanya Richards-Ross, Allyson Felix and others netted multiple medals, and feats by shooter Kim Rhode, judo artist Kayla Harrison, wrestler Jordan Burroughs, swimmer Katie Ledecky and others were timeless moments.

Diver David Boudia won the first American gold medal in diving in decades. Harrison’s gold was the first EVER in American judo. Team USA extended its dominance in women’s basketball, winning a fifth-straight Olympic gold medal, the men’s team reiterated it intends to remain on top in defending its gold from Beijing, and Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings completed an incredible run together as teammates, winning  a third consecutive gold medal in beach volleyball without ever having lost a match in the Olympics.

These were the incredible stories all around that made for an incredible Olympics. Here is a list of all American athletes who medaled in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London. Feel free to click their names and learn their stories, see their results and even watch their performances one more time.

American Medalists in the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games

* – World Record
^ – Olympic Record
# – American Record

Note: Athletes who medaled for participating in relay or team qualifying rounds are denoted after semicolons; athletes who participated in medal rounds denoted before semicolons.

Archery (1)

Basketball (2)

Beach Volleyball  (2)

Boxing (2)

Cycling (4)

Diving (4)

Fencing (1)

Gymnastics (6)

Judo (2)

Rowing (3)

Shooting (4)

Soccer (1)

Swimming (31)

Men’s (16)

Women’s (15)

Taekwondo (2)

Tennis (4)

Track and Field (29)

Men’s (15)

Women’s (14)

Volleyball (1)

Water Polo (1)

Wrestling (4)

 

FINAL MEDAL STANDINGS (TOP COUNTRIES)

COUNTRY Athletes Gold Silver Bronze  Total
See names 46 29 29 104
See names 38 27 22 87
See names 24 25 33 82
See names 29 17 19 65
See names 11 19 14 44
See names 7 14 17 38
See names 7 16 12 35
See names 11 11 12 34
See names 13 8 7 28
See names 8 9 11 28
See names 6 6 8 20
See names 6 5 9 20
See names 1 5 12 18
See names 8 4 5 17
See names 3 10 4 17
See names 3 5 9 17

LIVE BLOG: Team USA vs. Spain, Men’s Basketball Gold Medal Game

It’s come to this!  The closing event of the 2012 London Olympics has USA Team USA taking on Spain Spain for the Gold! Check out my Game Preview Here. I’ll live blog here throughout the game. Stay with me, but watch LIVE on NBC and enjoy a great match-up!

GAME UPDATES:

FINAL SCORE: USA 107 – SPAIN 100. USA WINS GOLD!!! USA!!!  American players have found stuffed animals somewhere on the court, and they’re celebrating like kids. Loving it. Just loving it.

12:01 – Hardin misses one again, USA only up 7. but Davis with the clinching rebound! TEAM USA WINS GOLD!!!

11:58 – USA is celebrating but a dumb foul, this game isn’t quite over yet. Spain back to seven points down.  20 seconds left, James Hardin best free throw shooter in the game and he gets the ball. Harden hits one. 13 seconds, USA only up six points. Why are they celebrating? Hardin gets fouled again, he missed one before.

11:57 – Unibrow coming in, Bryant and LBJ coming off, Coach K thinks he’s iced it here. And Coach K showing rare emotion, and I love it.

11:56 – 1 minute left, Navarro has gone cold. USA up 9 points but CP3 has an absolutely phenomenal reverse lay-in!

11:55 – Bron’s three misses, but Kobe goes all out out of bounds to save it, back to CP3 who misses at the shot clock, but that burned a handful of seconds. Clutch.

11:52 – BRON BRON!  FOR THREE!!! Pau Gasol fouls CP3! MOMENTUM SHIFT!

11:51 – 2:45 left, Bron Bron SLAMS it in! Eight point lead.

11:50 – Three and a half minutes left. USA making some subs here. Desperately needed that timeout, can’t call one until a dead ball and they finally get the chance. James, Paul, Kobe, Durant and Love on the floor. LeBron is on Marc Gasol – both have four fouls, so they can’t afford to be too physical. Durant tips the ball out, good defense, then comes up with a rebound. CP3 draws Llull’s foul.

11:47 – Kobe misses an open 3 with 5 minutes left. Durant grabs a defensive board, USA up 8. Kobe gets the offensive rebound and puts it in! Melo may be hurt though. Navarro makes a shot., Spain back to eight down. Spain playing tough tough defense, and Kobe turns the ball over. Rudy finishes Navarro’s miss. Melo is very hurt and throws the ball away, and he’ll come out, James coming in.

11:45 – Pau back in, misses a J, Love with the rebound. Carmelo misses an open shot himself though, and Pau drives and draws a foul. He’ll take two, make one.

11:43 – USA has Melo, Paul, Durant, Love and Kobe on the floor, six minutes left. Kobe fouled on a three attempt, gets three shots. Kobe hits two of three. USA up 8., 6 minutes left.

11:41 – Kobe misses a three, but great play by Melo to tip the rebound out to Paul. Durant finishes the series with a 3, now has 30 points! 156 points in this Olympics thus far, that’s the most all-time for an American at one Olympics.

11:39 – LeBron with his fourth foul, getting Pau in the face. Dangerous situation here, LeBron has been important late in the game. Marc Gasol comes into the game, Love in for James. Spain miss, Durant rebound, but misses the open 3.

11:38 – Rare miscue by Paul, missing LeBron on the pass. Needed that momentum point.

11:37 – Timeout, USA up by six.

11:36 – Paul with another three! Yes he can score!  And he follows that up after a Spain miss with a beautiful shot, five points in a matter of seconds. Rudy Fernandez barrels into Paul to stop a third run, foul called.

11:35 – Start of Fourth Quarter, Paul, James, Durant, Bryant and Melo on the floor for USA. LeBron puts in the layup.

11:32 – END OF THIRD QUARTER, USA up one point 83-82.

11:30 – Iguodala in the game to spell LeBron and spare him some fouls. He fouls Spain to prevent an easy basket, good defensive play. Deron, Durant, Melo, Andre and Bryant in the game for USA.

11:28 – Durant hits an open three after Spain ties it. USA 83, Spain 80. Melo misses a three, both teams have missed last possessions.

11:27 – NBC CUTS TO A COMMERCIAL DURING GAME ACTION. THIS IS ABSOLUTELY UNACCEPTABLE. ABSOLUTELY UNACCEPTABLE. We just barely get back in time to see a Durant three, but Gasol answers and Spain is down two.

11:24 – Durant creates a shot, off-balance jumper falls and USA builds a three point lead. Kobe steals and draws a foul under the basket. Kobe, not LeBron, is taking over this game.

11:22 – The Lake Show here in London – Kobe drains a pretty three. USA up two, Love gets the offensive board but Kobe misses a three. James picks up his third foul on the other end on Ibaka, who hits one of two.

11:21 – KOBE DRIVES AND SLAMS! Calderon helpless. USA ties it at 68, then gets the steal. CP3 LOBS TO LEBRON!!!  BEAUTIFUL! That’s what we like to see, USA bringing back the power game. Gasol does hit a shot on the foul though and has a free throw to take the lead…good.

11:19 – LeBron one-on-one with Ibaka, the finger roll! Need to see more penetration like that from the King to open up the perimeter. Love knocks the ball out of Pau’s hands but gets called for the foul. I just don’t see why they called that.

11:19 – Why is Tyson Chandler guarding Jose Calderon? Mismatch, luckily Spain doesn’t get any points just yet. Love in for Chandler and immediately rebounds Navarro’s miss but misses his own three. He can actually hit those though. Gasol is dominating this game right now and works around Love for the lay-in.

11:18 – Questionable shot by James, Spain recovers and Pau slams it in for the lead. USA needs to be better at shot selection.

11:17 – There’s Pau Gasol drawing more fouls, though I question the actual contact, but it’s Chandler with the foul. With Love on the bench, we need Chandler to stay in this game. Spain down 1.

11:16 – USA hits two free throws, up four on Spain.

11:15 – CP3 for Three…WOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!  WOOO!!!!!!!!! WOO!!!!!!!!  Pau follows with a hook shot.

11:13 – START OF SECOND HALF – USA puts all five starters back on the floor, but Marc Gasol not in for Spain.

Switching updates to the top of the blog so when you refresh, you’ll see the latest updates!  Future live blogs, I’ll work to do it in this format, or incorporate a widget or plugin that does this automatically for me.

HALFTIME – USA 59, Spain 58

Halftime reactions:  USA has got to work on perimeter defense. Navarro is too clutch for our own good, and Fernandez is also capable of putting up points. USA is in good position size wise with Marc Gasol in foul trouble very early, but USA also has fouls of its own to consider, with Melo and Deron Williams having three each. Westbrook has been shaky, so Paul and even LeBron should take the point. Kevin Love has been great under the basket, his strong play must continue to ensure USA gets more scoring opportunities. Durant has been somewhat shaky as well, though he’s scored points, but he needs to hit those threes he’s taking.

Team USA has been close with several opponents in this tournament at the half, including Argentina, but generally pulls away late. If they can make adjustments out of the half, that could continue, but Spain is playing at a level they haven’t seen yet.

STARTING FIVE:

Spain SPAIN

C – Marc Gasol
F – Pau Gasol
F – Rudy Fernandez
G – Jose Calderon
G – Juan Carlos Navarro

USA TEAM USA

C – Tyson Chandler
F –  Kevin Durant
F – LeBron James
G – Kobe Bryant
G – Chris Paul

10:06 a.m.: Tyson Chandler challenges in the paint early and gives Team USA the initial lead. But Navarro hits a three pointer and draws the foul for the 4-point play. Durant answers with a three to retake the lead.

10:07 a.m.: Chandler playing cautiously here and Team USA is not double teaming the Gasols early, and Pau sinks a FG. James penetrates on the next series and takes a shot but misses, gets his own board and Durant ends up finishing on his own miss. Watch for the Americans on the offensive glass, they’ve been great thus far.

10:09:  Boy, maybe we were wrong about Navarro not being a scoring threat. Different games call for different strategies. He sinks already his second three from the perimeter. He’ll have to be reckoned with. But we have Durant, and he answers with another 3 of his own.

10:10: Buuuttt…Navarro is back. Spain gets two second chances and Navarro hits another 3. USA sloppy in the paint. Bryant hits a beautiful fadeaway three over Pau defending him. A little Lakers drama in London?

10:11 Durant draws what’s called an “unsportsmanlike foul” – essentially an Olympics technical foul. This game is going to get physical and chippy. USA will take two free throws and keep possession. Melo checks into the game for Chandler as USA decides to go smaller.

10:13 Just raining threes. Navarro hits another three, sandwiched between treys by Bryant and Melo. Spain is forcing the defensive emphasis to the outside.

10:15 Bron Bron playing some D, then facilitating the passing that culminates with an Anthony dribble and pull up J. Melo answers on the next possession after a Spain miss with another 3. Melo is scoring early and that’s important.

10:16 – CP3 and Deron Williams on court at the same time, USA needs to answer Navarro. CP3 on Navarro, but he still manages to drive and take a good shot, though it misses. Ibaka in the game for Spain, giving them a clear and menacing size advantage.

10:18 – Kevin Love in the game and factoring immediately with an offensive rebound. Russell Westbrook also into the game, and apparently he’s feeling okay after rolling his ankle in the semis against Argentina.

10:20 – Deron can hit threes, too! Spain keeping it close though, and Ibaka is a good size against Love, grabbing the board and draws a foul. Spain only down by seven points.

10:21 – Deron dishes to Love at the post and he puts it in for a 9 point lead, Spain timeout. USA 30 – Spain 21.

10:24 – USA has Westbrook, Durant, Love, Deron and Melo on the court and Spain was putting on a bit of a run, but Durant drains a three and that’s his 12th point in the first quarter alone. Deron takes a seat for Paul. Really sweet alley-oop finish by Rudy.

10:26 – AWESOME defense by Durant, breaking up a fast-break counterattack by Spain and then blocking a buzzer 3 shot by Pau Gasol to close the first quarter.

END OF 1st:  USA 35, Spain 27.

10:28 – USA keeps Melo, Durant, Love, Westbrook and Paul on the court. Rudy hits an open three to start the quarter and pull Spain within five. Rudy will score if he’s left open.

10:30 – Melo to the bench with two early fouls. Kobe and LeBron back in the game for USA. Melo needs to be careful, we need his threes. CP3 also has two fouls. Spain has drawn the most fouls in this tournament. Spain within one.

10:32 – There’s LeBron, driving and finishing past Ibaka. He may orchestrate the change of pace we need. Chandler is in the game but gives up a floater to Marc. CP3 and Chandler shoot for that patented Hornets alley-oop that we all miss in New Orleans, but it goes out of bounds. Spain has momentum.

10:33 – Spain’s Sergio Rodriguez hits a three after multiple passes and Ibaka is stuffed under the basket. Spain takes a two-point lead, 39-37. Chandler part of a double-T foul and sits for Love, who does what he does best on the offensive glass and finishes to tie at 39. Durant then with the steal and misses on the finish, but gets to the charity stripe. USA needs to hit all its free throws because they will not match Spain’s fouls drawn with a perimeter-heavy game.

10:35 – Durant hits both, pulls ahead 41-39. Spain quickly answers with an open 3 by Llull while Love has a foul under the basket, so Spain retains possession but then turns it over. Ibaka now sits with two fouls. LeBron to the stripe, and he hits two of two.

10:38 – Timeout, 6:24 left in the half. Spain leads by one. NBC says LeBron just passed Michael Jordan for the all-time lead in Olympic scoring. What an epic year he’s having – Finals MVP, NBA MVP, NBA Champ. Olympic champ?

10:39 – Durant hits the pull up AND one as Marc rotates over to defend, too late. Durant hits the free throw.

10:40 – Marc Gasol fouls Love attempting to get the offensive rebound. Marc has four fouls already and that’s huge for USA. Love is a master at boxing out opposing bigs. Durant missed an open three and while he has 17 points, he needs to be hitting the shots he’s given.

10:45 – Navarro finally misses a three, and Love draws another foul by Felipe Reyes. Love may be the linchpin to victory for USA. Both teams were shooting 52 percent from the floor before that miss. Love hits both, then takes a seat. USA goes with Melo, Durant, LeBron, Westbrook and and Deron, up three after Spain hits a triple.

10:45 – LeBron dukes Gasol into defending a three, then pulls in and pulls up for a beautiful shot. Spain misses and Navarro fouls Russell Westbrook, who makes one of two.

10:48 – Reyes fouls. Right now with Love and Chandler sitting, we have LeBron playing center. Amazing to watch this guy. Also amazing to see some of those Spanish fans in the seats, as NBC has been giving us plenty of zoom-in shots of. Bron gets a second chance on Anthony’s miss and finishes, USA up 6. And then LeBron gets the defensive rebound. Doing it all.

10:49 – Pau takes LeBron one-on-one and wins the battle, then Spain finishes off the attack. Sign of NBA Finals battles to come with the Lakers getting Dwight Howard? But there’s Deron with a three, yes he can hit them too! Spain down 7. James takes a seat, shooting 60% from the field.

10:51 – Deron fouls Rudy, and Spain will take shots as they’re in the bonus, that’s his third. Williams sits for Paul, which will allow Westbrook to focus on shots. He does but misses an open three, but there’s Love again under the basket, and he’ll go the line. Serge Ibaka comes back in the game. Love hits one.

10:53 – Gasol’s shot is short but Spain gets free throws after a foul on Anthony, his third. Ibaka is the one shooting them though, but he does hit both. Doug Collins on NBC isn’t happy with the frequency of these touch foul calls.

10:55 – Paul takes a chance beyond the arc but misses, and Spain misses to follow. Iguodala called for an unsportsmanlike foul on Fernandez. Rudy hits both and Spain gets the ball to close the half.

10:58 – Navarro has been an incredible force, scoring 19 points in this half, but can’t get a shot off as the buzzer ends. Team USA up 59-58.

 

Gold Medal Preview: Men’s Basketball, USA vs. Spain

Team USA will be looking at a Spanish language version of itself from four years ago when it meets Spain in the Olympic Gold Medal Game today at 10 a.m. ET (9 a.m. CT).

Back then, in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the Spain took the American Redeem Team to the brink in an epic Gold Medal Game many of us in the States – including myself – watched in the wee hours of the morning after stumbling in after a Saturday night out. That game ended 118-107, with Team USA returning to a Gold standard of basketball after a relatively poor performance netted bronze in Athens in 2004.

Familiar Foes

This Spanish team is arguably better than the 2008 version, and is looking for its own brand of redemption after such a hard-fought loss four years ago. The players are not unfamiliar with each other: they met in a pre-Olympics international friendly, a game which the U.S. won handily, and  the bulk of both teams’ impact players come from the NBA’s Western Conference.

Spain’s Pau and Marc Gasol (L.A. Lakers and Memphis Grizzlies), Serge Ibaka (OKC Thunder) and Rudy Fernandez (Portland Trailblazers/Denver Nuggets) have played with or against the United States’ Kobe Bryant (Lakers), Kevin Durant (Thunder), Chris Paul (New Orleans Hornets/LA Clippers) and Carmelo Anthony (Nuggets). Tyson Chandler (Hornets/Mavericks) and Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves) – Team USA’s biggest guys – both have experience playing against these guys too.

Size Up Front

Spain will feature the most talented size Team USA has come up against thus far, with the two seven-foot Gasol brothers capable of playing a deadly combo at center and power forward, and OKC’s Serge Ibaka also providing a defensive specialist off the bench. Expect the bulk of the minutes to go to the Gasols. Pau played more than 30 minutes in a double-double effort in the semifinal against Russia, grabbing 10 rebounds on defense and scoring 16 points, and Marc played just under 30 minutes, scoring 11 points.

In the quarterfinal against France, Pau Gasol played 32 minutes, collecting 11 boards and scoring 10 points while drawing 8 fouls. Marc also played 32 minutes and put up 14 points with 8 rebounds (7 defensive) and drawing 7 fouls. Spain does lead the tournament in fouls drawn, with the Gasols drawing on average more than five fouls per game. The primary question here will be can Chandler maintain a presence in the game without getting into foul trouble too early on, forcing him out of the game and the smaller Love into a defensive role against Marc Gasol. James will be charged with guarding one of the Gasols – likely Marc – and should not be underestimated for his defense. Having fresh bigs in the game longer and out of foul trouble will be key to freeing up James and the rest to focus on offense.

Spanish Weapons Not Named Gasol

Spain’s role players – Fernandez at the 2 guard, Jose Calderon and Sergio Llull at the point and Juan Carlos Navarro in the backcourt – are not as talented as USA’s Paul, Russell Westbrook and Deron Williams and its elite shooters, but they are still threats. Navarro has been nursing an injury and has played about 20 minutes the last two games, not posing a scoring threat but still capable of dishing out assists.

Calderon factored heavily into the hard-fought victory against taller Russia, playing 33 minutes and scoring 14 of Spain’s 67 points with three assists. He did post 4 personal fouls though, which is one short of fouling out in Olympics play. It remains to be seen if he can keep up with the more agile Westbrook, Paul and even to an extent Williams if they’re on the court at the same time. Llull played 20 minutes that game with Calderon in foul trouble.

Fernandez is the greatest threat of these three, known for his shooting ability outside – he hit three of seven three-point attempts against Russia, but he is prone to cold shooting nights like his 0-5 three-point performance against France in the quarters. He’ll be guarded by Bryant while he’s in the game, and Bryant has seen Fernandez in the Western Conference plenty of times. Williams will cover Fernandez if Rudy is on the court when (and if) USA runs its dual-guard rotation with Deron and CP3 on the court together, but you may see Durant playing some on him as well, depending on Spain and USA’s lineups.

Spain is shooting 50 percent from the field and averaging 78 points per game – a far cry from Team USA’s 117 points per game – but has the size capable of dealing with Team USA if it can be drawn into foul trouble early on.

Team USA’s Game Plan

Size isn’t the key weapon for Team USA in this tournament – it’s offensive firepower. It’s been largely the LeBron James show for Team USA. He and Paul have largely orchestrated the Americans’ transition game, driving the ball to the paint and either scoring or dishing to open snipers like Anthony and Durant. Team USA has feasted on three-pointers in this tournament, draining several in the fourth quarter semi against Argentina. Team USA has been remarkably adept in the paint,

It’s been little challenge for Team USA’s scorers to come up big when needed, and it’s been a different guy each quarter seemingly, with James providing the consistent threat, turning it on in key moments like the closing of the tight game USA played against Lithuania. James has averaged an impressive 5.9 assists per game, tops on a team with assist machine Cp3. James and Paul have been critical in the rebounding game as well – posting 5.9 and 5.6 boards per game.

That’s the role James has been asked to play in a lineup stacked with firepower. Durant and Anthony have been two of the most reliable scorers for Team USA – KD has averaged 18 points per game in this tournament and is shooting an awesome 56 percent from the 3-point line, but Melo isn’t to be outdone, averaging 17.4 PPG and shooting 53 percent beyond the arc. Bryant has provided the scoring lead at times as well.

Chandler and Love won’t be asked to shoulder the scoring load – that will come from the outside – but will need to provide some form of defensive presence against Spain’s bigs for as long as they can while helping out on the rebounding front. Love has been the rebounding force we’ve come to expect from his prowess in the NBA, bringing in 7.4 per game in limited minutes.

Keys to Victory

Team USA must make Spain work for its points without getting into foul trouble and giving them free passage to the free-throw line. Make Fernandez and to an extent Calderon beat you and complement the Gasols inside. Chandler hasn’t played much but will be asked to counter the Gasols as best he can in what time he can. Let James and Durant continue to focus on the offensive front – though there will be a mismatch favoring Team USA if the Gasols are guarding these guys on the other end of the court.

Team USA’s biggest threat in this tournament came in the Lithuania game, when they shot only 30 percent from the 3-point line. That can’t happen for the tournament’s most prolific 3-point shooting team. The Americans have attempted the most threes with a whopping 256, but they’ve also shot the best at 45 percent per game. That must continue – Anthony, Durant, Bryant and the rest need to continue to hit those shots.

The open look at the three will come from Paul, James, Williams and Westbrook to an extent off the bench continuing to penetrate into the paint. If the threes aren’t falling for Team USA, look for James to turn it on and take more shots on his own. Westbrook may be a key change-of-pace scoring threat.

See Ya, Coach

Worth mentioning is that this will be Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s final gig coaching Team USA in the Olympics and international competition. Coach K brought this team back from disarray after a disappointment in Athens, first winning the bronze medal in the 2006 FIBA world championships but helping lead the Redeem Team to gold in 2008, and clinching gold again at the World Championships in 2010. For a college coach, Coach K – who is second to none – has done a fantastic job managing NBA-size egos and bringing these guys together in a system that has dominated all competition. This was a much needed stabilizing presence for this program to return to its former glories, and here’s hoping his successor will continue that trend.

You will also probably see the last of Kobe Bryant in the Olympics, which is sad considering he’s been a force for Team USA and has been a strong supporter of the Americans in many other events, being a constant presence at women’s basketball, beach volleyball and swimming events. James and Anthony may also be done after two Olympics.

Prediction

USA took down Spain easily, 100-78 in Barcelona in a pre-Olympics exhibition, a game where James scored 25 and Anthony put up 27. Team USA pulled away late with its perimeter shooters, despite losing Chandler early to fouls, but this Spain team has had several games to improve, recover from injury and establish team chemistry. They haven’t been the greatest scoring threat in this tournament, but they are not to be overlooked until the final buzzer sounds. Still, I think Team USA has been shooting so well, and Love and James are up to the task defensively enough to keep USA in front at the end. It may be a tighter game through three quarters than we’d like, but James has displayed impressive dominance and stamina at the end of games, and I feel USA will have enough open shots near the perimeter to take this game and repeat as Gold Medal Champions.

Closing Time: Your Guide to the 2012 London Olympics Closing Ceremonies

You don’t want to say goodbye any more than I do, but all good things do indeed come to an end. But luckily, in a last-ditch effort to feed our insatiable need for Olympic spirit and international festive cultural interaction, there will be, as always, the Closing Ceremonies.

This year, the theme for London’s closing ceremonies will be “A Symphony of British Music,” and one has to wonder if icons like Elton John, The Rolling Stones or Ringo Starr – all missing from the Opening Ceremony – will make appearances here. One thing we DO know – the Spice Girls are back in full effect!

Speculation is running abound, but the band Muse and George Michael have confirmed they will participate, according to The Washington Times. Rumors also have Monty Python’s Eric Idle participating, which would make me really happy, and Adele is also a speculative participant. We shall see!

The Closing Ceremony begins LIVE at 4 p.m. ET (3 p.m. CT, 1 p.m. Pacific). The ceremony will be streamed live from NBCOlympics.com at those times, so if you can’t wait, check them out then, likely with the British broadcasts. NBC will indeed air the event in tape delay beginning at 7 p.m. ET and 6 p.m. CT, but the event won’t begin for Pacific audiences until 7 p.m. Pacific time. That’s an 8-hour wait for you West Coasters.

Refer here for a way to stream the events live.

Prepare to bid London goodbye!

2012 Summer Olympics – FINAL Daily Schedule for August 12 (includes Closing Ceremonies)

Well, it’s finally arrived. All good things must come to an end. These last two weeks have been incredibly fun, action-packed and memorable, and I don’t want them to be over. But we’ve got to move on.

But, for the final time, I’m proud to bring you the daily slate of events, so you can get your last fix of Olympics action in before we say farewell to London.

Basketball is king today, as King James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and the rest of Team USA look to silence any doubt they can’t handle the size of Spain in the Gold Medal Game, set to tip off at 10 a.m. ET/9 p.m. CT. Spain brings size in Serge Ibaka and Pau and Marc Gasol against the American sharpshooters, whose three-happy game plan was too much for Argentina to handle in the semifinals.

Track and field closes with the Men’s Marathon, in which three American men are competing. We also have two Americans each in the women’s Modern Pentathlon, men’s Mountain Bike Race and Men’s Freestyle Wrestling, the last of which begins with elimination rounds and culminates around midday with the bronze and gold medal matches if they advance that far.

Team USA also plays one final game in the pool, taking on Australia for bragging rights in the Men’s Water Polo 7th Place Match.

The world watches as medals are handed out in men’s water polo, volleyball and handball, and the Men’s Basketball Bronze Medal Match features Russia and Argentina, with both teams featuring NBA talent.

For the full slate of medal events, scroll down to the bottom. Rhythmic gymnastics and boxing also close today, but neither event features Team USA.

And with that, we bid the 2012 Summer Olympic Games of London adieu! I can’t promise I won’t cry. Closing Ceremonies will be streamed live online at NBCOlympics.com, and they begin at 4 p.m. ET (3 p.m. CT and 1 p.m. Pacific). NBC will indeed air the event in tape delay beginning at 7 p.m. ET and 6 p.m. CT, but the event won’t begin for Pacific audiences until 7 p.m. Pacific time. So just watch it online.

Refer here for a way to stream the events live.

 

(ALL TIMES CENTRAL)

Team USA 

* – Medal Event

  • 2:00 a.m.: Modern Pentathlon, Americans Margaux Isaksen and Suzanne Stettinius compete in the Women’s Fencing Event
  • 2:57 a.m.: Wrestling vs. BLR Belarus – Round of 16, American Jared Frayer competes in the Men’s Freestyle 66kg/145.5 lbs Division
  • 3:24 a.m.: Wrestling vs. UZB Uzbekistan – Round of 16, American Jake Varner competes in the Men’s Freestyle 96kg/211.5 lbs Division
  • 3:33 a.m.: Wrestling, American Jared Frayer may compete in the Men’s Freestyle 66kg/145.5 lbs Division Quarterfinals (pending earlier results)
  • 3:24 a.m.: Wrestling , American Jake Varner may compete in the Men’s Freestyle 96kg/211.5 lbs Division Quarterfinals (pending earlier results)
  • 4:18 a.m.: Wrestling, American Jared Frayer may compete in the Men’s Freestyle 66kg/145.5 lbs Division Semifinals (pending earlier results)
  • 4:36 a.m.: Wrestling, American Jake Varner may compete in the Men’s Freestyle 96kg/211.5 lbs Division Semifinals (pending earlier results)
  • 4:20 a.m.: Water Polo vs. Australia Australia, Team USA battles the Aussies for bragging rights and seventh place
  • *5:00 a.m.: Track and Field, Americans Abdi AbdirahmanRyan Hall and Meb Keflezighi run for gold in the epic Men’s Marathon
  • 6:35 a.m.: Modern Pentathlon, Americans Margaux Isaksen and Suzanne Stettinius compete in the Women’s Swimming Event
  • *6:45 a.m.: Wrestling, American Jared Frayer may compete in the Men’s Freestyle 66kg/145.5 lbs Division  Bronze Medal Finals (pending earlier results)
  • *6:54 a.m.: Wrestling, American Jake Varner may compete in the Men’s Freestyle 96kg/211.5 lbs Division Bronze Medal Finals (pending earlier results)
  • *7:30 a.m.: Cycling, Americans Todd Wells and Sam Schultz ride for gold in the Men’s Mountain Bike Race
  • *8:03 a.m.: Wrestling, American Jared Frayer may compete in the Men’s Freestyle 66kg/145.5 lbs Division Gold Medal Finals (pending earlier results)
  • 8:35 a.m.: Modern Pentathlon, Americans Margaux Isaksen and Suzanne Stettinius may compete in the Women’s Swimming Event (pending earlier results)
  • *8:48 a.m.: Wrestling, American Jake Varner may compete in the Men’s Freestyle 96kg/211.5 lbs Division Gold Medal Finals (pending earlier results)
  • *9:00 a.m.: Basketball vs. Spain Spain, Team USA goes for its second consecutive Olympic gold medal against its predicted final opponent, Spain, which features NBA players Jose Calderon and the Gasol Brothers, Pau and Marc
  • *12:00 p.m.: Modern Pentathlon, Americans Margaux Isaksen and Suzanne Stettinius may compete in the Women’s Combined (Run/Shoot) Event (pending earlier results; this is the decisive and final event in the Modern Pentathlon)

 

World Notables

* All are Medal Events

  • 3:30 a.m.: Volleyball, Bulgaria Bulgaria vs. Italy Italy, Men’s Bronze Medal Match
  • 5:00 a.m.: Basketball, Argentina Argentina vs. Russia Russia, Men’s Bronze Medal Game
  • 5:00 a.m.: Handball, Hungary Hungary vs. Croatia Croatia, Men’s Bronze Medal Match
  • 7:00 a.m.: Volleyball, Russia Russia vs. Brazil Brazil, Gold Medal Match
  • 8:30 a.m.: Water Polo, Montenegro Montenegro vs. Serbia Serbia, Men’s Bronze Medal Match
  • 9:00 a.m.: Handball, Sweden Sweden vs. France France, Men’s Gold Medal Match
  • 9:50 a.m.: Water Polo, Croatia Croatia vs. Italy Italy, Men’s Gold Medal Match

Medal Events

* – Team USA participation pending

  • 3:30 a.m.: Volleyball, Men’s Bronze Medal Match
  • 5:00 a.m.: Basketball, Men’s Bronze Medal Game
  • 5:00 a.m.: Track and Field, Men’s Marathon
  • 5:00 a.m.: Handball, Men’s Bronze Medal Match
  • 6:45 a.m.: Wrestling, Men’s Freestyle 66kg/145.5 lbs Division Bronze Medal Finals
  • 6:54 a.m.: Wrestling, Men’s Freestyle 96kg/211.5 lbs Division Bronze Medal Finals
  • 7:00 a.m.: Volleyball, Men’s Gold Medal Match
  • 7:30 a.m.: Cycling, Men’s Mountain Bike Race
  • 7:30 a.m.: Boxing, Men’s Flyweight Final
  • 7:30 a.m.: Rhythmic Gymnastics Group Competition, Final – Rotation 1
  • 7:45 a.m.: Boxing, Men’s Lightweight Final
  • 8:03 a.m.: Wrestling, Men’s Freestyle 66kg/145.5 lbs Division Gold Medal Finals
  • 8:15 a.m.: Boxing, Men’s Welterweight Final
  • 8:16 a.m.: Rhythmic Gymnastics Group Competition, Final – Rotation 2
  • 8:30 a.m.: Water Polo, Men’s Bronze Medal Match
  • 8:45 a.m.: Boxing, Men’s Light Heavyweight Final
  • 8:48 a.m.: Wrestling, Men’s Freestyle 96kg/211.5 lbs Division Gold Medal Finals
  • 9:00 a.m.: Basketball, Men’s Gold Medal Game
  • 9:00 a.m.: Handball, Men’s Gold Medal Match
  • 9:15 a.m.: Boxing, Men’s Super Heavyweight Final
  • 9:50 a.m.: Water Polo, Men’s Gold Medal Match
  • 12:00 p.m.: Modern Pentathlon, Women’s Combined (Run/Shoot) Event, final event of pentathlon

Yes We Can! Non-Olympic Sports We Need!

Watching the BMX races last night got me thinking. While I am actually really enjoying this cycling event, I figured, “Don’t they already have the X Games for this kind of event?” Why have something like this instead of baseball?

Then, following that line of thinking, I realize that soccer has the World Cup and tennis has its Grand Slams, and even baseball now has the World Baseball Classic. So I say, why not have BMX racing? The more the merrier really! I’ve got a fever, and the only prescription, is more Olympics.

So here are the five sports I think the Olympics really needs to add to the Summer Games slate, and soon! Wondering why golf and rugby aren’t on the list? They’re making their Olympic debuts in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro!

Parker’s Summer Olympics Additions

1. Baseball/Softball

Jennie Finch (here), Cat Osterman and others were regular sights on the Olympic softball fields, until this year. Bring them back!

BRING THEM BACK!!! NOW!!!

Baseball is my favorite sport, and it and softball by proxy are events I looked forward to every four years during the Olympics. It pains me and boggles my mind that these sports were removed from the Summer Games slate following the Beijing Olympics in 2008. They were removed on the basis of a lack of universality. I say that’s ridiculous.

Baseball itself has instituted a World Baseball Classic, which is sanctioned by the International Baseball Federation and features teams from around the entire world. The first two years it was played, 2006 and 2009, the Classic was won by Japan, but featured six different teams in the top four final rankings. The United States only placed fourth once, and it was joined in those six by Venezuela, South Korea, the Dominican Republic and Cuba. Baseball is incredibly popular in Southeast Asia, South America and the Caribbean; has international programs in Canada, Italy and Israel; and is featured in places like Australia and the Netherlands, as well.

IOC President Jacques Rogge said in 2008 that baseball and softball needed universality, a following and stricter sanctions by the world governing body on performance enhancing drugs, “When you have all that, you have to win hearts. You can win the mind, but you still must win hearts.”

Well, MLB is looking toward adopting HGH blood testing very soon and has already implemented the strictest drug testing program in all of American major sports. Since USA is the birthplace of baseball and the leading force behind the World Baseball Classic, it’s logical to assume the IBF will move to adopt those standards, if it hasn’t already.

As for capturing the hearts…please tell me how the Little League World Series doesn’t capture hearts, how perfect games don’t capture the hearts. International programs are working hard to merit inclusion in the World Baseball Classic, which will field 28 teams in 2013. They WANT to play. There is a desire there, and desire doesn’t come from the mind, it comes from the heart.

Baseball and softball need to be brought back, now.

2. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

I’m personally not a huge mixed martial arts fan, but those who are, and the athletes who participate, revere the forms and techniques taught in jiu jitsu. It is the fundamental basis for competition for many MMA athletes. The Olympics already feature taekwondo (a new addition), wrestling, boxing and judo as forms of hand-to-hand or body-to-body combat, why not include one of the other most popular forms in the world?

And why not let it make its debut in its home country, at least as an exhibition sport, for a start? Efforts are being made to have this happen, and USA Jiu Jitsu is petitioning to allow it. We shall see.

3. CrossFit, or Organized Exercise

File:Annie Mist Þórisdóttir (Annie Mist Thorisdottir - World crossfit champion 2011).jpg

Anníe Mist Thórisdóttir is the two-time defending CrossFit Games Female Champion. Could she and Rich Froning, Jr., the two-time defending male champion, be Olympic gold medalists soon?

Even within organized competition, there are what are known as “Weight Room Legends” – tales of vaunted feats of strength within the weight room by players like Alabama’s Trent Richardson, now with the Cleveland Browns. Athletes are known for their epic benchpresses, vertical leaps, curl counts, etc. Why not have them tracked, charted and rewarded on the international stage?

Further, with the burgeoning popularity of workout styles like CrossFit, and the introduction of the CrossFit Games, there is already a level of competition and notoriety that comes with victory. CrossFit is also a fast-paced exercise system that challenges the body to move faster, higher and stronger, which are the motto of the Olympic Games. There’s a place for CrossFit on the international stage. If not CrossFit, then at least expand weightlifting to include more typical gym exercises.

4. Paintball

You got it!  Who doesn’t love paintball? It’s fun, fast-paced, intense and actually physically demanding. I challenge you to think otherwise, and then I’ll put you on a course with some of the best shots in the country and see how quickly you run out of breath. I’ve played paintball many a time, and it combines elements of sport that are already exhibited in Olympic play – the agility of canoe/kayaking, diving and gymnastics, the speed of track and field and pentathlon, and the marksmanship and skill of archery and shooting. With all of these combined into the fun and competitive team nature of handball, basketball and soccer, paintball is a perfect fit.

5. American Football

Already World Champions from 2009-10, how would Drew like to be truly a WORLD Champion with a gold medal in Olympics American Football? (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

One can only dream, but eventually I think there are countries that have athletic body types typical of the football player that can compete on the world stage, if they’re driven to invest in developing a national football program. Football has proven popular in the United Kingdom, and Canada already has a league. There are players from Africa, Europe, the Caribbean and the Pacific islands that play prominent roles on their respective NFL teams.

Did you know that there is an International Federation of American Football? The IFAF features 62 member nations, and one of its primary goals is recognition by the International Olympic Committee and inclusion in the Summer Games. The IFAF hosts the IFAF World Championship of American Football, akin to the soccer World Cup, which features eight qualifying countries from the 54 worldwide that field American football teams. So there is international interest, and possibly promise for inclusion in the Olympics.

Of course, there are issues such as injuries, time and availability and the rather large size of team rosters involved in football that present difficulties, but hey…one can dream…

Parker’s Summer Olympic Contractions

I thought I told you “more is better!” when it comes to Olympics action. Are you telling me I HAVE to pick five sports to replace with the above five? Oh drat. Okay! Here are the five events I’d contract.

1. Rhythmic Gymnastics

“Ribbon Dancer…writing on the wall…” Don’t lie, you’re humming it to yourself, too. (Photo property of The Guardian, UK)

If you’re going to tell me dancing with a Ribbon Dancer or a Hula Hoop exhibit “Faster, Higher, Stronger” to a greater extent, with a greater following and more emotional attachment than baseball, I am apt to punch you in the face. And I don’t like fighting.

While I acknowledge the incredible flexibility and agility of the rhythmic gymnastics competitors, I don’t see how they’ve been included while baseball and softball and golf and rugby haven’t. Women and men alike play all these other sports, while only women compete in this event, and only men in Trampoline (see below). I can’t tell you the last time I saw rhythmic gymnastics on in a sports bar or a restaurant here or in any other country. Sorry, it’s got to go.

2. Trampoline

See above.

3. Synchronized Swimming

Again, I don’t reeeeeeeeally want to get rid of anything, and I enjoy the elements of cohesion and athleticism that go into synchronized swimming. But it’s again only an event for women, doesn’t seem to have much of an international following aside from the day or two it gets on primetime every four years and doesn’t tug at the heartstrings. It’s akin to ice dancing and rhythmic gymnastics for me – which are the respective evil stepsisters of figure skating and regular gymnastics, as synch swimming is to regular swimming. They’re beautifully artistic, yes, but do they test athletic resolve and push the human body to the brink? Not so much. Again, don’t want to cut anything, but for baseball’s sake, it’s got to go.

4. Modern Pentathlon

It’s great to see athletes who are really well-rounded in all these events – fencing, swimming, riding, running and shooting. But they’re already represented in their own events! We have the heptathlon and decathlon for the world’s greatest athlete designation, we have the triathlon with swimming, biking and running. What’s this all about? More athletes and more countries can compete in paintball, CrossFit and jiu jitsu than the handful of athletes worldwide who take time to train in each individual event. Got to go.

5. Weightlifting

Here’s where I”m cheating just a bit. It was down to synchronized diving, badminton and the martial arts already represented being consolidated, but I think weightlifting is the best fit here. We can consolidate judo and taekwondo and even boxing and wrestling to an extent into an all-around Martial Arts category and have them be specific events, much akin to the events in equestrian competition, but there are so many athletes in each weight class that I think it would become cumbersome. So I propose folding weightlifting into the organized exercise I mentioned above, and creating events that complement but preserve the current weightlifting events. This means adding bench press, CrossFit, squats, etc. to the slate of events, without actually deleting anything.