Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Happenings: Olympics Look Golden for SCV

I have sincerely enjoyed the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Watching Michael Phelps win eight gold medals and set seven world records was, well, awesome. It’s interesting to watch sports (or “sports”) that would never be on TV were it not for the Olympics--things like trampoline, badminton, table tennis. And it has been a real delight to watch China pretend that its nine-year-old gymnast, He Kexin, is actually old enough to compete[1].

Of course, there’s a very special place in my heart for all the Olympic athletes from Santa Clarita. Their intense training, hard work, and natural-born talent certainly helped them get to Beijing, but don’t underestimate how much us Claritans helped. We formed the womb from which these athletes so gloriously sprang, so it is our victory as much as theirs. Right?

Determining just how many athletes we have to root for, though, has been something of a quixotic quest. Even official websites like teamusa.org aren’t always up to date on where America’s 600ish Olympians dwell. Then there’s the question of whether being born in SCV, being raised here, or living here currently makes an athlete part of the Claritan fold. Despite these difficulties, it is safe for us to call the following athletes home-town favorites. Most all of them will be going for gold around mid-week, so if you haven't been following the Olympics, now is definitely the time to start.

CRYSTL BUSTOS, Softball Superstar

This formidable softball slugger hails from Canyon Country. (I'm sure we'll get more athletes from C.C. once the fencing world gets beyond epees and sabres and makes shanks an acceptable weapon). In a recent New York Times interview[2] she is quoted as saying “I get drug-tested more than others, three times last month. Because I’m big.” Apparently, she's also incredibly nice and awfully good at her game.

So is the rest of the US softball team. To date, they’ve played seven games and won 11-0, 3-0, 7-0, 8-1, 7-0, 8-0, and 9-0. The one run they gave up was to Canada.

Outlook: The US will play Japan (who they defeated 7-0 last week) on the 20th, win handily, advance to the gold medal game on the 21st and strike gold. Crystl Bustos will return to Canyon Country, the neighborhood of her past and her present, with her third gold medal. Way to go, Bustos!

ALLYSON FELIX, 200-meter Phenom

Bob Dixon wrote an interesting, informative piece on SCV’s track and field hopefuls in August’s insideSCV[3]; I refer you there. You can now ignore the stuff about Lauren Fleshman, though. She had a chance of running in the 5000m race if one of the three faster American runners dropped out, but none of them did. Poor Lauren.

Still, we have track star Allyson Felix to cheer on. Dixon predicts that “Felix will have to settle for three golds [in the 200m, 4 x 100m, and 4 x 400m] and the cover of a box of Wheaties. Anything less would be an upset.” Yeah, she’s that good.

And she's utterly heartable. According to an article in The Observer[4], she lives in Valencia ("a neat, prosperous suburb in Los Angeles") and commutes to UCLA to train[5]. An Access Hollywood interview is among the dozens of YouTube videos featuring Felix[6]. Watch it to find out such vital information as her favorite Sex in the City character (Carrie), her Hollywood crush (Will Smith), and the one thing she can’t go to Beijing without (her phone). Oops, I guess I just gave it all away.

Outlook: Felix is off to the right start. She finished first in the first round of qualifying for the 200m final and should go for (and win) gold on the 21st.

MIKE DAY, Badass BMX Rider

The NBC article[7] on Day takes places at Egg Plantation where the reporter marvels at the array of omelet options. Yeah, that's how we roll in SCV. Egg Plantation may want to do something wonderfully corny like rename the #74 (his favorite[8]) "the Mike Day Special" if he comes home with a medal. Day has been training for the Olympics on a specially built track in Chula Vista and arrived in Beijing with his fellow American BMXers just a few days ago.

Outlook: A sweep for the American men is certainly possible. We'll find out soon as Day bikes on the 20th/21st.

There has been a lot written about our local athletes--most of it by papers other than our own. You'll learn much more about them by clicking on the links below. Think of it as preparation for when you run into these medalists post-Olympics. Finally, I'll be posting updates as events take place. Keep your fingers crossed and your eyes on NBC!

[1]Have you seen this bullshit? She and other teammates have missing baby teeth! That doesn’t happen when you’re sixteen years old! But China blatantly forged their birth records and no one has the balls to call them on it. These kids belong in playpens, not on balance beams.
[2]Bustos in NYTimes
[3]Go insideSCV =-o!
[4]That British article on Felix
[5]Good girl! She was formerly of the USC persuasion, but I’m feeling generous, so I forgive her that transgression.
[6]Access interview
[7]Day interview
[8]If you're curious, the omelet contains avocado, bacon, tomato, green onions, and jack cheese. [Dear Lord am I hungry...] He gets it from Egg Plantation with egg whites and no tomato.


Anonymous said...

I could never get into watching a bunch of people "competing" at something they've done forever to the exclusion of all else. These people have never had to work and will make bank off their endorsements once the US has finished paying for their expenses. Does anyone ever give that money back? Seriously, what is the deal? If you could do nothing but write every minute without ever worrying about expenses, it'd be a Pulitzer, right? And don't even get me started about the Freakin' Lakers playing.

Anonymous said...

I don't agree that "these people have never had to work." I'm sure when you're doing the 100th sprint of the day it stops being fun and starts being work. And I think it's great that they inspire kids to get more active.

Lindsey said...

Yes to the Olympics in my adopted city! Two things:

Maybe He Kexin is "of age" despite her baby teeth. I'll have you know that I'm 25 and I still have one of my baby teeth. Just one, though.

And two, congratulations to Mike Day! I saw his name in the paper and I was taken aback because he was a grade or two younger than me at Valencia HS, but we knew some of the same people. I always thought he was kinda cute and I didn't know his name so I referred to him as the "Offspring Kid" for his resemblance to Offspring's lead singer Dexter Holland. Now that he's a superstar, my fondness has been vindicated. End of story.

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