11 August 2008

Olympic Hero of the Day: Jason Lezak

I spent a good part of the weekend watching the Olympics, and it was fantastic. Thank god the Olympics happen every four years because if they didn't I would be stuck watching that other race, the one for President.

It's great to see sports that are rarely, if ever, shown on TV. Water polo, handball, badminton, table tennis, etc. And of course, swimming. Those who missed the men's 4 x 100 medley late last night missed a magic moment:

Lezak, the oldest man on the U.S. swimming team, pulled off one of the great comebacks in Olympic history Monday morning, hitting the wall barely ahead of Bernard in the 400 freestyle relay, a race so fast it actually erased two world records.

Few sporting events live up to the hype -- this one exceeded it. The 32-year-old Lezak was nearly a body length behind Bernard as they made the final turn, but the American hugged the lane rope and stunningly overtook him on the very last stroke.

The race was a huge thrill. The Frenchman was WAY ahead at the beginning of the final lap, and watching Lezak close the gap stroke by stroke was an awesome spectacle. As it turned out, his swim was the fastest of its kind in history, and he couldn't have picked a better time for it.

NBC is still covering the games from the "world revolves around America" mindset, but it's less over-the-top than 2004. And Bob Costas is less of a total dick this time. But the really great thing is that the games are televised on four networks: NBC, MSNBC, USA, and CNBC. There's usually at least one thing worth watching.

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