Thursday, August 21, 2008

Swish-Whack, Take That! Awards for Week 2

Swish-Whack, Take That! Awards for Week 2
Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2008

Since the Olympics are in their second week, we have a second week of the Swish-Whack Take That! Awards. The awards were inspired by American fencer Mariel Zagunis who won gold in the individual saber event both in 2004 and 2008. Her 2004 gold was America's first fencing medal in 100 years, yet NBC only showed 30 seconds of coverage that year, and only the final touch of this year's victory. The awards are named to honor her achievements, and to remind NBC that there are more Olympic sports than swimming and gymnastics.

To start, remember how Australia's 5-time gold medalist swimmer Ian Thorpe said there was no way Michael Phelps could win eight gold medals in one Olympics? And, remember how Michael Phelps won eight gold medals in one Olympics? Yeah, that was cool.

So the first Swish-Whack goes to Michael Phelps. Normally, Swish-Whacks go to the little guy who does something amazing, like Tuvshinbayar Naidan, the Mongolian judoist who won his country's first ever medal. But Phelps gets it for 1) making world sporting history, and 2) making Thorpe eat his words.

I have an order of humble pie with Vegemite for a Mr. Thorpe. Mr. Thorpe, your humble pie is ready. Don't forget your side of crow. Thank you, come again.

Let's stay in the pool for Swish-Whack #2. This one goes to 41-year-old American swimmer Dara Torres, who won a silver medal in the 50-meter freestyle. Torres, a powerhouse in women's swimming for five Olympics, showed you don't have to be in your 20s to be an Olympic athlete.

The 50-meter freestyle is swimming's speed race, the aquatic equivalent to track and field's 100-meter dash. The person who wears the gold is considered the fastest swimmer in the world. Which means that out of 5 billion women in the world, Torres is faster than everyone but one. Not too bad for an old lady who's only two months older than me.

Swish-Whack #3 goes to the International Olympic Committee for standing up to the Chinese government. They have ordered an investigation into the age of women's gymnast He Kexin, despite frequent governmental claims that He (pronounced "hay") is 15, not 14 years old. If the Chinese government turns out to be big fat liars, He could lose her two gold medals.

Swish-Whack #4 goes to Mike Walker, the New York computer expert who found the damning evidence on a Chinese government website by using a Chinese search engine's cache feature to uncover documents that had been removed. They did not realize that search engines take pictures of websites, so if you change or delete them, the pictures of the old version still exist in the cache. The document in question was a spreadsheet that showed He's alleged real birth date.

How do you say "oops" in Chinese?

Swish-Whack #5 goes to a wrestler from Georgia. You've all heard about how Russia invaded the country of Georgia because Vladimir Putin wanted to impress Jodie Foster. Needless to say, Georgia has been very upset at the Russians trying to steal two breakaway provinces, South Ossetia and Abkhazia. So they got back at them by having Georgian wrestler Revazi Mindorashvili beat Russia's gold-medal favorite Georgy Ketoev in the semi-final round. Mindorashvili then went on to win the gold in the final round against Tajikistan, and Ketoev took the bronze

"We are athletes, not politicians," Mindorashvili told the Associated Press. "Our job is to fight hard , but (on the mat)."

"But still, suck on that, Putin!" he shouted, making an obscene gesture at television cameras.

To underscore the "athletes, not politicians" statement, the entire Russian wrestling federation were good sports about Mindorashvili 's victory. The two men smiled at each other during the medal ceremony, and federation stood while Georgia's national anthem played.

Swish-Whack #6 goes to the people China hoped no one would notice: human rights activists. According to an Associated Press story, Chinese police arrested a group of foreign pro-Tibet activists in central Beijing late Thursday night. They arrested the protesters just a few short minutes after they showed protest signs. But not so short that the AP missed out on the story.

Still, two AP photographers were detained by police, questioned, and released. Police also took memory cards from their digital cameras, hoping to hide the evidence. Six foreign activists were also sentenced to 10 days detention for "disrupting the public order."

The Chinese government originally said it would allow protests in three different areas during the Olympics, but they have not accepted any applications to demonstrate. Despite China's obvious unwillingness to keep their promises to opposition voices, the biggest and best Swish-Whack goes to those people thought other peoples' freedom was more important than their own.

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