Thursday, August 28, 2008
Monday, August 25, 2008
Freedom's Fury is a great documentary about the most famous water polo game in history, Hungary vs. the Soviet Union in the semi-finals of the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne. This game was played in the shadow of the Soviet crackdown of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. It is a great story of sport, politics and society. It is also a fascinating look at the history of water polo in Hungary, and why this small country has dominated the sport throughout the years. The first hour of the movie contains great footage and discussion of the innovative training methods pioneered by the Hungarian national team in the 1950's.
Mark Spitz narrates. And it just so happens that Spitz, as an age-group swimmer, was briefly coached by the most famous player on the 1956 team, Ervin Zador. The most talented Hungarian player, Zador defected to the US immediately following the '56 Olympics and never played water polo again.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Great Britain: Kicking ass and taking names in track cycling. Vern had a great post with a link to the story of how and why they are succeeding now. Chris Hoy rules.
Volleyball: Don't get me started. The indoor game is so beautiful and powerful. It requires the ultimate in teamwork and communication. Too bad you cannot watch it during prime time.
Tall athletes: Don't give up hope if you don't like basketball or volleyball. Maybe there is a place for you on the track or in the ring.
Thank BOB: Despite their best efforts to force-feed us certain sports in prime time, I have to say it has been great to see the live streaming of the BOB (Beijing Olympic Broadcasting) feed on the NBC website. I just watched the Madison and match sprint finals, and will now pop over to the weightlifting feed to see the 105+ A session. My favorite archived videos thus far are the goals of the day in soccer and the 63 B women's session in weightlifting (Michaela Breeze's gutsy performance despite injury). If you want to see some of the best of weightlifting, I highly recommend the 105 A men's session. Dimitri Klokov (silver) is one of the most athletic 105s around. Gold medalist Andrei Aramnau, at 5' 8" and 20 years of age, made a 200 kg snatch look like nothing. Note also his lack of upper body mass. This dude totaled 436 kg (200/236) and set three world records and doesn't look anything like an action figure. More on that thought in another post.
Never knew: There was a "coach peloton" in the rowing/canoe/kayak events. It's gotta take some coordination to not crash into your fellow coach or ride into the drink if you get a little excited during the race.
Monday, August 18, 2008
Participants will have the opportunity to have video feedback while learning the fundamentals of the snatch, clean and jerk. Want bang for your buck? This is it. Space is limited so sign up now to reserve your spot.
Email me (tfober at gmail dot com) to register.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Friday, August 08, 2008
His six teammates are competing.
His fiancee, Natalie Woolfolk, is competing.
The Rancho Buena Vista High alum is 6 feet 1, weighs 275 and can hoist 494 pounds above his head, but he has been tossed around by the capricious politics of international sport like a dandelion in a hurricane. Burgener was on the U.S. Olympic team, off it, on it again and then, finally last night, off it for good.
“It's heartbreaking,” said Woolfolk, who plans to marry Burgener this fall in his hometown of Bonsall. “To finally find out the day before the Olympics starts that you're not competing, it's just heartbreaking. I wish he was here with me.”
Woolfolk paused as her eyes welled with tears.
“But he's extremely level-headed,” she continued. “He doesn't blame anybody. He doesn't call anybody names. He'll get over this and get on to something else. But he deserves this, just as much as anyone on this team. He deserves to be called an Olympian. He's a testament to the attitude, the commitment, everything that goes along with being an Olympian.”
A USA Weightlifting spokesman said Burgener, 25, had declined interview requests, but his coaches and teammates spoke candidly and at times angrily about what they perceive to be a major snub.
The back story:
Weightlifting is an individual sport, but countries earn berths to the Olympics through team results at the World Championships. The 27th-place team at worlds gets three slots, and the U.S. men finished exactly 27th at the 2007 worlds last summer.
In December, USA Weightlifting executive director Dennis Snethen was scanning the Web site of the International Weightlifting Federation and noticed, to his utter shock, that Chinese Taipei was listed as 27th. The U.S. men were now 28th.
The IWF explanation: Lifters from other countries had been disqualified for failing drug tests, and when the results were recalculated the U.S. men had dropped one place.
The U.S. men went to a secondary Olympic qualifier, in Peru in March, and secured two slots for Beijing. They continued lobbying for a third slot and, Snethen says, were told they had been granted it shortly before the U.S. Trials.
Then Burgener, a heavyweight whose father taught him how to lift in their garage, qualified as the third U.S. man.
A week later, the IWF informed USA Weightlifting that, sorry, it would have only two men's berths in Beijing.
“Our strategy,” Snethen said, “was to bring Casey to the Games, and with drug positives or no-shows hope the IWF would let him in. That didn't happen, unfortunately.”
The great irony, of course, is that positive drug tests – Greece and Bulgaria each had 11 – end up punishing a country without any.
“We're lifting weights clean and we have a slot taken away from us,” Snethen says. “That we play the game clean and get penalized for it, that's what hurts the most.”
Burgener is expected to remain in Beijing to watch Woolfolk compete Tuesday in the 139-pound division. Woolfolk said Burgener's parents, Mike and Leslie, likely would cancel their trip to Beijing.
And Burgener's future in the sport?
“He's saying that he's done,” Woolfolk said, “but it's hard at this moment to say you'll keep going. I think he needs some time away from the sport right now.”
Mark Zeigler: (619) 293-2205; firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, August 07, 2008
This morning he called his family from Beijing to tell them he will not be competing. There is no 3rd spot for the United States men's team, as was presented to the athletes and the crowd in Atlanta on May 16, 2008. Casey's performance and documentation of the presentation of Casey as a member of the 2008 Olympic team, as captured by NBC on video, will likely never be shown. The following is in honor of Casey Burgener and his accomplishments on that day.
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
Wondering: When is this stupid heat and humidity going away? Heat index of 113 yesterday.
Waiting: Now NBC says Melanie is possibly going to be on the Wednesday Today Show. Possibly. Mel's session will be televised (or some parts from it) this Sunday on NBC.
Really: Had a request via a contact for video of Casey Burgener for Late Night with David Letterman. Sent them a clip. Supposed to use it this week sometime, but I have no idea of the context of the segment or what they are doing.
More waiting: We will find out in roughly 48 hours whether or not Casey Burgener will compete in Beijing. He is there training and in good spirits. Regardless of what happens, he'll stay through the end of the games and then fly away to Europe with Natalie for several weeks to decompress. They will be married in November.
Looking forward to: October 25. My friend Mike Burgener, the Weapon of Mass Instruction, is coming to STL for a one-day workshop on the lifts. Email me if you'd like to join us and learn something. It's $250 and includes opportunities for video feedback, lunch and a hip t-shirt.