49er result from the Court of Arbitration (Sport)

23 08 2008

So after the amazing 49er medal race, and 19 hours of protests lodged against the Danish from the Race Committee and the Spanish and Italian Olympic teams, the medals were finally agreed upon (once all of the protests were thrown out).  However, the Italian and Spanish Olympic Committees decided to try to drag it out even further (this 49er result has had more drag than a Dame Edna look-a-like contest) by taking the case to the Court of Arbitration for sport.  Now, I’m no Lawyer (nothing to do with a lack of intelligence, motivation, study skills, ability to communicate effectively or any knowledge of actual law, I just don’t look good in a wig..) so I can’t really comment on why this has gone further.  Surely after the protest committee threw out the cases filed by the countries and the RC, it couldn’t have been taken further?

Anyway, this episode has taken far too long (and has been about as enjoyable as french kissing a toaster), so I’m glad to say that all further protests have been dismissed and the Danish can finally take their well deserved Gold medals home.  They were the best boat throughout the regatta and are deserving victors.

Are China really that good?

22 08 2008

So I’ve been thinking about China’s dominance in the medal tables during these games, and it got me thinking. I’d like to find out which country was most medal efficient in regards to number of athletes participating. So, if you have hundreds of athletes, do you win far more medals? Are China actually very inefficient by funding so many athletes and sending them all to compete? Or are they wasting money on training so many bodies even though they have little chance of winning?

For example, China have dominated the medal table with 83 medals so far, yet they had over 564 athletes competing. Is this in-efficient? Could they have cut back on the guys and girls going, only sending the medal prospects? The sums show that they have a medal to athlete ratio of one medal for every 6.7 athletes competing. Not bad..

Now GBR have 297 athletes and 41 medals giving an efficiency of 7.2 athletes per medal… China still come out on top, but this goes to show that having several athletes per event is not always a huge bonus. GBR sent a third of the athletes that China sent and won about a third of the medals.. Which means we have a similar quality of athlete as the worlds current best country.

Oh, and the USA? 629 athletes and 100 medals = 6.29 athletes per each medal which is the most efficient in the top 5… damn.

Finally, Germany are the worst, with 14 athletes per medal win 🙂

Oh, and just for fun, I thought I’d work out which country was the best overall. Russia? China? USA? Any other super power with Nukes and and billions of dollars of tax payers money? Erm, no not really…

Zimbabwe (yes, Zimbabwe) are the current strongest team, with a medal haul of one medal for every 3 athletes. For every 3 athletes competing, ONE has won a medal!!! Ok, yes, they have 13 athletes, but still that’s impressive. It just goes to show that for Olympic success you need a stolen election, a dictator, 1million percent inflation and a training regime involving sticks, spikes and “motivational officers” i.e. Policemen with spiky sticks…

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In the olympic Spirit? Part II

20 08 2008

After much controversey, the Tornados are nearly through their series at the Beijing Olympics.  As it turns out, the only boat to take the controversial new spinnaker out was the American boat.  Whilst all other boats were starting the races normally, lined up drifting below the startline, the US boat had three sails up, ready to blast over the top of the other hapless crews who wanted to “keep it real” rather than trying to win a medal at all costs.  The fools..

Anywho, the unfortunate and satisfyingly ironic result is that the Americans new “secret weapon” has been about as successful as a fat chick at Hooters.. and about as popular too..

Still, I do feel sorry for the Americans.  I guess this just shows that sometimes gamesmanship doesn’t work and you should try to win medals based on skill, not on kit.  I bet they are wondering what would happen if they had used their usual spinnaker..

The greatest dinghy race ever?

19 08 2008

The sailing medal races have been a hotly contested subject over the years. After many trials of varying formats, they were finally introduced for the Beijing games to try to increase the television potential of the sport. Gone are the days of a team winning gold with a day to spare (the poor TV viewers couldn’t understand that..), and we have been dropped into a situation where a weeks work can be lost from one bad call.

The first idea for a “medal race” was brought in at the 2005 49er Europeans, where ten boats would sail on tiny courses in short (ten minute), knock-out races (the last boat being dropped after each race) until only one boat was left. this boat would take home the victory. Sounds great, but in Copenhagen in 2005 Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes had led the event from day one, taking a huge lead into the knock-out medal race. However, they ended up losing in the second race, with Chris Draper and Hiscocks taking overall honours. Was this fair?

So finally the medal race was introduced, 1 short race (30 minutes) with double points that have to be counted. Now, in the past it has been rare to see the winners lose the event on the day, but in the Olympics, you never quite know.

In the 49er medal race, the Danes were leading buy a fair few points as they sailed out to the startline. With big wind and waves, it looked like it would be a pretty exciting race, but they had no idea.

Sailing out to the start, their mast buckled (strangely in the same spot ours broke in Kiel.. build defect maybe?) and they were forced to limp home. Everyone watching assumed they were out of the medals, as they had no way of getting a new stick up in time. The race starts, to see boats flipping and capsizing everywhere. Heavywind specialists like the Spanish and Italian teams were falling over, and it looked like the winner would be the guy whio capsizes the least. Even though we had the best sailors in the world on the water, they just could not keep the boats upright the whole way round. Halfway up the first beat, 4minutes and 56 seconds after the start (the startline closes after 5 minutes), a Croatian 49er screams over the line to start the race. Yet, the Croats didn’t qualify… The cameras zoom in to the sailors…. It’s the Danes! They borrowed the Croatin boat, rigged up (with the help of about 20 other guys) and managed to make the start. All they have to do is finish the race in 7th, and hope the Aussies or Italians don’t win, and they take home the gold.

3 laps later, the race is being led by the Italians, followed closely by the Aussies. The Sibellos pull the stick around the windward mark and pop the kite, in big wind and increasing waves. The Aussies closely follower. After a few big troughs, the Italians plough into the back of a steep wave and take off, flipping the boat on its back.

The Aussies overtake, and just need to finish to win Olympic Gold. 500 metres to go. 200 metres to go. One two sail gybe for the finish line, but Nathan slips and they capsize too.

Finally, at the back of the fleet, the Danes are catching up. In 7th place, and with the Spanish winning the race, they just have to finish without losing any places and they have gold. But they too capsize just before the line, but manage to get upright again to finally finish in 7th, taking the Gold medal after a long and hard fought series.

However, it wasn’t over. The race commitee protested Denmark for sailing someone else’s boat. After a long Jury hearing, the protest was thrown out and Denmark were finally awarded Gold.

What an epic race. What a finish to the 49er racing. And what a great advert for the sport.