Olympic Diary: Day 9 & 10
Originally this post began as follows:
Overall the organization and infrastructure for the Olympics seems to be doing pretty well. After the mayhem of the first day, I haven’t really had to wait in line more than five minutes for anything. Entrance and transportation, seem to be working. Events are on time. So, congrats Rio.
Then I saw this on television at the restaurant where I was having lunch.
This following Ryan Lochte’s hold up at gunpoint on Saturday night and bullets being shot into the equestrian center. And my own cell phone being stolen over the weekend (hence no water polo photos/video). So, yeah, regarding those “congratulations”…
Also you may have noticed that I have combined two days into one as Sunday was my “rest” (from watching the Olympics) day.
Saturday was water polo. To be honest I had pretty modest expectations. The first game had a large crowd as Brazil was playing (against Australia). Australia was clearly better but that didn’t seem to reduce the Brazilians’ enthusiasm each time they managed to score a goal. I guess there is a certain freedom for fans who support a team that is not expected to win. It means that you can shift your metric for success from winning to doing something/anything well.
The next game was the United States versus Hungary. I thought I may had heard something about Hungary being strong in water polo so I was looking forward to a good game.
I was surrounded by family and friends of team USA, who moved into vacated front row seats as soon as the previous game was over, and the Brazilian and Australian supporters began to leave. It was clear that nobody gave a shit where their ticket indicated they should be sitting. I felt minor sympathy for those people who had paid top dollar for good seats, but in the end I think it makes sense not to crack down on this behavior. It’s a better fan experience, clearly, and I would imagine having the closest seats filled with spectators would also make for a better participant experience (and TV experience).
At the beginning of the game, and each subsequent quarter, they put the ball on a little triangular floating raft in the middle of the pool. Then once the referee blows her/his whistle, each team’s fastest swimmer (I presume) goes on a mad dash to try and reach the ball first. Kind of like a much slower and splashier horizontal version of basketball’s jump ball. I kept wanting to see where the triangle holding the ball went after the ball was reached but forgot to pay attention every time as I got caught up in the excitement of the mad dash to the ball.
America quickly went ahead and seemed like the stronger team. This led to me being in the middle of a lot of “U-S-A, U-S-A” chants. Watching the game mainly made me realize how much I would hate to play water polo. It’s so grabby. I guess there’s a reason why it was originally called water rugby.
My favorite thing may have been the ball girl who played the analogue role of the little munchkins in tennis who run out and grab errant tennis balls between points. She was outfitted in a red swim suit and when shots missed the net she would go swim around and collect the floating balls and swim them over to the side of the pool.
Once the games were over diving practice began at the other end of the pool. I was able to watch for about fifteen minutes before being firmly told it was time to leave the arena. That was enough time, however, to realize that diving practice might be even more fun to watch than diving. Basically, there are people on all the various boards and platforms working on dives at the same time, so it is in effect rapid-fire diving where, often, multiple people are flipping through the air simultaneously.
Sunday was effectively a day completely off from Olympics save for watching the 100m final. I really enjoyed Bolt’s quote afterwards:
“Somebody said I can become immortal. Two more medals to go and I can sign off. Immortal.”