Archive for the ‘olympics’ Tag

Good to Be Goofy White Guy

Friday, Aug 19, 2016 11:33 AM EST
The ballad of “Swim Shady”: Ryan Lochte’s Rio fiasco is more proof that male athletes are a protected class
The Olympic swimmer’s fake-robbery debacle is being brushed off, while gymnast Gabby Douglas is the target of abuse
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Topics: 2016 Summer Olympics, Gabby Douglas, male entitlement, Rio Olympics, Ryan Lochte, Life News
The ballad of “Swim Shady”: Ryan Lochte’s Rio fiasco is more proof that male athletes are a protected class
Ryan Lochte (Credit: AP/Martin Meissner)

It must be a heady thing to have all the privileges of a male athlete. You can pretty much do anything before you’re held even remotely accountable — and then when you do have to face any consequences, you’ll get a nice chorus of despair about your lost opportunities. In what other realm could the misdeeds of a 32-year-old man be gently passed off as the antics of “kids?”

Oh, to be you, Ryan Lochte.

Early this week, reports emerged that the blue-haired Olympic medalist — along with three other members of the U.S. swim team — had been “robbed at gunpoint” early Sunday morning. USOC spokesperson Patrick Sandusky issued a statement saying that while heading toward the Olympic village, “their taxi was stopped by individuals posing as armed police officers who demanded the athletes’ money and other personal belongings. All four athletes are safe and cooperating with authorities.”

Lochte himself gave an eminently Lochte-ish account of the event, telling NBC, “They pulled out their guns, they told the other swimmers to get down on the ground — they got down on the ground. I refused, I was like we didn’t do anything wrong, so — I’m not getting down on the ground. And then the guy pulled out his gun, he cocked it, put it to my forehead and he said, “Get down,” and I put my hands up, I was like ‘whatever.’ He took our money, he took my wallet — he left my cell phone, he left my credentials.”

And the the tale began to change. On Thursday, Brazilian police said that “It seems that they lied. No robbery was committed against these athletes. They were not victims of the crimes they claimed.” Instead, it appeared the swimmers had vandalized a gas station — USA Today reports “one of them broke down the bathroom door and police found damage to a soap dispenser and a mirror” — leading to a confrontation with armed security guards and a payoff, possibly to cover the damages. The AP reports that “police said the swimmers were unable to provide key details in early interviews, saying they had been intoxicated.”

The response to these hijinks has been generous, to say the least. Rio 2016 spokesman Mario Andrada shrugged Thursday, “Let’s give these kids a break. Sometimes you take actions that you later regret. They are magnificent athletes. Lochte is one of the best swimmers of all times. They had fun. They made a mistake. It’s part of life. Life goes on. Let’s go.”
Video: Rio 2016: Swimmer Ryan Lochte’s Crime Story Unravels

I guess if you’re “one of the best swimmers of all times,” you can do whatever the heck you want! P.S. This “kid” is 32.

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NBC, Olympics and Gays

NBC Sports Has A Gay Problem

What the what?

08/10/2016 02:09 pm ET

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

This article by Cyd Zeigler originally appeared on Outsports.

It’s been apparent for years.

When Australian diver Matthew Mitcham won gold in the 10-meter platform in Beijing, stopping a Chinese sweep of diving gold on the final dive of the sport’s final event, NBC Sports, the perennial broadcaster in the United States of the Olympic Games, failed to mention Mitcham’s partner in the stands despite highlighting the partners of other straight athletes. Even worse, the network failed to mention that Mitcham was the only publicly out gay-male athlete at the Games.

When called on it, NBC first argued that the network doesn’t discuss sexual orientation (despite the historic nature of Mitcham’s win) then offered a terse two-sentence “apology.

Eight years later, nothing has changed at NBC. The network failed to identify Dustin Lance Black in the audience of the men’s synchro diving finals as bronze-medalist Tom Daley’s fiancé. Not boyfriend, not long-time friend… fiancé. And an Oscar-winning fiancé at that (read: public interest). They are, arguably, the “it” couple of the gay community, yet NBC didn’t mention a word.

When NBC broadcast the match of Brazilian volleyball player Larissa França, they followed her to the stands where she embraced her wife. NBC commentator Chris Marlowe’s colorful commentary?

“That is her husband. She married Lili in 2013 and Larissa is celebrating with her pals.”

Her husband. You can’t write this shit. Yet NBC released no public apology, relying on a one-line statement from Marlowe.

At the U.S. Olympic diving trials, diver Jordan Windle was accompanied by his two dads.

“They wouldn’t say ‘Jordan’s dads’ during the finals of Olympic Trials,” Jerry Windle said. “They just said ‘parents.’ Then they wouldn’t show both Andre and I together like they showed other parents.”

Two years ago in Sochi, all of the NBC networks combined offered less than two hours of coverage of LGBT issues, including the new anti-gay law that had been implemented in Russia, during the 18 days of the Winter Olympics. There were mentions of the plight of Russian LGBT people during primetime coverage by NBC Sports, but according to HRC it diminished over time and was mostly pushed away from NBC Sports and onto MSNBC. According to HRC, during two of the Winter Olympic days ― 14 and 17 ― there was no coverage of the issue on any of NBC’s networks.

To be clear, this all goes well beyond the Olympics.

For the last few years NBC Sports has employed an avowed proud homophobe, Tony Dungy, as one of its lead NFL commentators. Dungy has raised money to oppose equality for gay people, has said he “disagrees” with Jason Collins being gay and, in a fit of hypocrisy, said he would not want openly gay NFL player Michael Sam on his team.

Of course the network also employs openly gay commentator Johnny Weir. It’s the one possible on-air feather in the network’s cap. Though Weir’s dress and manner leave some reducing him to the role of clown, it’s a role he welcomes and plays well while also offering some great figure skating commentary. His antics (while I appreciate them) leave many gay people wishing for less.

Still, it’s impossible to make the case that NBC Sports is sensitive to LGBT issues. While NBC has started NBC Out and has a robust NBC-Universal LGBT employee network, that is desperately lost on the coverage NBC provides sports.

While Dungy’s continued employment on NBC Sports’ cornerstone program is a slap in the face of the entire LGBT community, the subpar job the network has demonstrated covering LGBT athletes and issues at the Olympics over the years is downright inexcusable.

There are plenty of opportunities for NBC to recover. Ten days of LGBTI athletes competing and winning lie ahead. Will the network acknowledge their presence? Simply demonstrate the common courtesy to these athletes they show their straight counterparts?

Frankly, I doubt it. Their failure to properly address the Mitcham snub eight years ago, followed by transgression after transgression, shows very clearly that NBC Sports couldn’t care less about gay athletes or gay fans. Maybe ESPN can get in the running to broadcast future Olympics.

For more from OutSports, check out these stories:

Seattle Mariners tell lesbian couple to stop ‘being affectionate’

The first Olympic marriage proposal in Rio is between a rugby player and her girlfriend

Male Olympic gymnasts want to compete shirtless

Also on HuffPost

29 Truly Remarkable Olympic Photos

Five-Ring Circus

The cycle of national group bids to host the Olympic Games usually has not generated the type of openly negative discussion that occurred this year in the United States. From newspaper articles to blogs, to “Olbermann” on ESPN, Boston’s winning bid to represent the U.S. as a potential Summer Olympic site generated a firestorm of criticism and even some incredulity.

Sports historians, social scientists and other academics have written extensively regarding the cost of constructing stadiums Early books, such as Dean V. Baim’s The Sports Stadium As a Municipal Investment, used economic analysis to demonstrate that the stadiums cost significantly more than their projected cost. Few stadiums built from the 1960s through the 1980s ever earned a net positive financial gain.

One prime example was the Olympic Stadium in Montreal, built for the 1976 Summer Games and used by the Montreal Expos baseball team. According to Robert C. Trumpbour’s New Cathedrals, the stadium left the city with a $ 1 million debt. Paying the debt through the mid-2000s, according to Garry Whannel in Culture, Politics and Sport marred the memory of the games in the minds of citizens. The memory and current circumstances regarding the stadium have not improved as the stadium has basically been empty since 2005,

The books on stadiums have focused on stadium proponents main argument: that stadiums generate economic growth. Andrew Zimbalist, an economist at Smith College has written extensively about the falseness of this purported reason for supporting public financing of stadiums. He and Roger G. Noll’s book Sports, Jobs and Taxes concluded that sports teams and stadiums were not a source of local economic growth and employment and that the public financing provided to the team far outweighed the new jobs and taxes that the team and stadium provided the city or state. The message about the economic viability of stadiums started to reach more of the public.

In some cities, opponents of publicly financed stadiums made pitched but unsuccessful efforts to stop these expenditures, In 2004, Kevin J. Delaney and Rick Eckstein captured these battles in their book, Public Dollars, Private Stadiums. Intriguingly, stadium proponents downplayed the economic gain argument, and adopted two others to win the financing in cities ranging from Pittsburgh and Cincinnati to Denver, Phoenix and San Diego.

The Olympic Games offered two key assets to the hosting city and nation. The first, particularly important during the Cold War, centered on national pride. The second, promoted the economic gains that the Games reportedly brought. Proponents asserted that economy of the host country attained growth spurred on from new construction that occurred before the start of the Games. The gains continued during the games from event and visitor spending during the event.

Montreal showed that the economic gains often still leave a debt. Ferran Brunet’s study, “An economic analysis of the Barcelona’92 Olympic Games: resources, financing and impacts,” offered a somewhat more positive example. The author observed the typical underestimation of the cost to the Olympics, “In the development of the Olympic project the forecasts went from 237,000 million pesetas in April 1985, to an estimated 768,368 million in March 1991, to the final figure of 1,119,510 million pesetas in July of 1993.” The city and national governments and private partners invested this money and actually generated $ 2.2 million in profit. The Games provided a rise in employment and a stronger sense of confidence and world presence for the city and nation. However, when I visited a decade later, much of the Olympic area in the city appeared empty and devoid of people and games.

Do cities in the United States need the Games for similar reasons? Atlanta won the 1996 Summer games and sought to use them to promote tourism and attract businesses to the region. Again, pre-Olympic projections expected the creation of 77,026 jobs and $5.14 billion into the state economy. Despite Barcelona’s success, it’s jobs total capped out at less than 67,000. According to Steven P. French and Mike E. Disher in “Atlanta and the Olympics,” Atlanta spent over $200 million each for an indoor stadium and Olympic stadium. Much of the money came from private sources and very little public funds.

At the close of the Games, the estimate of economic benefits from the Games fell over a billion dollars below initial projections. What organizers either did not consider or perhaps include was the Olympics would not bring new spending. The games shifted spending away from other entertainment activities and other revenue-generating activities could not occur in Atlanta because of the presence of the Olympics. Additionally, visitor spending on food and lodging totaled less that expected.

In their book Olympic Dreams: The Impact of Mega-Events on Local Politics, authors Matthew J. Burbank, Gregory D. Andranovich and Charles H. Heying analyzed how three US cities fared in their attempt to use the Olympics as an approach to economic growth. They argued that the Atlanta region benefited from the tourist, employment and construction windfall. City officials replaced aging infrastructure, although residents paid double the cost for water and some other utilities since the changes. Their chapter focused on urban development aspects that did and didn’t happen with the Olympics. That will be the focus on the promises and deliveries for US cities with hosting the Olympics.

Thorpe Comes Out

Good for Ian Thorpe. Strange that so many people like myself always believed that he was gay despite his recent (2012) autobiography in which he categorically denied ever having anything other than heterosexual experiences. Sometimes, the most interesting thing is to read the comments afterwards. So many people write that they are sick of articles like this and don’t care to hear about the athlete’s sexuality. However, the miss the point about how the lies and secrets effect the person/ the athlete.

Ian Thorpe reveals he is gay

Updated: July 13, 2014, 9:12 AM ET

Associated Press

SYDNEY — Five-time Olympic swimming gold medalist Ian Thorpe for the first time publicly confirmed that he is gay during a television interview on Sunday, ending years of speculation about his sexuality.

Thorpe, who had long denied that he was gay, told British talk show host Michael Parkinson in an interview broadcast on Australia’s Channel 10 that he just recently realized the truth about himself.

“I’m not straight,” Thorpe said. “And this is only something that very recently — we’re talking in the past two weeks — I’ve been comfortable telling the closest people around me exactly that.”

For years, Thorpe took great pains to hide his sexuality. In his 2012 autobiography, “This Is Me,” Thorpe wrote, “For the record, I am not gay and all of my sexual experiences have been straight. I’m attracted to women, I love children, and aspire to have a family one day.”

Thorpe, 31, said being asked about his sexuality by journalists when he was just a teenager forced him to adopt a defensive attitude toward the issue. He was too young to know whether he was gay or straight, and said he responded that he was straight to avoid teasing from classmates. Things spiraled from there.

“I felt the lie had become so big that I didn’t want people to question my integrity,” he said. “And a little bit of ego comes into this; I didn’t want people to question … have I lied about everything?”

Now, he says, he wishes he had come out sooner.

“I’m comfortable saying I’m a gay man,” he said. “And I don’t want young people to feel the same way that I did. You can grow up, you can be comfortable and you can be gay.”

Part of his reluctance to come out, he said, was fear of letting his family and his fans down.

“I wanted to make my family proud. I wanted to make my nation proud of me. And part of me didn’t know if Australia wanted its champion to be gay,” he said. “But I’m telling not only Australia, but I’m telling the world, that I am.”

Ian Thorpe, a five-time Olympic gold medalist, ended years of speculation about his sexuality, saying “I’m comfortable saying I’m a gay man.”

Thorpe added that he is looking forward to living his life openly, without the burden of carrying a secret. He wants to find a partner, he said, and start a family.

Thorpe retired from swimming in 2012 after winning five Olympic gold medals, three silvers, and one bronze, and setting 22 world records.

Known to fans as “the Thorpedo,” he was just 14 when he was first chosen to represent Australia, and became swimming’s youngest world champion at that age when he won the 400-meter freestyle at the 1998 worlds in Perth.

His career peaked at the 2000 Sydney Olympics where he won three gold and two silver medals. He retired after the 2004 Athens Olympics, citing a lack of motivation, but made an unsuccessful comeback when he tried to qualify for the 2012 London Games.

In the interview, Thorpe also spoke at length about the often crippling depression he has struggled with since he was a teenager, which led him at one point to contemplate suicide. When antidepressants failed to help, he said, he turned to alcohol to ease his pain.

“I kind of felt that it was unfair, that I was doing the right thing, taking the antidepressant, and I’m still miserable,” he said. “So I tried drinking.”

“How hard?” Parkinson asked.

“Well, I didn’t have to try that hard,” Thorpe responded with a laugh.

Meanwhile, Thorpe said he is still struggling with a broken shoulder. He contracted a serious infection when he underwent surgery earlier this year and said he still faces the prospect of more operations.

“I have to be realistic with my expectations, that I may not be able to lift my arm above my head, which would mean that I may never swim again,” he said. “It’s tough. Because I want to be able to swim.”

 

Red Speedo: Class Athletics

Studio Theater in Washington, DC is showing, Red Speedo, a play that sparked thoughts of David Mamet’s best works. Like Mamet, the play looks at people from the lower rungs of American society who are trying to reach the American Dream. They have limited talents and few assets and need to maximize their chances at success in the one shot that they have.

The title character has that shot in the swimming pool. He is attempting to qualify as an Olympic swimmer and he knows the limits of his talents. He has chosen to take a path of performance enhancing drugs that raises questions about his morals and his talents. What will his brother, who has been his sponsor, and representative think about his choices and what will he do? More significantly, he has a coach who is struggling to keep the swim club financially afloat. Will he discover this indiscretion? The lead’s love interest also has an intriguing back history and perspective to be taken into account as well.

We’ve had many of these athletes who has crossed this line, beginning with the Oakland A’s Bash Brothers to San Francisco Giants Barry Bonds. Most notably were cultural icons, like cyclist and philanthropist Lance Armstrong and Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees. All deny the activity, worse they fight their accusers to the point of ruining them financially and their reputations, all while knowing that they did take the drugs.

What’s more compelling about the job that playwright Lucas Hnath and director Lila Neugebauer have done is that they have shown how the thinking of the athlete works to justify the taking of the drugs. They have shown how others surrounding the athlete come to terms with tacitly and knowingly accepting this behavior.

The set was sharp, you could smell chlorine when you walked up the staircase. The performances by Frank Boyd, Harry Winter, and Laura C. Harris were strong. Of particularly note was Thomas Jay Ryan, as the older brother.

What made this play powerful was the inclusion of today’s class system in the U.S. Though warped, the older brother’s disquisition on the need to be rich in the US was worth the price of admission.

Olympics are Great Fun but Not So Gay

Been watching the Olympic Games daily. Enjoying old favorites like gymnastics and soccer to newer games to me like team handball. Saw this great article on Foxsports about gays and lesbian competitors.

It has been a great games for gay Olympians – probably. So few come out that we don’t know who is and isn’t. A survey by Outsports indicated that there are 23 openly gay and lesbian athletes out of 10,000 in the competition.

British equestrian Carl Hesterwon gold in team dressage in London. Midfielder Megan Rapinoe has scored three goals for the U.S. women’s soccer team and several other lesbian players are part of the Dutch field hockey team heading into Friday’s final.

But it’s likely there have been more triumphs by gay and lesbian competitors that the world doesn’t know about.

There are more than 10,000 athletes competing at the London games, but when the gay website OutSports.com set out to count how many were openly gay, it came up with 23.

”It’s an absurdly low number,” said site co-founder Jim Buzinski. He said that compared to the arts, politics or business worlds, ”sports is still the final closet in society.”

Many athletes who come out say it has been a positive experience – and even performance-enhancing. Rapinoe scored two goals in the U.S. team’s semifinal win over Canada.

”I guess it seems like a weight off my shoulders,” she said on the eve of Thursday’s gold medal match against Japan. ”I’ve been playing a lot better than I’ve ever played before. I think I’m just enjoying myself and I’m happy.”

Estimates of the percentage of gay people in any given population vary widely. In a 2010 survey by Britain’s Office for National Statistics, 1.5 percent of respondents identified themselves as gay or bisexual, although many consider that an underestimate.

More scores are in the books, medals around necks. Find out who’s golden, and who’s on their way, with our full Olympics results.

Only a handful of Olympic competitors have publicly identified themselves as gay, including Hester, Rapinoe, U.S. basketball player Seimone Augustus, Australian diver Matthew Mitcham and South African archer Karen Hultzer, who came out to the media during the games.

”I am an archer, middle-aged and a lesbian,” the 46-year-old athlete told OutSports – but said she looked forward to the day when her sexuality was not an issues.

”I am also cranky before my first cup of coffee,” she said. ”None of these aspects define who I am, they are simply part of me.”

Gay sports groups say the London games organizers have been welcoming, including gay, lesbian and transgender volunteers among its staff and sanctioning an official games rainbow pin.

The London Pride House, a gay hospitality venue, had official approval from games organizers. London organizing chief executive Paul Deighton said the site helped show Britain as an inclusive place ”which welcomes the world’s diverse communities and creates a safe sporting environment for LGBT athletes.”

Looks like the tweeting is getting a little friendlier between the athletes. See their latest tweets.

But activists fear the next host city – Sochi in southern Russia – will be far less gay-friendly. Homosexuality was decriminalized in Russia in 1993, but anti-gay sentiment remains strong. Protests by gay rights activists regularly end in mass arrests.

British rights activist Peter Tatchell and a handful of supporters rallied Thursday outside Russia’s Sochi Park pavilion in London to protest Russian authorities’ refusal to allow a pride house at the 2014 Winter Games – a decision that was backed up by a Russian court.

”Quite clearly, this ban is in violation of the Olympic charter, which prohibits discrimination and guarantees equality,” Tatchell said. He said the International Olympic Committee ”doesn’t appear to want to engage with this issue.”

IOC spokeswoman Emmanuelle Moreau said the IOC would not comment ”on private court cases,” but added that ”the IOC is an open organization and athletes of all orientations will be welcome at the games.”

 

Marc Naimark of the Federation of Gay Games said the IOC should pressure countries to repeal anti-gay laws the way it once excluded South Africa for its racial apartheid policy and, more recently, succeeded in getting all competing nations to include female athletes on their teams in London.

”The lack of ‘out’ athletes in the Olympics is a symptom,” Naimark said. ”It’s not the problem.”

There is a particular dearth of openly gay male Olympians – there are only three men on that London list of 23. The most high-profile is Mitcham, whose Twitter biography calls him ”that gay, 2008-Olympic-gold-medal-winning diver dude.” He’ll be defending his 10-meter springboard title at the games this weekend.

Rapinoe, who came out earlier this year, said it was more difficult for male athletes than for women to be open about their sexuality.

”I think there’s a lot of gay women in sports, and it’s widely known in the team, they can live a pretty open lifestyle without being open in the media,” she said. ”But I think for men unfortunately it’s not the same climate in the locker room.”

 

There’s also the fear of losing lucrative commercial endorsements. Sponsors would never admit that they would drop an athlete who came out as gay, but few competitors would want to risk it.

Much was made of the fact that former NBA player John Amaechi signed an endorsement deal with razor company HeadBlade after he came out in 2007. But HeadBlade is small potatoes compared to Adidas or other huge sports sponsors.

Times may be changing, however. Adidas spokeswoman Katja Schreiber said the company would stand by an athlete who chose to come out of the closet.

Buzinski thinks the environment for gay athletes is improving. He points to the growing number of athletes, gay and straight, who are prepared to speak out against homophobia.

 

 

More Olympic Boxing Insanity

The London 2012  Games Boxing fiascos continue. Another mysterious win by a boxer who throws phantom punches and gets the points needed to outpoint their opponent.

The US Olympic Boxing Committee had enough! They registered a protest after the last of their boxers, welterweight Errol Spence, lost 13-11 to a man who spent most of the third and last round of the fight, holding on, grabbing his opponent, and committing other rule infractions.

The amateur committee overturned the decision against Spence. He now advances on to the next round.

 

A few hours after the U.S. men’s boxing team thought it was done at the Olympics, amateur boxing’s governing body decided Errol Spence deserved to fight on.

AIBA overturned Spence’s loss to Indian welterweight Krishan Vikas late Friday night, five hours after the defense-minded Vikas had apparently clutched and grabbed his way to a 13-11 victory.

After the American team protested the result, AIBA’s competition jury reviewed the bout and ruled Vikas had committed nine holding fouls in the third round alone. He also intentionally spit out his mouthpiece in the second round, which should have resulted in at least four points of deductions.

 

[+] EnlargeErrol Spence

Kyle Terada/USA TODAY SportsWelterweight Errol Spence, left, lost Friday, but after the American squad protested the result officials ruled that Spence should have won. Spence will stay in the tournament.

 

Spence advanced into the quarterfinals to face Russia’s Andrey Zamkovoy on Tuesday. If he wins, the American men’s team will avoid leaving the Olympics with no medals for the first time ever.

“I am obviously thrilled that the competition jury overturned my decision and I can continue chasing the gold medal I came here to win,” Spence said late Friday night. “I am going to make the most of this second chance that I’ve been given. I can’t wait to get back in that ring on Tuesday.”

India’s veteran boxing coach says he accepts the decision.

Gurbankhsh Singh Sandhu was disappointed, but he says “a rule is a rule.”

Spence felt he had won the bout afterward, expecting his hand to be raised in the ring, but wasn’t terribly surprised when Vikas got the nod. The welterweight from Dallas already was the last U.S. man standing after his eight male teammates lost in the previous five days, including three-time Olympian Rau’shee Warren’s 19-18 loss to France’s Nordine Oubaali an hour earlier.

Spence stopped the eight-fight skid, but must beat Zamkovoy to save the most successful team in Olympic boxing history from its first medal shutout and its worst showing at any games — although three U.S. women are still alive in their first Olympic tournament, which begins Sunday.

Spence’s late reprieve was surreal for a team that appeared headed home with nothing. Spence struggled to penetrate Vikas’ technical, plodding style despite showing superior power and entertainment value.

“We did a lot of work, got a lot of coaching, but it’s the judges that we feel we’re going against most of the time,” Warren said.

The 2008 U.S. team won only one bronze medal in Beijing, the worst showing so far — but at least that team won six total fights, one more than the London team. The American men have won only one gold medal in the last three Olympics, by Andre Ward in Athens in 2004.

The vaunted American team has claimed at least one boxing medal in every modern Olympics where boxing was a sport except the boycotted Moscow Games, and many of the men who won them are among the giants of the sweet science.

Cassius Clay, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Floyd Patterson, Oscar De La Hoya, Evander Holyfield, Roy Jones Jr. and Floyd Mayweather Jr. all won medals for U.S. teams, leading generations of boxing talent the world couldn’t match.

 

[+] EnlargeRaushee Warren

Chuck Myers/MCT via Getty ImagesAmerican flyweight Rau’shee Warren, right, lands a punch on France’s Nordine Oubaali during the third round of Friday’s bout.

 

The Americans’ 48 gold medals and 108 total medals are easily the most in Olympic boxing history, with 45 more medals than second-place Cuba.

The London team actually won its first four fights last weekend, but then the losses piled up with alarming speed. The Americans’ poor performance caps a two-decade struggle to adapt to changes in the amateur sport, with steadily declining medal counts ever since boxing went to a computerized scoring system that rewards a style with stark differences from pro boxing.

The U.S. seemed headed for a better showing last week. The 4-0 start showed its improved team chemistry after the Beijing team squabbled and argued its way to a dismal showing.

The current U.S. team has a strong relationship with coach Basheer Abdullah and his staff, even though Abdullah only had about six weeks to prepare as a late hire by USA Boxing. None of the fighters blamed the coaching-staff turmoil for his performance, but the string of losses was stark: Three fighters lost on Wednesday, followed by two more on Thursday before Warren’s defeat.

After Spence’s apparent loss, Abdullah came close to suggesting the judges might have been biased against some American fighters, although he also believes U.S. boxers need years of training in the amateur sport to compete at its highest levels. Amateur boxing features five ringside judges who award points only when they believe a punch lands, rather than traditional scoring systems that evaluate skill, style, technique and aggression.

The amateur sport moved to a computerized scoring system after Jones’ infamous loss at the Seoul Olympics in 1988, when three judges awarded a decision to South Korea’s Park Hi-sun after Jones dominated their fight.

“I don’t blame any (scoring) systems,” Abdullah said. “I blame the people that operate them. I’m disappointed in some of the things I’m seeing.”

Spence knew the feeling after three rounds of trying to break through the passive guard of Vikas, who fights a rigid amateur style emphasizing defense and tactical aggression. India’s amateur boxing scene has surged in popularity in the four years since Vijender Singh won his nation’s first Olympic medal in Beijing, with thousands of prospective Olympians training in the amateur style with no intention of ever turning pro.

“I thought I won the fight,” said Spence, a talented puncher who intends to turn pro this fall, along with most of his teammates. “I thought I threw more punches and landed more shots. I thought I was the more aggressive boxer. It was kind of frustrating, but he’s fighting to the computer system.”

Warren’s loss was particularly heartbreaking. The undersized dynamo nicknamed “Nuke” twice passed on a pro career and a chance to provide financially for his growing family to take another shot at hanging a gold medal around the neck of his mother, Paulette.

He waited well over a decade for this moment, climbing the amateur ranks in his native Cincinnati and avoiding the pitfalls that put two of his three brothers in prison. He got to the top of the amateur sport — and then stumbled at the three biggest moments of his career.

Warren wept in Beijing when he lost his opening bout on a last-minute tactical error. Four years and another one-point loss later, he seemed dulled to the pain of going winless in his unmatched Olympic career.

And he won’t be back for Rio: Warren said he’ll turn pro, probably along with every member of his team.

“It ain’t really no setback for me,” Warren said. “I’ve got big things coming up. This isn’t the end for Rau’shee Warren.”

Oubaali rallied from a first-round deficit with more aggression and precision than the third-seeded Warren, a former world champion. Warren also lost his contact lenses in the opening round and couldn’t size up Oubaali, who mostly controlled the final two rounds.

Warren still thought he might have eked out the decision, but few fans at ExCel seemed surprised when Oubaali got the decision. Abdullah also said he agreed with the decision.

Now 25, Warren says he’s still happy he stuck around to become the first three-time U.S. Olympic boxer — even though he might still turn out to be the biggest disappointment on the least successful American team ever.

“It’s always a good experience,” he said, “to do something people don’t normally do.”

Gay Male Olympian

Athletes have a greater struggle with their image if they have a gay or lesbian sexual orientation.

Look at how prevalent the television coverage of heterosexual athletes’ boyfriends and girlfriends, husbands and wives were during the Games. How come the boyfriend of the Australian diver Matthew Mitcham never appeared in a shot of the stands, despite being lovers with the winner of the Gold medal in the event?

http://qmag.wordpress.com/

Go to article on Gay Australian diver wins gold.

The responses from the NBC executives are intriguing. Up close and personal, get to know an athlete who has a unique story to tell. Geez, wouldn’t Mitcham qualify as having a highly unique story?

The coverage of the women who were lesbians were as sparse, even when they athletes were Americans. An article by Patricia Neil Warren raises the issue of the slanted coverage that the gay media provided regarding the performances of Mitcham and the lesbians who won gold medals — Natasha Kai on the U.S. women’s soccer team, and team captain Gro Hammerseng and her partner Katja Nyberg on the Norwegian handball team.

http://www.outsports.com/

Go to article Our Gay Oylmpic heroes

Athletic images that are invisible because of their sexual interests.