Thursday, August 19, 2004

i watched the men's allaround gym finals yesterday and paul hamm was a true inspiration. normally you'd think that after screwing up your fourth event with a dismal score of 9.1 caused by lurching into the judges' table after an awful landing from vault, there'd be no chance for a medal, much less the gold. usually there wouldn't be anything left to compete for, you'd reason that it wouldn't be possible to get back into the running after that horrific mistake. hamm was twelvth after four rotations, which left him with only parallel bars and high bar to redeem his olympic dream. but hamm pulled off one of the most electrifying parallel bars routine i'd ever seen immediately after his vault, which earned him 9.837 points and rocketed him into fourth place, within reach of the top three. and a similarly powerfully inspirational high bar routine (three releases! with the one-armed giant swing! god.) was enough to propel him past the koreans and back to the place where he belonged- the top spot.
the true spirit of a sportsman- it's never over till the end. and he thoroughly deserves his victory. i'm inspired.

Hamm's victory was high drama
By Jill Lieber, USA TODAY

ATHENS — When he walked over to the high bar at Olympic Indoor Hall, the final gymnast in the final event of the men's gymnastics all-around competition Wednesday, Paul Hamm had no idea he needed to score more than 9.825 to pull himself out of fourth place and take home the gold medal. What he had in his mind after he crash-landed on the vault two events earlier was that he needed to pull off the performances of his life to even get the bronze. So Hamm took a deep breath and began swinging powerfully through the air, executing his technically difficult routine and then nailing his landing. When his score came up — 9.837 — he still wasn't sure if it would be enough. And even after the arena scoreboard retabulated the scores, and his coach, Miles Avery, screamed, "Olympic champion!" Hamm couldn't quite compute what had just happened. "I looked at Miles and said, 'Olympic champion? No way!' " a still-stunned Hamm said an hour later. "I really had thought gold was totally out of the question."

In one of the most dramatic comebacks in sports, with the closet margin of victory, 0.012, in Olympic history, Hamm, 21, of Waukesha, Wis., became a U.S. men's gymnastics legend.

An hour after the event was over, Hamm was still trying to fathom what had just happened.
"After I missed the vault, I thought there was no chance for gold," Hamm said. "I thought maybe a bronze. I was very upset and depressed, because I knew that all-around was my best chance for winning the gold. When the score came up and Miles yelled, 'Olympic champion,' I was still shocked, because I just didn't think it was possible. How could it be possible?"

Hamm had come to Athens as the reigning world champion, filled with high expectations, billed with lots of media fanfare. He showed strength, power, creativity and consistency throughout the qualifications and team finals. All along he had said if he hit all six events, there was no question the all-around title would be his.

On the night's first event, the floor exercise, Hamm made a statement, his solid tumbling earning 9.725 to put him into first place, tied with China's Yang Wei, the 2000 Olympic and 2003 world silver medalist. He followed with a 9.7 on the pommel horse, although Wei snuck past him on the still rings to take a .037 lead. Next it was Hamm's turn on the rings, his weakest event, and he scored a solid 9.587, celebrating with a pinpoint landing and pumped fists. Wei dipped on the vault (9.512), and Hamm took over first by .038.

And then disaster struck. Hamm didn't rotate enough on his vault, which caused him to sit down on the landing and almost fall off the podium, nearly hitting a judge. He appeared to have fallen out of medal contention in one fell swoop, scoring 9.137 and dropping to 12th.
"I just didn't get enough power off the vault," he said. "I landed to the side and couldn't withstand the impact, and I fell over."
A collective gasp, then murmurs, swept through the hall. Hamm sat on a chair on the sideline adjacent to the vault runway, stunned and forlorn, staring silently into space, figuring his shot at U.S. men's gymnastics immortality was gone.

First up on the next event, parallel bars, Hamm pulled off a great routine — his handstand positions were solid and very extended. His double-pike dismount was the period at the end of his never-say-die sentence. Some of the leaders who followed him on the parallel bars had problems, but the last man in the event, Korea's Yang, stuck a 9.775 and took over first place.

Elsewhere in the arena, the gymnasts in sixth through 11th place started faltering, too. All of that helped rocket Hamm into fourth place — and put him in striking distance on the high bar, his strongest event. "I'm very happy right now," Hamm said. "I was so angry at myself after I'd missed the vault. I had worked years for that moment, and it all went down the drain.

"And then I had the best performance of my life on high bar. I'm proud of myself. I realized my dream. And I never, never, never gave up."

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

i feel so unsure
as i take your hand
and lead you to the dance floor
as the music dies
something in your eyes
calls to mind a silver screen
and all its sad goodbyes

i'm never gonna dance again
guilty feet have got no rhythm
though it's easy to pretend
i know you're not a fool
i should have known better than to cheat a friend
and waste a chance that i've been given
so i'm never gonna dance again
the way i danced with you

time can never mend
the careless whisper of a good friend
to the heart and mind
ignorance is kind
there's no comfort in the truth
pain is all you'll find

tonight the music seems so loud
i wish that we could lose this crowd
maybe it's better this way
we'd hurt each other with the things we want to say
we could have been so good together
we could have lived this dance forever
but now who's gonna dance with me
please stay

now that you've gone
now that you've gone
now that you've gone
was what i did so wrong
so wrong that you had to leave me alone

george michael :: careless whisper

oh snap outta it. what an ass i am.
but is it a sin to keep hoping?

Thursday, August 12, 2004

in the computer lab now after a damn slack human geog lesson- just finished an awful econs essay-cum-drq during econs tutorial just now (i swear, sowden can be really slack at times but when he gets going its workworkwork all the way) and i've got a math quiz later, which i'm positively sure i'm going to flunk. oh god my lower back aches like crazy, a product of doing 4 sets of 15back extensions clasping a 10kg plate in the weights room yesterday. but yeah it nails the abs and the back at the same time. my calves are screaming out too from calf presses yesterday. gosh. and i heard something that quite aptly summed up my passion for doing weights/ working out, coming from a rugger (if you have to hear it from anyone, it's gotta be a rugger) when he was talking to a j1 guy canoeist :" it's like a fucking addiction".

oh boy i couldn't agree any better.
hell yeah it's like a fucking addiction.

haha there're national squad time trials this week- man isn't it crazy? how'd they expect us to maintain our peak for three weeks, spanning nationals to scf to trials? it's damn crazy la. especially since there isn't anymore school training now and all we've got are our own sessions, and we've cut down on morning training at macritchie due to the lack of time. and the timings to make it to the elite team anyway scf on sat/sun was a great way to cap off the competitive season for 2004. our heat on sat was total crap. i have no idea why i thought it was a false start, so we stopped very nicely in the middle of the race (remember its only 250m, no time to stop man!), looked back, went "oh SHIT" and continued the race. yeahh. well at least we still managed to come in 2nd. semis were marginally better, at least we didn't stop this time. and the funny thing was that the hc boat with chian lin was in lane1 while we were in lane2- which is ALWAYS the case-it's really quite hilarious at how we inevitably meet each other no matter what distances we race in. finals we re so damn close! we won by a hair's breadth. oh man. i'm quite sure it was a rather spectacular race to watch too because the 5 boats came in within 2seconds of each other. anyway nic and melissa came down (it's nice finally seeing you, for the first time, nic) hahaha!

Thursday, August 05, 2004

finally i've found the time to get back to this blog and reminisce about nationals. it's been almost a week since finals, and a week since heats. man. i'd like to thank the seniors for coming down to support us- the j3s and the j4s and perhaps more (though i may not know every single one of you, thanks for coming back and showing us that the call of raffles canoeing remains strong even after you've left). the support was incredible. especially to people like benedict, justin, huilin and lynn. you guys have done so much for our batch- continually motivating, supporting us, since you all have the wealth of experience garnered from competing yourselves. also tremendous thankyous to the j1s who didn't compete but came down to provide the logistics support, carrying paddles, transporting boats, bringing food... i'm sure all the j2s are really grateful for you guys. it'll be your turn to compete next year- carry on the legacy that we and our seniors have left.

i guess thinking back right now about the finals race- it's kinda weird reminiscing about it. i have nothing much to say except for the fact that i think it's the best i've ever rowed. every inch of me, every breath straining towards the finish line. before the start of the race my mind was a complete blank, and i was entirely focused on rowing the best race of my life. winning was secondary, doing my absolute best foremost. and i'm glad that i have absolutely no regrets about that race. definitely it hit me hard that i wasn't able to clinch the gold, but i guess that's part and parcel of life and canoeing. you win some, you lose some. the pair from acjc, winny and jasmine, totally deserved their gold, anyway. i must say that they rowed a very inspired race, giving it all they had, and such opponents are definitely worthy of respect. congratulations.

i guess i've come out of nationals (and canoeing) learning so much more than i'd ever imagined i would. i'm glad that after nationals the canoeists from different schools can finally set aside their rivalries and i can get to know people for who they really are. to HC canoeists- man! we've always thought you people were great! but having to compete against each other on so many occasions kinda hampered us in getting to know you better. anyway i'm glad to have known you all, and hopefully we can all meet again sometime! to SR canoeists- haha wow i didn't know that some of you went to my church- i kinda got a shock when i saw you ppl there- thanks for the support and encouragement especially prior to and immediately after my race. even though we're not from the same school i'm really touched that you guys put aside school loyalties to egg us on during the finals. thank you so much. to MJ canoeists- haha training with you guys has been quite an experience! haha thanks for the support.. train hard and you guys will definitely do real well in all the races to come.

oh shucks the bell's rung for gp class. i'll blog about the rest sometime soon if not i'll be late and evans won't be very pleased with me. haha.