Wednesday, July 25, 2012

London Olympics: Some stories I'll be keeping an eye on

The 2012 Summer Olympics are almost upon us! Here are things that have caught my interest.

Legendary Korean defender and now
 Olympic team manager, Hong Myung Bo 
Korean Football Team

Naturally, as a Korean national football fan, I'll be keen to see how Korea will do in one of the most prestigious international tournaments in the sport. The Olympic (U23 + 3 overage players) team will be the senior team soon, so this will be a good opportunity to see what this young team can offer going ahead into the 2014 World Cup.

However, the truly important matter at stake is the issue of military exemption. Korea, unlike every other country in the world except maybe Israel, forces its male athletes to complete a 2-year military service before the age of 29. Basically, it means that the careers of most Korean athletes are artificially and drastically shortened. The issue of military service is a complex one which I won't get into, but suffice to say, the whole thing has greatly impeded the progress of Korean football.

But if Korea can earn at least a bronze medal, then everyone on the team will be exempted from mandatory service. Obviously, this is a tall task with the likes of Brazil, Spain, and Uruguay in the tournament, but Korea has a decent team and if they can put together a string of great performances, they just might find themselves in contention for a medal.

LeBron James: Crushing the haters, 
one by one
American basketball team

I normally hate anti-underdog teams, but there's a sadistic sort of joy in watching Team USA run roughshod over all the other national sides. Rarely do we get a chance to see the likes of LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, Tyson Chandler, and Kevin Durant play together in any meaningful game, so I relish the opportunity every four years to see the basketball gods come together to reassert their place on the pantheon.

Park Tae Hwan

I think Olympic swimming is a bit silly in the sheer number of medals it gives out for slight variations of the same goal, which is to swim faster than everyone else in the pool. Michael Phelps may have won 8 golds in Beijing, but in my opinion, Usain Bolt still accomplished the more awe-inspiring feat of shattering every track record that he ran against. It's not Usain's fault that there aren't medley relays in track and field for his medal count to balloon.

Nevertheless, I'll pay more attention to swimming this time around because there's this Korean guy named Park Tae Hwan, and he's pretty good. He already won a gold and silver in Beijing, and he'll have a chance to win about 3 medals this time. He'll nearly be a lock for the gold in the 400m freestyle, and should be very competitive in the 200m and 1500m freestyles.

Usain Bolt

Poor Usain hasn't been doing too well lately, but it'll be interesting to see if he can repeat his immortal displays from Beijing. There's nothing more exciting than the 100m sprint in the Summer Games.

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