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28th Olympics, Week 2

Track & Field with a little hoops to boot

The track & field is the name of the game this week. From the 100 to the 3000 steeplechase, the track is the area of focus. If you love to see people running fast, these athletes are doing some incredible things. Everybody has their favorite, but in my mind these have been the most exciting races of this Olymic games as of Thursday:

1) Men's 1500: It's so rare to see that kind of race. Morrocan El Guerrouj could have let this race go but somehow found the energy to take back what would have been a brilliant move by the Kenyan, Bernard Lagat. The East African runners had formed a wall and slowed things down to the tune of a 2:01 for the first 800. But that's when El G could take no more an swung out wide to take the lead. With the lead he pushed the pace and with the last lap (51.3 seconds) it looked like he might break the field. But on the last turn Lagat staged a beatiful passing kick and looked to have it from 30 yards out. But in the last 10 strides El G somehow found a wind that pushed him ahead. Wow.

2) Women's 400: The finish between the great Ana Gabriela Guevara, a Mexican hero, and Tonique Wiliams from the Bahamas was sensational. That Williams was able to hold off (49.41) the woman who destroyed the field in last years Championships is a testament to her training and ability. Guevara will be back and she'll establish herself once again as a dominant runner. She's 27 and has one more good run at Olympic gold in her.

3) Men's 400, 200, 100: Can it get any better for US men's sprinters. The domination by the US men's track team has been nothing short of incredible. These guys have brought home 8 of the 9 metals given thus far in the sprints. Justin Gatlin broke through and put Maurice Green's dream of seriously being able to compare himself with Carl Lewis on ice. Green won't be running 4 years from now. That was his chance. Jeremy Wariner & Shawn Crawford had amazing races. It seems that technique has really taken the team to new heights. Just notice how these guys bear down and focus through their body's limitations.

Also, I should mention that the Kenyans add to their running lore with a sweep in the 3000 steeplchase. Yelena Isinbayeva broke her own world record going 16' 1 1/4". Tom Pappas continues to add to his legend as the best all around athlete by winning the gold with an Olympic record 8,893 points. Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia defeated the legend Haile Gebrselassie with an Olympic record 27:05.10, in the 10000. Gebrselassie, also of Ethiopia and winner of the previous two gold medals in Atlanta & Syndey. This sets up a hopefully great race between Bekele and El G in the 5000. To give you a sense of 27.05 over 6.2 miles, try running one 65-second lap. These guys do 25 of them at that time without batting an eye. The final lap came in a little over 53 seconds. Amazing.

In hoops, an unlikely source came through. Stephon Marbury scored 31 points to take the US team over the Spaniards. Marbury scored from the outside which he hadn't been able to do until this game. If he starts hitting from outside, others will probably start hitting them and the US team will take the gold. Otherwise, the last time they started getting a little cocky they ran into Lithuania. Keep your head on and focus on the team goals. Will Marbury continue launching if he's not hitting. Probably. That's the team's problem. Guys need to be willing to fill different roles on different days. Next up is Argentina.