High def video on NBC’s site – VERY worth it (or watch the spectactor footage below:)
WOW. Not the most high-profile of gymnastic events, but “Flying Dutchman” Epke Zonderland NAILED his high bar performance last night amid stiff competition from his fellow gymnasts. His moves were sublimely fluid and seamless, lighter than air on the twists and releases, and those three catch-and-release dealies were jaw-dropping. It also carried a difficulty of 7.9, the highest of ANY Olympic gymnast in any event. Maybe not quite as flawlessly brilliant as McKayla Maroney’s perfect vault, it was still, in the words of NBC commentators, “absolutely sick!” and it got him a ludicrously high score of 16.533 and the Netherlands’ first gymnastics gold in 84 years. Bravo Epke, and congratulations Holland!
The day has come, friends and readers: WBH and its author have avoided it for years, but we’re now on Twitter, as you can now see over on the right side over there ——————>
Follow along for links and thoughts that won’t always make it to this site, but are still worthwhile. https://twitter.com/WBHblog
Also, if you’re not following him already, Samuel L Jackson’s Twitter has focused almost solely on the Olympics since they began, with tweets re: events as NBC shows them. It’s a masterpiece, the product of a “magnificent and wonderful mind,” as a friend put it. Here are some of the choicest examples:
“PHELPS WALKS em’ DOWN!!! Came & got that ASS! OLYMPIC RULER!! Last race Maggie!! MOSTMUFFAQUATICPFUQQAH of ALL TIME! GOLD!!! Go USA!” [personal favorite]
“Like I said before, those BRITS are some PEDALIN’, RECORD BREAKIN’, MUTHACYCLINPHUCCAS!! Congrats UK!”
“There’s Really some shit called a Splashometer??!! Really?!”
“Men’s Rapid Fire Pistol is Off da Chain! The glasses, da Gats…no Recoil! Steady hands & nobody’s holdin’ their shit SIDEWAYS!”
“Soni Wrecks Breaststroke WR in 200!! A DEUCEMOUGHFOUGHKINPEAT!! Mo GOLD Mo GOLD Mo GOLD! !! Go USA!!”
“Did that Russian just do the ” whoa Gurl Whut wuz in That Drank, dat Shit wuz Skrong” Vault landing?!”
We Ball Harder has an unwritten rule to not talk about sports, or indeed anything that doesn’t potentially add value to your life. However, our slogan is “Telling You What’s Good,” and unwritten rules are certainly there to be broken, and since it’s the Olympics, here’s what’s not just good, but too good not to discuss: McKayla Maroney and her mastery of the vault.
Yes, by now everyone has seen her unfortunate fall after her second vault last night, which resulted in a silver medal in the individual vault competition. If you paid attention though, you’ll notice that her first vault was so good that despite her fall on the second she STILL led the pack until the very last gymnast, neither of whose jumps were nearly as good as McKayla’s first. Also amazing is that last night was her first serious mistake ever in a competition. And unlike some of other gymnasts in these games, she accepted her mistake and her Silver stoically and resolutely. Respect.
But let’s go back to 31 July, to the celebrated gold medal performance by the Fierce Five, as some have taken to calling the US women’s gymnastics team. Every one of the young ladies performed brilliantly, but far and away the best single performance of that event was McKayla’s vault, pictured above, which arguably cemented the US’s lead. Consisting of a notably difficult move called the Amanar, it carried a difficulty score of 6.5, many tenths of a point higher than most routines. McKayla launched herself into the air like a rocket, reaching an unprecedented height while performing 2.5 turns and a somersault, all while keeping herself dead straight as no other gymnast did. Not to mention the flawless landing. In the end she received an execution score of 9.733, the highest score given to any gymnast, for a whopping total score of 16.266 out of a maximum 16.5. Where were the errors? Nobody is sure, neither commentators nor fans after watching slow replays again and again. Even the judges appeared to be in awe. I’m convinced it was perfect. See for yourself – I challenge you to watch only once:
and super slow-motion HD:
Despite the amazing achievements of numerous athletes at the London Olympics, whether it be Missy Franklin’s staggering gold medal-filled Olympic debut, Usain Bolt smoking the competition yet again, or the sheer awesomeness of Oscar Pistorius, McKayla Maroney’s vault on July 31 stands out for its artistry, its grace, its athleticism, and its sheer perfection. She may have a silver on her own, but her stunning performance was the finest moment in the sea of fine moments that led to the Fierce Five gold. She is unequivocally the best in the world, the Hardest Vaulter and Hardest Baller in the field. Bravo!
Updated to add this bonus:
Leaving London for a moment, Today’s Financial Times has done something remarkable: actually published an accurate, pros-and-cons article that perfectly captures the frustrating yet addictive nature of Beirut. Most major papers do nothing but extol its party/beach/restaurant/chic cafe scene. Abigail Fielding-Smith’s article is all about the chaos, frustration, and anarchy of life in Beirut, but equal due paid to the entrancing small charms of living there:
“It is fashionable among Middle East aficionados to decry Beirut’s shallowness. But away from the manic hedonism of the nightspots, the pleasure Beirutis take in the small things in life is infectious. In the evenings, old ladies take fold-up chairs on to the seafront to gossip and smoke water-pipes, while young men slip in and out of the water beneath the railings. Beirut is, despite its problems, a great place to live. I hope it stays that way.”
Definitely worth a read, and something to keep in mind when you think everything around you is madness.
The lads over at Top Gear, the greatest TV show on the planet, have rather coincidentally provided a photo gallery of just the sort of cars you can see on a typical afternoon in West-Central London. You’ll remember I said something about this yesterday, and here’s visual proof of what I was talking about. Click here to see the full gallery, but here are a few of my favorites:
Oddly omitted: the sublime Maserati Granturismo, fairly common in SW3, SW1, SW7, W8, and W1
Gotta catch em all!
After reading the previous post, one of my great friends from my student days there had this to say to me about London, and it deserves to be shared:
‘London is a place where everything lives and dies. It’s a city where you’ll extend the frequency of your existence like a rubberband testing its stretchiness. You have the choice to live a big or a small life, to learn everything or nothing. To feel alone in the silence of its parks, or claustrophobic surrounded by a cocophony of cultures & scents. It’s one of the only places on this earth where a global nomad can go back to and it will always feel “same-same-but-different”.’
I may live mostly in DC, frustratedly adore Beirut, and enjoy travelling round the world, but only one place is my true love: The Metropolis; Her Majesty’s Capital; London. Having lived there twice and visited so often I’ve lost count of the times, London is truly where my spirit resides. When I arrive at Dulles, I groan; when I arrive at Heathrow, I think “I’m home.”
Given a little thing called the Olympics is going on there now, it’s a great time to tell you why London deserves every bit of attention it’s getting.