by | Nov 21, 2008 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

SYDNEY, Australia — The Olympics end today. The final medals will be decided. But I’m ready to name my own winners and losers of the past few weeks.

By the way, I am a purist.

Only gold …and tin.

Olympic Comeback

* Gold: To out-of-retirement swimmers Jenny Thompson and Dara Torres. They came. They saw. They delivered.

* Tin: To French track diva Marie-Jose Perec. She came. She saw. She ran away.

New Olympic Event

* Gold: Triathlon. Every time you watch it, you think “grueling.”

* Tin: Trampoline. Every time you watch it, you think “gym class.”

Spectator Event

* Gold: Beach volleyball. No one’s watching the ball.

* Tin: Table tennis. No one can see the ball.

Endorsement Opportunities

* Gold: Marion Jones. Every company in America would have her.

* Tin: C.J. Hunter. Even the doughnut shop doesn’t want him.

Olympic Excuse

* Gold: Aussie boxer Bradley Hore, 18, who couldn’t make weight because he’d grown 2 inches since qualifying.

* Tin: The Kazakhstan coach, nabbed with 15 vials of human growth hormone. He said it was for his baldness.

Olympic Quote

* Gold: The Italian medalist who said before his drug test: “Cut me open. All you’ll find is pasta and marinara sauce.”

* Tin: The Australian walker who was disqualified 200 meters from winning her 20-kilometer race. When asked what she needed, she said, “A gun to shoot myself.”

Shocking Moment

* Gold: When Rulon Gardner, the unheralded Wyoming farm boy, beat the unbeatable Siberian Bear, Alexandre Karelin, in Greco-Roman wrestling.

* Tin: Finding out they eat kangaroos down here — with barbecue sauce.

Olympic Sportsmanship

* Gold: To tae kwon do’s Esther Kim, who sacrificed her spot so her best friend, Kay Poe, could go to these Olympics. Good on ya, Esther.

* Tin: U.S. swimmer Amy Van Dyken. She spits in the lane of the opponent next to her. Yuck.

Olympic Spirit

* Gold: Aguida Agalar, the marathoner from war-torn East Timor. Finished third-from-last — and still kissed the ground.

* Tin: U.S. men’s basketball team. Can finish first — and still lose interest.

Olympic State of Denial

* Gold: C.J. Hunter.

* Tin: NBC.

Most Photogenic Aussie

* Gold: Pole vaulter Tatiana Grigorieva. Think Heather Locklear.

* Tin: Long jumper Jai Taurima. Think Weird Al Yankovic.

Olympic Water Story

* Gold: Eric Moussambani of Equatorial Guinea. He gave new meaning to the words “swim slow.”

* Tin: The sharks in Sydney Harbor. Gave new meaning to the words “swim fast.”

Home Team Performance

* Gold: Cathy Freeman, the 400-meter gold medalist, who helped unite her nation, black and white.

* Tin: Whoever set the vault 5 centimeters too low. No wonder the gymnasts were black and blue.

Olympic Secret

* Gold: To USA Track & Field, which hides its drug-testing results better than Los Alamos hides its nuclear secrets.

* Tin: NBC’s delayed TV broadcast. I’ll let you in on something: The Olympics actually ended last week. They just haven’t been televised yet.

Contact MITCH ALBOM at 313-223-4581 or Catch Mitch’s radio shows — “Albom in the Afternoon” 3-6 p.m. weekdays and “Monday Sports Albom” 7-9 p.m. Mondays — on WJR-AM (760).


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Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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