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The Valley Line

August 21, 2008|By Jane Napier Neely

I’ve been absolutely Olympic Games fixated these past two weeks. I’m certainly not alone because it seems that every conversation I have with people always ends up in Olympic chatting. The Games have been very exciting to watch. I have especially loved the swimming, diving, beach volleyball, and gymnastics.

The medal results in all the events have been pretty much straight forward except for gymnastics. It appears that not only are we viewers puzzled by some of the ways the different gymnastic apparatus scores are determined, but also the coaches and athletes are confused by the methods used by the judges. Hopefully one day there might be a better way to come up with those results not only faster but also more equitable for the athletes.

Our man Charlie – Judge Charles Carter Lee – who has the honor of being selected Chef de Mission (head delegate for the entire United States athletic team) at these games, was featured in an in-depth interview by Tom Brokaw Sunday before last. It was a great report and Brokaw highlighted Charlie’s volunteer participation with the International Olympics Committee (IOC) as an envoy and working with the Chinese government. If before this Brokaw report the world didn’t know who Judge Charles Carter Lee was, they certainly do now.

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Another Olympic sidebar is a report that comes from my son Chris who arrived in Shanghai on a business trip on the eve of the opening of the Games. He said that when they entered the usually bustling city it was like a ghost town – people weren’t crowded on the sidewalks and a startling absence of the usual crush of cars and bicycles. They had trouble checking into their hotel because only a partial staff was there to take care of them.

Being absolutely starved after their long flight, they walked by restaurant after restaurant without a soul in sight. They finally found a restaurant where there were some people, but they were all huddled around a television set watching the opening ceremonies taking place in Beijing. He said even the cooks and waiters were gathered around that one TV. Chris was in Shanghai and environs for the entire week and he said that the Chinese people were so proud to be hosting the Games.

The whirlwind of the Games will be over on Sunday and we will have to wait four more years for Olympic Summer Game excitement that will be hosted by London, England.

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