MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/29 July) – Mr. Bean’s (Rowan Atkinson) appearance as an “orchestra member” at the breathtaking opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games in London surprised and amused millions of spectators around the world. So did the parachute jump of “Queen Elizabeth II” from a chopper where she sat next to James Bond 007 (played by Daniel Craig). But the initial results of the games also surprised, if not shocked, many fans.
In swimming, for instance, Michael Phelps fared poorly, placing fourth in the 400m individual medley on his first day in the pool. Compatriot Ryan Lochte bagged the gold by clocking 4:18:05. Brazil’s Thiago Pereira (4:08:86) earned the silver and Japan’s Kosuke Hagino (4:08:94) salvaged the bronze.
Many are wondering if Phelps, who cast a giant shadow during the 2008 Beijing Olympics by winning eight gold medals, including in the 400m individual medley, is on his way to handing over the throne to Lochte.
Football, which actually started in Cardiff two days before the opening ceremony, also offered a bit of a surprise when 2010 World Cup champion Spain bowed to lowly-regarded Japan, 1-0 in the preliminary round. (And this too is surprising, if not silly: the London Games opened in Cardiff, Wales! That’s like knowing that Panama hats are made in Ecuador.)
Spain controlled the ball for much of the game but could hardly go past Japan’s resilient fullback line. On hindsight, perhaps it was the Spaniards’ overly methodical brand of play that went against them. Their quick, short passes baffled Japan’s defenders, but they only managed a few cracks at the goal.
The Japanese meanwhile relied on elementary football as their antidote to the opponents’ superior dribbling and passing skills. They simply kicked the ball hard to the sides or towards Spain’s goal and left the rest to their strikers. At times, in fact, their midfielders would play the strikers’ role. Only the Japanese themselves know if it was a case of organized chaos.
In the other events things went as expected by many. Serena Williams of the US disposed of Serbia’s Jelenka Jankovic in cold-blooded fashion in the tennis women’s singles, 6-3 in two straight sets. Williams won this year’s Wimbledon title, her fifth.
In the men’s singles, Switzerland’s Roger Federer had to go the distance against Colombia’s Alejandro Falla. Federer breezed through the first set with a 6-3 performance. But in the second set Falla overtook the Swiss’ 5-3 advantage to eke out a 7-5 equalizer. In Set 3, however, Federer, the six-time Wimbledon titlist prevailed, 6-3, keeping his hopes for a first ever Olympic gold medal alive.
Basketball games opened today. Let’s see how the highly-favored US would perform against France. That game would give a hint if other teams could have a chance of pulling off an upset against a selection composed of NBA stars like LeBron James and rival Kevin Durant. It’s a pity that Dywane Wade, the US team’s top scorer in the Beijing Games, did not make it due an injury. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)