Do you remember watching the Olympics back when Nadia (1976 in Montreal), Mary Lou (1984 in Los Angeles), and Olga (1972 in Munich) dominated the competition? But since then, Americans have caught up and surpassed the Russians and the Romanians. Gymnastics have been contested at every Olympics since the 1896 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. For the first 32 years, only men were allowed to compete. Women started competing in the 1932 Olympics, held in Amsterdam.
During those competitions, coming up to this year’s Olympics in London, the Russians have won 182 medals, including 72 gold medals. The United States is second with a total of 95, including 30 gold medals. In third place, and not far behind, is Japan, with 92, including 28 gold medals.
The Olympic Trials for Gymnastics are being held in San Jose, CA from June 28 to July 1. By the end of the competition, five men and five women gymnasts will be selected, along with one men’s and one women’s trampolinist will represent the U.S. in London this summer. These fifteen have won World or Olympic titles:
- Rebecca Bross, Plano, Texas/WOGA: 2009 World Championships- all-around silver, uneven bars bronze; 2010 World Championships – team and balance beam silver, all-around and uneven bars bronze.
- Jake Dalton, Reno, Nev./University of Oklahoma: 2011 World Championships – bronze, team.
- Gabrielle Douglas, Virginia Beach, Va./Chow’s Gymnastics and Dance: 2011 World Championships – team gold.
- Jonathan Horton, Houston/Team Hilton HHonors (Cypress Gymnastics): 2008 Olympic Games – horizontal bar silver, team bronze; 2010 World Championships – all-around bronze; 2011 World Championships – team bronze.
- Steven Legendre, Port Jefferson, N.Y./Team Hilton HHonors (University of Oklahoma): 2011 World Championships – team bronze.
- Danell Leyva, Miami/Team Hilton HHonors (Universal Gymnastics): 2011 World Championships – parallel bars gold, team bronze.
- Nastia Liukin, Parker, Texas/WOGA: 2005 World Championships – uneven bars and balance beam gold, all-around and floor exercise silver; 2006 World Championships – team, uneven bars silver; 2007 World Championships – team and balance beam gold, uneven bars silver; 2008 Olympic Games – all-around gold, team, uneven bars and balance beam silver, floor bronze.
- McKayla Maroney, Long Beach, Calif./All-Olympia: 2011 World Championships – team and vault gold.
- Alex Naddour, Gilbert, Ariz./Team Hilton HHonors (USA Youth Fitness): 2011 World Championships – team bronze.
- John Orozco, Bronx, N.Y./Team Hilton HHonors (U.S. Olympic Training Center): 2011 World Championships – team bronze.
- Aly Raisman, Needham, Mass./Brestyan’s American Gymnastics – 2010 World Championships – team silver; 2011 World Championships – team gold, floor bronze.
- Alicia Sacramone, Winchester, Mass./Brestyan’s American Gymnastics: 2005 World Championships – floor gold, vault bronze; 2006 World Championships – team and vault silver; 2007 World Championships – team gold, floor silver, vault bronze; 2008 Olympic Games – team silver; 2010 World Championships – vault gold, team silver; 2011 World Championships – team gold.
- Bridget Sloan, Pittsboro, Ind./Sharp’s Gymnastics: 2008 Olympic Games – team silver; 2009 World Championships – all-around gold; 2010 World Championships – team silver.
- Sabrina Vega, Carmel, N.Y./Dynamic Gymnastics: 2011 World Championships – team gold.
- Jordyn Wieber, DeWitt, Mich./Gedderts’ Twistars USA: 2011 World Championships – team and all-around gold, beam bronze.
In the last 2008 Olympics, held in Beijing, Nastia Liukin of the U.S. won the gold medal in the all around competition, followed by Shawn Johnson. But the American women finished second to China for the team all-around golf medal. The U.S. men finished third behind China (gold), and Japan (silver). This year’s team hopes to win gold in both the all around team events. Shawn Johnson won the gold medal in the individual balance beam event. The American men won only a silver in the horizontal bar (Jonathan Horton).
The events in men’s and women’s gymnastics differ slightly as follows:
These events evolved from exercises used by the ancient Greeks. These events require strength, flexibility, agility, coordination, and balance. I imagine it will be rather difficult to focus on just one event or even a few key performers. Things have changed in the gymnastics world, with China and Japan at the top along with the U.S. I guess the Russians would rather play tennis.
As far as the hopefuls to watch, Jordyn Wieber won the 2011 women’s all around title at the World Championships, Gabrielle Douglas, Rebecca Bross, Nastia Liukin, and McKayla Maroney. Among the men’s hopefuls are: John Orozco, Danell Leyva (a defector from Cuba), Chris Brooks, Sam Mikulak, and 2008 silver medalist Jonathan Horton.
It should be an interesting way to spend the day, even if it is San Jose. Do you know the way?
Did you know that the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame is now located in Davis, CA? The 25 year old HOF has been relocated to 303 Third Street, in downtown Davis, CA, also home to the University of California, Davis, also known as the bicycle capital of the west! The original home was in Somerville, New Jersey, home of the oldest bicycle race in the United States.
After a 2008 nationwide search, much different than American Idol, the HOF chose Davis, CA for its commitment to bicycling and its status as a “Platinum” Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists. The new HOF occupies 8000 square feet in Central Park in downtown Davis. The obvious contents are many bicycles, photos, awards, posters, periodicals, and racing apparel from the last three centuries.
The HOF is rather quick to point out that bicycling was more popular than baseball at the beginning of the 20th century. Champion cyclists were paid more than baseball star Ty Cobb. Six day races ran around the clock to huge crowds of spectators. But today, the HOF promotes bicycling for everyone, regardless of age or ability.
Since 1987, there has been a steady stream of inductees, both competitors and contributors in the sport of cycling. Some names that you may or may not recognize are: Greg LeMond (winner of several Tour de Lance races), Nelson Vailes, Frank Kramer (no relation to Cosmo Kramer), Juliana Furtado, Major Taylor, Ned Overend, Mark Gorski, Eric Heiden, Alexi Grewal, Andy Hampsten, Steve Hegg, Davis Phinney, and Connie Carpenter-Phinney. Best of all, the HOF recognizes all forms of cycling, whether racing, recreational, BMX, road, track, cross country, and mountain biking. Personally, I would like to see Orville and Wilbur Wright, since they owned a bicycle shop before gaining fame at Kitty Hawk. And where is Lance Livestrong? Still waiting to see if he is clean?
During the month of August, admission is free! The grand opening was August 24, 2010, in the former teen center. Obvious question now is where did the teens go? Never mind. As far as Davis goes, the community has an extensive network of bike lanes, bike paths, and grade-separated bike crossings. But bicycling declines in Davis from 1990 to 2000 by 7 per cent, from 22 percent, down to 15 percent. I plan to Amtrak over to Davis, ride over to the museum, then take a long bike ride along the river route in the downtown area. Join me?
Thursday’s trek out to the Olympic Club in San Francisco will be my fourth or fifth U.S. Open Golf Championship. I saw Tom Kite win at Pebble Beach in 1992, Lee Janzen here at the Olympic Club in 1998, Tiger at Pebble in 2000, and Graeme McDowell in 2010 again at Pebble. But I wish I could have seen the two previous Opens at Olympic where Arnie (Palmer) was overtaken by Bill Casper, and an unknown club pro named Jack Fleck took down the mighty Ben Hogan. Both are permanent parts of US Open golfing lore, in the favor of the underdog. Perhaps this week will yield another lasting story.
I have been fortunate to have played Olympic Club’s famous Lake Course back in 1999, I think. In fact, I played it exactly one day after returning from an overseas golf outing in Scotland, where I got to play St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Prestwick, and Turnberry, among others. The beauty of the Olympic Club stands out, with rolling carpet-like fairways, separated by gnarled cypress trees, shrouded in fog, the sun peeking out just right on the back ten*. It is a cherished memory of when I could still play a great golf course at a decent level.
Does anyone remember the Seattle Pilots or even back farther, the Seattle Rainiers? Before the Seattle Mariners, the Emerald City had a Triple A baseball team called the Rainiers, presumably after the beer company of the same name. In 1970, the Seattle Pilots were purchased and moved to Milwaukee to become the current Brewers. The original Milwaukee team was the Braves, who moved to Atlanta.
It was none other than the current Commissioner of Baseball, Bud Selig who pulled off the Pilots to Brewers deal. A lawsuit was brought against the American League for breach of contract, resulting in the Seattle Mariners being formed and playing their first game in the 1977 baseball season.
I did not attend a Pilots game, but I did attend a Mariners game in the now imploded Kingdome, which was built to be the home of the NFL Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks now have their own stadium next door, called the Qwest Field. BTW, Seahawk is another name for osprey. The Mariners new field is called Safeco Field (since July 1999), and has a retractable roof in the event of rain in the often rainy Pacific northwest (like tonight). This will be my first game at the new Safeco Field, built in the same general area as the old Kingdome, in the southern part of downtown Seattle.
The big star for the Mariners over the last several seasons is Ichiro Suzuki, from Japan. In 2001, he became the first American MLB player to enter the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame. He also won the American League batting championship, and also led the league in stolen bases. He was also voted Rookie of the Year, and Most Valuable Player. He has also won ten Gold Glove Awards, and hit the first inside the park home run in All Star Game history in 2007.
Never offbeat with Seattle music, since it is one of the best cities for music of all kinds. Offbeat is the quest for something new and different. Perhaps the quest for something exciting. Or maybe just something often overlooked or perhaps too mundane upon first glance. It can happen anywhere in the world, but I would bet that Seattle has more offbeat per capita than most places I have been.
I doubt that the “Gum Ball Wall” in Pike Market provides enough culture, unless it has spawned its own bacteria after decades of exposure to the elements. But it does have a curious look to it, both disgusting and colorful. My suggestion would be to pour a thick coat of resin or shellac to preserve and protect. This tradition began in the 1990s, and has been wiped clean, twice! Obviously to no avail. This is what your Microsoft millionaires do in their spare time.
On the other side of art, how about a visit to the Chihuly Garden and Glass at Seattle Center. It opened on May 21, and offers a look into the life of Dale Chihuly. The interior portion of the exhibit will highlight his most popular works. The exterior will focus on his large signature works in a lush garden. The exterior portion includes a 43 foot high glass house, featuring a 1400 piece, 100 foot long sculpture. As you might guess, it is not cheap. General admission is $19, and $17 for seniors.
Arriving early in Seattle for our Anniversary, we decided to rent a car and drive over to beautiful and majestic Mount Rainier. We have not rented a car in Seattle in over TEN years! But exceptions must be made, the intrepid traveler must remain flexible, and willing to pay $4 a gallon for gasoline or more. It is only slightly more than an hour to one of the most beautiful places on earth. We must go!
One of the most interesting and enjoyable parts of San Diego is the Gaslamp Quarter, just south of greater downtown San Diego, and not far from the Harbor. This sixteen block area of downtown is considered the historical neighborhood, and is home to the liveliest of nightlife here in San Diego. Petco Park, where I will see our mighty Giants play the San Diego Padres, is just one block away in downtown’s east village.
The development of this area began when Alonzo Horton bought this land in 1867. He paid $265 for 800 acres, a bargain by today’s real estate standards. His vision was to create a new city center. It became known as Stingaree in the 1890s when it was home to gambling halls, saloons, dance halls, and bordellos. But after many decades of urban decay, urban renewal in the 1980s and 90s made the neighborhood an energetic business and entertainment district. It is officially listed as a historic district in the National Register of Historic Places.
The Gaslamp Quarter name is a reference to the many gas lamps that were common to the area in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In fact, four new gas lamps have been installed at the corner of Market Street and 5th Avenue. Ninety four historic buildings remain, most of which were constructed in the Victorian era. Many of these buildings house shops, nightclubs and restaurants now.
Somewhere back in the 1980s, I took my kids to a San Diego Padres game when the Giants were in town. This was by design, and also happened to coincide with the Giants Fan Club taking their annual trip to San Diego. We purchased seats in the same section, though we arranged our own flights and hotel. The game was held in old Jack Murphy Stadium out in Mission Valley. We also went to the San Diego Zoo, and Sea World to see Shamu.
Tonight and tomorrow’s games are being held at the relatively new Petco Park in downtown San Diego. Petco opened in 2004, and is named for the retail pet supplier (based in San Diego) who paid for the corporate naming rights. Can you imagine? One of these days a company with a dreadful name is going to pay for naming rights. I can imagine really bad ones, like Waste Management Park, or Craig’s List Coliseum, or Odor Eaters Stadium. Anyway, this is my first visit to Petco.
Petco Park is located between 7th and 10th Avenues, just south of J Street. The southern side is bordered and served by the San Diego Trolley. The construction cost was $450 million funded by redevelopment money for the downtown area. Seating capacity is 42,445. The official address is 19 Tony Gwynn Way, after the long time Padres outfielder, who was an eight time National League batting champion.
Though the downtown area was well on its way to redevelopment, Petco has helped solidify the downtown area as a destination. For me, I can walk between my hotel and the stadium. Both the Gaslamp Quarter and Horton Plaza are easy walking distance. The San Diego Convention Center is located adjacent to the stadium. I may not rent a car since parking each day costs more than the car rental itself! End result is plenty to see, do, eat, drink, and walk.
The San Diego Chicken, first of the real team mascots in baseball
The San Diego Padres were formed back in 1969 as an expansion team. They have won only two National League pennants, losing both times in the World Series of 1984, and 1998. Aside from Gwynn, the other big stars were Dave Winfield, Randy Jones, Trevor Hoffman, Steve Garvey, and Nate Colbert. Other stars who moved on to or from other teams were Ozzie Smith, Graig Nettles, Willie McCovey, Goose Gossage, and Roberto Alomar.
But I will always remember the Padres for two things. One was the ownership of McDonald’s own Ray Kroc. The second is the crazy team mascot, the San Diego Chicken, played by Ted Giannoulas. His success as a mascot led many other teams in major sports to adopt a mascot. As for Ray Kroc, he owned the Padres from 1974 to 1984. He joined McDonald’s in 1954 and built it into the world’s most successful fast food operation.
Now for one final point or question. Should I wear my Giant’s cap, or is this another Dodger Stadium in disguise? Donna, my sports wife, votes for the SF Giants 2010 World Champions cap. I agree. In fact, I think there were considerably more Giants fan at the game both days than Padres fans! I even wore my orange T-shirt the second day. BTW, my hotel, The Indigo is only two blocks from Petco Park and the Trolley Line. Giants won two of three!