Requiem for Beijing – Part II

by Matthew on September 3, 2008

Continuing our look at some of Beijing’s memorable moments, we look at five more performance-feature combos:

  1. Dara Torres’ 50 Free and Relay Performances / Shawshank Redemption (1994)- So what in the world do Dara Torres’ swims in these Games have anything to do with the epic Shawshank? Simply put, all of the 41-years-old’s efforts were truly exceptional.  And unfortunately all of her efforts in the Water Cube, like Shawshank, ended up just short of first place. Adding a little more smart to the blow, Torres’ 50 free effort concluded with getting Cavic’ed by Das Komisar, Britta Steffen.  Given the unique backdrop of her performances, Torres’ output could have been considered up there with some of MP’s exploits.  Like Torres, Shawshank fell just short of the industry’s gold standard, Sir Oscar, losing out to the Tom Hanks’ odyssey piece, Forrest Gump. Too bad for Torres and her bank account, but I don’t think we’ll see her Olympic swims on TNT every 3rd weekend of the month like we seem to see Shawshank.
  2. Lolo Jones in the 100m Hurdles / Million Dollar Baby (2004) – Was it just me, but after I watched Lolo and her family’s life dream tumble along with that second-to-last hurdle, I went fetal and started whimpering for my mamma. Seriously, I was depressed for the rest of the evening. I don’t think I’ve felt that bad since…well, coming out of the theater having endured Clint Eastwood’s emotional roller-coaster about a hard luck boxer who has her dreams realized right in front of her only to have her world completely detonated by a cruel misfortune. Sadly enough, you can even make comparison’s to Lolo’s home life with Hillary Swank’s character.  I’m heading to bed right now to cry myself to sleep.
  3. Maarten van der Weidjen’s 10k Open Water Swim / The Natural (1984) – I know, comparing fighting cancer and winning Olympic gold is childish, maybe even insulting, in relation to a fictional Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford) taking a silver bullet in the gut from an insane Barbara Hershey in black and then coming back 15 years later to lead his team to the pennant. But hear me out: they’re both stories rooted in adversity and triumph where the hero takes a significant time off to only comeback and perform their best under the brightest of lights. The Dutch Wonder Boy’s story is truly remarkable. Diagnosed with leukemia in ’01 van der Weidjen battled the disease for two straight years. He returned to competition in ’03 and stepped right back up to the open water elite. The Olympic victory was yet another personal triumph and celebration of life. If you haven’t heard his story, I suggest you check it out.
  4. Usain Bolt in the 100m & 200m, Jamaica’s 4×100 Relay / Matt Damon in the Bourne Series – Winning by margins that are 2-3% faster than your competiton can be considered domination.  Doing it at the Olympic Games against the toughest competition in the world while shattering a couple of World Records, including a 200 WR that many thought would last another 12 years, is plain crazy insane.   We’re talking Tiger by 15 strokes at Pebble in the 2000 Open type of madness.  In fact, Bolt was the only figure in these Games that could actually take some of the spotlight away from MP.  But you can do that when you are literally pulverizing your competition while running in excess of 23 MPH down the straights of the Bird’s Nest – are you kidding???!!!???  The last time I saw that much ass-kicking in one place was during all of Matty Damon’s fight scenes in the Bourne series.  Whenever I need a good laugh from a tough day, I think about Jason Bourne taking on 1, 2, hell, 5 unsuspecting quasi-government schlubs and laying a nice base track of beat down on all of their sorry hides.  Watching Bourne frolick through bad guys is like comparing Damon’s film career to Good Will Hunting co-star Ben Gardner’s, urg, I mean Affleck’s.
  5. Michael Phelps’ Quest & Delivery on 8 Golds / The Empire Strikes Back (1980) & The Godfather 2 (1974) – Although these Games were MP’s third, Beijing was his second attempt at the Spitzian feat, a sequel so to speak. But this sequel was different than Spitz in that he went one better by adding another event to his program. For that reason alone, Phelps’ legacy is not Spitz 2.0 but in a class all on its own. While his first attempt at 7+ goals was incredibly successful, the sequel was overwhelming – 7 World Records and an Olympic Record on his way to the well-documented 8 victories. Like Phelps’ second attempt at Spitz’ legacy, both Empire and TG2 were the sublime high water marks of their respective franchises. Dark, brooding, character-driven masterpieces, Empire and TG2 have set the standard for all writers, directors and producers who consider adding another title to a successful first outing. Most attempts fail. Hey, even Lucas and Coppola Patton’ed the baton when they took it a step further. Lucas contrasted the sinister Empire with the Shiny Happy muppet show in Jedi. And he didn’t stop there, as Lucas ruined a generation’s memories of the first triumverate with the three prequels that shall have no name. As for Coppola, not even a good ole’ fashioned firestarter subplot like corruption in the Vatican could save TG3.  Phelps, Empire and TG2 are all Pantheon performances and will stand up head-to-head against all future performances.

So it’s been a full week since we said goodbye to the ’08 Olympics.  I could say that I’ve been in a miserable funk and unable to pull myself out of the corner of my room where I’ve been crying myself to sleep every night.  But fortunately, college football is back and my mind is elsewhere.  Like the pleasant rememberances of an old high school girlfriend, I bid these Beijing Games a fond farewell and the hope that memories of these Games will continue to shine in a favorable light for the years to come.

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