Thursday morning, while most of the world was finding out that Gabby Douglas was being crowned America’s new sweetheart, there was another American woman making history.
And it came with a story of survival.
Kayla Harrison’s victory in judo was big enough on its own: The first American to ever win a gold medal in the sport. But to hear about her past in the minutes afterward, you have to realize that we, as humans, can do amazing things in the face of overwhelming odds.
Her first judo coach sexually abused Harrison when she was still a teenager. For four years. She very well could have given up on the thing that brought her so much pain.
But there she was Thursday, leaping into her new coach’s arms – then jumping into the stands hug her fiancé -- celebrating a gold medal.
For those who haven’t seen judo, it’s more wrestling than karate or other martial art you’ve seen or pictured it. The discipline is focused on throws and putting your opponent onto their back in pinning or choking combinations. It’s rough and tough and takes physical and mental strength.
Something Harrison has been forced to display in spades.
In fact, Harrison’s story even mirrors Douglas in a way – both were forced to leave home at a young age to continue training to reach the pinnacle of their sport.
So, celebrate American’s newest sweetheart – a deserved honor. But don’t forget, there are more American women in London having success that deserves celebrating.
HOOP IT UP: Watched most of the second half of the U.S. men’s basketball game Thursday afternoon, and it was out of hand.
That I expected against Nigeria.
But watching the newest Dream Team was amazing.
They weren’t missing. They were raining 3-pointers and sinking them as if they were throwing rocks into the ocean. All those three’s led to a 156-73 victory (the 156 is the most points scored by a team in Olympic play – and that’s in 10-minute quarters).
It’s impressive to think about because this wasn’t just running and gunning around a mismatched opponent and scoring layups and dunks. This was raining down basket after basket after basket. Carmelo Anthony was in a zone that Knicks’ fans have been waiting for over the last couple of seasons.
Even recent NBA first-round pick Anthony Davis got to play – in the second half – once he put his jersey on.
OTHER NEWS (SERIOUS OR OTHERWISE): Judging came under fire in boxing (corruption in boxing? Never!), as two officials were expelled and another suspended after questionable decisions were rendered in bouts.
• It was a wild day at the pool with Michael Phelps and Tyler Clary outracing Ryan Lochte in two separate events. Rebecca Soni cut into her world record in the 200 butterfly.
• Apparently athletes like to celebrate – win or lose. British cyclist Bradley Wiggins (who just won the Tour de France, as well) celebrated Great Britain’s first gold medal by getting “blind drunk.” Meanwhile, an Australian rower, upset after his team’s close loss, broke into a business – trying to get home -- after drowning his sorrows.
• More ugly incidents of racism were chronicled Thursday. Following racist tweets that got athletes booted from the games, undercover police arrested a Lithuanian fan allegedly chanting racist taunts at Nigeria’s players during Tuesday’s action.
• And leave it to the Aussies to find a new way to tell the Korea’s apart. The Australian free daily newspaper (a free daily newspaper?), The Mx, branded the two countries “Naughty” and “Nice” in their daily medal standings. Needless to say, it’s become a polarizing item for some on the ‘net, with some calling it hilarious and others calling it racist. Me? I can’t get over that’s there’s still a free daily newspaper printing somewhere in the world.
UPCOMING: Friday is our first night without any gymnastics, which means it’s a good time for some track and field. Expect that and swimming to dominate NBC’s primetime coverage, as the swimming begins to get down to its final pool races (there’s open water events coming next week). If you miss gymnastics, check out trampoline live at 6 a.m. Women’s soccer plays its quarterfinals, with the U.S. kicking off against New Zealand at 6:30 a.m. (France-Sweden is at 4 a.m., Brazil-Japan should be a good one at 9 a.m., with Canada-Great Britain going at 11:30 a.m.)