A tone deaf IOC won't hear what cities do: hosting the Olympics sounds like sour notes

A tone deaf IOC won't hear what cities do: hosting the Olympics sounds like sour notes

How’s that Olympic Agenda 2020 thing working out, Mr. Bach?

All that hot air about reform and cost-cutting in both bidding for and staging the Games that filled a Monaco conference center in 2020, inflating a balloon of self-congratulations that has been leaking ever since?

“Like most people, I am sick and tired of hearing the mantra of Olympic Agenda 2020,” Canada’s Richard Pound said in an email.

Pound is the senior member of the current 95 in an International Olympic Committee presided over by Mr. Thomas Bach since September 2013.

Agenda 2020 was rushed to a vote in December 2014 after cities in five countries either dropped out of bidding for the 2022 Winter Olympics or, in one case, dropped even the idea of a bid after public opposition.  That left just the capitals of two authoritarian nations in a race Beijing won over Almaty, Kazakhstan, despite serious environmental and logistical issues related to having skiing events in a low-snow area miles away from the host city.

And, then Mr. Bach, it was barely six months after your IOC membership rubber-stamped Agenda 2020 that cities in the 2024 Summer Games race began laughing at an emperor who still had no clothes.

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For Olympic Swimmer Anthony Ervin Voyage Of Self Discovery Is A Long Strange Trip

The words from the Grateful Dead song, “Truckin,” are quoted so frequently they almost have become a cliché.

Yet they still are perfect for certain situations.

And one such use is to sum up the picaresque journey of Anthony Ervin, whose first 35 years on earth have indeed been, as the song goes, “a long, strange, trip.”

That’s in all senses of the word “trip,” as Ervin makes abundantly clear in his compelling, sometimes stream-of-conscious new memoir, “Chasing Water.”

The book’s subtitle is “Elegy of an Olympian.”

An elegy is a lament.

But the place in which Ervin finds himself now – and in the final pages of the book, which takes him through 2012 – is something to celebrate.

And so what if Ervin has no idea what the next step will be after he swims in the 2016 Olympics. After all, this is a guy who says, “I have no home other than where I rest my head.”

The future will likely be another episode on his personal discovery channel.

“Self-acceptance and self-knowledge is continually what living is for me,” he said.

Forget trying to figure out his identity from the labels that have been pinned on him for his heritage, age, years of rebellious and often self-destructive behavior, shoulder-to-wrist tattoos on both arms and ability to cut through the water like a knife. To all that, Ervin responds with the title of an Arctic Monkeys album: “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not.”


For Michael Phelps, Five Is Another Magic Number

OMAHA, Neb. – The simple gesture spoke of a number, and it was appropriate, for matchless numbers have defined so much of Michel Phelps’ swimming career.

This time, the number was a five, which Phelps noted by holding up his left hand and spreading the fingers wide after he won Wednesday night’s 200-meter butterfly final at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Swimming.

It meant Phelps, who turns 31 Thursday, had become the first man to make five U.S. Olympic swim teams.

“God, I’ve been in the sport a long time,” Phelps said.

Michael Phelps' infant son.  Tweet from his sister, Hilary.

Michael Phelps' infant son.  Tweet from his sister, Hilary.

He had been just 15 when he made his first team in 2000, also in the 200 butterfly. He was then the youngest U.S. men’s Olympic swimmer since 1932. Should he win an individual event gold medal at the upcoming Rio Olympic Games, he would be the oldest man ever to do that in the Olympics.

Dara Torres, the only other U.S. swimmer to make five Olympic teams, distinguished herself as the oldest swimmer (41) to win an Olympic medal.

Phelps made the team for what he swears will be a final time with a swim he called harder than any in his life. He did it by going out hard and hoping to hang on, the same way he has managed to hang on and push forward despite a tidal wave of personal drama.


‘Hurdle Nerd’ Harrison Defies The Clock In Night-And-Day Effort To Make This Her Time

Keni Harrison competing at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing.  (Getty Images)

Keni Harrison competing at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing.  (Getty Images)

It’s 2 a.m. A text message pops into Edrick Floreal’s phone. Whether Floreal is still awake when it arrives or sees it a few hours later, he doesn’t have to look at the message to know who sent it.

Who else would be seeking answers in the wee hours to questions about biomechanics and physics?

The Harrison family, which includes nine adoptees (including Keni, front row, 2d from left) among their 11 children, at Christmas 2015.  (Photo courtesy Harrison family.)

The Harrison family, which includes nine adoptees (including Keni, front row, 2d from left) among their 11 children, at Christmas 2015.  (Photo courtesy Harrison family.)

Who else would have just finished watching video of her latest workout and wondering what her coach has to say about takeoff angle and velocity?

Who else but Keni Harrison, the woman whom Floreal calls the “hurdle nerd,” no matter that attention deficit disorder has always made written instruction, especially in math, a struggle for her?

“When it comes time to talk hurdling, she turns into some kind of Einstein,” Floreal said.

It doesn’t seem to make any difference that Floreal has told her she should be sleeping rather than thinking and talking (in the virtual sense) about hurdles at 2 a.m. He tried pointing out to her that if Harrison were going to stay up worrying, he was going to go to sleep, so the responses still would have to wait until the next morning.

“When I’m up at night, I like to go through what I did that day,” Harrison said. “When I have a question, I don’t look at the time, I just text him. I love asking questions.”

Floreal can laugh about occasionally losing this argument. He knows that the way Harrison processes the answers about the best way to run 100 meters while hurdling ten 33-inch-high barriers has helped make her a global sensation this Olympic track and field season.


For Missy Franklin, A Struggle In Trying To Face The Big Picture

OMAHA, Neb. – For Missy Franklin, the difference in coming back to Omaha for another U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Swimming is highly visible.

“I’m on the doors now, which is a pretty big deal,” she said before the meet began.

There are full-length, larger-than-life photos of her on doors leading into CenturyLink Center. They celebrate the 6-foot, 2-inch Franklin’s stature in the sport, the Olympian heights she reached through the portal of the 2012 trials.

Four years later, after having lost time to back problems yet bearing a bigger load of expectations, Franklin has the same effervescence but is a diminished swimmer. The door to another Olympics could shut in her face.