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Surprise exit for Spain as China moves on

Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Chinese gymnasts react as results are displayed on the screen declaring them winners of the Artistic Gymnastic men's team final at the 2012 Summer Olympics, yesterday. AP Photo


I wish to sincerely apologise for the omission of some words in my column yesterday which implied that I accept the use of illicit drugs. What I actually meant to write was: “I accept any harsh punishment for those who use illicit drugs, knowingly or not, as athletes should know, that checking medication before, during and after their event is mandatory.” Having said that, the exit of Spain, the recent EURO champions and the 2010 World Cup, from the football competition has befuddled us all, especially those who have made some long term predictions that the Spanish will go to the home of the samba stars and win the tournament in 2014. Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise that Honduras defeated them at the right time and sent the signal to the world that a team is as good as their last match.
Surely the age group is different and it would even be considered illogical to judge the country’s success at this level. Maybe we could visualise that these are the players who will probably form the nucleus of Spain in Brasil 2014. We need to understand that all of Xavi Alonso, Busquet, Pique, and many others are either in their thirties or entering the twilight of their careers. But the show must go on and the country that is dancing to victory is China whose improvement in the swimming pool over the past decade has been overwhelming. As to our own performances so far, the absence of even a place in the top ten of any event in swimming, rifle shooting, sailing may have busted the bubble of the Bovell fans and to a lesser extent, Roger Daniel. Their recent results have indicated that they have been ahead of their game, but clearly, despite the national record set in the butterfly event, by the bronze medallist of 2004, and the points scored by Daniel in recent Continental tournaments seemed a fair distance from the reality of the world’s top marksmen.
I sympathise with young Andrew Lewis for his struggle in what is probably the most difficult event which our country has been entered. The winds, the quality of equipment and the experience which is needed to master the art of sailing, calls for more years than he catered for. However, there is no need to bend our heads in disappointment as the best is yet to come by in terms of our cycling, track and field and possibly our solitary boxer whom the experts claim could be a medal contender. As we search between the lines of action in London it is always amazing when some incidents tend to pass us by quickly amidst all the sporting performances, and the one that is more than bothersome is the sending home of the St Kitts/ Nevis sprinter Tamaka Williams for a drug violation.
Her local management team volunteered the information and acted intelligently regarding the incident, bearing in mind the repercussions which a 22-year-old could have for the future. With football taking the front in terms of crowd support, one cannot help but look closer at the quarterfinal onwards to attempt to guage the potential finalists for these games. Brazil will love to win their first gold medal in the sport and when one sees the likes of Nejmar, Oscar and Lucas, there is little that the others can produce to take them out of the race. Mexico has done really well and Honduras is getting support from connoisseurs of the game, so the Concacaf can be proud of their input. Uruguay to my mind was the biggest surprise. Their quality of play at all age group levels and their senior team in South Africa left me with a feeling that they will wind their way into the final four.



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