Hartley Miller's Slap Shots - July 27, 2012
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Instead of hearing about NHL labor talks, NFL players in trouble with the law, or which NBA team gets Dwight Howard, it’s refreshing to know that for the next 17 days sports headlines will focus on the trials and tribulations of the athletes at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England.
Yes, after a four year wait, the time has arrived as sports such as archery, badminton, canoeing, judo, table tennis, sailing and wrestling surface from obscurity to grab our attention. (By the way, that’s freestyle wrestling and certainly not the 1000th edition of WWE RAW). We are fans of the Olympics because it is more than just a sport, a game or a competition, but rather we unite as one, to cheer and identify with the athlete wearing the distinguished Canadian colors.
I don’t know who will turn out to become the next Carol Huynh, but it will be fun to find out. Prince George does not have an Olympian, although boxer Kenny Lally and 1500 metres runner Geoff Martinson were among the locals that came within a whisker of qualifying. Lally is already setting his sights on advancing to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Huynh is back for another Games extravaganza after she rose to prominence with that spectacular showing at the 2008 Summer Olympics, when she became the first gold medalist for Canada in Beijing. In addition, she was also the first gold medalist ever for Canada in women’s wrestling.
Who can forget her award winning smile from four years ago after the 5-foot one inch, 105 pound Huynh put Hazelton, B.C., on the map with a special golden performance?
The 31-year old Huynh is an 11-time national champ, who was born and raised in Hazelton. She started studies at SFU in 1998, and then moved to the University of Calgary in 2007.
Ironically this year, half of the four member women’s wrestling team representing Canada come from a small but very proud community in Northern BC. Joining her on the mat is Leah Callahan. The 5-foot 3, 159 pound Callahan was born in St. John’s, Newfoundland, but raised in Mackenzie. She also ended up at the University of Calgary after moving there in 2006 to join the varsity wrestling team. The 25-year old Callahan is a two-time Senior National champion. (The other two female wrestlers in London are Tonya Verbeek (34) of Grimsby, Ontario and Martine Dugrenier (33) of Montreal).
These wrestlers are among 277 athletes representing the great white north. The Canadian Olympic Committee is optimistic setting a goal of finishing in the top 12 in total medals. That would be a slight improvement from 14th at the 2008 Beijing Olympics where Canadian athletes earned 18 medals, including three gold, nine silver and six bronze.
This year’s team is 55 athletes short of the 2008 representation, but the Canadian contingent is the seventh largest team at the London games. Canada’s athletes range in age from 65 (Equestrian- show jumping, Ian Millar) to 15 (Gymnast Victoria Moors).
Whether it’s Huynh, Callahan or other BC athletes (such as shot putter Dylan Armstrong of Kamloops, mountain biker Catharine Pendrel of Kamloops, swimmer Ryan Cochrane of Victoria or triathlete and flag bearer Simon Whitfield of Victoria) stepping to the podium, the Olympic moment is resounding, even life changing.
It can be debated whether there is “true” sport anymore but these Games are the pinnacle of sacrifice, immense training and the ultimate in accomplishment. Emotions will range from pure joy to frustration to heartbreak which is an atmosphere we can all relate to.
As much as the Nashville Predators hesitated to pay Shea Weber $14 million for each of the next four seasons and $12 million for the two after that, they did not have much choice but to find the money and keep their three-time all-star defenceman.
The Predators made the logical choice by deciding to match the Philadelphia Flyers’ 14 year, $110 million offer sheet to Weber, a deal that includes $68 million in bonus money in the first six years.
If they had decided to let the 26-year-old Weber depart for four first round draft picks, the beleaguered franchise would have been in a near state of chaos, and as a scary thought, that would have left the much travelled Hal Gil to anchor the blue line.
Sometimes a team is forced to bite the bullet in order to ensure its fan base they care about the product and winning. This is one of those circumstances. The Predators got it right.
There are some that will want to use the “C” word when it comes to Adam Scott. But instead of the dreaded “Choker” label, in this case, since he is such a gentleman, it is more appropriate to use the word “Class” because he handled his massive collapse at the British Open with as much dignity and sportsmanship as humanly possible. Scott knew he blew it big time, closing with four straight bogeys to finish one shot behind the very fortunate Ernie Els. However, Scott never ducked from reporters, threw a tantrum or laid blame anywhere but at himself.
The ending brought back images of Jean Van de Velde when he took a triple bogey on the final hole at Carnoustie in 1999 and lost the Open in a playoff.
This wasn't a last-hole blowup, rather a slow bleed, similar to when Jason Dufner jolted away a five-stroke lead to Keegan Bradley with three holes left in the 2011 PGA Championship.
The 2012 Open will always be remembered for the tournament given away by the 32-year-old Australian rather than the 4th major won by the 42-year-old Els. On TV, it doesn't look like the pressure and nerves get to these world class golfers, but more often than not, there heart is racing and hands are sweating in these tense moments.
Els is known as the Big Easy which is ironic since there was nothing Easy about his 1st major in 10 years, which surely is a dream victory for him; but Scott's unforgettable nightmare.
From the Quote Rack:
Adam Scott's collapse is being blamed on beer and chicken in the clubhouse.
Wes Welker has a new rug---he lost some hair after Giselle Bundchen called him on the carpet.
Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California
In London during the Olympic games, bettors can places wagers on everything from it raining every day, to from UFO sightings, to London’s Mayor catching his hair on fire with the torch. But the real longshot bet – that NBC will show any meaningful event live in prime time.
Contributor Janice Hough of Palo Alto, Californiawww.leftcoastsportsbabe.com
Winnipeg QB Buck Pierce is once again out of the line-up with an injury. Team officials say he is taking it easy and is expected to be available for the disabled list in a couple of weeks.
The NY Rangers landed Rick Nash from Columbus for what has been described as a few spare
parts. This has infuriated Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke who has denounced the trade saying the players they offered were way more mediocre.
Contributor Derek Wilken of Calgaryhttp://smacksport.blogspot.com
According to MSNBC, if you fill a pool with water and cornstarch, you can run across it. When Leafs' GM Brian Burke heard this, he said, 'Who needs cornstarch?'
Ultimate Fighting has come to Calgary. And no, we don't mean Rider fans in the McMahon Stadium beer lines.
Comedy writer RJ Currie www.Sportsdeke.com
A new stadium will be built in Regina by 2017. It will be open air, but designed so that a retractable roof may be installed at a later date. The parking lot is a regular surface, but potholes can also be added at a later date.
Ichiro used a translator for his first news conference with the Yankees. After 11 years in Seattle, he
still is not functional in English. Well, if this baseball thing doesn’t work out, he’s already qualified to be a New York cabbie.
Comedy writer TC Chong of Vancouver (http://alwaysfunny.com/)
And in case you missed it:
Olympic officials will reportedly provide more than 150,000 condoms to athletes at no cost during the London 2012 Olympic Games. The USA Men’s Basketball team asked, ‘What are condoms?’
Comedy writer Gary Bachman
Hartley Miller is the sports director for radio stations 94X and the Wolf@97fm. He also writes for the PG Free Press. Send along a quote, note, or anecdote to email@example.com.
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