Here comes the Belgian
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.
Just back from the tennis. It's funny with tennis and football at the Games, because they're two of the only sports involved where winning the Olympic gold medal isn't the pinnacle of that sport (instead, that would be Grand Slam tournaments and the World Cup/Champions League respectively) - so they do sort of feel slightly less exciting than the other events.
That said, we ended up seeing a cracking semi-final between Belgium's Justine Henin-Hardenne and Anastasia Myskina (the Russian who beat the Greek the other day). Henin-Hardenne won the first set 7-5, only for the Russian to do the same in the second set. In the final set the temperamental Russian (or the 'snotty Russian' as the cheery Belgium-based Brits sitting next to us called her) went 5-1 up and looked to be heading for the final. But Henin-Hardenne, who'd looked beaten, made an amazing recovery to win the 3 hour game 7-5, 5-7, 8-6. She might have preferred to win Wimbledon or the US Open, but her celebration at the end showed how much this victory meant to her. We left before the other women's semi, as it was already past 10pm and we'd been sitting on the hard seats for more than five hours without a break.
I've got back to a barrage of emails from you lot! Bob from Calgary has entered the comp with a guess of 17.5 Euros, while Noelle has gone for 27.5 and asked if cameras are allowed in the venues - yes, no problem at all, zoom lens and even video cameras seem to be fine. Just no flash at some events. Meanwhile Cathy in New Jersey has gone for 28.75 Euros and says that MSN.com is yet another place that seems intent on negative reporting about the Olympics. Bill Gates never did look the sporty type...
Mark from Wales says he's disappointed Robin hasn't been on TV yet - problem is he's only a little fella and he usually has his back to the action for me to take photos of him! But we'll do our best at the rest.
Meanwhile, my dad's written in (hello dad! hello Helen!) with this gem of a comment from the BBC Heptathlon commentator today. "She has a good chance of closing the gap on the athlete that she's 2nd equal with". Genius.
Somebody from Japan wrote in, but their email must've been in Japanese script and my email couldn't read it. But thanks for the thought.
And last but not least there was the email from John. 'I'm curious about your mascot Robin,' he writes. 'What is she?' HE John, is a robin! The clue's in the name, the beak and the red breast! 'Perhaps a mishapen gingerbread wo(man), or maybe an alien (looks a bit like ET)?' guesses John. No, a robin. As in the bird. As in Robin the robin!
By the way. Robin does have a sister. She's called Robyn and lives with my mum. They were both rescued from a shop called Habitat in London on Xmas Eve 2002 where they'd been reduced to 50p (about a dollar) each. I gave them a home for Christmas. Who knew Olympic stardom awaited?
John also asks about this thing about not being allowed into venues with t-shirts showing brands other than the official sportswear sponsor (Adidas). Turns out that was media spin too - the actual rule was that big groups wouldn't be allowed in together obviously trying to promote a brand. They always said one person would be fine (and so it's proved - I wore a T-shirt with a big Fred Perry logo just today).
Right. Bedtime. Beach volley again tomorrow. Which means all you folks who asked for a pic of the half-time dancers might finally get your wish...