Sunday, July 23, 2006

This Couch Potato's Summer Ends

My summers have several parts; there is just the general enjoyment of NOT being in winter, there is usually interesting travel, and there is always the highest and most enjoyable density, from late May to late July, of the sporting events I most enjoy watching. During this period we had the following events this year, in order of starting dates:
  • The French Open (Tennis)
  • The World Cup (Football)
  • The US Open (Golf)
  • Wimbledon (need I say?)
  • The Tour de France
  • The British Open (Golf)
Of course. most years there is no World Cup, but there are sometimes substitutes (the European Championships, etc.).

For this couch potato, it has been quite a summer.

Mr Capri pants unfortunately made the French Open final a bit of a farce, but it is clear now that at least for a short while, Federer-Nadal matches will be classic. Now the problem here is that their matches on clay are somewhat tedious so there was some merit in not having that final go to five sets.

I have commented on the World Cup; I did see two or three matches I found quite exciting and entertaining, which, from my point of view, is not bad. Fortunately, I was watching the event in Toronto, perhaps one of the most entertaining places in the world to be for this event, as almost every team has a large partisan following in the city (who would have thought I would see French flags all over the place, albeit wildly outnumbered by Italian flags in my neighbourhood)? Also perhaps a bit counterintuitive, we have a very energetic Korean community, geographically not far from one of the larger Italian concentrations in the city - while this had no major impact this year, it has led to some taunting and childish behaviour in past World Cups.

We got to see Mickelson throw away another major at the US Open. More delightfully, we got to see Colin Montgomerie throw away an excellent shot at his first major.

The Wimbledon final looked for a while as if it might have some life before Federer managed to shut it down. Again I was relieved to see it NOT go to five sets. They are playing on grass and hardly go to the net? On the other hand, it was amazing to watch Nadal learn to play on grass. He could become unstoppable.

And now today it all comes to an end.

The Tour de France finishes in Paris today, though, barring some major disaster, it finished yesterday. A three-week event has great moments, and this one featured two amazing days, both this week. In Wednesday's stage, Floyd Landis, leading the overall race at the time, collapsed on the last climb and lost about ten minutes to the other contenders. I boarded my flights home from Europe the next day having written him off completely, only to arrive home and find that he had not given up, that he had determined that a risky attack was his only means of getting back into the race, and that he had taken the risk and attacked early in the next stage. The reward was to gain back much of what he had lost, enough to put him close enough to strike as he did in yesterday's time trial to regain the lead. This was character (from a sporting point of view) and the rewards to his risk-taking seemed very appropriate.

And who could have asked for a better prospect for the final round of the British Open than to have Woods and Garcia in the final pairing, and Els and DiMarco before them, all within a stroke at the start, not to mention a few other remote contenders? It could be a very enjoyable roller-coaster ride.

Sadly, this too has had to end, but it all comes back next year!

UPDATE: Landis did in fact win as expected. I have rarely seen such a comeback from someone that everyone wrote off. And Woods' opponents all crumbled while he held on handily to win his event as well.


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