Friday, August 8, 2008

Your guide to shooting at the Olympics...

(This was not written by me. Robert (Mke Penguin) over at our forum kindly wrote it here for the blog.)

Here are the top storylines in Olympic shooting:

China's gold rush?
The Beijing Shooting Range Hall could well be the site of China's first gold medal at the 2008 Olympics. The women's air rifle final takes place the first morning of Games, August 9, and the host country boasts the gold-medal favorite in reigning world and Olympic champion Du Li. Later that afternoon is the final of the men's air pistol, where another Chinese athlete, Peng Wei, is world champion. But it'll only be a matter of time before China earns a medal in one of its strongest sports. The country's first-ever Olympic gold medalist was a shooter (Xu Haifeng at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics). In Athens, China won four shooting gold medals, more than any other country, and nine medals overall, one less than medal count chart-topper Russia. China's 2004 totals each improved by one from the Sydney Games, where its eight medals and three gold were the most of any country. Look for further chart climbing in 2008: at the 2006 World Championships, athletes from China won 12 medals, five of them gold, in Olympic events. In the men's rapid-fire pistol and women's sport pistol, Chinese shooters finished 1-2. Athens Olympic air rifle champion Zhu Qinan won bronze at worlds, but remains atop the world rankings in that event, while Tan Zongliang defended his 2002 free pistol world title.

A good miss
At the Athens Olympics, Matt Emmons won gold in the men's smallbore rifle prone, the event in which he was 2002 world champion. Emmons actually had the chance to become a double gold medalist in 2004, but fired at the wrong target on his last shot in the smallbore rifle three-position final, relinquishing his lead and dropping to an eighth-place finish. Katerina Kurkova, a bronze medalist for the Czech team in 2004 in air rifle, met Emmons at a beer garden following his mishap. By the summer of 2007, the two were married and are both threats to win gold at the Games. Katerina, in recent competition, was the silver medalist at the 2006 World Championships and a gold medalist at the 2008 "Good Luck Beijing".

Switch to skeet
Two-time Olympic double trap gold medalist Kimberly Rhode made her fourth Olympic team in a less familiar discipline: skeet. Rhode was the youngest member the U.S. shooting delegation at the 1996 Atlanta Games when she won her first gold medal in the double trap event at age 17. After a bronze medal at the 2000 Games in Sydney, Rhode returned to the top step of the podium in Athens. Beginning in Beijing, double trap is no longer part of the Olympic program, so Rhode, who will be 29 at the Games, has switched to skeet. She won a World Cup event in Santo Domingo in early 2007 but finished 10th at the "Good Luck Beijing" event in April of 2008.

Still shooting
Bret Erickson will be 47 years old in Beijing, but advancing age hasn't stopped him from expanding his trophy case. At the 2006 World Championships, he won a bronze medal in trap to complete his world medal collection (double trap gold in 1990 and trap silver in 2001). Erickson competed in his third Olympic Games in 2004 just two months after suffering a heart blockage that required CPR from two fellow shooters and the subsequent installation of a pacemaker. Following the Athens Games, he retired from the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit and moved to Texas, where he coaches younger shooters in addition to training. These Games will be his last as he has said he wants to be a full-time coach after Beijing.

A mind game
If it works, Professor Peter Terry of the University of Southern Queensland (Australia) may become the hottest name in shooting preparation. In April of 2007, he was enlisted by Ireland to assist trap shooter Derek Burnett with an electroencephalogram (EEG). The EEG was used to measure Burnett's pre-shot brain wave activity. After shooting a couple rounds, it was determined that Burnett's pre-shot activity before hits differed from misses. "We trained his brain using neurofeedback, which rewards the activity associated with his best shots and inhibits the activity associated with his worst shots," Professor Terry told The Courier-Mail (Queensland, Australia). The results were positive; Burnett would go on to win silver medals at the Beretta Grand Prix (Italy) and the World Cup event in Slovenia later that year.

Description & Scoring Facts: Shooting Events

Rifle events
In the qualification rounds, competitors will shoot at a 10-ring target. The eight highest scores will advance to the finals -- each rifle event has separate, specific rules regarding how many shots are to be taken. In the finals, the 10 rings are sub-divided into 10 score zones (10.0-10.9, with 10.9 being the highest point total). The scores accumulated in the finals are added to the qualification score to produce the top marks in the event.

Pistol events
Scored the same way as rifle events, pistol events have two separate types of targets being used. The precision events (e.g. air and sport pistol) use a 10-ring system similar to the rifle events. The rapid fire event (men only) uses a larger 10-ring target, but only the five highest-scoring rings are used. Pistol shooters are to be standing and must use just one hand, unsupported, while competing. Eight competitors advance to every pistol final but the men's 25m rapid fire pistol, which has just six finalists.

Shotgun events
In the three shotgun events, the shooters will stand at designated stations and fire at clay targets that are released on or after the shooter's command. A referee must see one visible piece fall from the target for it to be a hit and to award a point to the shooter.

parts of this entry Copyright 2008 NBC Universal. All rights reserved.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Our Men's Team does a little bit better

Because of a driving practice I had this morning, I couldn't watch the U.S. Men's team defeat Japan 1-0 in their opening game, which is considerably better than how the U.S. Women opened up their tournament.

Houston Dynamo representative Stuart Holden scored the lone goal in the game, trickling it past Japanese goalkeeper Shusaku Nishikawa.

It was the first goal for the United States in three games, in which they played Honduras, Cameroon, and Cote d'Ivoire. The next games for the American's will be against Holland and Nigeria.

(By the way, Holland is my pick to win this tournament.)

Some other results from today's action, Brazil beat Belgium 1-0 in Group C play, Argentina took down Cote d'Ivoire, 2-1, and Holland played to a draw against Nigeria.

Holden on, U.S. wins 1-0 []
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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Soccer kicks off the Olympics

The United States Women's soccer team kicked off the 2008 Olympics on a horrible note, losing 2-0 versus Norway earlier this morning. The US definitely missed Abby Wambach's presence in the middle defensively, as Norway scored two goals in the first five minutes.

I watched some of this game, and it looked like the American's had the speed advantage, but Norway capitalized on their opportunities, which is what the United States didn't do. Certainly the US isn't comfortable playing from behind since that doesn't happen very often, and you can't blame the weather here because it was what the players are used to.

Here are some more results from today's action:

(Make sure you stick with Calling The Shots for all Olympics news, results, and opinions.)

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Griffey Jr. to White Sox? + More

The Reds and White Sox have agreed to a deal that would send Ken Griffey Jr. to the White Sox. Because Griffey has played at least 10 years in the majors, and 5 years on the Reds, he has the right to veto any deal.

I personally hope he vetoes it, because this will just give the White Sox more power, and they will be able to easily win the division now.

I will be updating this story if he accepts the trade and for other major deals that could be made by the 4 P.M. deadline today.

UPDATE (12:25): Griffey has accepted the trade to the White Sox. No other major trades have happened yet.

UPDATE (4:42): Manny Ramirez has been traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Jayson Bay will be sent to Boston in the three tema deal.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Breaking News: Teixeira Traded to Angels

It was just reported on Sportscenter, that Mark Teixeira has been traded to the Angels for Casey Kotchman and a minor league player. This is a great trade, as it improves the best team in the Majors, which has seen a few power problems. They now have 3 sluggers, Vlad Guerrerro, and Torii Hunter, along with Teixiera.This could be the trade that puts the Angels over the top, and help them win the Championship that has eluded them for the past 6 years.

Teixiera was traded last year from the Texas Rangers to the Braves, and this has been viewed as a bad deal because of the players the Braves gave up to get him, and they didn't make the playoffs.

Teixeira is batting .283 with 20 Home Runs and 78 RBIs, with a .512 Slugging Percentage.

Kotchman is batting .287 with 12 Home Runs and 54 RBIs with a .448 Slugging Percentage.

Obviously, the Angels got the best of this deal because what they needed was power and they got it.

Teixeira is expected to go up to Boston and play in Wednesday's game.

Trade Deadline

Here we are, 55 hours away from the trading deadline and there have already been some big deals for pitchers, mostly going into the NL Central.

The Milwaukee Brewers traded some minor league prospects to get CC Sabathia. That looks like it worked out well. Sabathia already has the lead in Complete Games in the NL, with the 3 that he got in a row. He is 4-0 with a 1.82 ERA in 5 starts.

Rich Harden was acquired by the Cubs, and he still has yet to win a game with them. They have won only one of his starts and that was his first one. He is 0-1 with a microscopic ERA of 1.04 in three starts.

The Philadelphia Phillies acquired Joe Blanton from the A's, and even after only after 2 starts, this doesn't look like a good deal. Blanton is 0-0, and the Phillies have won both of his starts, but he has a 7.88 ERA and only lasted 2 innings in his last start that was shortened by rain.

Some of the big names that could be moved before the trade deadline are Mark Teixiera, Manny Ramirez, and Paul Byrd.

Teixiera was a trade dealine acquisition by the Braves last year from the Rangers. The Diamondbacks seem like the best fit for him. Conor Jackson can play Left Field if The D-Backs do acquire hm.

Manny Ramirez said that he is tired of the Red Sox, and the Red Sox are tired of him, and Manny dared the Red Sox to trade him, but a trade seems highly unlikely.

Paul Byrd is somebody that needs to be moved at the trade deadline or he could be placed on waivers in August and a team won't have to give up anything to get him.

Another rumor I have heard is that Justin Duchscherer could be moved, and the Tigers are interested in him.

A smaller name that could be moved before the dealine in Cubs lefty reliever Scott Eyre, The Rays, Red Sox, and Tigers have shown interest.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Top-5 Must See Events at the Olympics

(This will be my last post for the week. I'll be gone until August 3rd, but you can keep checkin' in here for other posts by the other guys here).

I am on the fence about these 2008 Olympic Games. It's hard to put behind everything that is going on in China and focus on the sports that will be showcased. We don't know what protesters will do, how they will do it, or what will happen. I haven't done much research on this topic, so my opinion probably doesn't matter, but I do know that even though the IOC has all the confidence in the world in China and Beijing, they will be trembling every day hoping nothing goes wrong.

So whether you like the Games or not, here are my top-5 must see events.

5- Opening Ceremonies, August 8 (NBC, 8 PM)

You'll probably think I'm stupid for making the Opening Ceremonies one of the top-5 events, but I'm a sucker for them for reasons I don't even know. Anyway, National Stadium (aka the "Bird's Nest) will host it as 205 countries and their athletes march in the Parade of Nations. Per Olympic tradition, Greece will go first and China last.

4- Misty May and Kerri Walsh attempt to defend their gold medal, August 12 (NBC, 8 PM)

This is must see TV for reasons I shouldn't have to explain. Please leave if you don't know what I am talking about. These two won the gold at Athens and look to defend it in Beijing. They are unstoppable and will win the gold again, barring some freak injury or something.

3- Women's gymnastics all-around title, August 14 (NBC, 8 PM)

Attempting to follow in Carly Patterson and Mary Lou Retton's footsteps, Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin will go for gold in the Women's all-around championship. And for me, it is just weird because Johnson is only about two years older than me and she'll be competing in the Olympics. But that's getting off topic. This will be a little bit different than past Olympics because the scoring will be different. It will be challenging because this year there are many girls that could and can win this.

2- Michael Phelps begins his quest for 8 gold's (NBC, 8 PM)

We talk about Roger Federer or Tiger Woods being the most dominant athlete at the moment. But we completely forget about what Mr. Phelps is doing in the sport of swimming. Phelps is looking to break Mark Spitz's record of seven gold medals in one Olympics and could also break the record for most career golds. It will be tough but if anyone can do it it would be Phelps.

1- World's fastest man (NBC, 8 PM)

One of the biggest rivalries right now is the 100 meter mens battle between American Tyson Gay, and Jamaicans Asafa Powell and Usain Bolt. This is my number one must see event because even though the competition only lasts 10 seconds, it could be the most significant 10 seconds in the Games. The winner of this battle will come out as the fastest man, world record or not. We know these three have been breaking each others records, so this event should be great to watch.

Must See Events at Olympics
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