Celebrating last-place finishes at the Olympics. Because they're there, and you're not.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Signing Off

Well, that's it. I'm not sure I knew what to expect when I launched this blog a bit more than two weeks ago. I wasn't sure what the last-place finishes would look like, or what the response would be to this blog -- or whether anyone would even notice. As it turned out, lots of people noticed, and the response has been almost unanimously positive.

As for the results, we didn't get the last-place story that the media always hopes for: the ludicrous last-place finish. (They tried with the women's marathon, but given the severe conditions and the 16 DNFs, any finish was an achievement.) Partly that's a result of the IOC's crackdown on the novelty acts. And partly it's because last-place finishes, like medal finishes, come in all shapes and sizes.

Athletes come in last for all kinds of reasons, whether it's spectator interference, injuries, or deliberate strategies -- these were some of the more interesting last-place stories from these Games. But by and large last-place finishers were just like any other athletes at the games: some had a shot at a medal but it didn't work out, some were strong contenders, some had no hope but tried their best all the same -- and some might even test positive for steroids.

Last-place finishers are just like any other athletes. Most get ignored. Lucrative endorsement deals won't be waiting for the last-place finisher, but they won't be there for the seventh- or fourth-place finisher either. They won't be showboating at the end of the race. Their officials won't be demanding a duplicate gold medal. As far as the media is concerned, those off the podium hardly matter except as cannon fodder for the victors. But they're the nine-tenths of the iceberg beneath the surface: they're where most of the Olympics can be found.

This is my last post to DFL. I've been asked whether I'll do this again; I haven't decided yet. I've got other projects to work on -- and, believe it or not, I have to look for work. Keep an eye on my personal blog if you're interested in finding out what happens next. This'll be a hard act to follow, though.

I'll leave comments open for a few more days. Reader feedback, whether in the comments or by e-mail, has been a definite highlight of this little project. Thank you very much.

Labels: ,

DFL Media Roundup

International coverage of DFL was largely based on the Reuters and Agence France-Presse reports (see previous entry on news coverage). In addition to the stories mentioned earlier, I've received links or reports of stories appearing on the web sites of Le Figaro, L'Unità, Il corriere della sera (Milan), and Il corriere del Ticino (Lugano), as well as this Argentine web site, this French web site, Yahoo! France, Ynet in Israel (registration required), TV 2 of Denmark, Australian IT, a Spanish radio station, XTRAMSN (New Zealand) and probably a zillion other places I've missed. Suffice to say, it's gotten around. I'm given to understand that reports also appeared in Colombia, China and on South African radio.

I had an interview with the BBC World Service that turned into this pretty good article. I did another interview for their morning show in East Asia just after the Games to sum up the results. Separately, I had an interview with Irish National Radio as well. (Just keeping track, is all.)

From what I've been able to read -- and for the most part it was just the wire stories translated into other languages -- I'm pretty happy with the coverage: they understood what I was trying to do, and the focus was on the athletes and my arguments about their performance, rather than on me personally.

On the other hand, Canadian coverage focused an awful lot on me, as though I and my background -- the junior high track meet anecdote and my snake breeding was brought up more than once -- were as interesting as what I was doing here. I've never been accused of being boring, and I suppose the fact that a Canadian was responsible for something that was getting international attention was of interest to a national media that will look for the Canadian angle in anything, but I didn't think I ought to have been the focus of attention. I didn't think I ought to have been the novelty; the site should have been.

Of the print stories, the National Post article was probably the best -- well my mother liked it -- though it's for subscribers only online. The Ottawa Sun and Toronto Star articles were, I thought, less good -- the latter looks like an awful lot of cutting and pasting. It also apparently made La Presse, but I didn't see the article.

Other than that, I was on the radio a lot -- I had short interviews with news radio stations in Kitchener-Waterloo, Regina, Toronto and Montreal -- and last Friday made the rounds of the television news networks: first live on CBC Newsworld, then CTV Newsnet (taped then repeated throughout the day). I taped bits for CTV's and Global's national news coverage, but I'm not sure whether they ran. Here's a screenshot provided by a friend from my Newsworld appearance:

This was early in the interview, mere seconds before I learned the fine art of looking into the bloody camera. (They fixed me midway through; it was my first time on live TV.)

Surprisingly, other than the Yahoo! News story and the blogs, there doesn't seem to have been as much U.S. coverage as there was in the rest of the world. Make of that what you will. (I had a few inquiries that I wasn't able to respond to, for example, a couple of radio morning shows that focused a bit too much on the freaky and wacky for my comfort -- I'm not sure they were in it for the same reason I was.) Still, I had plenty of visits from American readers, so word got around even if the U.S. media wasn't by and large interested.

It did make a few "wacky news" digests such as this roundup of Olympic news tidbits -- which interestingly says,
Crowe drew his share of critics for the concept, but give him his due: He invented the one Olympic competition in which a disgruntled runner-up won't be demanding a duplicate gold medal.
Cute line -- but what share of critics? Does Dwight know something I don't? All I've had is a couple of trolls writing e-mails or comments deliberately trying to pick a fight -- typical for a site with any profile. No one has yet mounted a serious attack on me, this site, or the concept. It's a bad media practice to invent a controversy just because you think something might be controversial.

Labels: , ,

Monday, August 30, 2004

The Final Tally

We Have A Winner: In the end it was no contest: Greece had the most last-place finishes -- 13 of them. The next highest result was Australia with eight; Poland and the United States had seven each; Egypt and China had six each; and a total of 25 countries had three or more last-place finishes.

Right. Fine. So what does it mean?

Not much, really. I never took this nearly as seriously as some of my readers, and especially not as much as the media. It was more a satire on the medals race at each Olympics -- where, it seemed to me, something was being measured, but it wasn't athletes' performance.

But, fun aside, where are these last-place finishes coming from? The reasons for some of them are easy enough to guess.

Most countries that had a lot of last-place finishes sent a lot of athletes. Interestingly, eight out of the 10 top last-place-finishing countries had more medals than last-place finishes -- only Egypt (five medals, six last-place finishes) and Kyrgyzstan (no medals, four last-place finishes) did not. A country may enter three athletes in one event, with one winning, one placing in the middle of the pack and one finishing last. Countries with large delegations tend to have entered a lot of team sports as well. So a lot of it can be attributed to the law of averages -- the more athletes you enter, the more opportunities you have to come in last.

Greece, as the host country, was able to compete in events for which it ordinarily might not have been able to qualify. Many of their last-place finishes were in team events -- relays, soccer, synchronized swimming. Some athletes may not have been sent if the Games were held somewhere else. But who would deny them an opportunity to compete in front of their home crowd. The host's prerogative is probably behind most of Greece's last-place finishes. In any event, they still won 16 medals.

Several of Egypt's last-place finishes were in team sports where, presumably, there were continental qualifiers -- they were the top African team, and got slaughtered by teams from other continents with more depth of talent. Team sports in general were an interesting dynamic: with only eight to 12 spots, it wasn't easy to get in and finish last in the first place. A last-place finish in water polo or volleyball is a different thing than in sports where entering an athlete was a bit easier.

Those were the only trends that leapt out at me; the rest can probably be attributed to random chance and individual performance -- where injuries, stress, and the plain fact that some people are just better at a given thing than others, were the deciding factors. I'm sure some readers may see some patterns themselves; give us your best take in the comments.

The One Hundred Per Cent Club: Based on the athlete numbers that were available to me, Brunei Darussalam, Samoa and Somalia had the dubious distinction of having every athlete they sent to the Games finish last in at least one event -- they sent one, three and two athletes, respectively. A BBC interviewer asked me about this yesterday -- how should Samoans feel? Proud of their athletes, naturally. But, now that I've thought about it, which would have been better: to send a few athletes and have them finish last, or to send no athletes at all?

Individual Achievement: Several athletes scored last-place finishes in more than one event. Macedonia's Divna Pesic finished last in two of shooting events; Diamantina Georgatou of Greece finished last in both single and synchronized 3-metre springboard diving. There were several canoers with two last-place finishers as well: Emanuel Horvaticek of Croatia finished last in the 500- and 1,000-metre C1; Jordan Malloch and Nathan Johnson of the United States finished last in both the 500- and 1,000-metre C2. There may have been others elsewhere that I didn't catch. Congratulations to all of them for (presumably) trying their best in more than one event.

The Events Not Covered: Badminton, beach volleyball, boxing, one cycling event, fencing, individual gymnastics, judo, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis and wrestling.

Fun with the Results: Readers have asked for more detailed results -- last-place finishes compared with medals, last-place finishes divided by the number of athletes (compensating for team events, so that every member of a team is counted when the whole team finishes last), last-place finishes compared with a country's population. I'll leave them as an exercise for the curious. Feel free to play with the numbers and share the results in this entry's comments.

Tomorrow I'll try to wrap things up with a final look at media coverage of DFL: not just where this little project has been covered, but how it's been covered.

Labels: ,

Media Coverage of Last-Place Marathoner

I was wrong: the nonsense regarding the loony priest did not prevent the news media from writing about the marathon's last-place finisher, Marcel Matanin. Detroit Free Press columnist Michael Rosenberg still thinks it makes a great human-interest story, though the tale of the 30-year-old Slovak who took up the marathon because it was in Greece is somewhat more mundane than past Olympic DFLs. Thanks to Debra for the catch.

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Wrapping Things Up Tomorrow

There will be a few posts tomorrow to wrap things up: I'll look at the final results and point out some of the highlights, summarize the remaining media coverage, and tell you where things go from here.

Labels: ,

Results for the Men's Marathon

Now that the race is over, I don't think the last-place finisher is likely to make any headlines. For one thing, most of the media attention is going to be focused on the bizarre attack on Vanderlei Lima by a disturbed former priest from Ireland who wanted to prepare for the Second Coming. For another, the results were closer than you might expect, with the last-place finish less than 40 minutes behind the first. Marcel Matanin of Slovakia finished 81st with a time of 2:50:26; the winner's time was 2:10:55. This was a difficult race, with lots of elevation changes and in hot and humid conditions. As was the case with the women's marathon, there were a lot of DNFs -- 20 in all. But as one of the CBC commentators pointed out during their live coverage, "99.9 per cent of the population could not keep pace for one kilometre." Finishing is an achievement. Being able to complete even a portion of this race under these conditions is an achievement.

Labels: , , ,

Marc Jenkins

Gavin Phillips writes to draw our attention to the story of Marc Jenkins, who finished last in the men's triathlon (results) because he had to run with his bike on his shoulder for half a kilometre because of a broken bike wheel.

Labels: , ,

Results for Sunday, August 29

Rhythmic Gymnastics: In the qualifying rounds for the individual all-around, Wania Monteiro of Cape Verde finished 24th with a score of 71.900; qualifiers for the final had scores of 95.925 or more. She had fairly low technical marks but otherwise didn't do all that badly, from what I can tell.

Handball: The medal finals were held today. In the women's 9/10 classification match Thursday, Greece lost to Angola 38-23 and finished 10th; they were 0-4 in the preliminaries. Egypt lost 30-24 to Slovenia in the men's 11/12 classification match and finished 12th; they were 0-5 in the preliminaries.

Volleyball: In men's volleyball, Australia won fewer sets than Tunisia, so while they both finished the prelims with 0-5 records and are ranked tied for 11th, I'm awarding the last-place finish to Australia.

Water Polo: Egypt was 0-5 in the preliminary round of men's water polo and on Friday lost the 11/12 classification match to Kazakhstan 15-7, so they finished 12th.

Standings to date: Cape Verde is the 103rd (and possibly final) country to make the standings. Thanks to last-place finishes in team sports for which it was able to qualify, Egypt makes a last-minute dash for the "top", Australia slips into second place and Greece -- which, as host country, was able to enter a number of team events that it might not otherwise qualify for -- solidifies its lead with 13 last-place finishes, five more than Australia.

All that's left now is the marathon, which is in progress now.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Men's Marathon Now Under Way

The men's marathon just got under way. It's a gruelling course, but at 30°C it's a little bit cooler than the 37-degree temperatures the women had to face (there was a very good reason for 16 DNFs in that event).

The news media has historically covered the last-place finisher of the Olympic marathon, from the great John Stephen Akhwari of Tanzania in 1968 ("My country did not send me to Mexico City to start the race. They sent me to finish the race.") to Pyambu Tuul in 1992 and A Baser Wasiqi in 1996. It's like the first baby of the new year: the media gravitates to it because they love a good human-interest story.

It'll be a few hours before the marathon is finished, but I'd like to put out a general request to my readers: If you see a news report about the marathon's last-place finisher, please let me know. I'll get it up here as quick as I can. I'm very interested to see how the media will handle it this time. (I'll be looking at the results, myself, but will be keeping an eye out for this as well.) Thanks very much.

Labels: , ,

Results for Saturday, August 28

Athletics: Women's high jump: Australia's Petrina Price and one other athlete cleared 1.80 metres, but she finishes last because she took more attempts to do it. The winner's final height was 2.06 metres. Women's 1,500 metre: Sumaira Zahoor of Pakistan had the slowest heat time of 4:49.33, about five seconds behind the next-slowest time; the winner's time in the final was 3:57.90. Men's javelin: Edi Ponos of Croatia -- his best throw was 71.43 metres; the winner's best in the final was 86.50 metres. Men's 800 metre: Cornelius Sibe of Surinam had a heat time of 2:00.06, the only result above two minutes; the winner's final time was 1:44.45. Men's 5,000-metre: Sergiy Lebid of Ukraine with a heat time of 14:10.23; the winner's final time was 13:14.39. There was one DNF. Men's 4×100-metre relay: The only result above 39 seconds came from the relay team from Russia: 39.19 seconds, which they put in in the heats. The winner's final time was 38.07 seconds. Doesn't that seem close to you? Women's 4×400-metre relay: Greece had a bad run in the final, finishing at 3:45.70, but they did make it there; the slowest heat time was put in by Senegal at 3:35.18. The fastest final time was 3:19.01. Men's 4×400-metre relay: Spain had, at 3:05.03, the slowest heat time; the winning final time was 2:55.91. And that's it for track and field except for one event -- the marathon today.

Basketball: On the women's side, South Korea finished 12th with an 0-6 record. It was the same result for Angola on the men's side: they too finished 0-6 and 12th.

Canoe/Kayak (Flatwater Racing): Men's 500-metre K1: For some reason the Athens 2004 site isn't covering the results of heat four, where Steven Ferguson (see previous entries: New Zealand Kayaking Controversy, Steven Ferguson Update) finished last with the slowest time of 2:06.937. He had to work at it to finish last, though, because the next slowest kayaker was only four seconds ahead of him, and though that kayaker was a good 15 seconds behind everyone else, he qualified for the semifinal. Ferguson was the only one not to do so -- which is, of course, what he wanted. Men's 500-metre C1: This one's tricky, because everybody made it out of the prelims and posted different results in the semis -- i.e., the person with the slowest time in the prelims was not the same as the one slowest in the semis. To square this circle, I'm going to go to the slowest semifinal time, which was put in by Emanuel Horvaticek of Croatia and which was the slowest time overall: 2:06.347. Women's 500-metre K1: Thi Cach Doan of Vietnam had the slowest heat time, 2:06.126, but Indonesia's Sarce Aronggear was the only competitor not to advance from the prelims, so the last-place finish goes to her rather than Thi. (I'm really having to split hairs in these events!) Men's 500-metre K2: The Chinese twosome of Yijun Yin and Lei Wang had the slowest time in the prelims, made the semis, and finished last there. They were about eight seconds behind the winner in each case. Men's 500-metre C2: Americans Jordan Malloch and Nathan Johnson finished last in the repechage here, too. Women's 500-metre K2: Paula Harvey and Susan Tegg of Australia also finished last in their repechage.

Cycling: In the men's mountain bike event, Emmanouil Kotoulas of Greece placed 45th, three laps back, with no time recorded. There were five DNFs.

Diving: In the prelims for the men's 10-metre platform, Andras Hajnal of Hungary finished 33rd with a score of 305.79 -- 207.27 points behind the leader in the preliminaries (who went on to win silver). No diving accidents, just low marks.

Football: Serbia-Montenegro finished 16th.

Rhythmic Gymnastics: Poland finished 10th in the group all-around qualification with a total score of 41.775; qualifiers had scores of between 44.600 and 49.875.

Sailing: In the tornado class, Mauricio Santa Cruz Oliveira and Joao Carlos Jordao finished 17th with 172 total points and 155 net points -- the winners had 48 and 34 points, respectively. And in the star class, Mark Mansfield and Killian Collins finished 17th (142 total, 125 net; the winners had 60 total, 42 net).

Volleyball: Kenya was 0-5 and had less good results than the other 0-5 team, so instead of awarding an 11th-place tie to both, I'm assigning the last-place finish to Kenya.

Standings to date: More than half the countries at these Games now have at least one last-place finish. Australia moves into third place and China moves past Uzbekistan and France to make the top five.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Steven Ferguson Update

A few days back I mentioned Steven Ferguson, the New Zealander who deliberately finished last (not what DFL stands for, incidentally) so as to avoid competing in the semifinals and to save his strength for the 1,000-metre K2 final. In the end, though, Ferguson and his partner, Ben Fouhy, finished eighth (out of nine) in that final Friday morning, about three seconds behind the winner. Whether this is just the result of bad karma or an indication that saving his strength may have helped, but not enough, who can say?

Incidentally, this story in yesterday's New Zealand Herald, which highlights the Ferguson story but talks about coming in last in general, is pretty good.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, August 28, 2004

But You're Missing the Point!

Sandeep Dwivedi has a column in the Indian Express bemoaning India's poor Olympic performance (a perennial problem, it seems -- see previous entry), and cites my listing India's last-place finish in the 49er sailing event (reported here). He writes:
We can laugh it off, or we can look at it this way: Do we really need the humiliation of seeing our runners, boxers, archers, wrestlers, swimmers, oarsmen, sailors end up as stragglers?
He's the one seeing this in terms of humiliation, not me. And I believe that athletes understand that there's an element of risk in competition: there is a chance you might win, and a risk that you might lose, even badly. I have the greatest respect for competitors who know they have little to no chance, but try anyway. I have very little respect for people who blame their country's athletes for their perceived national humiliation. (They're there; you're not.) It's not my place to lecture, but I think that if India wants to win, it must not be afraid to lose.

On another note, Alan Lloyd sent me an e-mail a couple of days ago that took issue with one of my arguments:
Great site, and I understand its intent, however I disagree with you when you write "Of course, the worst at the Olympics is still much better than the rest of us could ever hope to do." Anyone can finish last, even me. I want to know how I can get a free trip to Athens and then stroll around the track, what a ride!
No disrespect to Mr. Lloyd, whose e-mail I appreciate receiving, but I meant that the results put in by even the last-place finishers are still better than most of us are capable, not the placing. Yes, anyone could come in last -- assuming they could finish -- but I don't think we could put up the same marks, by and large.

Labels: , ,

Touching a Nerve: More Reader Mail

After peaking at slightly more than 50,000 visits on Thursday, traffic here on DFL is starting to ease off a bit. Clearly this little project has touched a bigger nerve than I had expected. From reading your comments (thank you) and the blogs -- more than 130 of them at this point -- that have linked to this site (thank you), I'm getting a sense of why.

There's an awful lot of cynicism about the Olympics these days: it's not just the drugs and doping and the judging scandals, it's the laser-like focus on winning, the strutting of the victors, the lucrative sponsorship deals, the excessive expectations. Many of us have become battle-hardened, turned off by the glitz and the money and the corruption. Some readers have said that this blog has made the Olympics watchable again. Wow.

Other readers come from a different perspective: in the shadow of the glitz and the money, they feel their athletes -- and by extension, their countries -- are the perennial underdogs. If the focus on the Olympic story is solely on the winners -- or on the more colourful, "oddball" last-placers -- then these stories never get told. In that sense, maybe, this blog is more inclusive.

I'll start with an e-mail from Mary in California:
Just a note to thank you for the blog postings. I understand what you're doing and it's not only laudable, it's a lovely gesture to those who might not get more than a passing sympathetic glance from the golden boys and girls and the media. I noticed, also, that reading the results of last place finishers requires quite a bit of effort; as an American and a journalist I'm used to scanning for the "pertinent" bits, who won, how fast were they, and all that truck. Your blog forced me to slow down and actually savor the feats of these DFLs, which they deserve. Just getting to the Olympics requires dedication and training and a level of commitment I can appreciate, if not emulate!
I've received some e-mail from China. Zhangjun writes: "I'm glad to see what you've done. All the athletes should be respected." And Phoebe writes:
I got to know that you made a list of the last athletes in Athens from Chinese website. Well done! We do need to pay attention to those heroes as well. Thank you for doing this.
Sarah writes,
This is an awesome view of the Olympics. Definitely makes it more interesting to watch them now instead of just the winners you got the DFLs. You should honor them by inviting them to a special club or something.
But would they accept? (I haven't heard from any Olympic athletes -- I really hope I've given no one serious offence.)

I thought Cris's e-mail was particularly thoughtful, and not just because nice things are being said about me:
It's funny -- the DFL finisher represents a strange paradox of being at once laughable and dignified. You're right: the spirit of the Games often lies somewhere toward the middle or back of the pack, and considering the sad state of affairs in many nations around the world, it is remarkable that some athletes can represent their countries at all. Your blog puts a clever spin on the way we look at sporting, and somehow we can identify with -- or even envy -- the obscure athlete who competes for the love of the sport and comes closer to glory than most any of us will.
Katie in Cape Town, South Africa:
Not many of us will ever see the Olympic Games from an athlete's perspective and I agree that just being selected and finishing an event is a major achievement. Our country has done OK and I've tried to watch as many of our athletes as possible. Wish I was actually there cheering them on! Congratulations on understanding the "Olympic Spirit" and bringing nations of the world together!
I liked the following e-mail so much I read it on the air when I appeared live on CBC Newsworld yesterday (more on which anon). Koffi Brou Brigitte writes from Côte d'Ivoire (which we in the English-speaking world used to call the Ivory Coast):
I come from Côte d'Ivoire, a little country of Africa. I speak English a little bit, but I understand your fight. Our athletes will return home without any medal. Thank you for all the unknowns, and BRAVO.
Allan Hewitson, a Canadian by his ISP, writes,
What a unique idea -- and keep it up. Your BBC comment that finishing last in the Olympics is better than most of us could do, is, of course the real issue. I take the Games seriously because so many of the participants put so much of their lives into their sports and events. But I maintain my philosophy that there's very little so totally tasteless that you can't get a laugh out of it. This is one of these things.
And finally, another damn Canadian: Gary O'Brien, who lives about an hour away from me in Hull, Quebec, writes,
I followed the link from today's edition of La Presse (Aug. 27) and was quite happy to find such a site. The Olympic Games (esp. athletics) always have great stories, and many involve the non winners, and it is great to follow them in such a way. Bravo and congratulations for your dedication.
Thanks for writing, everyone. I appreciate it very much.

Labels: ,

Our Focus on Losing

Rick Salutin in yesterday's Globe and Mail:
What separates us from those ancient Greeks is not our focus on winning, which the original Olympics also celebrated, but on losing. It's as if there is no merit in loss, since, as U.S. sports icon Vince Lombardi theorized, winning is "the only thing." Losing is stigmatized, there can be nothing of value in it and you ought to doubt yourself if you think there might be. You can hear a note of doubt creep into Olympic athletes' voices when they speak about their pride at having done their best even though they didn't win, as if they sense their compatriots squinting back in disbelief or scorn, implying they're making excuses and should just hang their heads or go soak them. Or they sound puzzled -- since they feel they have fulfilled the Olympic ideal, which certainly involves competition. . . . In the Greek model, there was glory to winners but not ignominy for losers.
(Registration may be required.)

Labels: ,

Results for Friday, August 27

Athletics: Men's 50-km walk: Janos Toth of Hungary finished 41st with a time of 4:29:33, nearly 51 minutes behind the winning time of 3:38:46 and a bit more than 9 minutes behind finisher number 40. There were eight DNFs and five DQs for breaking into a run. Men's pole vault: Several vaulters only cleared the opening height of 5.30 metres and no more, but the last-place finish goes, in a tie, to Kim Yoo-Suk (pun not intended) of Korea and Marios Evaggelou of Greece, because they only cleared 5.30 metres on their third attempt. The winner cleared 5.95 metres in the final. Five vaulters received no mark. Women's long jump: Svetlana Pessova of Turkmenistan's best jump in the prelims was 5.64 metres; the winner's best jump in the final was 7.07 metres. Two jumpers received no mark. Women's javelin: Samoan Patsy Selafina Akeli had a best throw of 45.93 metres; the winner's best final throw was 71.53 metres. One athlete received no mark. Men's 110-metre hurdles: Edy Jakariya of Indonesia had the slowest heat time of 14.11 seconds; the winner's final time was 12.91 seconds. Women's 10,000 metre: Natalia Cherches (mais elle ne le trouve pas) of Moldova finished 27th with a time of 34:04.97; the winner's time was 30:24.36. Four DNFs (including Paula Radcliffe, since some of you are probably wondering). Women's 4×100 relay: Greece widens its lead with a reasonably respectable (it seems to me) 44.45-second result in the prelims; the winning time in the final was 41.73 seconds, and there were three DNFs, two in the heats and one in the final.

Canoe/Kayak (Flatwater Racing): I'm guessing that wind was a factor in these events, because in many cases the slowest times were in the final -- everyone, including the winners, was slower. In many cases I'm going to have to go to place rather than time. Men's 1,000-metre K1: Tony Lespoir (Seychelles) had the slowest time in the prelims at 4:17.128, at least half a minute behind anyone else; the winner's final time was 3:25.897. Men's 1,000-metre C1: Paddling for Croatia, Emanuel Horvaticek's time of 4:27.115 was just marginally slower than the next-slowest preliminary result, but both of them were well back; the winner's time in the final was 3:46.201. Women's 500-metre K4: The foursome from the United States were the only team not to advance to the final. Men's 1,000-metre K2: Danila Turchin and Michail Tarasov (Uzbekistan) were the only team not to advance from the first round. Men's 1,000-metre C2: Jordan Malloch and Nathan Johnson (United States) finished last in the repechage. Men's 1,000-metre K4: The foursome from Uzbekistan did not make it out of the repechage. (I'm not sure they call it a repechage, but it functions as one: top finishers in the prelims get a bye to the final, where the bottom end competes in a semifinal where one or more may be eliminated.)

Cycling: In the women's mountain bike event, Cypriot Elina Sofocleous finished 24th. No time was recorded; she was two laps back. Six riders did not finish.

Equestrian: Argentina's Federico Sztyrle finished 77th; he and his horsie, "Who Knows Lilly", retired after the first qualifier.

Field Hockey: After an 0-5 record in the pool matches and losses to South Africa and Argentina in the classification round, Egypt finished 12th in men's field hockey. George Brink wrote in with the following commentary about Egypt's feat in qualifying for the Games:
The automatic qualifiers for the Games are the Continental Champions so while the other game features the European Champions and the Oceania Champions the last place game had the Pan American Champions, Argentina, and the African Champions, Egypt, in it. Egypt won the African Championships as a complete surprise by beating African powerhouse South Africa so it would have been difficult to get a decent bet on them coming last in the Games. Egypt happily fulfilled expectations by losing the 11th/12th place playoff to Argentina, who for most were complete surprise contenders for this position. Still congratulations to Egypt for getting to their first Olympic Games ever.

Modern Pentathlon: Thanks to a DNF in the equestrian portion, Federica Foghetti of Italy finished 32nd with 4,228 points and was 5:05 behind the winner, who had 5,448 points. Due to the horsey problems in both modern pentathlon events, competitors will be given a choice of mounts in 2008: (1) horse; (2) camel; (3) yak; and (4) Komodo dragon -- cloned velociraptors are not likely to be ready by that time.

Synchronized Swimming: Only eight entrants in the team synchronized swimming event, and Greece finished eighth; their score of 92.750 was 6.751 points behind that of the winners.

Standings to date: What can I say? Greece, Greece and more Greece: Greece's lead widens with three more last-place finishes, eleven overall. The United States and Uzbekistan, with two more last-place finishes each from the canoe/kayak events, take third and fourth places. Croatia, Indonesia and the Seychelles make their first appearances. And Samoa joins Brunei and Somalia in the 100 per cent club -- with as many last-place finishes as athletes.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday's Results

Friday's results will be posted later today/tomorrow (depending on where you are on this planet). Sorry for the delay.

Labels: ,

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Results for Thursday, August 26

Athletics: Men's long jump: Gregor Cankar of Slovenia had the shortest best jump in the qualifyings at 7.32 metres; the winner's final jump was 8.59 metres. One athlete received no mark. Men's 400-metre hurdles: Ibrahim Tondi of Niger had the slowest heat time of 52.62 seconds; the winner's final time was 47.63 seconds. One athlete was disqualified for running outside his lane. Men's 200 metre: Russel Roman of Palau narrowly edged out a Japanese runner for the slowest heat time -- 24.59 seconds. The winner's final time was 19.79 seconds.

Diving: In the women's 3-metre springboard, Diamantina Georgatou -- who we last saw finishing last in a synchronized diving event (results) -- finished 33rd with a score of 157.56. The leader in the prelims -- who eventually finished 3rd -- had a score of 347.04.

Football: In women's football ("soccer"), Greece was ranked last at the end of the tournament.

Hockey -- or "field hockey" as we say in Canada (never say "ice hockey"): Spain was 0-4 in the prelims and lost the 9-10 classification, finishing 10th. Reader George Brink makes the call: "Spain have just come last in the Women's Olympic Hockey competition losing 4-3 to South Africa by a Golden Goal. This must be the cruelest way to come last having scored the first goal then having fought back from a 3-1 deficit to draw 3-3 at full time only to have the 9th position snatched away from them when South Africa scored the first goal in Extra Time."

Modern Pentathlon: In men's upper-class twit of the year modern pentathlon, Marcin Horbacz of Poland finished 32nd with 4,388 points. He was 4:33 behind the winner, who had 5,480 points. Marcin started relatively strongly, placing 7th and 6th in the shooting and fencing portions, respectively (he's a better shot than the eventual medallists, for example), but a DNF in the riding component put him out of the running. (The results seem to indicate a horse substitution?)

Sailing: Some of you have been wondering, "Where's India?" Wonder no more. After 16 races, Indian sailors Malav Shroff and Sumeet Patel finished 19th in the 49er class, with a score of 292 total points, 253 net points. The winners had 91 and 67, respectively. (Lower is obviously better.)

Triathlon: In the men's triathlon, Marc Jenkins of Great Britain finished 45th with a time of 2:05:33.60, nearly 14½ minutes behind the winner and about a minute and a half behind finisher number 44. There were four DNFs.

Water Polo: Kazakhstan lost to Canada 4-10 in the women's 7th/8th classification game to finish 8th in women's water polo; they were 0-3 in the preliminary round. (Remember that there were only eight spots in this tournament.)

Standings to date: After achieving its rightful place on the throne after my goof of the standings, Greece solidifies its lead with a seventh and eighth last-place finish, denying Poland a chance at the top.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Correction: Women's Heptathlon

More evidence that I can't read a frigging chart. Nancy Johnson writes to point out a mistake I made in the results for the women's heptathlon (reported here). I had reported the last-place finisher as Shen Shengfei of China with 4949 points, and, yet, on the same damn page, there was a listing for Yuki Nakata of Japan with 4871 points. Sorry again, everyone.

(I should apply to be a gymnastics judge.)

Anyway, as a result of this, one point is subtracted from China's total and Japan finally enters the standings. Which means that China falls to fifth fourth place, and should not have been in the lead for some time. (And with all the newspapers reporting China in the lead -- ouch!) Greece is now the undisputed leader in the standings.

I'll update the table when I write up today's results, and that should be within the next few hours.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Results for Wednesday, August 25

Athletics: Surprisingly few results to report here today: lots of heats, few finals. Women's 400-metre hurdles: Klodiana Shala of Albania had the slowest result in the heats with the improbable time of 1:00.00 -- one minute even. The winner's final time was 52.82 seconds. Women's hammer throw: Marina Lapina of Azerbaijan had the lowest result in the qualifying rounds, with a best throw of 55.34. The winner's best throw in the final was 75.02 metres. Women's 200-metre: Gladys Thompson of Liberia had a heat time of 27.51 seconds, about 5½ seconds behind the winning final time of 22.05 seconds.

Baseball: Both Italy and Greece finished the prelims with a 1-6 record, but Italy takes last place because it had fewer runs scored and more runs scored against.

Cycling wrapped up today. In the women's points race, Lyudmyla Vypyraylo of Ukraine finished 18th; the bottom three finishers and one DNF each lost a lap after a sprint and finished with negative points. In the men's madison, Oleg Grishkin and Alexey Shmidt finished 17th with one lap point (compared to the winners' 22); there was one DNF. I'm not sure it's possible to figure out a last-place finisher in the men's keirin -- or am I mistaken?

Equestrian: In individual dressage, Gerta Lehmann, riding "Louis" for Greece, finished 51st in the grand prix and did not advance to the grand prix special. Her score was an even 60 per cent; the winner's average after the grand prix freestyle was 79.278 per cent.

Sailing: The last races in the mistral categories were run today. On the men's side, Martin Lapos of Slovakia was 34th after 11 races; on the women's side, Karla Barrera of Puerto Rico was 26th.

Synchronized Swimming: Australia's Amanda Laird and Leonie Nichols finished 24th in the preliminaries; only the top 12 advanced to the finals. If I'm reading the scores right, their score of 38.834 was 10.75 points behind the leaders' score at that stage.

Triathlon: In the women's triathlon, Delphine Pelletier of France finished 44th with a time of 2:22:39.28. That's about a minute behind the next-to-last-place finisher and 17:55.83 behind the winner. Four competitors did not finish after completing the swimming leg, one did not finish after completing the cycling leg, and one was overlapped during the cycling.

Weightlifting: The final weightlifting event was the +105 kg men's category, where Itte Detenamo of Nauru lifted a mere 347.5 kg. The winner's combined total was 472.5 kg. There were three DNFs.

Standings to date: (You all know about the number of athletes being recalibrated, right?) Greece leapfrogs Poland to move into second place, threatening China's lead. Australia and France make the top 5, while Slovakia and Ukraine make big jumps up the standings.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Reader Mail Egoboo

Positive feedback is a wonderful motivator; I hope you don't mind if I share some. I wasn't sure whether people would get what I was trying to do -- i.e., have a little fun, but not at the athletes' expense. The idea was to be light-hearted, not mean spirited. I'm relieved to see, from your e-mails, that I didn't screw up.

Allison Dakin writes from Australia:
Way to go! I totally understand what you are doing! No-one at the Olympics are losers! They all had to win and work bloody hard to get there in the first place!

I am a Aussie so even though we love our sportspeople to win we also champion the underdog!
Tony Simmons, who runs a turtle rescue in Texas:
It seems that we have a couple of things in common, our love for reptiles and our respect for the human spirit. I've really enjoyed looking through your site. Reading through these stories has bolstered my faith in humanity.

Thank you for pointing out that finishing last doesn't make anyone a loser.
Expatriate Canadian Danny Curylo writes:
I just wanted to thank you for providing an insight into the games that truly epitomizes the spirit of sport. As a Canadian living in the US *groan* I have become bitter with pathetic NBC coverage of the games and the damn arrogance of US athletes and broadcasters. Only a Canadian could appreciate the value of participation for the great accomplishment it is. Thank you, and I look forward to the 2006 Winter DFL blog.
And an initially skeptical Graham Lockley writes:
Just to let you know, I followed the link from El Reg to your site thinking that it would be a typical "scoffers" kind of place but the tag at the top (Because they're there, and you're not) said volumes about your attitude. Still not sure about the central idea of your site but will give you plenty credit for appreciating that those who came last at least DID compete.

Labels: ,

Standings Revised

Many of you pointed out that the numbers of athletes per country listed in the standings table were wrong. I've now corrected the table, using, per this suggestion, the numbers from the Yahoo! Sports page. Hopefully this will be a bit more accurate, but I know it's not perfect. For some reason, no athletes from Palestine are listed in that database; I've even put in the names of the two athletes with last-place finishes and it came up empty. So I'll list them as having four athletes, which is what the other database said, even though that may not be correct. It's better than having a division by zero error in the standings!

There have been lots of little movements up and down in the standings, too many to mention here. Have a look and see what's changed.

Labels: ,

DFL in the News

I'm overwhelmed by the amount of media coverage this little project has been receiving. As a friend just said to me, "And here, I bet, you thought you were just arseing around with a new blog, for lack of anything better to do!" Um, yeah.

The Reuters story has now been picked up by Terra in Brazil and Sify in India. Agence France-Presse filed a report too -- I like some of the quotes they used -- and it's been getting around: in South Africa, it's on the web sites of the Independent, the Mail and Guardian and News 24; it's on the web site of Singapore's Channel NewsAsia; it even made the Khaleej Times of the United Arab Emirates! (Never underestimate the power of the wire services.)

Even the tech news site The Register has a story about DFL -- next stop: Slashdot!

(The National Post reporter contacted me to say that the story, which I referred to earlier, has been held for a couple of days and might run tomorrow.)

I've received a number of media inquiries and I'll do my best to reply to them as soon as I can. I used to be a reporter myself so I understand your needs. In the meantime, reporters would do well to look at the following posts: Welcome to DFL; A DFL Primer; Reuters, Lovable Losers, and a Rant About the Media. That should tide you over until I get a chance to talk to you.

Labels: ,

Reader Mail: Athlete Numbers

I've gotten a couple of e-mails questioning the numbers of athletes in each Olympic delegation that I've listed in the standings table at right. Chris writes,
Where's that info from? I read that the Australian team was the 2nd biggest at 482 competitors. Does your figure include support staff and admin/management ? Just asking . . .
And Joyce asks the same thing:
Curious as to how you came up with your counts for number of athletes. You list Greece as having 966 athletes, but a web site lists only 441 and Canada you list as 555 but I saw an article that says 262. Officially the US says it sent 531 but you credit 1,558?
If my numbers are wrong I'd love to get them corrected, so if you know where I can find the information, and you can point me to it or send it to me, I'd be eternally grateful.

At the moment, the athlete numbers are taken from this page on the Athens 2004 site: I search by national Olympic committee and take the number of hits returned. It's quick and dirty, and I suppose it's possible that there are duplicate entries. (To be honest, I haven't cross-checked all 1,558 American listings.) I was pointed to this page after I posted a question in Ask MetaFilter (from whence all blessings flow) about where to find such data.

Corrections are always welcome, but please don't take these standings too seriously -- they're far too incomplete (so many events without last-place finishers, you know), and the ties are broken too arbitrarily.

Labels: ,

Justin Wilcock

I have the best readers. From the comments, you've provided more information on what happened to American diver Justin Wilcock in the men's 3-metre springboard:
Justin Wilcock had some kind of back stress fracture that was apparently so painful that he almost dropped out. He did all of his dives despite not being able to turn his body much at all -- the 0 score was from a "failed dive", which is what an athlete gets for not completing all of the turns/somersaults stated up front.
And in another comment, a link to Justin's diary, where he writes about it. I suffer from chronic back pain myself, so boy I can empathize; actually, I'm amazed he was able to compete at all. That's character -- I couldn't have done it myself.

Labels: , , ,

Correction: Women's 5,000 Metre

Oops. While Sonia O'Sullivan finished last in the women's 5,000-metre final (see previous entries: The Irish Times on Sonia O'Sullivan, Results for Tuesday, August 24), I somehow overlooked the fact that there were also qualifying heats. The slowest time for the women's 5,000-metre was, in fact, put in by Francine Niyonizigiye of Burundi in heat 1 -- 17:21.27, compared with the winner's final time of 14:45.65. Sonia's story is compelling but she was not, in fact, DFL. Sorry about that. (Thanks to this anonymous commenter for pointing this out.)

Labels: , , , ,

The Irish Times on Sonia O'Sullivan

The Irish Times has an essay by Keith Duggan on the last-place finish of Sonia O'Sullivan in Monday's women's 5,000-metre final. Via Eamonn Fitzgerald, who has some extremely nice things to say about DFL.

Labels: , , ,

Results for Tuesday, August 24

Athletics: Women's 5,000 metre: This should have been in yesterday's results, but I somehow missed it. Sonia O'Sullivan of Ireland finished 14th with a time of 16:20.90, more than a minute behind the next-to-last finisher and about 95 seconds behind the leader; she appears to have trailed badly at the end. There was one DNF. [Correction] Women's pole vault: Alejandra García of Argentina and Silke Spiegelburg of Germany tied for 13th place with a jump of 4.20 metres on the third attempt; the twelfth-place finisher also vaulted 4.20 but did so on the second attempt, and as a result was ranked higher. The winner vaulted 4.91 metres; one athlete failed to clear the minimum height and received no mark. Men's 3,000-metre steeplechase: In show jumping for humans, Polish runner Jakub Czaja's time of 8:56.24 was the slowest in the heats; the winner's final time was 8:05.81. There were two DNSes and one DNF in the heats. Women's 100-metre hurdles: Canadians may be bemoaning the result in the final (we're very good at bemoaning, actually), but the slowest time in the heats was put in by Maria Joelle Conjungo of the Central African Republic -- 14.24 seconds, compared with the winner's time of 12.37 seconds in the final. Women's 400 metre: Libyan runner Ruwita El Hubti's time of 1:03.57 was the slowest in the heats, but two other runners put in times in excess of a minute. The winner's final time was 49.41 seconds. Men's decathlon: Of 30 athletes competing, Victor Covalenko of Moldova had the lowest score, 6,543 points. The winner had 8,893 points. Victor was the only competitor to score fewer than 7,000 points, but hey, this is the decathlon, okay? Men's 1,500 metre: Despite media expectations that he would be the next Eric the Eel, Robert Caraciolo Mandje did not finish DFL in this event. I'm pleased to report that he came in third-last. (I love it when expectations are confounded.) Instead, Jimmy Anak Ahar of Brunei Darussalam put in the slowest heat time of 4:14.11. Each of the three slowest runners put in times above four minutes; the winner's final time was 3:34.18.

Cycling: In the men's points race, Wong Kam-Po of Hong Kong finished 20th with two points, compared to the winner's 93. Three competitors did not finish. In the women's sprint qualifying round, Evgenia Radanova of Bulgaria finished 12th with a time of 12.457 seconds and a speed of 57.798 km/h; the winner's time and speed in the qualifying were 11.291 seconds and 63.767 km/h, respectively. And in the qualifyings for the men's sprint, German cyclist Stefan Nimke finished 19th (11.338 seconds, 63.503 km/h; the winner's results were 10.177 seconds and 70.747 km/h in the qualifyings).

Diving: The men's 3-metre springboard wrapped up today; in the preliminaries yesterday, Justin Wilcock of the United States finished 32nd with a score of 225.87, 291.72 behind the leader in that round. Justin received a score of zero for his fifth dive, so something unfortunate must have happened, but he was trailing throughout.

Equestrian: They awarded the team jumping medals today; Mexico had the most penalties -- 70 -- after the first round and, like the other teams that did not make the top 10, did not advance to the second round.

Weightlifting started with little tiny people hauling giant weights; now the guys are getting much bigger. And the weights much heavier. Today it was the men's 105-kg class, and Eleei Ilalio of American Samoa was 16th, lifting a total of 295 kg. The winner lifted a combined total of 425 kg, and all but the bottom two were within a few kilos of 400. Six lifters were DNF; all of them trying to lift more weight than Eleei did -- and failing at it.

Standings to date: Poland moves into second place and Bulgaria and Germany make big moves up the board. But the big story is Brunei Darussalam, whose single athlete finished last in his single event. That means that Brunei has scored a perfect 100 per cent in the last-place sweepstakes -- though I suppose that percentages greater than 100 are theoretically possible if an athlete enters, and finishes last in, more than one event. Still!

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Reader Mail

Meredith writes,
I know what DFL means but it'd be nice if you mentioned it on your "welcome to DFL" page since the term is a common slang saying among athletes but is destined to leave "common folk" scratching their head in wonderment.
Good point -- I've been trying to underplay it because I figured that if the media got hold of it, they'd have a hard time with the naughty word. The D stands for "dead", the L stands for "last", and the F is obvious.

The standings table on the sidebar is getting all sorts of suggestions. Steve thinks I should break the ties in the opposite order, with larger teams ranked higher. Katie and Alfredo want me to display the countries' score as a percentage of last-place finishers versus athletes. For example, São Tomé and Príncipe has one last-place finish and three athletes at the Games, so their score would be 33.3 per cent, whereas China, with 800-plus athletes, would have a much smaller percentage score even if it has the most last-place finishes. This is an excellent idea (so of course I'd been thinking along the same lines, ha). The only problem is that for team sports, I'd have to factor in the size of the teams: if the men's eights rowing team finishes last, for example, it's actually nine athletes (including the coxswain) out of n, rather than a single last-place finish. I might do something along those lines at the end for just those countries whose scores would end up being more than a few percentage points. Still thinking about it.

Jodi sends a nice note about my decision to include the paralympic events in Sunday's athletics results:
Thank you SO much for publishing info on the wheelchair athletes. As a wheelchair user, it makes me sick the way they don't give these athletes as much coverage as their "able-bodied" counterparts. These athletes work just as hard if not harder for what they do.
I figured that what wheelchair athletes wanted more than anything else was to be treated like any other athlete; subjecting them to the cruel lash of DFL was, oddly enough, the right thing to do.

Finally, I think X Garlaza is a little upset about the Portuguese football (note: soccer) team: he wants them listed here even before the final game is played!

Labels: ,

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Reuters, Lovable Losers, and a Rant About the Media

Many of you probably have come here after reading the Reuters news story about this blog (it also showed up on Yahoo! News and the New Zealand Herald). Now I'm happy with the coverage, and I had a really nice chat with the reporter, Bernhard Warner, but I'm not sure I'm comfortable with this "lovable losers" angle. I don't think last-place finishers are necessarily losers; they just happened to come in last.

Not that I'm complaining about the story, but the media in general loves the Eric the Eel and Eddie the Eagle stories -- the winter athletes who've never seen snow before, the marathon runners who finish hours behind the pack. But these stories, interesting and entertaining as they may be, are not representative of the whole. Finishing DFL doesn't mean you were brought to the Games on a short bus; sometimes the coverage in these stories strikes me as just a little patronizing, especially if they're from little countries like São Tomé or Mongolia -- patting them on the head for participating and not taking them seriously, even though most of us couldn't even come close to doing what they just did.

Many last-place finishers are serious competitors -- especially in events with pre-Olympic qualification -- and some are even medal contenders. There are lots of reasons for finishing last, from being rattled by an interfering spectator to deliberately throwing the race. What I hope this blog will accomplish is to shed some light on last-place finishes of every sort.

Labels: ,

New Zealand Kayaking Controversy

Controversy has erupted in New Zealand as a result of a deliberate last-place finish by one of its athletes. Kayaker Steven Ferguson deliberately paddled slowly to finish last in his K1 500-metre heat earlier today in order to avoid making the semifinals. He was nursing a back injury and wanted to save himself for the K2 1,000-metre final, where he and his teammate are medal hopefuls, but didn't withdraw from the 500-metre K1 because you can't withdraw from just one event: if you pull out, you're disqualified from the entire regatta.

Now this didn't go over well with everyone: New Zealand kayaker Owen Hughes -- not at the Games -- called Ferguson's actions "pathetic" and an "embarrassment," saying that Ferguson's spot in the race could have been occupied by someone who was willing to compete, and alleged that the reason Ferguson had that spot was because his father, Ian Ferguson, was the team's coach.

It's not always sweetness and light at the back of the pack, is it? (Thanks to Alan and Regan for help with this story.)

Labels: , , ,

A DFL Primer

Until DFL was posted to MetaFilter Sunday night, I was working in near-complete obscurity. But now the cat's out of the bag, and you're coming by the thousand, whether from MetaFilter, elsewhere on the web, or, so I'm told, Tuesday's edition of the National Post. Since you likely haven't read my opening entry (and you should, because it sets out the philosophy of this project), let me recap what I'm trying to do here.

I'm keeping track of last-place finishers in as many events at the 2004 Athens Games as I can. They have to finish: DNFs, DNSes, DQs and NMs don't count here. I give the last-place result and compare it to the winning result in the final if it's meaningful. I never mention the gold medallist's name here -- they get enough press.

I'm also only recording events where a last-place finisher is reasonably possible to figure out. In certain events, you might have 16 people knocked out in the first round, and it would be all but impossible to figure out who came last of all. That means that I haven't been covering badminton, boxing, fencing, judo, table tennis, tennis or wrestling (so far). I'm also having trouble figuring out gymnastics.

If I've made a mistake in interpreting the results -- and boy, I know I've made several already -- and you can straighten me out, drop me a line or point it out in the entry's comments.

If you're looking for a specific event, here's how I've organized the site. The archives (see the sidebar on the right) are organized by day, and each post has an individual page as well, where comments can be left. I try to post the results either on the same day or the next; sometimes I'm late. Even if I have to go to the preliminary heats to find the last-place finisher, I wait until the finals are done.

The standings table (at right) gets updated a little while after the most recent post; it's coded by hand so it takes me a few minutes to do. Each country gets one point per last-place finish. Ties are broken by the size of the countries' Olympic delegations: it's much more impressive for two of four athletes to finish last than two of four hundred athletes. It's not meant to be taken too seriously, anyway.

Finally, I've also been posting links to stories about (or relevant to) last-place finishers. They're interesting reading, and I'm afraid they'll get lost as they drop off the front page, so here they are again.

Labels: ,

Results for Monday, August 23

Athletics: Women's 20-km walk: Fumilay Fonseca of São Tomé and Príncipe finished 52nd with a time of 2:04:54, which was 35:42 behind the winner and about 15 minutes behind the next-to-last finisher. Three walkers did not finish and two were disqualified, presumably for breaking into a run. Women's triple jump: Athanasia Perra of Greece had the shortest best jump in the qualifying rounds at 13.19 metres; the winner's final jump was 15.30 metres. Men's discus: Samoan competitor Shaka Sola's result of 51.10 metres was the lowest in the qualifying rounds; the winner's final result was 70.93 metres. Women's 800 metre: With a time of 2:32.10, Sanna Abubkheet of Palestine had the slowest time in the heats, well behind the other competitors and considerably behind the winner's time of 1:56.38. There was one DNF in the heats. Men's 400 metre: Abdulla Mohamed Hussein of Somalia had the slowest heat time, 51.52 seconds. This race was a bit tighter: the winner's final time was an even 44 seconds.

Cycling: In the men's team pursuit qualifying round, New Zealand's foursome finished 10th with a speed of 57.411 km/h. The winning team's speed in the final was 60.445 km/h.

Softball: With a 1-6 record in the preliminaries, Italy ended up at the bottom of the final standings. But bear in mind that only eight teams were in the softball tournament.

Weightlifting: Aruba's Isnaro Faro finished 19th in the men's 94-kg event, lifting a combined total of 307.5 kg. I don't think he was too far off the pace, though: the winner lifted exactly 100 kg more, and those in between lifted from 320 kg on up. Six athletes received DNFs.

Standings to date: Insofar as final results in sports I can figure out a last place finisher for are concerned, this was a comparatively light day. Greece seems determined not to let the most last-place finishes crown slip through its fingers. Results from Palestinian and Somalian competitors are rather distressing: fully half of their Olympic delegations (four each) have now finished last. And it's great to see cute little islands enter the list; I bet you don't even know where São Tomé is!

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Monday, August 23, 2004

Results for Sunday, August 22

Athletics: Women's marathon: Luvsanlkhundeg Otgonbayar of Mongolia finished 66th with a time of 3:48:42 -- half an hour behind the 65th-place finisher and over an hour and twenty minutes behind the winner. Sixteen competitors did not finish. Men's high jump: Liu Yang (China) and Alfredo Deza (Peru) both finished at the bottom of their qualifying heats with jumps of 2.10 metres, the minimum required, so I'll award them a last-place tie. Two jumpers received no mark; the gold-medal jump was 2.36 metres. Men's triple jump: Armen Martirosyan of Armenia had the shortest distance in the heats at 15.05 metres; the winning jump in the final was 17.79 metres. Men's 1,500-metre wheelchair: The wheelchair athletes weren't allowed to march with the athletes during the opening ceremonies. Screw that; I'm including them here. Joel Jeannot of France finished 7th with a time of 3:22.14, a little less than 12 seconds off the winning pace. There was one DNF. Women's 800-metre wheelchair: British athlete Tanni Grey Thompson finished 8th with a time of 1:56.87; this was a much closer race, with a bit more than three seconds separating all finishers. Men's hammer throw: Alfred Kruger of the USA had a best throw of 69.38 metres in the qualifying; the winner's best in the final was 83.19 metres. Two tossers received no mark. Men's 100-metre: In the Games' marquee event, the slowest time put in in the heats was by Sultan Saeed of the Maldives at 11.72 seconds; the winner's time was 9.85 seconds.

Cycling: Evelyn Garcia of El Salvador had the 12th-slowest speed in the qualifying rounds of the women's individual pursuit. Her speed was 45.752 km/h; the top eight speeds (you needed a top eight finish to advance to the next round) were between 50.191 and 52.325 km/h in the qualifying round.

Diving: South Africa's Jenna Dreyer finished 34th in the preliminary round of the women's 10-metre platform event. Her score of 186.90 was 184.20 points behind the leader in that round.

Rowing: Whether the last-place finisher is determined in the repechage, the semifinals, or one of the finals seems to depend on the number of entrants. Women's lightweight double sculls: Pham Thi Hien and Nguyen Thi Thi, Vietnam (C final). Men's lightweight double sculls: Three teams did not make it out of the C/D semifinal, but of those three, the Uzbek squad of Sergey Bogdanov and Ruslan Naurzaliyev had the slowest time: 6:45.47. Men's lightweight four: The foursome from Great Britain didn't make it out of the repechage. Women's quadruple sculls: Belarus (B final); only eight teams competed. Men's quadruple sculls: The foursome from France didn't make it out of the repechage. Women's eight: Canada (woe! alack!) didn't make it out of the repechage. Men's eight: Great Britain (B final). And that wraps up rowing.

Sailing: In the women's Europe class, Natalia Ivanova of Russia finished 25th; and Sami Kooheji of Bahrain finished 42nd in the mixed laser class.

Shooting: In the men's 50-metre rifle, three positions, Alexsander Babchenko of Kyrgyzstan finished 40th with a score of 1130; the scores were fairly close together in this event, but you needed a score of 1164 to advance to the final round. And in the men's skeet, Syrian Roger Dahi finished 41st with a score of 106 (those advancing to the final had scores of 122 or better).

Standings to date: China solidifies its hold on first place, France and Kyrgyzstan make a run for the "top", Great Britain makes a "strong" debut, and even more countries get added to the list.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Results for August 20-21

Archery: In the women's team event, Poland finished fourth in the ranking round but ended up 15th and last in the 1/8 eliminations. On the men's side, the archers from Greece stayed in 13th place in both rounds.

Athletics: Lots of heats going on in some events but, as with swimming, I'll wait until the final results before reporting the slowest heat times. Men's 20-km walk: Park Chil Sung of South Korea finished 41st with a time of 1:32:41, 13:01 behind the winner. Men's 10,000 metre: David Galvan of Mexico finished 21st with a time of 29:38.05, more than 2½ minutes behind the winner. Women's discus: Tsvetanka Khristova of Bulgaria threw the shortest final distance -- 43.25 metres -- in the qualifying rounds; the winner's distance in the final was 67.02 m. Women's 100 metre: Somali sprinter Fartun Abukar Omar had the slowest heat time of 14.29 seconds; the winner's final time was 10.93 seconds. Women's heptathlon: In this gruelling two-day event, Shen Shengfei of China finished last with 4949 points [Correction]; the winner had 6952 points.

Canoe/Kayak (Slalom Racing): In the men's C2, Australia's Mark Bellofiore and Lachie Milne finished 12th in the heats with a combined time of 278.36 seconds, more than 77 seconds behind the fastest heat time. In the men's K1, Jens Ewald of Germany finished 25th in the heats with a combined time of 250.09 seconds, more than 63 seconds behind the fastest heat time.

Cycling: Tamilla Abassova of Russia finished 12th in the women's 500-metre time trial with a speed of 51.213 km/h; the winner's speed was 53.016 km/h. In the men's 1-kilometre time trial, Radoslav Konstantinov of Bulgaria's speed of 54.327 km/h earned him 17th place; the winner's speed was 59.297 km/h. In the men's individual pursuit, Hossein Askari of Iran did not advance to the heats after his 15th-place result in the qualifiers (there was one DNS). Nor did the team from Slovakia advance after their 12th-place finish in the qualifying round of the men's team sprint.

Equestrian: In the team dressage event, Switzerland finished 10th with a score of 65.653 per cent; the winning team's score was 74.653 per cent.

Gymnastics: In the complicated event of jumping up and down on a trampoline, very low scores on the second routine during the qualifying round (indicating an incomplete routine on account of bouncing off the damn thing, presumably) pushed the following competitors into last place. Tatiana Petrenia finished 16th with a score of 32.90 (the highest qualifying score was 66.80); on the men's side, it was Peter Jensen of Denmark with a score of 32.70 (the highest score during that round was 69.10).

Rowing: I wish I knew what I was doing. If I read the results right, everyone in rowing makes it to a final, it's just a matter of which. So for our purposes, it's a matter of finding the last-place finisher in the lowest (e.g., D or E) final. Women's single sculls: Doaa Moussa, Egypt (D final). Men's single sculls: Ibrahim Githaiga, Kenya (E final). Men's pairs: Czech rowers Adam Michalek and Petre Imre did not make it out of the repechage. Women's pairs: Sophie Balmary and Virginie Chauvel finished last in the B final, but their time of 7:17.94 would have placed them fifth in the A final. Women's double sculls: Ironically, the B final was faster than the A final (where the medals were awarded), but Russian rowers Olga Samulenkova and Yulya Kalinovskaya finished last there; if they had rowed that time in the A final, they'd have won the silver. Men's double sculls: Lithuanians Kestutis Keblys and Einaras Siadvytis had the slowest time in the repechage and did not advance to the semis. Men's fours: Romania did not make it out of the repechage.

Sailing: In the men's 470, Peter Czegai and Csaba Cserep of Hungary finished 27th. Elisabetta Saccheggiani and Myriam Cutolo of Italy finished 20th in the women's 470. In the men's finn class, Estonia's Imre Taveter finished 25th. And in the yngling class, the three-woman crew of Lisa Ross, Chantal Léger and Deirdre Crampton (Canada) finished 16th.

Shooting: We have a tie for last place in the women's 50-metre rifle, three positions event: both Divna Pesic of Macedonia (we've seen her before) and Kim Frazer of Australia finished 32nd with 555 points in the qualifying rounds. In the men's 50-metre rifle, prone, Reinier Estpinan of Cuba finished 46th in qualifying with 581 points. And Australia's Bruce Quick finished 17th in the men's 25-metre rapid-fire pistol: he had 571 points.

Swimming wrapped up during these two days. Women's 200-metre backstroke: It looks like something happened to Shu Zhan of China during her heat: she led at the 100-metre mark but was seventh at 150 metres. She ended up with the slowest heat time, 2:31.56, even slower than the Uzbek. For comparison, the winner's final time was 2:09.19. Men's 100-metre butterfly: Palestinian Rad Aweisat had the slowest heat time at 1:01.60; the winner's final time was 51.25 seconds. Women's 800-metre freestyle: Khadija Ciss of Senegal had the slowest heat time, at 9:20.05; the fastest time in the final was 8:24.54. Men's 50-metre freestyle: Lots of competitors in the heats here from countries that, shall we say, are not known to be swimming powerhouses. (Okay, which wiseacre said "Canada"?) But someone had to have the slowest time, and it was Yona Walesi of Malawi, at 34.11 seconds; the winner's final time was 21.93 seconds. Women's 50-metre freestyle: Ditto. Laotian swimmer Vilayphone Vongphachanh's time was 36.57 seconds; the winner's final time was 24.58 seconds. Men's 1,500-metre freestyle: Not an event for guys who've just learned to swim. The slowest time -- 16:26.52 -- was put in by Juan Carlos Miguel Mendoza of the Philippines. Compare that to the winner's time of 14:43.40. Women's 4×100-metre medley relay: It's Switzerland with a time of 4:15.54; the winning time in the final was 3:57.32. Men's 4×100-metre medley relay: Brazil's team had the slowest heat time, 3:44.41; the winning time in the final was 3:30.68. Relay team results are a lot closer, yes? And that's it for swimming.

Weightlifting: In the women's 75-kg event, Marie Jesika Dalou of Mauritius was well behind the pack, lifting a combined weight of 130 kg; the next-to-last competitor lifted 207.5 kg and the winner lifted 272.5 kg. In the womens plus-75-kg category, Ivry Shaw of Fiji lifed 185 kg; the winner lifted 305 kg -- the results were more spread out than in other categories, but then so were the competitors' body weights. And Julian McWatt of Guyana finished last in the men's 85-kg event, lifting 272.5 kg; the winner lifted 382.5 kg.

Standings to date: Remind me not to do two days at once again, would you? Anyway, all countries in the "top" 20 have more than one last-place finish. About one-third of the countries participating in Athens now have at least one last-place finish. The top five -- with four or more last-place finishes -- have large teams: their last-place finishers tend to come from their second or third entries in an event, or they're finishing last in a team event with limited entries -- Burkina Faso tends not to enter equestrian competitions -- and with pre-Olympic qualifications.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Last-Place Finisher Disqualified

One thing you don't generally expect is to have a last-place finisher test positive for a banned substance -- fat lot of good the steroids are doing if you use them and you still finish dead fucking last. And yet that's just what has happened: Olga Shchukina of Uzbekistan, who, I reported Wednesday, finished last in the women's shot put, has tested positive for the steroid clenbuterol. At least she denies it like a top athlete: by blaming the cough syrup!

Accordingly, since this blog celebrates last-place finishes, and not DNFs, DQs and drug cheats (at least the ones we know about), the last-place finish goes to Eva Kurti of Hungary, who had the next lowest score of 14.60.

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Results for Thursday, August 19

Shooting: Australia got back on the board as Bryan Wilson finished 19th in the men's 10-metre running target. Andrea Stranovska of Slovakia finished 12th in the women's skeet event.

Swimming: In the women's 200-metre breaststroke, Athina Tzavella of Greece had the slowest heat time (2:40.18); the winner's time in the final was 2:23.37. Kyrgyzstan's Yury Zaharov, with a time of 2:10.45, had the slowest time in the men's 200-metre backstroke, about 15½ seconds behind the winner's final time. As for the men's 200-metre individual medley, Georgios Dimitriadis of Cyprus narrowly edged out a swimmer from Senegal for the slowest time, at 2:12.27; the winner's final time was 1:58.52. And in the women's 100-metre freestyle, Gloria Koussihouede of Benin put in an extraordinarily slow time, comparitively speaking, of 1:30.90, over 37 seconds behind the winner's final time.

Weightlifting: Uganda's Irene Ajambo was well behind the pack in the women's 69-kg category, lifting a total of 150 kg, finishing 9th. In the men's 77 kg, Samoan lifter Uati Maposua lifted a total of 280 kg, finish 21st; the winner lifted 375 kg. As usual, several lifters didn't finish.

Standings to date: Kyrgyzstan takes over top spot from Uzbekistan and Greece moves into the top 5, as even more countries make it onto the increasingly unwieldy list.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,

India: Olympic Underachiever

If any country can be said to underperform at the Olympics on a regular basis, it's probably India -- a country of a billion people that usually wins a single bronze medal each time. (So far this year they've got a silver medal, in shooting.) Here's an article that explores India's underwhelming Olympic record.

Labels: , ,

Diving Disruptor Disciplined

Greek justice is evidently swift. The dorkwad who disrupted the men's 3-metre synchronized springboard has already been convicted and fined. We also know who he is: Ron Bensimhon of Montreal. The Toronto Star has the details (via SportsFilter).

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Late Results for Wednesday, August 18

Athletics: Just the shot put today in track and field events. The stadium wasn't ready yet, so they made do with some older facilities in nearby Olympia. In the women's shot put, Olga Shchukina puts Uzbekistan into the lead with her last-place score of 14.44; the winner scored 21.06 in the final. It was closer on the men's side, as Bulgaria's Galin Kostadinov finished with a score of 17.75, compared with 21.16 for the winner in the final.

Cycling: In the men's individual time trial, Slawomir Kohut of Poland finished 37th; his time of 1:06:19.29 was 8:47.55 behind the winner.

Equestrian: The three-day eventing competitions wrapped up today: they're a combination of dressage, cross-country race, and show jumping. Jennifer had the cross country on last night and it looked like there were more crashes than at a NASCAR event, though according to the results only seven were eliminated at that stage. (Apparently it used to be much worse.) In the end, Margit Appelt of Austria finished 68th in the individual eventing with 271.80 penalty points; the winner finished with only 41.60 points. In the team event, Poland took 14th place with 376.40 points; the winning team had only 133.80.

Swimming: In the men's 200-metre breaststroke, the slowest heat time was put in by Anton Kramarenko of Kygrgyzstan had the slowest time, 2:28.59, nearly 20 seconds behind the winner's final time. Singapore's Christel Mei-Yen Bouvron was also 20 seconds behind the winner's final time in the women's 200-metre butterfly, with a time of 2:26.21. In the men's 100-metre freestyle, Emery Nziyunvira of Burundi finished 10 seconds behind the winner with a time of 1:09.40. And Slovenia had the slowest heat time in the women's 4×200 freestyle relay, with a time of 8:16.89; the winner's final time was 7:53.42.

Weightlifting: In the men's 69-kg event, Abdul Mohsen Al Bagir (Saudi Arabia) finished 12th with a combined pull of 287.5 kg; the winner lifted 347.5 kg. The women's 63-kg event had fewer entrants, and so Leila Françoise Lassouani (Algeria) finished seventh width a combined pull of 200 kg, compared with the winner's 242.5 kg.

Standings to date: Lots of changes at the top. China is relegated to third place as Uzbekistan and Poland move into the top two spots. Kyrgyzstan and Algeria move up to round out the top five.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Gymnastics Results

My mistake to have looked at only the final results for the women's and men's team events on Monday and Tuesday. There were other teams competing in the qualification rounds. This is a little confusing for a neophyte to follow. Anyway, some corrections are in order.

In the men's team event, Italy finished twelfth in qualification with 221.431 points, about five and a half points behind Germany, which qualified for the final. In the women's team event, it was North Korea that finished twelfth -- with 144.372 points, it was slightly more than three points behind Australia.

Accordingly, Australia and Germany are removed from the results table -- though they may be back. Italy and North Korea are added.

Because the individual all-around and single-apparatus events use the same qualifying round, I'll have to figure out how -- or whether -- to determine last-place finishes for some or all of those events.

Labels: , , , ,

Early Results for Wednesday, August 18

Canoe/Kayak (Slalom Racing): In the men's C1 heats yesterday, Chris Ennis Jr. (USA) was 16th with a total time of 290.73 seconds, 89.29 behind the leader; the winner's final time today was 189.16. It was closer in the women's K1 heats, where Slovenia's Nada Mali finished 19th with a total time of 278.49 seconds, 66.28 behind the leader; the winner's final time today was 210.03.

Cycling: The women's individual time trial was held today, and Sweden's Susanne Ljungskog finished 25th with a time of 35:17:25 -- 4:05.72 behind the winner.

Shooting: In the women's double trap, Olympic veteran Susan Nattrass (Canada), who I recall saying that the nature of shooting was such that anyone could finish first or last at this level (or something to that effect), finished 15th today with a score of 88; those who advanced to the final had a score of 108 or more. In the women's 25-metre air pistol, Venezuela's Francis Gorrin -- who finished last in Sunday's 10-metre air pistol -- finished last again, in 37th place with a score of 534. Finalists had scores of 580 or more in that event.

Standings to date: Canada, Slovenia and Sweden enter the race in 32nd, 23rd and 26th place, respectively. Both the United States and Venezuela add their second last-place finishes, moving them into 7th and 3rd place. (Remember, rankings are based in part on the size of their Olympic delegations.)

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

The Athletes from Equatorial Guinea

It seems that at every Olympics there's one barely-prepared athlete whose stumble through his event catches the attention of the media. At the 2000 Sydney Games it was Eric "the Eel" Moussambani of Equatorial Guinea, who competed in his heat alone after the two other competitors (they were all there under a funding program) were disqualified for false starts. His tenacity made him a crowd favourite, though his time would only be considered good if he was in his nineties, and spectators were worried that he might actually drown.

IOC president Jacques Rogge later said he wanted to put an end to so-called "wild card" entries who were barely capable of completing the event, which was opposed by those who saw such novelty acts as somehow being the epitome of the competitive spirit. My concern is that such competitors might help to reinforce the notion of the last-place finisher as laughingstock -- or at least as a non-serious competitor to be patronized rather than respected.

Moussambani was expected to compete again at Athens, but problems with his accreditation made him ineligible. Now attention is turning to one of his compatriots as "the next Eel" -- as though Equatorial Guinea was a fount of laughingstock athletes. Thanks to the wildcard lottery for smaller countries, Roberto Caracciolo is competing in the 1,500-metre track event. Problem is, he trained for the 3,000-metre steeplechase. He's feeling the pressure, especially since, he says, he's mistakenly seen as a potential medal contender in Equatorial Guinea, where he has not lived since childhood.

Equatorial Guinea has sent 11 athletes to Athens. None have yet finished in last place.

Labels: , , ,

Late Results for Tuesday, August 17

Gymnastics: Somebody had to come in last in the women's team event, and in the end it was Australia, with 108.847 points. The winning team had 114.283 points. [Correction]

Swimming: In the women's 200-metre freestyle heats, Yuliya Rissik of Kazakhstan had the slowest time of 2:09.93; the winner's final time was 1:58.03. Sergey Pankov of Uzbekistan had a time of 2:13.06 in the men's 200-metre butterfly, well behind the winner's final time of 1:54.04. In the women's 200-metre individual medley, Louise Mai Jansen of Denmark was last; her time of 2:27.08 was nearly 16 seconds behind the winner's final time. And in the men's 4×200 freestyle relay, Hungary had the slowest time of the 16 teams entered: at 7:31.78, they were about 14 seconds back of the final winning time.

Standings to date: Uzbekistan's second last-place finish, combined with its relatively small Olympic delegation, vaults it into second place. Yay Uzbeks! Australia, Denmark, Hungary and Kazakhstan, with larger delegations, appear closer to the bottom of the board, in 29th, 23rd, 24th and 28th places, respectively.

Labels: , , , , ,

Another Change in the Standings

I've decided to break ties by factoring in the size of the countries' Olympic delegations: it's much more impressive, for example, that one athlete out of seven finishes last (as with Rwanda so far) than if one athlete out of more than nine hundred finishes last (as with France or Germany so far). Algeria, with a delegation of 80 athletes, drops to 18th place.

Labels: ,

Early Results for Tuesday, August 17

Comparatively few medals get handed out today, so there will be fewer last-place finishes to report. Here's what's available so far.

Shooting: Results for the target shooting events are available early because they only shoot during the daytime. Wusses. Anyway, in the men's 50-metre (free) pistol, we have our first tie for last place: both Chris Rice (U.S. Virgin Islands) and Friedhelm Sack (Namibia) scored 529 points and captured 41st place; competitors advancing to the finals had at least 560 points. In the men's double trap, Finland's Joonas Olkkonen brought up the rear in 25th place with a score of 118 points; the leader had 144 points before the final round.

Standings to date: Three more countries -- Finland, Namibia and the USVI -- with a last-place finish apiece.

Labels: , , , ,

A Change in the Standings

I haven't seen any other fencing results that ranked competitors first to last the way I saw a chart that did so for the men's individual sabre on Saturday, so it may be that I misread a table showing world rankings or somesuch. (It's not like I know anything about these events; I'm as much a tyro as anyone else.) In any event, to include only one fencing event and not the others (because they use elimination rounds, like judo and boxing, there's no clear-cut last-place finisher) would not be fair to other competitors as they reach for the bottom, so I'm removing the men's individual sabre from the standings. Algeria is back in the pack in the tie for fifth-place.

Labels: ,

Monday, August 16, 2004

Synchronized Diving Torpedoed

A followup to my last post, wherein I mentioned the men's 3-metre springboard synchronized diving event. It turns out that just looking at the results doesn't give you the full story.

The last-place Chinese team was apparently the gold-medal favourite, but, according to the BBC, "a mystery spectator -- dressed in traditional Greek knickerbockers with the name of an internet betting company scrawled on his bare chest -- jumped on to one of the boards not being used for competition and bombed into the pool."

After the competition was delayed and the dorkwad was hauled off, the divers proceeded to botch their last dives. The U.S. team had a terrible landing, one of the Russians touched the board on the way down -- generating a very low score -- and one of the Chinese divers (no one seems to know who's who) hit the water on his back, generating the even lower score of zero. Leaving the expected winners in last place and the actual winners surprised.

All because some web site tried to spam the Olympics with a cannonball-diving fuckwit.

Labels: , ,

Late Results for Monday, August 16

For this entry, think about all the teams that couldn't even qualify to be here. If eight teams are competing in an event, you can be sure it's because there were only eight spaces allocated.

Diving: So because only eight teams compete in a synchronized diving event, let's not get catty about the last-place efforts of Eftychia Pappa-Papavasilopoulo -- say that fast ten times! -- and Florentia Sfakianou (Greece), who finished nearly 80 points behind the winner in the women's synchronized 10-metre platform. Nor should we snark at China's Peng Bo and Wang Kenan, who finished last in the men's synchronized 3-metre springboard -- nearly 70 points behind the winner. (No, instead we should snark at synchronized diving as a sport.)

Gymnastics: In the men's team event, in which, again, eight teams competed, Germany finished eighth -- at 167.372 points, they were less than 6½ points behind the winners. Gymnastics seem to be decided by fractions of fractions in any event. (Fractions of fractions -- enough about the U.S. women's gymnastic team's weight.) [Correction]

Weightlifting: Yacine Zouaki of Morocco finished 16th with a combined lift of 225 kg in the men's 62-kg category. That's nearly 3.7 times his weight; and he weighs a lot less than you. (The winner lifted 325 kg.)

Standings to date: China takes an undisputed lead -- though it also leads the medal count, so go figure. Greece moves into a four-way tie for second. Germany and Morocco join the (now) sixth-place tie.

See previous entries:

Labels: , , , , ,

More Results for Monday, August 16

Swimming: Heats in many events take place throughout the day, and it's the slowest time in the heats that I report here, but I wait until the finals have been run -- for comparison purposes -- to report the swimming events. (To reiterate, I compare the slowest time in the heats to the fastest -- i.e. the winner's -- time in the finals.) In the men's 200-metre freestyle, Ruslan Ismailov (Kyrgyzstan) had the slowest heat time of 2:01.53; the winner's final time was 1:44.71. From nearby Turkmenistan, Yelena Rojkova finished last in the women's 100-metre backstroke heats with a time of 1:15.48 -- nearly 15 seconds behind the winner's time. On the men's side, Omar Abu Fares of Jordan had the slowest time (1:02.36), eight seconds back. And in the women's 100-metre breaststroke, Pamela Girimbabazi Rugabira of Rwanda was well back with a time of 1:50.39; the winner's time was 1:06.78.

Standings to date: Four countries -- Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Rwanda and Turkmenistan -- join the race for fifth place.

Labels: , , , , ,

Early Results for Monday, August 16

Most of the finals are scheduled for the evening, but I can report a few bottom results so far.

Shooting: Chinese women's trap shooter Gao E, a world-class competitor, finished 17th with a score of 48; the leader after the qualifying round had 66. Marcel Buerge (Switzerland) finished 47th in the qualifying round of the men's 10-metre air rifle with a score of 576; the finallists had scores of 594 or more. In accordance with ISSF rules, last-place competitors will be taken out and shot.

Weightlifting: In the women's 58-kg category, Mongolia's Bayarmaa Namkhaidorj finished 14th with a combined lift of 195 kg, falling short by only lifting 3.8 times her body weight.

Standings to date: China and Switzerland pick up another point each and move into a four-way tie for first place with Algeria and Egypt, and Mongolia joins the rest in a multi-way tie for fifth.

Labels: , , , , ,

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Results for Sunday, August 15

Cycling: Today it was the women's road race, and the last to finish the 118.8-km course was Michelle Hyland of New Zealand, who, with a time of 3:40:43, finished in 56th place -- 16:19 behind the winner, according to unofficial results. Hyland appears to have brought up the rear of the final seven riders to finish.

Shooting: In the women's 10-metre air pistol, Francis Gorrin of Venezuela finished 41st with a score of 358; the top eight shooters (who made it to the final) had scores between 384 and 387. Francesco Repiso Romero of Andorra -- yes, Andorra -- finished 35th in the men's trap with a score of 106; the top six were well ahead of the rest of the field with scores above 140.

Swimming: In the women's 100-metre butterfly heats, the slowest time -- 1:07.94, slightly more than ten seconds behind the gold medallist's final time -- was put in by Natasha Sara Georgeos of St. Lucia. Nepal's Alice Shrestha finished last in the men's 100-metre breaststroke heat; his time of 1:12.25 was nearly 12 seconds off that of the winner in the final. In the women's 400-metre freestyle, Olga Beresnyeva of Ukraine finished her heat with a time of 4:26.30, well behind the winner's final time of 4:05.34. And in the men's 4×100 freestyle relay, China's team just beat out Greece for the slowest time in the heats (3:24.31, compared with the winning team's world-record time of 3:13.17).

Weightlifting: Virginie Lachaume (France) was eighth of eight in the women's 53-kg category; she lifted a total of 175 kg, compared with 222.5 kg for the winner. In the men's 56-kg category, Ahmed Saad of Egypt finished last in 11th place, lifting a total of 232.5 kg (compared with the winner's 295 kg), but six other lifters did not finish.

Standings to date: Egypt joins Algeria in a two-way tie for first, and a total of 16 countries, from the big (France, China) to the little (Andorra, St. Lucia) share third place. As more results are posted, perhaps some of these ties will be broken -- or perhaps we'll have a 37-way tie for second place! Stay tuned!

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Results for Saturday, August 14

Cycling: According to the unofficial results, Dawid Krupa of Poland finished 75th in the men's road race with a time of 6:00:25 -- 18:41 behind the leader. Dozens of riders, of course, did not finish the 224.4-km race.

Diving: It was synchronized diving on Saturday. Mark Ruiz and Kyle Prandi (USA) came in eighth place in the men's synchronized 10-metre platform; their score of 325.44 was 58.44 points behind the gold medallists. In the women's synchronized 3-metre springboard, Diamantina Georgatou and Sotiria Koustopetrou (Greece) grabbed eighth and last place with a score of 270.33 -- 67.57 points behind the leaders.

Fencing: Nassim Islam Bernaoui (Algeria) placed 39th in the men's individual sabre event Saturday. [Update]

Shooting: In the women's 10-metre air rifle, Macedonia's Divna Pesic finished in 44th place with 368 points -- only 20 points behind the gold medallist. And Rudolf Knijnenburg of Bolivia finished 47th in the men's 10-metre air pistol with 548 points -- only 42 points behind. Not that I know anything about shooting, but the spread between first and last seems awfully close.

Swimming: There are no posted overall results, so I've gone by the slowest result from the heats. In the men's 400-metre individual medley, Nikita Polyakov (Uzbekistan) had the slowest time of 5:09.66 -- more than a minute behind the gold-medallist final time of 4:08.26. In the men's 400-metre freestyle, Malta's Neil Agius finished in 4:22.14; the winner's final time was 3:43.10. Sabria Dahane's (Algeria) time of 5:10.20 was nearly 45 seconds off the winner's pace of 4:34.83 in the women's 400-metre individual medley. I expect the spread in team sports to be closer generally, so it's no surprise that in the women's 4×100-metre freestyle relay, the Swiss team's last-place time of 3:47.47 is less than 12 seconds behind that of the winning team.

Weightlifting: In the women's 48-kg class, Egypt's Enga Mohamed lifted a total of 165 kg, finishing in 14th place; the gold-medal winner lifted 210 kg.

Standings to date: Algeria takes an early first-day lead with two last-place finishes! The rest of the field is in a nine-way tie for second with one last-place finish each.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Welcome to DFL

The idea for DFL only popped into my head an hour or two ago, and this blog will only last until the end of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens -- two weeks from today. In the meantime, it will do something that will be seen as quirky by some and cruel by others: it will report the last-place finisher in as many Olympic events as possible.

Some sports won't be possible to do here. Boxing and judo, for example, don't rank those eliminated in the same round: there can be 16 eliminees in the round of 32, for example.

But why do this, except to be a global prick?

Okay, that's part of it. But it's also to celebrate participation -- which gets too much short shrift at the Games, except with novelty acts like Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards and the Jamaican bobsled team at the 1988 Calgary Games -- instead of complete and utter triumph. Triumph is sexy, but participation is brave. And therein lies a tale.

I'm no athlete myself. In junior high, though -- before Osgood-Schlatter Disease put an end to my nascent track career -- I tried my hand at distance running. I entered my school's track meet and ran the 1,500 metres -- and trailed badly. In fact, I was lapped before the finish. One of my fellow students was laughing at me. But my gym teacher, hearing him, went up to him and said, "I don't see you running out there." And the kid, whose identity I never found out (I heard the story afterword from my teacher), began to cheer.

Remember that about the last-place finishers at these Olympics. They finished last, but at least they're there. And we're not.

(A final technical note: I'll be recording last place finishers. Disqualifications and DNFs don't count.)

Labels: ,