USA defeats Japan, 2-1, for Olympic gold

By JULIE JAG

jjag@santacruzsentinel.com

LONDON — Cal’s Alex Morgan put the ball at Carli Lloyd’s feet and put the USA up early, Hope Solo  put a force field around the goal and then Lloyd also put on the exclamation point. The USA women’s soccer team got its sweet revenge — and the gold — with a 2-1 win in the Olympic championship match Thursday night at Wembley Stadium.

Lloyd scored her first goal in the seventh minute on Morgan’s near-goal cross in traffic and she put the USA up 2-0 with her insurance shot in the 54th. Hope Solo seemed  seven times wider than her svelte frame would suggest as everything the Japanese sent her way was tipped out. Shinobu Ohno, determined all match to find a way to score, finally uncovered a hole in the 62nd. She cut in for a wide open shot on the right side. Solo stopped that one, but the ball dribbled behind her slightly and was cleared by another USA player … right back to Ohno. She then crossed it over to teammate Yuki Ogimi for the goal.

That would be it for the Japanese, though. They attacked viciously in the first part of the second half, but the USA defense controlled the tempo and the ball most of the way until the end.

Canada, whom the USA defeated 4-3 on a Morgan goal in overage time in the semifinal, took bronze.

Categories: Alex Morgan, Athletes, Events, Olympics, Soccer | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

USA vs. Japan women’s soccer showdown NOW

It is on! The rematch of the World cup match that the USA lost to Japan is taking place for Olympic gold at Wembleystadium.

Cal’s Alex Morgan had played a huge role in getting the USA to this game, scoring the winning goal against Canada, and she has already pitched in here. In traffic right in front of the goal she shot a cross to Wambach who shot it in with the side of her foot. 1-0 USA.
The crowd here is amazing. Seems like a few more USA fans than Japanese, but actually it’s pretty close. Chants of USA everywhere and a constant excited hum. The pints must not have settled in yet.

Hope Solo is doing more than just looking pretty in goal. She’s made two punching saves that have kept the USA in front. On another, she got a little help from Rampone when a shot went wide. 39:00 and still 1-0 USA.

HALFTIME: USA 1, JAPAN 0

Japan’s keeper Miho Fukumoto has had to make, unofficially, four good saves. She just let that one early one through for Wambach.

Solo’s had a couple of doozies herself, and this is still anyone’s match.

54:00

Carli Lloyd gathers up the ball and sends a high fier from the left to the right side, right into the goal. USA up 2-0. Then, she rushes to the far end to celebrate with the bench.

63:00

Yuki Ogimi in the right spot for an easy goal after Shinobu Ohno cuts in and gets a perfect pass. It’s deflected by Solo and a Team USA teammate picks up the dribble but her clear goes right back to Ohno, who sends it over to Ogimi for the score.

2-1 USA

FINAL: USA 2, JAPAN 1

An epic game. Japan pressured the USA women the entire time, especially Ohno, but Hope solo woulcn’t let anything through and revenge — and gold –

belongs to the Americans.

 

 

 

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Olympic photos: Day 14, marathon swimming

The weather was fantastic today in London and reminded me of the nice weather we get back home in California. This nice weather was very much needed because it had been cold and rainy the past few days and I was under the weather yesterday, which is why there was no photo update from me. I’m all better now and it was great to get out of that little dorm room.

As much as I enjoyed this morning’s marathon swimming, I really enjoyed talking to some locals about the differences in culture between the US and Great Britain. We agreed that most Americans can’t do a good English accent and most Brits sound dumb and just talk slow when trying to do an American accent. I found it funny that they asked me if I understand sarcasm; I guess they didn’t think Americans knew anything about sarcasm. Um, yes, I know all about sarcasm. I’ve mastered it, just ask my mother (which is who I learned it from). One really odd occurrence happened. People in the crowd started doing the wave and these locals called it the Mexican wave. Huh? I didn’t get it and just kept shaking my head. Don’t they know the wave was started at a 1981 A’s game in Oakland by Krazy George, not in Mexico. The joys of different cultures.

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USA strong in long distance swimming

I am now fully regretting not going out to long distance swimming with Tony. Then again, it’s probably much more fascinating on TV. How do these women keep up this pace for 6 miles? What makes it really interesting, of course, is that there is a somewhat local swimmer in it in Santa Clara native Haley Anderson, now of Granite Bay. She’s in fourth after just about two hours of swimming. Arms of steel.

Look at that! She just finished with the silver medal behind Hungary’s Eva Risztov. 1:57:38.2 for the winner, 1:57:38.6 for Anderson. Can you imagine .4 seconds being the difference after six miles and two hours of swimming. What a race, a sprint to the finish in marathon swimming!

 

Look for Tony’s photos soon.

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Walsh and May-Treanor win third Olympic gold medal

Miss May-Treanor, left, and Kerri Walsh Jennings celebrate a win over April Ross and Jennifer Kessy during the women’s Gold Medal beach volleyball match between two United States teams at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

By JULIE JAG

jjag@santacruzsentinel.com

LONDON – Just like old times, one more time.

Former Scotts Valley resident Kerri Walsh Jennings and partner Misty May-Treanor looked every bit as in sync in winning their third straight Olympic beach volleyball gold medal Wednesday night as they had winning the previous two. But this one meant a little bit more.

“This feels very new for me. It feels way different than it ever has,” Walsh said. “It was the best. We saved the best for last.”

In the sand at Horse Guards Parade, a temporary venue surrounded by buildings steeped in history, beach volleyball’s most recognizable pair wrote the conclusion to their own. They added the 2012 medal to their collection from ’04 and ’08 with a 21-16, 21-16 victory over fellow Team USA players Jennifer Kessy and April Ross. Then, with May-Treanor sticking with her promise that this would be her last match as a professional, they closed the book.

“Emotionally, we have lived so much life together the past 12 years but especially the last two. We’ve really come together and we’ve been so connected,” Walsh said. “We really wanted to win a gold medal together, but we wanted to do it in a certain fashion. And we wanted to stay connected and create this bond that is unbreakable and to really cherish every moment, and we did that.”

As soon as Ross’ serve at match point sailed over her head, Walsh raised both hands in the air in victory. Then, faster than one of her hard-driven kills, the tears started falling. She raced over to the stands, where husband Casey Jennings picked her 6-foot-3 frame off the ground, then she, in turn, picked up her two young boys. Later on the medal stand, surrounded by Kessy and Ross and the bronze-medal winning pair of Juliana Silva and Larissa Franca of Brazil, both cried and sang like they’d never won before.

Truth is, they know how to step up on the podium almost as well as they know how to dig and block. Since they first partnered in 2001, they’ve won 40 of the 78 international matches and only missed out on the top four in 14 of them. In Olympic play, they went undefeated, dropping their first and only set in 12 years and 43 sets to the Austrian team earlier this week.

After they won their debut match of these Olympics, opponent and four-time Games veteran Natalie Cook of Australia dubbed Walsh and May-Treanor beach volleyball royalty.

“Just the amount of tournaments they’ve won – I know how much energy it takes to win a tournament – and for them to do it for years and years is impressive,” agreed Kessy. “My hat’s off to them. That is ridiculous in the end.”

Before they gave up their crowns, May-Treanor and Walsh wanted to add a little more gold to the treasury.

But everything wasn’t the same as they had left it in Beijing. May-Treanor ruptured her achilles while practicing for the show “Dancing with the Stars” and was trying to make a comeback with Nicole Branagh. Walsh, meanwhile, had taken some time off the court to give birth to her two boys – Joseph, 3, and Sundance, 2. When she returned to the sand, she tried to pair with a couple other partners, but none of them matched what she had with May-Treanor.

It took some needling, but in 2011, Walsh finally convinced May-Treanor to make another medal run.

Even after both committed to returning, though, their mojo didn’t. Walsh remained the dangerous net player she had been even when she was in high school at St. Francis in San Jose. May-Treanor still had indescribable defensive instincts. Together, though, they struggled to find their winning form, especially in tournament championships.

“I didn’t really understand what peaking meant, ever, until this time around,” said Walsh, who plans to find a new partner for 2016. “In the prior Olympics we didn’t have to peak, we were just feeling good. But this time around, we had a really terrible year up until about a month ago, and we had to work really hard to get where we are now. It was all emotional, all very mental, and we were in a place we’ve never been before.

“I truly believe going through those challenges the way we did made us even stronger than we were before.”

Once they reached London, the pair wasted no time digging their chemistry up from the sand inside Horse Guards Parade. With each win, their confidence and comfort level grew. It practically skyrocketed after a come-from-behind win over the Chinese team of Chen Xue and Xi Zhang in the semifinals.

Kessy and Ross, a team they’d beaten twice in three meetings this year and hold a 28-5 record against, didn’t give up the medal easily. They clung to within a point of their opponent for at least half of each set. When the pressure was on, though, Walsh and May-Treanor just had too much history together.

“It’s hard to stay on top. Winning the first gold medal, we were young, it was sweet, it was like ‘OK, we did it.’ Winning back to back gold medals is very difficult – the target’s huge,” May-Treanor said. “To go for a three-peat, I don’t know if you could write this script the way that it turned out.

“But, we believed.”

 

Categories: Athletes, Beach Volleyball, Events, Kerri Walsh, Olympics | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Live from the women’s beach volleyball gold-medal match

Former Scotts Valley resident Kerri Walsh and partner Misty May-Treanor will try to win their third straight Olympic gold medal in women’s beach volleyball in just about 15 minutes. Their opponent? No other than the other USA team, April Ross and Jen Kessey. These teams have played each other more than 30 times, so it’s sure to be a showdown.

Check back here to follow it blow for blow.

Here we go. Misty serves first. Kessey scores the first point with a lob but Walsh gets it back with a hard hit.

A hit on 2 by Walsh makes it 3-3, then a switch when Kessey’s hit off the net bounces out.

May’s pickup then pokey makes it 6-5.

Switch on 7-7 after a Ross pounding.

Nice to know I’m not the only one who one-overs. It’s a score for Kessey, even if accidental.

That’s a huge double block by Kessey– one on May and one on Walsh. She is fired up. Makes it 10-10 with a TV time out.

May and Walsh  got their biggest lead of the night at 13-11. Then Ross-Kessey caught up, but now they are down by 2 again, 15-13.

Kessey just won a joust w/Walsh

Kessey-Ross take a time out after an ace by Walsh puts that team up 17-14, their biggest lead so far.

Wow, great rally but Walsh wins it with a shot to the side.

HUGE block by Walsh! 19-14

Kessey serves out. Big error. Match point

Liner by May ends it 21-16. Game 1 to May-Walsh.

___________________________________
May’s crazy deep pokeys have put them ahead 3-2. But Kessey’s hard drive makes it 3-3

Straight down for Walsh on 2 after great save on the other side results in a free ball.4-3

sorry I left you hangin folks. Walsh and May are running away with it, 20-15.

That’s it, a third gold for Walsh and May-Treanor. Two scores of 21-16. Congrats ladies!

Categories: Athletes, Beach Volleyball, Kerri Walsh, Olympics | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Olympic photos: Day 12, Bevan Docherty and the Men’s Triathlon

Got up extra early this morning so I could wait at a good spot for the men’s triathlon. I had scoped out an area while I was at the women’s triathlon where you could see the swim, bike, and run from roughly the same spot. It was a valiant effort to get there, but alas, I didn’t make it in time. Granted, I was still 2 1/2 hours early, but all the spots around the swim and running area were gone, so I camped out by a nice Spanish couple along the cycling route. It was tough to find Santa Cruz’s Bevan Docherty at first since I was clicking away with the camera for the first lap. I finally spotted him on lap 3 and tried to focus on just him. I’ll tell you though, those guys move fast. When the cycling was finished I ran over to where I thought I might get to see some running, but security had blocked access to the area because there were already too many people there. I tried to walk in one way with a few other people but we were quickly pushed back. That’s when I used my impressive movie knowledge to my advantage.

Have you seen “The Paper” with Michael Keaton? Great little film for anyone interested in newspapers and journalism. In the film, he said, “A clipboard and a confident wave can get you into any building in the world.” Well I didn’t have a clipboard, but I did have a media pass (NOTE: This is not a credential to get me access to anyplace special, it just has my name and says MEDIA because I am with Julie in a secure location for our stay). So I went near a different security person and flashed my worthless media pass and confidently waved as I walked by. He had a confused look on his face, then just waved as he held other people back. It’s not like I really went anywhere I wasn’t supposed to, it was a free area, just a crowded free area.

Armed with a new confidence I tried to squeeze myself into a location where I could see some runners go by but these weren’t security people I was trying to get in front of, these were people who had been waiting longer than the 2 1/2 hours I had been waiting. They weren’t moving for the Pope, let alone a photographer. I was able to stand on my tiptoes to see between two people’s heads to get a few shots, which I don’t recommend unless you have very strong calves … I don’t.

Docherty didn’t win, but it was great to see Great Britain get so pumped for the Gold and Bronze winning Brownlee brothers. And the Spaniard Javier Gomez got Silver, so I know my new Spanish friends are excited.

Categories: Athletes, Bevan Docherty, Olympics, Photos, Triathlon | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bevan Docherty 12th in his final Olympic triathlon

Santa Cruz resident Bevan Docherty races for his native New Zealand during the men’s Olympic triathlon ay Hyde Park on Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2012 in London. Docherty finished in 12th place. (Anthony L. Solis/Santa Cruz Sentinel)

By JULIE JAG

jjag@santacruzsentinel.com

LONDON – Bevan Docherty didn’t add gold to his Olympic medal collection, but in many ways he still went out on top.

Docherty, a Santa Cruz resident racing for his native New Zealand in the men’s triathlon Tuesday, did nothing to sully his reputation as one of the most accomplished racers in the sport at the Games. He finished 12th overall in 1 hour, 48 minutes, 35 seconds, a mere 2:10 behind Alistair Brownlee of Great Britain, a heavy pre-race favorite who ran away with the gold. Javier Lopez of Spain took the silver [1:46:36] and Jonathan Brownlee of Great Britain claimed the bronze [1:46:56], delighting a mostly Brit crowd of an estimated 500,000 fans.

“Obviously I would have liked to complete the set of medals, but as you can see, the sport is getting faster and those three guys at the front are just dominating,” Docherty said. “But at the end of the day, considering where I’m at, I’m relatively happy.”

Where Docherty is at is age 35, one of the oldest racers on the start list, and a father of three. He’s also one of two athletes to have won two Olympic triathlon medals – the most in the sport. At Hyde Park, Docherty wrapped up his Olympics career proving he’s still one of the best.

He was the top finisher out of the three Kiwis and bested both Americans Hunter Kemper and Manny Huerta. Kemper finished 14th [1:48:46] and Huerta came up with an injury and took 51st [1:53:39] in the 55-athlete pool.

“Maybe they’ll wheel me out in a wheelchair for Rio,” joked Kemper, 36, who said he hasn’t ruled out trying to make the 2016 Olympic team. If he did, he would be the only triathlete to compete in all five Olympic triathlons since the sport became part of the Games in 2000.

Docherty, on the other hand, long ago decided this would be his final Olympic race. Wanting to spend more time with his growing family, he plans to transition to longer distance racing with an eye on winning the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, one day.

That’s what made this one of Docherty’s more emotional races. Not only would it be his last Olympic race, but he got to tackle it in front of a family that includes two new faces – daughter McKenna, 3, and son Fletcher, less than a year. Docherty hadn’t seen them for nearly a month as he trained for the race, but gave them a big wave when he saw them in the stands as he set his bike up in the transition zone Tuesday morning.

“It’s weird to think this is the last one,” said Docherty’s wife, Cheryl. “He’s ranked 12th [in the world] and he finished 12th in 2012, so it’s going to be easy to remember.”

Docherty hoped his legacy would be remembered more than this final race.

“I’m still the only person to win medals back to back, and I’m quite proud of that,” Docherty said.

Docherty, a native of Taupo, New Zealand, made his Olympic debut in 2004 at age 27. Soon to be crowned the International Triathlon Union champion, he wound up taking silver behind gold-winning teammate Hamish Carter. In Beijing, on a course that suited him better than London’s flat, fast track, he took the bronze. Canada’s Simon Whitfield came from behind to take silver that year and Jan Frodeno of Germany sealed the Gold.

On Tuesday, Frodeno was in fourth after the second transition, but ended up sixth [1:47:26] overall. Meanwhile Whitfield – a four-time Olympian and the only man with as many triathlon medals as Docherty — dropped out of the race shortly after the start of the bike because of a mechanical problem.

In comparison, Docherty raced nearly flawlessly.

He came out of the balmy 66-degree Serpentine from the 1.5-kilometer swim in 23rd place, but a quick transition jettisoned him up to 15th. That’s where he stayed for the majority of the seven laps around Buckingham Palace, Wellington Arch and the Serpentine during the 43k bike ride, in which the Brownlees’ teammate Stuart Hayes set the pace.

Several teams tried to attack and take the lead away from Great Britian, but those efforts were squashed. When the athletes entered the transition into the 10k run, Docherty knew – even as he slipped on his Day-Glo orange trainers – that the race had practically already been decided. To his credit, he raced hard anyway, picking off eight runners on his way to the finish line.

“It became obvious pretty early on that those guys were rockets,” he said. “but I wanted to  put it out there.”

Indeed, Alistair Brownlee pushed the pace, running just over a second slower than the gold medalist in the 10k had run at Olympic Park a few days prior – and that was with him slowing to collect a British flag and lope with it wrapped around his shoulders to the finish. He said he didn’t run hard for his own good, but to secure a medal for his little brother, who was issued a 15-second penalty for mounting his bike too soon.

Docherty slowed a little too, smiling and even waving he ran down the finish line chute toward his final Olympic moment.

It may not have been Docherty’s best race, but it was a race for the history books.

“He’s a legend,” beamed Docherty’s 15-year-old son Scott, 15, a Pacific Coast Charters student. “He’s a hall-of-famer.”

Categories: Athletes, Bevan Docherty, Olympics, Triathlon | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The men’s triathlon is about to begin — covering it live!

Here we go on a cloudy day in London that looks perfect for a triathlon. The water is warmer than the weather, but they’re calling it a wetsuit swim, of course. Bevan Docherty’s bike is in place and he’s about to walk into the transition area, along with Britain’s Brownlee brothers. They just got a huge cheer.

11:30 a.m.

And they’re off. they’ve now formed four lines in the water — drafting to conserve energy. Impossible to tell where Docherty or the Americans are in the bunch.

It is absolutely packed in Hyde Park. More people already than for the women’s race.
Richard Varga is in the lead for Slovakia in the swim 12 minutes in.

Vargas and Javier Gomez out of the water first. Jonathan Brownlee out fourth. Docherty is in the latter half of the first big pack, but makes one of the fastest transitions.

It’s being called one of the fastest swims in Olympic history.

11:50 a.m.

The first biker went down, but not sure who it is yet. Looked like the rider in front of him zigged instead of zagged and tripped up his wheel. Looks like Celustka of Czechloslovakia.

Polansky of Russia stops for a flat.

The lead group of 5 inincludes J. Brownlee, J. Gomez, A. Brownlee, and A. Fabian of Italy. They are really working together. R. Varga, the top swimmer, is also in that group, of 6 not 5.

Docherty in 14th with teammate Gemmell in chase pack. probably 15 riders in that group.

Docherty in the middle of the chase pack but moving to the front as they make a second pass through the transition area.

NEWS — Simon Whitfield, the Canadian triathlete who is the only one with as many medals as Docherty, just dropped from the race. It is his fourth Olympics.

There are 2 other chase packs, the last of which looks like it’s out for a Sunday stroll, at least compared to the others.

We’re a little over half an hour into the race.

Docherty was 23rd out of the swim. Gemmell was 24th. American Hunter Kemper came out 21st. The were about 30 seconds behind swim-leader Varga, who exited in 16:56. Manny Huerta is 52nd out of 55.

The lead pack has been caught by the pack with Kemper, Docherty and Gemmell. Docherty is biding his time in 15th, about midway through, which may be a credit to his experience — not wasting energy at the front of the pack. The man at the front is Hays, the little talked about Brit team member.

Looks like the lead pack has about a minute advantage over the chase pack.

Sorry folks for any typos. The glare off my screen in the press area is intolerable.

That gap is 1:15

12:20 p.m.

Lap 4 of 7 down and Docherty still in 15th, Hays still leads and Gemmell in 4th. Didn’t catch where Kemper is, but he’s in th mix here.

With two laps left, Docherty is 16th. Great Britain is leading the charge, probably hoping to get the Brownlees a few smidges of extra seconds heading into the transition. Huerta is in the second group, 38th overall

Wonder if anyone is going to attack on the final lap. Someone is going to have to if they’re going to hold off the Brownlees or Lopez on the run.

Sounds like the lead over the chase pack is about 2 minutes, so that pack is a nonfactor.

Press row is filled with British journalists, as well as someone from 220 Triathlon and the Canadian Olympic Committee. Affable group, one of the best I’ve been on the row with so far.

Well, there iw an attac, but it’s by one man: Alistair Brownlee. He’s pushing the pace ahead of the pack, but how can he keep it up — unless his teammates are holding back the rest of the pack.

12:38 pm

Kemper of the USA is 12th, Docherty 18th as they head into the final lap. We are in this.

12:48

OK, second transition is under way. Docherty, wearing screaming orange shoes, leaves in 16th place. Kemper is in 19th. Luis led the pack coming out, but the Brownlees were right on his tail. They are a pack of three now, I beleive. Or is that Gomez? Yep, the Brownlees and Gomez. All the favorites in one neat bunch.

Docherty is moving fast. He just passed Gemmell I believe, but he’s 13th and still a ways behind the leaders.

Hmm, I think one of the Brownlees has the same shoe sponsor as Docherty. Same melon orange day-glo shoes.

Dccherty’s still 13th and gaining, but he’s going to have to really push it to catch the lead 3.

12:50 p.m.

Docherty has company, but I can’t tell who it is. Someone in green.

1::01:32 and the Brownlees and Gomez lead with two of four laps down, just as they have from the start. Looks like Jonathan has been dropped, though, so we’ll see what happens with Bronze.

Docherty is in 12th now and pushing hard. There’s a solid group of four just before him.
Things are getting exciting, at least if you’re a Brit. Alistair looks gold bround, but what’s going to happen with Johnny, who has dropped off and is being prsued by two frenchmen?

Categories: Bevan Docherty, Olympics, Your neighbors | Leave a comment

Bevan Docherty prepares for today’s triathlon — 3:30 am

By JULIE JAG

jjag@santacruzsentinel.com

LONDON – Bevan Docherty learned something during his previous two Olympic campaigns, in which he collected a silver and a bronze medal:

Go for gold.

“Obviously, Olympic gold [is the goal this year],” Docherty said from his Westside Santa Cruz home shortly before leaving to compete in today’s Olympic men’s triathlon at Hyde Park. “I have to see how my training is going and adjust. I have to be smarter, more clever. It’s not going to be easy.”

Then again, easy isn’t really Docherty’s style. His biggest claims to fame in the sport include coming from behind to overtake Kris Gemmell in a 2007 International Triathlon Union World Cup race, diving for the photo-finish win and skidding several yards afterward during a 2009 ITU race and coming from behind to keep Lance Armstrong from winning the Panama 70.3 Ironman earlier this year.

Do something similar today, and could he be the first man to win three medals in the sport. Only he and Canada’s Simon Whitfield have medaled more than once since triathlon became an Olympic sport in 2000.

“It’s just another day at the office,” he said. “The pain of regret is far worse than the pain of pushing yourself. Fifteen to 20 minutes of pain is better than a lifetime of regret. You learn what your body can endure, what works best for you.”

This time around, though, Docherty, who won silver in 2004 and bronze in 2008, is a dad twice over. At 35, he’s also one of the oldest triathletes in the field. Also, unlike his previous Olympic bids, the No. 12-ranked triathlete in the world didn’t qualify for the New Zealand team until three months before the Games.

“I have to step up to the plate and be ready,” he said of today’s race. It starts at 11:30 a.m. BST [3:30 a.m. PDT] and will be aired live on NBC. “Each Olympics is different. There’s nothing familiar. There is a small advantage there [to having experience], but not that much of an advantage.”

It’s practically miniscule when compared to the advantage held by race favorites Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee. Not only does the flat course — 1.5 kilometer swim, 43k bike, 10k race, through their back yard suit the brothers, but they’re sure to be pushed on by thousands of screaming Brits.

Alistair, 24, reigns as the European Triathlon Union champion and won the Triathlon World Championship in 2009 and 2011. Jonathan, 22, is the current World Sprint Triathlon champion and the runner-up in the ITU World Triathlon Series.

“They’re already the strongest swimmers in the race and the fastest cyclists and the strongest runners,” said Matt Charbot of Aptos, a Team USA alternate who has competed against the Brownlees in several competitions. “If they have a fast race from the gun, they’re going to win it. If it’s a slow race from the gun, they’re still going to be in it.”

They will be challenged by Spain’s Javier Lopez, the current ETU champion, and by  2008 gold medalist Jan Frodeno of Gernany.

Charbot’s training partners at the Team USA training camp in Guildford, about an hour outside of London, won’t be among the chatter about medal winners, but they’re still in contention. Still, Manny Huerta showed grit just in getting to the Games. The Cuban immigrant placed ninth to claim the final qualifying spot at the U.S. trials in San Diego. Hunter Kemper, meanwhile, finished fifth at the trials to claim a ticket to his 0fourth Olympics.

Like Docherty, he’ll rely on experience to give method to the madness that is the Olympics.

“In 2000, 2004, he put a lot of pressure on himself. He felt the pressure of being a favorite,” said Team USA high performance manager Andy Schmitz. “In 2008, he embraced the experience. He walked in the opening ceremonies. Without putting that pressure on himself, he performed above his expectations. He likes being the underdog and being one of the oldest men in the race.”

Kemper, a 37-year-old father of three, is actually the second oldest behind Whitlock, also 37.

Docherty said his approach will be similar to Kemper’s. He’s going to enjoy himself while he’s here – he even walked in the opening ceremony — especially since this is likely his last Olympics.

“It feels like the biggest race of your life,” he said, speaking from experience. “It’s hard to keep the nerves at bay.”

Categories: Behind the Scenes, Olympics | Leave a comment

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