Thursday, August 19, 2004

D.Q.ed and whistleblowers

Aaron Peirsol, US backstroke star, coached by David Salo, Ph.D., of Irvine (yeah Nova) was outspoken about the fly kicking going on in the 100 breast from the gold-medalist from Japan, Kosuke Kitajima. In the 200 breast, the swimmer from Japan kept fair under the water, and still won.

Peirsol gets serious props from me for speaking up when he did and as loud as he did. Being a whistleblower isn't easy. And, he didn't have a personal stake in the breast events. Peirsol is a backstroker. Well, then again, there is the Medley Relay yet to occur. But, he went out on a limb to raise a stink when conventional wisdom and the coaches of the squad did nothing.

By the way NBC payed good attention to the flap -- after the award's were given. But, from my living room in Pittsburgh I could easily spot the extra liberties taken underwater by the swimmer from Japan, and a couple of others. So, the watchdogs, the broadcasters, could have been more aggressive on the coverage the the stroke as the race unfolded and heats were conducted. So, Rowdey gets a B+ for the the attention to the flap, but it was a little late.

Then in the finals of the 200 backstroke, Peirson got nailed for an illegal turn. Is this were they retired figureskating's French Judge?

After the appeal got into high gears, the D.Q. was erased. (I have yet to see the race.)

Peirsol was more than two seconds ahead of the silver medalist. When the D.Q. was flashed on the scoreboard, the crowd began to boo. Still standing on deck, the 21-year-old Californian shrugged his shoulders in disbelief.

"It sounds pretty bogus to me," Peirsol said. "I don't know what it is and I've got to go figure it out."

FINA overturned the disaqualification in 30 minutes time, just before the medal ceremony.

Goddard of the UK was second much off the race, only to get passed by two at the end. He slapped the water in disgust. He was edged out for a medal by 20-hundredths of a second after Peirsol's win was restored. With grace, the US squad has done little or none of those types of outbursts.

In the 100 back, Peirsol took the gold and fellow US teammate, Lenny Krayzelburg, got fourth. Lenny had won both the 100 and 200 in the Olympics in 2000. Furthermore, both are friends and now swim with the same club team and are coached by David Salo. David's team put six swimmers on the USA squad. The club's web page has the clever slogan, "Sent Six!"

The frst lesson here ---- it is okay to speak out. Speak out in times when it might come back to harm you as well. When you are at the top of your game, and when you are right, it is okay to speak out. We need more to do so.

The next lesson has to do with backlash. When bad things happen -- good officials, good people with power, need to go out of their way to make sure things are straight. The Olympic officials missed a bit in the 100 breast. I expect some officials were with a big blush -- if not red faced. A couple might have been flat out angry -- as seen in the D.Q. of Peirsol. But, it didn't stick.

1 comment:

Mark Rauterkus said...

SI reported: Quietly, (??? -- say what -- ???) onlookers wondered if the short-lived disqualification had anything to do with Peirsol's claims earlier in the week that officials had overlooked technical violations by Japanese breaststroker Kosuke Kitajima, who held off Peirsol's teammate Brendan Hansen to win gold.

Onlookers might grumble quietly -- but the wonderment of the D.Q. was clear to at least one blogger in a living room in the USA.

Austrian Markus Rogan, a Stanford grad and Peirsol's close friend, went from silver to gold. "It's a bad decision," Rogan insisted. "Not fair. He beat me by seconds. He ran away with the race. An infraction like this is so subjective and so small. What does it gain? I felt really good about the silver medal, because it was a strong swim. I don't if I want to get a gold medal like this. It's not sporting."

According to FINA, the sport's international governing body, its officials rejected the technical explanation of the poolside judge, and negated the infraction before the U.S. team had time to file a protest.

Later, the British team filed a protest on behalf of James Goddard, the swimmer who went from fourth to third and back to fourth. The Austrians filed a protest, (as did the Brits), though Rogan insisted that they withdraw it.

Why, he was asked, was he so accepting of the officials' bungled decision? "Aaron is one of my best friends," Rogan explained. "Nothing is as beautiful as friendship."