Update on Indiana Athletes

I haven’t lived in Indiana for over 30 years, but the roots run deep. I’ve been featuring Purdue and Indiana athletes in this blog. There is a good article in the Indianapolis Star that gets reactions from various athletes impacted by the postponement of the Olympics.

Check out the article here.

Tokyo 2020 is still Tokyo 2020 but not in 2020

Quite expectedly, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics have been postponed. Exactly one year. I didn’t immediately post to this blog because I didn’t break the story so I didn’t think it would really increase my numbers.

Actually I would have posted, but work stuff was crazy for me around the same time and after a full day of sitting in the home office talking into my monitor, I really didn’t feel like rotating my chair 90 degrees from the work computer to my home computer and write more depressing news.

In all honesty, delaying a year does not change our ability or enthusiasm to go, and for that I am grateful. I do feel for the athletes who have been making so many sacrifices to prepare for THIS YEAR and now they have to re-think everything. There was an article in the New York Times about the impact. Steele Johnson, who I’ve highlighted before, was featured in the article.

Steele Johnson, a diver who won a silver medal for the United States at the 2016 Rio Games, woke up Tuesday morning to texts from friends saying they were so sorry that the Summer Olympics had been postponed. They knew how hard it had been for Johnson, 23, and his wife Hilary, to make ends meet as he pursued a gold medal in Tokyo.

When he read the news, Johnson said, he felt it in the pit of his stomach.

“We’ve had a very, very tough year financially,” he said. “I don’t know if I could keep up a lifestyle like this for another 12 to 15 months of just diving without getting a full-time job. It’s hard to think about making more sacrifices than we already have.”

On a lighter note, the Olympics is still being called Tokyo 2020, so I don’t have to change the name of this blog! 

Swimming sport spotlight

Swimming tickets are a hard ticket to get, or at least it seemed so, and the price indicates they are popular. We managed to get tickets to session TOSWM04. There are 15 sessions of swimming, starting from July 25 through August 2. The events we will see in our session are:

  • Women’s 100m Butterfly Final and Victory Ceremony
  • Men’s 200m Freestyle Semifinals
  • Women’s 100m Breaststroke Semifinals
  • Men’s 100m Breaststroke Final and Victory Ceremony
  • Women’s 400m Freestyle Final and Victory Ceremony
  • Men’s 100m Backstroke Semifinals
  • Women’s 100m Backstroke Semifinals
  • Men’s 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay Final and Victory Ceremony

These events are finals and semifinals, so they will be highly competitive.

And, once again, one of the Purdue University spotlighted swimmers could be featured in the Women’s 400m Freestyle final, Kaersten Meitz. The US Olympic Team Trials are June 21 through June 28. In the 2019 World Rankings for LCM (50 m pool), Kaersten Meitz was 11th, with Katie Ledecky second ranked in the world and the highest American. Just behind was Leah Smith at number three. The top ranked in the Women’s 400m Freestyle is Ariarne Titmus of Australia.

The top performer in 2019 in the Women’s 100m Butterfly is Canadian Margaret McNeil, with Americans Kelsi Dahlia and Katie McLaughlin in the top ten.

Last year there were no Americans in the top ten Men’s 200m Freestyle. However, Japan’s Katsuhiro Matsumoto was the fifth highest ranked swimmer so if he makes the finals the crowd will be crazy. American Andrew Seliskar is just outside the top ten.

Lilly King (from Evansville, Indiana and an IU grad) is the reigning world champion at the Women’s 100m Breaststroke, Annie Lazor had the third best time of the year, and Japan’s Reona Aoki had the fourth best time. More crazy fans likely for this event as well.

In the World Championships last year, Adam Peaty of Great Britian set the Men’s 100m Breaststroke world record, fellow countryman James Wilby (not this James Wilby) had the third fastest time of the year, Yasuhiro Koseki had the eighth fastest time, and American Andrew Wilson had the ninth fastest. Yet another chance to see a Japanese swimmer get a home country boost.

China’s Jiayu Xu had the top time in the 100m Backstroke, and three Americans, Ryan Murphy (not Indianapolis’ Ryan Murphy of “Glee” fame), Shaine Casas, and Matt Grevers were all in the top ten as well as Japan’s Ryosuke Irie.

The Women’s 100m backstroke top time of 2019 is held by American’s Regan Smith, who set a world record at the 2019 World Championships and will graduate from high school THIS YEAR. Three other Americans, Phoebe Bacon (another high schooler), Olivia Smoliga, and Kathleen Baker are also in the top 10.

Finally, the USA had the fastest Men’s 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay, followed by Russia and Australia. Japan was tenth.

Note to USA Swimming – hire a professional photographer to do your bio shots. Preferably someone who knows how to use the “focus” feature.

One swimmer we won’t be seeing in the Men’s 200m Freestyle event is Sun Yang. He was banned for eight years for his second doping violation.

Purdue athlete Annie Drews, with a Japan twist

I just highlighted volleyball for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics. One of the Purdue athletes being highlighted by the university is Annie Drews. She is a member of Team USA in volleyball, a Mishawaka Penn graduate (not to be confused with Adam Driver’s Mishawaka High School), and a Purdue graduate.

Life in Japan for the Olympics won’t be hard for her as she was the Japan V-League championship game MVP playing for the JT Marvelous team. おめでとうございます!

I had never heard of JT Marvelous … but it sure sounds Japanese. It seems JT Marvelous is in Nishinomiya, Hyogo, Japan and the JT stand for Japan Tobacco Ltd. Why not light up after a match? Go JT Marvelous.

Nishinomiya is the home of the  Koshien Stadium (use this link for the official website of the stadium), used by the Hanshin Tigers and also the home of the two annual high school baseball tournaments. When I lived in Japan I would watch the high school tournament on TV when I could, and would always get teary-eyed at the end of a game watching all these kids who gave it their all trying so hard not to cry but more often than not sobbing heavily.

I dare you to watch this video and not get tears in your eyes.

I guess I’ve been through Nishinomiya as it is between Kobe and Osaka, but I didn’t pay attention.

Sorry Annie Drews for making a post about you turn into a walk down memory lane in Japan. But that’s why I’m blogging, making these discoveries and sharing them.

Sports spotlight – volleyball

Some of the matchups for some of the events are starting to come out. When we bought tickets, we chose events like “Volleyball – Men’s Preliminary Round (2 matches).” There was no guarantee what teams we would see, or if the matches would even be close. Our tickets for volleyball are on July 31, from 9:00 am to 12:50 pm. Early morning for sure. The other day the volleyball schedule came out. What’s happening in the morning of July 31?

Looking at the official schedule …

source – https://tokyo2020.org/en/games/schedule/olympic/

Looking specifically at volleyball,

Source – https://tokyo2020.org/en/games/schedule/olympic/20200731_VVO.html

We get to see two North American teams versus two South American teams, and we get to see the US play against Brazil.

The top ten in the world rankings in men’s volleyball show Brazil as number one, the US as number 3, and Canada as number 10. It should be an excellent match between the US and Brazil and could be a preview of the finals.

Source – https://www.fivb.com/en/volleyball/rankings/seniorworldrankingmen


Source – https://www.volleyball.world/en/volleyball/olympics/2020/competition/formula

For the Olympics, in both men’s and women’s volleyball, there are only twelve teams competing. They are divided in two pools, each with six teams. The top four teams of each pool then advance to the quarterfinals. Interestingly, only four out of twelve teams do not advance to the single elimination tournament.  The way the semi-finals are arranged, the top two teams in a single group could meet again in the semifinals.

Source – https://www.volleyball.world/en/volleyball/olympics/2020/competition/formula
source – https://www.volleyball.world/en/volleyball/olympics/2020/competition/formula

The pools are ordered by number of victories, then by ranking points, then by set ratio, then by points ratio. Three points are given to the match victor if they win by a 3-0 set score, or a 3-1 set score. If they win by a 3-2 set score, the winner gets two points and the loser gets one point. If there is a tie in the ranking points, the next order is set ratio, where the ratio of sets won to sets lost breaks a tie. If there is still at tie, the ratio if points won to point lost sets the order. If there is a STILL a tie, then, “the priority will be given to the team which won the last match between them. When the tie in points ratio is between three or more teams, a new classification of these teams in the terms of points 1, 2 and 3 will be made taking into consideration only the matches in which they were opposed to each other.”

Follow along with the international federation on their Tokyo 2020 website

Qualification for the Olympics began in August 2019, when the top 24 teams in the world participated in six intercontinental qualification tournaments in six pools across the globe. The six winners of each pool qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Games. In January of this year, five continental qualification tournaments were held, and the winner of each of those tournaments filled the twelve team qualification pool. Japan, as the host, automatically qualified.

The men’s qualification path was …

source – https://www.volleyball.world/volleyball/olympics/2020/-/media/2020/fivb-competition/olympic-games/volleyball/qualification-process/

We also have tickets to a men’s semifinal match and the men’s finals.

Potential Purdue athletes

My connection to Purdue University runs deep, so it is exciting to me that several athletes from Purdue have a chance at participating in the Summer Games this year.

I think it is great that Robbie Hummel has a good chance to be there. His playing career in college and the pros was greatly impacted by injury and he began a career as a broadcaster. He’s good at that too. Then he started playing 3×3 basketball and was last year’s USA Men’s Basketball player of the year. How cool is that for him?

David Boudia was a diver at Purdue, and rose to fame as a 10 meter platform diver. Injuries drove him to stop 10 m platform diving and instead compete in 3 m springboard diving this year. He won the gold medal in the 2012 London Games and the bronze in the 2016 Rio Games. That’s quite an accomplishment. Oh, and he also got silver with fellow Purdue diver Steele Johnson in the 10 m synchronized diving in Rio in 2016.

Not sure why Steele was left off this list. Maybe only a few athletes are being spotlighted.

For sure I’ll follow all the athlete’s journeys as the run up to the 2020 Summer Olympics continues