Guardian writing: Rio Olympics

Two women’s soccer analyses, two gymnastics live blogs, one examination of how rare Michael Phelps’ accomplishments this year are, and one look at the next generation of U.S. Olympians.

Aug. 9: U.S. women win gold in gymnastics team final (live coverage)

Aug. 10: U.S. women’s soccer team has improved, really (group stage analysis)

Aug. 11: Biles, Raisman medal in all-around (live coverage)

Aug. 12: Why Phelps is still great at an age when most swimmers have faded

Aug. 13: USA’s women lost. Blaming it on “cowards” misses the point

Aug. 20: USA have a wealth of young talent for 2020

I also wrote for Bleacher Report and will have another post summing up my work there.


Chaos, coaching and sports (or, “things I can’t do with my youth soccer teams”)

The Anson Dorrance biography The Man Watching describes the constant chaos in the North Carolina women’s soccer program. Dorrance has piles of papers on his desk — sometimes, he finds big checks he has yet to deposit. And his team regularly shows up late to the airport, something I couldn’t handle at all.

Ironically, it’s a Duke guy writing this post about the benefits of chaos in coaching:

Before meets, Bowman hid goggles, so that Phelps had to swim without them; he deliberately arranged late pickups, so that Phelps would miss meals and swim with hunger; he cracked goggles, so they would fill up with water and obstruct Phelps’ vision in the pool. We don’t know how Phelps did in those earlier meets, but we know that Bowman created uncertainties for him in lower-risk situations so that when it really mattered he had familiarity with the unexpected and a mental adaptability that gave him the best shot at winning.

So, parents on my soccer team — if I’m late for practice or a drill goes horribly wrong, it’s all part of the plan.

via You Can Only Win in Sports, or Anywhere Else, if Youre Ready for Chaos – Forbes.

Michael Phelps’ mission impossible: Stay motivated in off year

The Pan-Pacific championships are as good as it gets for swimming in the middle of an Olympic cycle. It’s not the Olympics or the world championships, but it’s a chance to see a U.S. national team in action.

And because we’re living in the Michael Phelps era, it’s also a chance to see him in action. Sort of.

It’s a relief in these budget-strapped times that the Pan Pacs drew an actual media presence, calling attention to the feats of Ryan Lochte, Dana Vollmer et al. But Phelps, whose out-of-pool life has been in the news in the past, will always be under scrutiny.

So it’s no surprise that The Washington Post‘s Amy Shipley went into great detail about Phelps’ wayward practice habits. Basically, he’s not showing up all the time.

Thankfully, Shipley put Phelps’ efforts in perspective, noting that several swimmers take extended breaks. (Are we sure Gary Hall Jr. didn’t hibernate between Olympics?)

My longtime USA TODAY colleague Vicki Michaelis says Phelps is leaving the Pan Pacs with a heightened awareness of what he needs to do.

But he has plenty of time. The “off” year in the Olympic/world championship cycle is really “off” — moreso than in winter sports, track and field or other Olympic endeavors. Phelps’ next big test starts 11 months from now — July 16-31 in Shanghai for the world championships.

“Let’s be honest,” said Nathan Adrian, whose ascendancy continued over the weekend. “It’s just the Pan Pacs.”