DFL

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

Sunday, August 24, 2008

'Stany the Stingray'

I was right, and I should have looked into it sooner. There was a media frenzy about Stany Kempompo Ngangola, the 34-year-old swimmer from the Democratic Republic of Congo who had the slowest time in the men's 50-metre freestyle. In fact, they were waiting for him, like vultures, before he had even swam; this Australian columnist proclaimed him a friend of Eric the Eel and drew attention to his extremely slow qualifying time. It turns out that that qualifying time was a typo, that he'd never even met Eric Moussambani, and that his result . I mean, it wasn't good -- 35.19 seconds, 13.89 seconds behind the gold medallist in the final -- but it wasn't Moussambani-class drown-in-the-pool awful. The only ones looking ridiculous here are the media who were fishing for an easy mark -- hoping to find yet another central African to make fun of for a good wacky-Olympics story. I'm delighted that they were disappointed.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Early Results for Thursday, August 21

Athletics: 37-year-old Evelyn Nunez of Guatemala finished 43rd in the . Her time of 1:44:13 was 17:42 behind the gold medallist, a bit more than three minutes behind the next-to-last-place finisher, and about six hours faster than I hike a 20-km mountain trail. There were three disqualifications and two DNFs.

Football (Soccer): An unresolvable two-way tie for 11th place in
; accordingly, no DFL will be awarded in this event. You can't come dead last if you're tied with somebody else.

Sailing:
Star: Chinese sailors Li Hongquan and Wang He finished 16th. Tornado: American sailors Johnny Lovell and Charlie Ogletree were 15th.

Softball: The Netherlands finished the tournament in eighth place, with a record of 1–6.

Swimming: In the
, which was limited to 25 competitors, 21-year-old Chinese swimmer Xin Tong was 23rd; there was one disqualification and one DNF (did not float). His time of 2:09:13.4 was 17:21.8 behind the gold medallist.

Water Polo: In , Greece lost its classification match 12–6 and finished eighth; they had been 0–3 in the preliminary round.

Standings to date: China moves into second place with its sixth and seventh DFL, behind Canada, which has seven but a smaller delegation. The U.S. moves into the top 10. Greece, which won the DFL race in 2004 with 13 last-place finishes, gets only its first DFL of these Games. Note, however, that Greece's delegation is only 30 percent of what it was in Athens, when it was the host country. Your delegation's a lot smaller when your athletes actually have to qualify, but you have fewer last places.

Later today: More athletics, diving, equestrian, and modern pentathlon.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Results for Wednesday, August 20

A comparatively quiet day, medals-wise.

Athletics: In the women's hammer throw qualifying round on Monday, 17-year-old Galina Mityaeva of Tajikistan met her Dr. Horrible in group A, with a best throw of 51.38 metres. Only one other competitor was under 60 metres; the gold medallist's best result in the final was 76.34. Three athletes had no mark. In round one of the men's 200 metre, the slowest time came in heat five: Juan Zeledon of Nicaragua, 22, had a time of 23.39 seconds; the gold medallist's freaky-fast record time in the final was 19.3 seconds. There were three DNSes and one DNF in the heats. The first round of the women's 400-metre hurdles was held on Sunday. Galina Pedan had the only time in excess of a minute; the 25-year-old Krygyz athlete's time was 1:00.31, compared to the 52.64 second-time put in by the gold medallist in the final.

Sailing: In the , Colombian sailor Santiago Grillo, 21, was 35th. In the , 34-year-old Sedef Koktenturk of Turkey was 27th.

Swimming: In the , 16-year-old Antonella Bogarin of Argentina finished 24th. Her time of 2:11:35.9 was 12:08.2 behind the gold medallist; she and one other swimmer were considerably behind the main pack. There was also one DNF, who I really hope was fished out.

Synchronized swimming: In the duet event, the Egyptian team of Dalia El Gebaly, 26, and Reem Abdalazem, 25, was 24th in both the preliminary and technical rounds, and did not advance to the final.

Standings to date: Colombia, Turkey, Egypt and Argentina add their third DFLs, Nicaragua and Tajikistan their second.

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Early Results for Sunday, August 17

A lot of results to report on today, so I'll start with a short post on the morning and early afternoon events, and do the rest of the day later.

Athletics: The -- a high-profile event insofar as media coverage of last places is concerned -- ran this morning. There was one DNS and 12 DNFs, but the last person to actually finish was Ukraine's Oxana Skylarenko, who finished 69th. The 27-year-old runner's time of 2:55:39 was 28:55 behind the gold medallist, and 1:54 behind she who came 68th.

Shooting: Siddique Umer of Pakistan, 26, finished 49th in the ; his score of 1,116 fell short of the 1,170 or so needed to qualify for the final, but not by all that much, actually. There was one DNS.

Swimming: In
heat two of the women's 50-metre freestyle, 21-year-old Mariama Souley Bana of Niger put in a time of 40.83 seconds, the only plus-40-second time in the event (though there were plenty in the 30s). The gold medallist's time in the finals was 24.06 seconds. There were two DNSes in the heats. In heat one of the men's 1,500-metre freestyle, Turkish swimmer Ediz Yildirimer, who's only 14 bloody years old, had the only 16-minute-plus time in the event, 16:28.79; the gold medallist's final time was nearly 108 seconds faster, at 14:40.84. A reminder: 1,500 metres equals 30 pool lengths. There were two DNSes. Ukraine had the slowest heat time in the women's 4×100-metre medley relay: their time of 4:08.62 was about 16 seconds behind the gold medallists' final time of 3:52.69. In the men's 4×100 medley relay, the slowest heat time was put in by the team from Belarus; at 3:39.39, it was 10 seconds behind the gold medallists' final time.

Standings to date: This will change in a few hours, once I tabulate the results for the rest of the day, but in the meantime, Turkey and Belarus have added their second last-place finishes, and Ukraine jumps onto the board with two DFLs. At the moment, they're in 15th, 17th and 18th place, respectively.

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Morning Results for Saturday, August 16

Athletics: The just wrapped up; Turkey's Recep ?elik, 25, finished 49th with a time of 1:32:54, which was 13:53 behind the gold medallist. There were two disqualifications.

Swimming: Heats for this morning events were run on Thursday. 17-year-old Christin Zenner of Germany finished last in the second heat of the women's 200-metre backstroke; her time was 2:20.28, just over 15 seconds slower that the gold medallist's final time. There was one DNS. In the men's 100-metre butterfly, Marco Camargo of Ecuador, 19, had the slowest heat time in heat one: his time of 57.48 was just over seven seconds slower than some freak's gold medal time. There was one DNS in the heats here, too. Next, the women's 800-metre freestyle: in heat one, 16-year-old Polish swimmer Karolina Paulina Szczepaniak -- this is why I don't do a podcast -- put in what appears to be a rather slow time of 9:08.87; the gold medal time in the final was 8:14.10. Another DNS in the heats here, too. And finally, the men's 50-metre freestyle, which was an event designated for wild card entries, only one of whom could finish last. The slowest time came in heat two from Stany Kempompo Ngangola, 34, representing the Democratic Republic of Congo (the one that used to be Zaire). His time of 35.19 seconds was 13.89 seconds behind the gold medallist's time of 21.3 seconds in the final.

Mr. Kempompo Ngangola runs a real risk of being anointed the next Eric the Eel by the media. A slow swim from a competitor representing a country in equatorial Africa -- the ostensible parallels are all too obvious. I'll hazard a guess and say that his story will be nothing like Moussambani's, but that won't stop anyone from trying. I only have the numbers at the moment, but let me use what little information I have to place his result in some kind of context. The 50-metre event, as I said, had a number of participants there because of a wild card draw; any one of them could have finished last. Mr. Kempompo Ngangola's heat was particularly slow: all but one had a time of more than 30 seconds. His performance, in other words, was not singularly awful.

What I'm trying to say is this: the first patronizing story I see about this event, watch out.

Standings to date: Poland and Germany each add their third DFLs, moving them into fourth and seventh place, respectively.

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Friday, August 15, 2008

Early Results for Friday, August 15

Archery: In the , Joseph Walter Muaausa of Samoa, 46, was 64th in the ranking round and had the lowest score of the round of 64. Fortunately, at least for me, this result is unambiguous; it was entirely possible for the person with the lowest score in the round of 64 to have been ranked higher, or vice versa; someone who set an Olympic record in the round of 16 ended up finishing only 14th.

Canoe/Kayak (Slalom): In the heats of the men's C2, the South African duo of Cyprian Ngidi, 25, and Cameron McIntosh, 32, finished 12th. Their combined time after two runs was 277.2, including a total of 54 penalty seconds. It was the slowest time overall, though the top three times in the heats were faster than the gold medal time in the final, for whatever reason. This was also the case in the women's K1, where, thanks to two and a half minutes in penalties each, two competitors in the finals had slower times than the slowest time in the heats. But, applying my own vague rules as to who gets the DFL, the slowest time in the heats prevails, because these two put in a better score earlier to make it to the final. As a result, the DFL goes to 19-year-old Luuka Jones of New Zealand, with a time of 272.36.

Shooting: Hazem Mohamed of Egypt, 38, finished 56th in the ; his score of 576 was 18 points behind what would have been needed to qualify for the final.

Swimming: Heats for today's swimming medals were held Wednesday. In
heat one of the women's 200-metre breaststroke, Tatiane Sakemi of Brazil, 22, finished with a time of 2:39.13. The gold medallist's world-record time in the final was 2:20.22. There was one DNS in the heats. For once, heat two had the slowest time in an event -- in the men's 200-metre backstroke: Estonia's Andres Olvik, 22, whose time of 2:03.66 was nearly 10 seconds behind the gold medallist's time in the final, which was another world record. There were two DNSes in the heats. Danil Bugakov of Uzbekistan, 20, finished heat one of the men's 200-metre individual medley with a time of 2:10.04; the gold medallist, some nobody, put in a world-record time of 1:54.23 in the final. There was one DNS in the heats. And finally, in the women's 100-metre freestyle, 16-year-old Olga Hachatryan of Turkmenistan, where I'm not sure there is any standing water, finished with a rather slow time of 1:14.77 in heat one; the gold medallist's time in the final was 53.12 seconds. There was one DNS in the heats.

Badminton had a medal today, but it -- like other sports involving rackets or paddles -- is not something for which I can figure out a last place.

Still to come later today: athletics (men's shot put, women's 10,000 metre), cycling (team sprint) and weightlifting.

Standings to date: Egypt and Turkmenistan each add their second DFLs; South Africa and Brazil each add their third, moving into third and fourth place, respectively.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Results for Thursday, August 14

Archery: In the , Khadija Abbouda of Morocco, 40, was ranked 64th: she had the lowest score in the ranking round, and the lowest score in the round of 64, where she and 32 other competitors were eliminated.

Equestrian: Japan finished 10th in team dressage; another team was eliminated. The humans involved were Yuko Kitai, 35, Mieko Yagi, 58, and Hiroshi Hoketsu, 67. Their average score was 60.653 percent, compared to the gold medallists' 72.917 percent; their average age is 53?.

Shooting: Two women's events today. In the , Australian Susan McCready, 27, finished 43rd with a score of 550; athletes making the final had scores of 585 or better. In , where a score if 69 was needed to advance to the final, Egyptian shooter Mona Elhawary, 46, had a score of 50, and finished 19th.

Swimming: All is right in the world: heat one produces the slowest times in the swimming events. First, to the men's 200-metre breaststroke, where, in heat one, 31-year-old Sergio Andres Ferreyra of Argentina put in a time of 2:20.10 -- nearly 12½ seconds behind the gold medallist's final time. There was one DNS in the heats. Kristina Lennox-Silva of Puerto Rico, 23, finished with a time of 2:17.27 in heat one of the women's 200-metre butterfly; the gold medallist's world-record time in the final was 2:04.18. There were two DNSes in the heats. Heat one of the men's 100-metre freestyle saw 16-year-old Sofyan El Gadi finish with a time of 57.89 seconds, 10.68 seconds behind the gold medallist's time in the final. And, in the women's 4×200-metre freestyle relay, the slowest time in the heats was put in by the Polish team in heat one: compare their time of 8:07.40 to yet another world-record gold medal time in the final of 7:44.31. There was one disqualification in heat two.

Standings to date: A light day to report on. Japan moves into third place with its third DFL; Australia's second moves it into eighth, given its huge team. All countries in the top ten have more than one last-place finish. Meanwhile, three north African countries join the list at once, which is kind of interesting.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Results for Wednesday, August 13

Cycling: The final two road cycling events ran today. First, the , in which 24-year-old Chinese cyclist Meng Lang finished 25th. Her time of 40:51.61 was six minutes behind the gold medallist; her average speed was 34.507 km/h, compared with the gold medallist's 40.445 km/h. In the , Fumiyuki Beppu, 25, of Japan finished 39th with a time of 1:11:05.14 and an average speed of 39.923 km/h; the gold medallist's time and speed were 1:02:11.43 and 45.633 km/h, respectively. These results are all more than twice as fast as I'm able to maintain on my bike, over a much shorter distance. (The women's event is 23.5 km; the men's, 47.3 km.)

Diving: The final synchronized diving event ran today: the . Here, the Australian team of Scott Robertson, 21, and Robert Newberry, 29, finished eighth. From the detailed results, it looks like their third dive did them in.

Gymnastics: To apply the DFL for the women's team medal, I go to the lowest-scored full team in the qualification round. That was Germany, for which the total team score was 230.8; the top score in that round was 248.275. For the individual events, I have a few ideas on how to apply DFL; if I can't make them work, this will be it for artistic gymnastics.

Shooting: In a turn of events that is going to make sports columnists in my country go batshit insane, Canadian Avianna Chao, 33, finished 41st in the . Her score was 558; at least 582 was needed to make it to the final.

Swimming: Of the four events in which medals were awarded today, three had their heats on Monday. In the women's 200-metre freestyle,
heat two had the slowest time -- 2:05.71, which was put in by South Korean swimmer Lee Keora, 19. For comparison, the gold medallist's world-record time in the final was 1:54.82. Heat two was the venue for the slowest time in the men's 200-metre butterfly as well: Indonesia's Donny Budiarto Utomo, 29, finished in 2:03.44; the gold medallist in this event set a world record as well with a time of 1:52.03. Indonesia picked up another DFL in the women's 200-metre medley: in heat one, Fibriana Ratna Marita, all of 14 years old, finished with a time of 2:28.18, nearly 20 seconds behind the gold medallist's world-record final time was 2:08.45. There was one DNS. And finally, the men's 4×200-metre freestyle relay, where there were only two heats, which ran yesterday: not every country can field a full team. And the country that fielded the slowest team in this event was Brazil; their time in heat one was 7:19.54. For comparison, the gold medal final time, a world record like the others, was 6:58.56.

Weightlifting: In the , Japanese weightlifter Rika Saito, 25, finished eighth with a score of 209; the gold medallist's score was 286. There were two DNFs. A lot more competitors in the , where Monegasque -- that means he's from Monaco -- weightlifter Romain Marchessou, 22, was 24th. His score was 250; the gold medallist's was 366. There were four DNFs.

Standings to date: Canada adds its fourth DFL, as many as Britain, but since Canada's team is larger it's in second place. Indonesia and Japan jump onto the board with two last-place finishes apiece; Brazil, Germany and China add their second last-place finishes.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Results for Tuesday, August 12

Canoe/Kayak (Slalom): In yesterday's , 23-year-old Siboniso Cele of South Africa finished 16th; only the top 12 advanced to the semifinal; only the top eight advanced to the final. Cele accumulated 50 penalty seconds in his first run, which put him well out of contention. Something similar happened to two kayakers in the , but while Ding Fuxue of China, 28, had a couple of seconds' fewer penalties, he put in a slower time; he finished 21st.

Diving: Great Britain is not having a good time at the pool: the team of Tonia Couch, 19, and Stacie Powell, 22, finished eighth with a score of 303.48 in . Their score was 60.06 points behind the gold medallists.

Equestrian: Eventing has finally wrapped up. France finished 11th in the
team event, due to the fact that they had to include the score of an eliminated horse and rider (teams are scored using the top three results, though most countries arrive with four or five riders). Individual scoring ran concurrently, and the individual jumping final is imminent. But, since the final only includes the top 25 (limited to three per country), we can safely assign a last-place result here as well, based on the results so far. Canada's Samantha Taylor, 25, riding Livewire, 10, finished 56th with 188.3 penalty points -- 134.1 points behind the leader. A total of 14 horse-and-rider pairs were either eliminated or withdrew.

Gymnastics is extremely difficult to report on, because a number of medal events are derived from the same qualifying round, as far as I can tell. In 2004 I gave up on trying to report on the individual events and limited myself to the team scores. Unless someone can hold my hand and show me how this time, I'll do the same again for 2008. So. In the , the Italian team was 12th with a total score of 355.5; the top team score in the qualification round was 374.675. Note that there were a number of individual gymnasts competing without a team in this round.

Shooting:
Nikola Saranovi?, 39, of Montenegro finished 45th in the . His score in the qualifying round was 535; 559 was needed to advance to the final. In the , Canadian Giuseppe Di Salvatore, 18, finished 19th with a qualifying score of 109; he would have needed at least 136 to have a shot a the final.

Swimming: The heats for today's finals took place on Sunday. First, the men's 200-metre freestyle, where, in heat one (of course), Emanuele Nicolini of San Marino, 24, put in a time of 1:59.47. For comparison, the gold medallist's time in the final was 1:42.96. There was one DNS in the heats. Next, the women's 100-metre backstroke, where, again in heat one, 18-year-old Panamanian swimmer Christie Marie Bodden Baca's time was 1:07.18 -- compare that to the gold medallist's time of 58.96 seconds in the final. There was one disqualification and one DNS in the heats. Now for the men's 100-metre backstroke: Mohammad Rubel Rana of Bangladesh, 25, put in a time of 1:04.82 in heat one. That's more than 12 seconds behind the gold medallist's final time. And finally, the women's 100-metre breaststroke (stop sniggering). In heat one, 24-year-old Mariam Pauline Keita of Mali had a time of 1:24.26; the gold medallist's time in the final was 1:05.17.

Weightlifting: Bolivia's Maria Teresa Monasterio, 38, finished 17th in the . Her score was 141, 100 points behind the gold medallist; there were two DNFs and one DNS. Meanwhile, in the , Nizom Sangov of Tajikistan, 25, finished 24th with a score of 250 -- 98 points behind the gold medallist; there were six DNFs.

Standings to date: Now things are starting to get interesting. Britain, home of Eddie the Eagle, maintains its hold atop the DFL standings with four, but Canada adds two to move into second place. San Marino and South Africa add their second DFLs.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Results for Monday, August 11

Archery: I've been able to figure out last-place results for the team archery events. The scores in the ranking round won't work because, in the men's team event, the team with the lowest score in the ranking round went on to win a medal. So it's the lowest score in the 1/8 round that is meaningful for our purposes. In the , which ran yesterday, that meant the Colombian team of Ana Maria Rendon, 22, Sigrid Romero, 19, and Natalia Sanchez, 25. They had a score of 199; the highest score in the event was 231, a world record, which came in the semi-finals. In today's , the lowest score -- 210 -- was put in by the British team of Laurence Godfrey, 32, Simon Terry, 34, and Alan Wills, 27. The gold medallists' score in the final was 227, an Olympic record.

Diving: The results from the event are in; British divers Blake Aldridge, 26, and Thomas Daley, 14 -- that's right, this kid -- finished eighth with a score of 408.48 -- 59.7 points behind. I have to see some footage of this: how a 14-year-old and a 26-year-old can stay in sync is something I want to see.

Shooting: In the , 21-year-old Saso Nestorov of Macedonia finished 51st with a qualifying-round score of 558; it took at least 595 to make it to the final. In the , Namibian Gaby Diana Ahrens, 27, was 20th. Her qualifying-round score was 52; the lowest score to qualify for the final was 67.

Swimming: Four more swimming medals today, but we go back to Saturday and Sunday for the lowest heat times in these events. In heat one (naturally) of the women's 100-metre butterfly, the slowest time was that of 24-year-old Simona Muccioli of San Marino. Her heat time of 1:04.91 was eight seconds behind the gold medallist's final time. In heat one of the men's 100-metre breaststroke, a rather slow performance of 1:20.20 -- more than 21 seconds behind the gold medallist's final time -- was put in by Petero Okatai, 27, of the Cook Islands. The heats had one DNS and one disqualification. In the women's 400-metre freestyle, it's heat one again: 19-year-old Shrone Austin, swimming for the Seychelles, with a time of 4:35.86 -- more than 32 seconds behind the gold medallist's final time, but keep in mind that this event is four times as long as the previous two. Think of it as eight seconds per hundred metres. And finally, the men's 4×100-metre freestyle relay. Relays are by nature more competitive, since the basic requirement is at least four good athletes per country -- Bhutan won't have a relay team, for example. There were two heats in this relay; the slowest time came in heat one from the German quad of Steffen Deibler, 21, Jens Schreiber, 25 , Benjamin Starke, 22, and Paul Biedermann, 22. Their time of 3:17.99 was 9.75 seconds behind the gold medallists' final, but that was a world record -- and in their own heat, they were only 5.76 seconds behind that same gold medal team. There was one disqualification.

Weightlifting: In the , 20-year-old Wendy Hale of the Solomon Islands came 12th with a score of 173; the gold medallist's score was 244. My own country, Canada, gets its first DFL in the : Jasvir Singh, 31, finished 12th with a score of 266; the gold medallist's score was 319, and there were five DNFs.

Standings to date: Great Britain, with three last-place finishes to date, moves into an undisputed lead. No one else has more than a single last-place finish.

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Results for Sunday, August 10

Cycling: The had a lot fewer DNFs than the men's race did yesterday: 4 vs. 53. I wonder if that means conditions were better today. But then there were also fewer competitors over a shorter distance (126 km). In any event, 21-year-old Aurelie Halbwachs of Mauritius came 62nd with a time of 3:52:11 -- nearly 20 minutes behind the winner, and 20 seconds behind the penultimate cyclist.

Diving: We start with synchronized diving, where, in the , the British team of Tandi Gerrard, 30, and Hayley Sage, 22, finished eighth. The fact that there are only eight teams should give you an idea of what it's like even to qualify for this event. Their score of 278.25 was 65.25 points behind the gold medallists.

Shooting: Carolina Lozado, 37, of Uruguay finished 43rd in the qualifying round of the event, with a score of 367. It took a score of 384 or better to make it to the final. There was one DNF. In , Filipino Eric Ang, also 37, finished 35th with a score of 106; those who advanced to the finals has scores between 119 and 121.

Swimming: Four swimming events had their finals today, but for my purposes I have to go back to yesterday's heats to find my last-place finishers, who I will somewhat arbitrarily define as the person putting in the slowest time in the heats. (This is a little problematic if the slowest time in the event is in a semifinal or final, but I have to pick something, if I can.) In the men's 400-metre individual medley, the slowest time was produced in heat one by 22-year-old Hocine Haciane Constatin of Andorra: 4:32.00. (The gold medallist, you may have heard, put a time in of 4:03.84 in the final.) Heat one is also where the slowest time came in the men's 400-metre freestyle (this does not appear to be an accident); Kazakh Oleg Rabota, 18, put in a time of 4:02.16. (For comparison, the gold medallist's final time was 3:41.86.) There was one DNS in another heat. In the women's 400-metre individual medley, it was heat one again, where 18-year-old Thai swimmer Nimitta Thaveesupsoonthorn's time was 5:02.18. (The gold medallist's time was 4:29.45 in the final.) There was one DNS in Nimitta's heat. And finally, the women's 4×100 freestyle relay, which had only two heats: in the second heat, the South African team of Melissa Corfe, Wendy Trott, Mandy Loots and Katheryn Meaklim finished seventh (there was a DNS) with a time of 3:51.14; the gold medal team's time in the final was 3:33.76.

Weightlifting: 22-year-old Venezuelan Judith Andrea Chacon finished ninth in a field of nine in the ; she had a score of 181, compared to the gold medallist's 221. In the , Moldovan Igor Grabucea, 32, finished 15th with a score of 239; the gold medallist's score was 292, and there were four DNFs.

A medal was awarded in archery, but it does not appear that I'll be able to award a last place in that sport -- at least not in the team events.

Standings to date: No country has more than one last-place finish at this point, but since Andorra has fewer athletes at the Games than the others, it displaces Nicaragua for the nominal lead.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 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.

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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.

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Monday, August 16, 2004

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.

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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!

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