DFL

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

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Results for Sunday, August 24

Athletics: No doubt 30-year-old Atsushi Sato of Japan will be the subject of many an attempted human interest story, now that he's finished dead last in the men's marathon. He finished 76th with a time of 2:41:08, which was 34:36 behind the gold medallist. Hardly A Baser Wasiqi territory, but that won't stop the media. There were 19 DNFs and three DNSes.

Basketball: Angola was 0–5 in the preliminaries of men's basketball and, with fewer points for and more points against than Iran, finished 12th.

Handball: In men's handball, China was 0–5 and finished 12th.

Rhythmic Gymnastics: In the qualification round for the group all-around event, the team from Brazil finished 12th with a score of 29.125; it would have taken 31.45 or better to qualify.

Volleyball: In men's volleyball, both Egypt and Japan were 0–5, but Egypt won no sets, whereas Japan won four. Therefore, the DFL goes to Egypt.

Water Polo: In men's water polo, China lost its classification match with Canada on Friday to finish 12th.

Final standings: China finishes with 14 DFLs; Egypt moves into sixth place, Japan moves into ninth, and Angola and Brazil, at the last moment, jump into the top 20. Stand by for an analysis of the final standings.

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Late Results for Saturday, August 23

Athletics: Women's high jump: Two competitors had an identical score of 1.8 metres, in the same number of jumps; no DFL will be awarded in this event as a result. Two athletes had no mark; the gold medallist cleared 2.05 metres. Men's javelin: Menik Janoyan of Armenia, 23, with a best throw of 64.47 metres in group B. One athlete had no mark; the gold medallist's best was 90.57 metres. Men's 800 metre: Heat four saw the slowest time in the preliminaries: 1:57.48 by 21-year-old Derek Mandell of Guam. The gold medallist's final time was 1:44.65. There were three DNSes. Women's 1,500 metre: 27-year-old Domingas Togna of Guinea-Bissau was, at 5:05.76 in heat two, substantially slower than the rest of the field: the next-to-slowest time was 45 seconds faster. And the gold medallist's time in the final was faster still: 4:00.23. Men's 5,000 metre: In heat one, Min Thu Soe of Burma (Myanmar), 19 years old, was, at 15:50.56, much slower than the rest of the field -- by more than a minute. There was one DNS in the heats. The gold medallist finished in 12:57.82 in the final. Women's 4×400-metre relay: China had the slowest time in the preliminaries (heat two); compare their time of 3:30.77 to the gold medallists' final time of 3:18.54. Men's 4×400-metre relay: In heat two, the Dominican Republic had the slowest preliminary time: 3:04.31. Compare that to the gold medallists' final time of 2:55.39.

Diving: In the men's 10-metre platform, 20-year-old North Korean diver Kim Chon Man will incur the Dear Leader's wrath with a 30th-place finish; his score of 328.85 was about 90 points lower than he would have needed to qualify for the next round.

Baseball: Two teams finished the competition with 1–6 records; with some reluctance, I'm awarding the DFL to the team with the most runs against: China.

Basketball: Mali finished 12th in women's basketball with a record of 0–5.

Field Hockey: In the men's event, the team from South Africa lost its classification match and finished 12th.

Rhythmic Gymnastics: Wania Monteiro of Cape Verde repeats her 2004 DFL in the individual all-around event. Now 22, she finished 24th (again) in the qualifying round with a score of 49.050. The lowest qualifying score was 66.825.

Volleyball: Both Algeria and Venezuela are ranked 11th in women's volleyball, but using the win-loss ratio from the preliminary round to break the tie, I'll award the DFL to Algeria.

Standings to date: As the results for the team sports and events come in, two trends occur. First, the host country, which might not otherwise qualify for events but enters them anyway as the host, racks up a few DFLs, as China has with a total of four today. Its hold on first place is unassailable: Canada simply can't catch up. Second, you also see a few last-place finishes from African countries, who qualify on a continental basis (i.e., they're the best African team) but go on to get slaughtered at the Olympics. (Note that Egypt and South Africa are now both in the top 10.)

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Results for Friday, August 22

Athletics: Men's 50-km walk: 36-year-old Kazimir Verkin of Slovakia finished 47th; his time of 4:21:26 was 44:17 behind the gold medallist. There were seven DNFs, five disqualifications, and two DNSes. Women's long jump: In qualifying Tuesday, Tricia Flores of Belize, 28, had the shortest best jump: 5.25 metres in group A; the gold medallist got 7.04 metres in the final. Three athletes had no mark; one was disqualified for being bad. Women's 5,000 metre: 30-year-old Celma da Graca Soares Bonfim of S?o Tomé and Príncipe finished heat one with a time of 17:25.99 on Tuesday; the gold medallist's time was 15:41.40. One DNF and one DNS apiece in the heats. Women's 4×100-metre relay: Never mind the final, the heats Thursday saw three disqualifications and two DNFs, leaving the team from Thailand with the slowest finishing time of 44.38 seconds. The gold medal time in the final was 42.31 seconds. Men's 4×100-metre relay: The men's side saw two disqualifications and four DNFs; the slowest team left standing was that of France, with 39.53 seconds. The gold medallists in the final did it in 37.1 seconds. Men's pole vault: Three athletes cleared 5.3 metres (the gold medallist did 5.96 metres); I'm unable to break the tie. No DFL will be awarded. Men's decathlon: There were 14 DNFs in this event -- 35 percent of all athletes entered. Of the 26 capable of attempting all 10 events, Mikko Halvari of Finland, 25, was 26th with a score of 6,486 -- 2,305 points behind the gold medallist. Mikko got zero in the pole vault; he and one other athlete continued nonetheless, while two athletes did not start the following event. I don't know the circumstances for all 14 DNFs; I wonder how many were the result of giving up when zeroing out on a specific discipline.

Canoe/Kayak (Flatwater Racing): Men's 1,000-metre kayak single (K1): Alcino Gomes da Silva, 17, S?o Tomé and Príncipe, 9th in heat two with a time of 4:28.057. Men's 1,000-metre canoe single (C1): Sean Pangelinan, 21, Guam, 8th in heat two with a time of 4:49.284. Women's 500-metre kayak four (K4): Canada, fourth in the semifinal with a time of 1:38.366. Men's 1,000-metre K2: José Ramos, 25, and Gabriel Rodriguez, 29, Venezuela, seventh in the semifinal with a time of 3:27.423. Men's 1,000-metre C2: José Everardo Cristobal, 22, and Dimas Camilo, 18, Mexico, seventh in the semifinal with a time of 3:49.695. Men's 1,000-metre K4: Australia, fourth in the semifinal with a time of 3:02.743.

Cycling (BMX): In the men's BMX event, Latvian Ivo Lakucs, 29, had the lowest score of the four heats of the quarterfinal round. On the women's side, Australian Tanya Bailey, 27, had the worst score in the semifinals.

Field Hockey: New Zealand lost its classification match in women's field hockey to finish 12th.

Modern Pentathlon: All the female athletes in the modern pentathlon were able to complete the equestrian portion; insert cliché about women and horses here. Lada Jienbalanova of Kazakhstan, 38, was already 36th after the equestrian portion and did not start the final 3,000-metre cross country run. Her final score was 3,736 points; the gold medallist's score was 5,792.

Standings to date: Canada retakes the lead with its eighth DFL; Australia moves into fifth place with its sixth last-place finish. With their third DFLs each, Venezuela, Kazakhstan, New Zealand and France move into 14th, 15th, 18th and 23rd places, respectively. With two last-place finishes and only three athletes, S?o Tomé and Príncipe jumps into 24th place.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Late Results for Thursday, August 21

Athletics: Women's javelin: Rumyana Karapetrova of Bulgaria, 26, had the shortest best throw in the qualifying round; she finished last in group B with 40.15 metres. Two competitors in the qualifying round had no mark. The gold medallist's final score was 71.42 metres. Women's 200 metre: Samia Yusuf Omar of Somalia, 17, was considerably behind the rest of the field with her time, in heat five, of 32.16 seconds. The gold medallist's time in the final was 21.74 seconds. There were two DNSes in the heats. Men's triple jump: In group B of the qualifying round, Indian Renjith Maheswary, 22, had a best jump of 15.77 metres; the gold medallist's best in the final was 17.67 metres. Two athletes had no mark in the qualifying round. Men's 400 metre: 20-year-old Liu Xiaosheng of China put in the only plus-50-second time in the heats; his time in heat two was 53.11 seconds. The gold medallist's final time was 43.75 seconds. There was one DNS in the heats. Men's 110-metre hurdles: Heat three saw Pakistani hurdler Abdul Rashid, 29, finish with a time of 14.52 seconds; the gold medallist's final time was 12.93 seconds. There were two DNFs and one DNS in the heats.

Diving: In the women's 10-metre platform event, Annette Gamm of Germany, 31, finished 29th in the preliminary round with a score of 234.3; the lowest score to advance was 291.9.

Equestrian: In individual jumping, John Whitaker, 58, riding Peppersteak Peppermill for Great Britain, was 77th in the qualifying round and did not advance.

Upper-Class Twit of the Year Modern Pentathlon: Most competitors at the back of the field in this event can blame a DNF in the equestrian leg, giving them zero points. Horses is difficult. Such was the case in the men's event run today, in which Jaime Lopez of Spain, 22, was 36th with 4,196 points and 5:59 behind the gold medallist, who had 5,632 points.

Standings to date: China adds its eighth last-place finish and its third today, taking first place from Canada, which falls to second. Germany adds a seventh to move into third, and Britain adds a fifth to move into fifth position, oddly enough. Spain's third DFL is good for 19th place, Pakistan's second for 29th.

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Early Results for Thursday, August 21

Athletics: 37-year-old Evelyn Nunez of Guatemala finished 43rd in the women's 20-km race walk. 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 women's soccer; 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 women's softball tournament in eighth place, with a record of 1–6.

Swimming: In the men's 10-km marathon, 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 women's water polo, 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 men's RS:X, Colombian sailor Santiago Grillo, 21, was 35th. In the women's RS:X, 34-year-old Sedef Koktenturk of Turkey was 27th.

Swimming: In the women's 10-km marathon, 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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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Late Results for Tuesday, August 19

Athletics: In the men's high jump, three athletes jumped the minimum 2.1 metres in the preliminary round on Sunday, but, as I did with the women's high jump, I'll award the DFL to the one athlete who needed three attempts rather than two: Oleksandr Nartov, 20, representing Ukraine, who did so in group A. The gold medallist cleared 2.36 metres. One jumper had no mark. In the men's discus, British Virgin Islander Eric Matthias, 24, had a best throw -- is that what you call it? -- of 53.11 metres in group B of the qualifying round on Saturday. The gold medallist's best in the final was 68.82 metres. In the women's 400 metre, 19-year-old Ghada Ali of Libya finished heat four on Saturday with a time of 1:06.19; the gold medallist's time in the final was 49.62 seconds. In heat four of the women's 100-metre hurdles, held Sunday, Honduran Jeimmy Julissa Bernardez, 21, finished in 14.29 seconds; the gold medallist's time was 12.54 seconds. There was one DNF in the heats. Heats for the men's 1,500 metre were held last Friday, which seems like forever now. The slowest time came in heat four: 21-year-old Jeffrey Riseley of Australia finished in 3:53.95. The gold medallist's time was 3:32.94; there were two DNSes in the heats.

Diving: In the preliminary round of the men's three-metre springboard, South Korean diver Son Seongchel, 21, finished 29th with a score of 353.35, 70.55 points behind the lowest qualifying score.

Equestrian: Choi Junsang, 20, also representing South Korea and riding Cinque Cento (which is Korean for "delicious with kimchi") finished 46th in the first round of the individual dressage event, with a score of 57.333 percent. There was one withdrawal and one retirement in this event.

Gymnastics: 27-year-old Henrik Stehlik of Germany finished 16th in the qualification round of the men's trampoline event. His score of 67.6 was 5.1 points behind the lowest qualifying score.

Weightlifting: The final event in this sport was the men's +105 kg, where Tongan weightlifter Maama Lolohea, 40, finished 13th with a combined total of 313 kg. The weakling. The gold medallist's score was 461, and there was one DNF.

Standings to date: South Korea and Germany move into second and third place with six last-place finishes each; Australia's fourth DFL moves it into 9th; with three, Ukraine moves into 11th. Honduras and Libya add their second last-place finishes and now sit 22nd and 17th, respectively.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Late Results for Monday, August 18

Athletics: The qualifying rounds for the women's discus were held Friday evening; in group A, 24-year-old Tereapii Tapoki of the Cook Islands had a best distance of 48.35 metres. She was the only competitor under 50 metres. The gold medallist's final result tonight was 64.74 metres. One competitor had no mark in the heats. Next, women's pole vault, where the Friday qualifying rounds saw three women clear only four metres; two others weren't able to do even that, and had no mark. (The gold medallist cleared 5.05 metres.) To break the tie, I'm going to assign the DFL to the woman who took the most attempts to clear four metres: Cypriot Anna Foitidou, 31, who did so in group B. Qualifying for the men's long jump was held Saturday evening: 29-year-old American Miguel Pate's best jump was 7.34 metres, exactly a metre behind the gold medallist's best in the final. There were two DNSes in the qualifying round, and one athlete had no mark. Also on Saturday, heats for the men's 3,000-metre steeplechase; 23-year-old Ali Ahmad Al-Amri of Saudi Arabia finished in 9:09.73 in heat two. The gold medallist's time in the final was 8:10.34. There was one DNF and one DNS in the heats. In heat five of round one of the women's 800 metre, which was held on Friday, Aishath Reesha, 19, running for the Maldives, had a time of 2:30.14. There was one DNF and one disqualification in the heats; the gold medallist's time in the final was 1:54.87. And finally, the men's 400-metre hurdles. 22-year-old Harouna Garba of Niger ran a time of 55.14 seconds in heat one on Friday. The Monday night time put in by the gold medallist was 47.25 seconds. There was one DNF in the heats.

Equestrian: With a total of 65 penalties, New Zealand's equestrian team was 16th in the first round of team show jumping, and did not advance to the second round.

Gymnastics: Ana Rente of Portugal, 20, finished 16th in the women's trampoline qualification round; only the top eight advanced to the final. Very low marks on her second routine led to a final score of 31.60 -- something must have happened. The next-to-last competitor's score was 57.60, and the lowest score to qualify for the final was 63.90.

Weightlifting: In the men's 105 kg, 31-year-old Moreno Boer of Italy finished 18th, with a combined weight of 330 kg; the gold medallist's score was 436. There was one DNS and one DNF.

Standings to date: Italy adds its fifth last-place finish to move into second; the Cook Islands (!), Niger, New Zealand and the U.S. add their second DFLs.

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Late Results for Sunday, August 17

Athletics: In Friday's qualifying round for the men's hammer throw, Juan Ignacio Cerra of Argentina, 31, had the shortest final distance in group B: 70.16 metres. Compare with the gold medallist's best in the final Sunday night: 82.02 metres. Three athletes had no mark. In heat two of the women's 3,000-metre steeplechase on Friday, China's Zhao Yanni, 21, put in a time of 10:18.60. The gold medallist's time in the final Sunday night was a world-record 8:58.81. There were four DNFs in the heats and one in the final. The lowest score in the women's triple jump came in group B of the qualifying round Friday: Irina Litvinenko of Kazakhstan, 21, had a best jump of 12.92 metres -- nearly 2½ metres shorter than the gold medallist's best jump Sunday night. Four athletes had no mark in the qualifying round. The slowest heat time in the women's 100 metre was less than a second behind the gold medallist's time of 10.78 Sunday night; that time, 11.71 seconds, was put in by 30-year-old Sasha Springer-Jones of Trinidad and Tobago in heat five. It was a competitive field: several other sprinters were within a few hundredths of a second of this last-place time. And finally, the men's 10,000 metre, where 27-year-old Alejandro Suarez of Mexico finished 35th with a time of 29:24.78 -- 2:23.61 behind the gold medallist. There were three DNFs and one DNS.

Cycling: With an average speed of 45.598 km/h, El Salvadoran cyclist Evelyn Garcia, 25, was 13th in the qualifying round of the women's individual pursuit and did not advance.

Diving: Spanish diver Jenifer Benitez, 19, finished 30th in the preliminary round of the women's three-metre springboard; her score of 194.05 was 179.85 points behind the leader.

Rowing: Women's double sculls: Ko Youngeun, 21, and Ji Yoojin, 20, South Korea, fifth in the C final. Lightweight men's double sculls: Mohamed Ryad Garidi, 30, and Kamel Ait Daoud, 23, Algeria, second in the D final. Lightweight men's four: Mike Altman, 33, Patrick Todd, 28, Will Daly, 25, and Tom Paradiso, 28, USA, fifth in the B final. Women's quadruple sculls: Rachelle de Jong, 29, Anna-Marie de Zwager, 31, Janine Hanson, 25, and Krista Guloien, 28, Canada, second in the B final. Men's quadruple sculls: the young Slovenian team of Janez Zupanc, 21, Jurnej Jurse, 20, Janez Jurse, 19, and Gaspar Fistravec, 21, did not make it out of the repechage. Women's eight: the German team did not make it out of the repechage. Men's eight: Germany was second in the B final.

Sailing: Yngling: the Italian team of Chiara Calligaris, 36, Francesca Scognamillo, 26, and Giulia Pignolo, 28, finished 15th. Finn: Venezuelan Jhonny Senen Bilbao Bande, 33, finished 26th. 49er: Li Fei, 25, and Hu Xianqiang, 26, finished 19th.

Weightlifting: 26-year-old Ravi Bhollah of Mauritius lifted a total of 275 kg in the men's 94 kg and finished 16th; the gold medallist's score was 406. There were two DNFs.

Standings to date: Canada, Germany and China move into first, second and third with five last-place finishes each. Italy adds its fourth to stand in sixth place, and South Korea its third to stand eighth. Argentina, Kazakhstan, Mauritius, Spain and Venezuela each add their second DFLs; the U.S. finally has its first.

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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 women's marathon -- 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 men's 50-metre rifle, three positions; 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

Evening Results for Saturday, August 16

Athletics: In the women's shot put, the lowest result was put in by Lee Miyoung in group A of the qualifying round. The 29-year-old South Korean's best put was 15.1 metres; the gold medallist's best was 20.56 metres. Two athletes had no mark. In the staggering women's heptathlon, 19-year-old Yana Maksimava of Belarus finished 35th with 4,806 points -- 1,927 points behind the gold medallist. There were eight DNFs. The slowest time in the men's 100-metre heats came in heat five, where Shanahan Sanitoa of American Samoa, 19, ran a time of 12.6 seconds -- which I think is the only 12-second-plus time in the heats. Still, not bad for a non-Jamaican.

Cycling: In the men's keirin, 34-year-old Roberto Chiappa of Italy was relegated in his heat and finished 25th. In the qualifying round of the men's individual pursuit, Jenning Huizinga, 24, of the Netherlands had the slowest speed: 51.967 km/h. The gold medallist's average speed exceeded 56 km/h.

Weightlifting: 23-year-old Cristina Cornejo of Peru finished 10th with a total combined lift of 225 kg in the women's +75 kg; the gold medallist's total was 326 kg. There was one DNF.

Standings to date: Italy moves into 6th place, South Korea into 16th.

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China Embraces John Stephen Akhwari



John Stephen Akhwari's last-place finish in the marathon in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics is almost certainly considered the greatest last-place finish of all time, and Akhwari's response as to why he forced his injured body across the finish line, long after the rest of the field had finished, is almost certainly the epitome of the DFL spirit: "My country did not send me to Mexico City to start the race. They sent me to finish the race." (That quote has been presented in several versions, paraphrased and retranslated, but you get the gist.)

Forty years later, the organizers of the Beijing Games have brought Akhwari, now in his seventies, back into the spotlight. (Let's take it as given that he has not been replaced with a more photogenic, computer-generated nine-year-old Han Chinese girl.) Akhwari visited China over the New Year: he toured the Bird's Nest construction site, visited an elementary school and was even the subject of a music video:



And in April he ran in the torch relay when it passed through his home country of Tanzania. China's certainly earned its share of criticism for these Games, but embracing Akhwari -- even insofar as it means using him and what he represents propagandistically -- is a class act.

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Morning Results for Saturday, August 16

Athletics: The men's 20-km walk 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

Late Results for Friday, August 15

Athletics: In the men's shot put, where either a top-12 finish or a minimum throw of 20.4 metres was needed to qualify for the final, the shortest throw came in group B of the qualifying round: Chang Ming-Huang, 26, representing Chinese Taipei -- i.e., Taiwan -- had a best throw of 17.43 metres. The gold medallist's best throw in the final was 21.51 metres. Four shot putters had no mark in the qualifying round, and there was one DNS. Isabel Checha of Spain, 26, finished 29th in the women's 10,000 metre. There were two DNFs and one DNS. Checha's time was 33:17.88; the gold medallist's time was 29:44.66.

Cycling: In the qualifying round of the men's team sprint, the Polish team of Maciej Bielecki, 21, Kamil Kuczynski, 23, and ?ukasz Kwiatkowski, 26, were relegated -- i.e., pushed to last place, something akin to but not as severe as a disqualification -- after Kuczynski fell. As a result, they finished 13th.

Weightlifting: In the women's 75 kg, 20-year-old Elizabeth Poblete of Chile finished 12th with a score of 197; the gold medallist's final score was 282. And in the men's 85 kg, where there were five DNF, the Seychelles added their second DFL with Terrence Dixie, 24, putting up a score of 255; the gold medallist's score was 394.

Standings to date: The Seychelles and Poland add their second last-place finishes, moving into 7th and 11th place, respectively; Chile, Taiwan and Spain get their first DFLs.

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Visa's Derek Redmond Ad

American readers may have seen Visa's television featuring Derek Redmond's injury during the 1992 Olympics, where his father helped him limp across the finish line. (If you haven't, it's available on Visa's Go World site, though you'll have to dig a bit to find it.) It's heartening to see this blog's argument about finishing last ("better DFL than DNF") expressed in a nationally broadcast ad with a Morgan Freeman voiceover. "He -- and his father -- finished dead last. But he -- and his father -- finished."

A search for Derek Redmond on YouTube also generates some interesting results.

Previously: Derek Redmond in 1992.

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Monday, August 30, 2004

Media Coverage of Last-Place Marathoner

I was wrong: the nonsense regarding the loony priest did not prevent the news media from writing about the marathon's last-place finisher, Marcel Matanin. Detroit Free Press columnist Michael Rosenberg still thinks it makes a great human-interest story, though the tale of the 30-year-old Slovak who took up the marathon because it was in Greece is somewhat more mundane than past Olympic DFLs. Thanks to Debra for the catch.

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Sunday, August 29, 2004

Results for the Men's Marathon

Now that the race is over, I don't think the last-place finisher is likely to make any headlines. For one thing, most of the media attention is going to be focused on the bizarre attack on Vanderlei Lima by a disturbed former priest from Ireland who wanted to prepare for the Second Coming. For another, the results were closer than you might expect, with the last-place finish less than 40 minutes behind the first. Marcel Matanin of Slovakia finished 81st with a time of 2:50:26; the winner's time was 2:10:55. This was a difficult race, with lots of elevation changes and in hot and humid conditions. As was the case with the women's marathon, there were a lot of DNFs -- 20 in all. But as one of the CBC commentators pointed out during their live coverage, "99.9 per cent of the population could not keep pace for one kilometre." Finishing is an achievement. Being able to complete even a portion of this race under these conditions is an achievement.

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David Moorcroft in 1984

"Better DFL than DNF" -- that's what one of you said the saying was in the events you competed in. Finishing the race despite all odds is especially meaningful to some of us -- especially when those odds are tougher than usual. For example, an extremely slow marathon finish on a hot, humid day is all the more impressive when so many others fall by the wayside. Consider the case of David Moorcroft at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, who started and finished the 5,000-metre final despite a pre-race pelvic injury: his goal was simply to avoid getting lapped, and he achieved it. Thanks to Paul Goodfellow for the link.

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Men's Marathon Now Under Way

The men's marathon just got under way. It's a gruelling course, but at 30°C it's a little bit cooler than the 37-degree temperatures the women had to face (there was a very good reason for 16 DNFs in that event).

The news media has historically covered the last-place finisher of the Olympic marathon, from the great John Stephen Akhwari of Tanzania in 1968 ("My country did not send me to Mexico City to start the race. They sent me to finish the race.") to Pyambu Tuul in 1992 and A Baser Wasiqi in 1996. It's like the first baby of the new year: the media gravitates to it because they love a good human-interest story.

It'll be a few hours before the marathon is finished, but I'd like to put out a general request to my readers: If you see a news report about the marathon's last-place finisher, please let me know. I'll get it up here as quick as I can. I'm very interested to see how the media will handle it this time. (I'll be looking at the results, myself, but will be keeping an eye out for this as well.) Thanks very much.

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Results for Saturday, August 28

Athletics: Women's high jump: Australia's Petrina Price and one other athlete cleared 1.80 metres, but she finishes last because she took more attempts to do it. The winner's final height was 2.06 metres. Women's 1,500 metre: Sumaira Zahoor of Pakistan had the slowest heat time of 4:49.33, about five seconds behind the next-slowest time; the winner's time in the final was 3:57.90. Men's javelin: Edi Ponos of Croatia -- his best throw was 71.43 metres; the winner's best in the final was 86.50 metres. Men's 800 metre: Cornelius Sibe of Surinam had a heat time of 2:00.06, the only result above two minutes; the winner's final time was 1:44.45. Men's 5,000-metre: Sergiy Lebid of Ukraine with a heat time of 14:10.23; the winner's final time was 13:14.39. There was one DNF. Men's 4×100-metre relay: The only result above 39 seconds came from the relay team from Russia: 39.19 seconds, which they put in in the heats. The winner's final time was 38.07 seconds. Doesn't that seem close to you? Women's 4×400-metre relay: Greece had a bad run in the final, finishing at 3:45.70, but they did make it there; the slowest heat time was put in by Senegal at 3:35.18. The fastest final time was 3:19.01. Men's 4×400-metre relay: Spain had, at 3:05.03, the slowest heat time; the winning final time was 2:55.91. And that's it for track and field except for one event -- the marathon today.

Basketball: On the women's side, South Korea finished 12th with an 0-6 record. It was the same result for Angola on the men's side: they too finished 0-6 and 12th.

Canoe/Kayak (Flatwater Racing): Men's 500-metre K1: For some reason the Athens 2004 site isn't covering the results of heat four, where Steven Ferguson (see previous entries: New Zealand Kayaking Controversy, Steven Ferguson Update) finished last with the slowest time of 2:06.937. He had to work at it to finish last, though, because the next slowest kayaker was only four seconds ahead of him, and though that kayaker was a good 15 seconds behind everyone else, he qualified for the semifinal. Ferguson was the only one not to do so -- which is, of course, what he wanted. Men's 500-metre C1: This one's tricky, because everybody made it out of the prelims and posted different results in the semis -- i.e., the person with the slowest time in the prelims was not the same as the one slowest in the semis. To square this circle, I'm going to go to the slowest semifinal time, which was put in by Emanuel Horvaticek of Croatia and which was the slowest time overall: 2:06.347. Women's 500-metre K1: Thi Cach Doan of Vietnam had the slowest heat time, 2:06.126, but Indonesia's Sarce Aronggear was the only competitor not to advance from the prelims, so the last-place finish goes to her rather than Thi. (I'm really having to split hairs in these events!) Men's 500-metre K2: The Chinese twosome of Yijun Yin and Lei Wang had the slowest time in the prelims, made the semis, and finished last there. They were about eight seconds behind the winner in each case. Men's 500-metre C2: Americans Jordan Malloch and Nathan Johnson finished last in the repechage here, too. Women's 500-metre K2: Paula Harvey and Susan Tegg of Australia also finished last in their repechage.

Cycling: In the men's mountain bike event, Emmanouil Kotoulas of Greece placed 45th, three laps back, with no time recorded. There were five DNFs.

Diving: In the prelims for the men's 10-metre platform, Andras Hajnal of Hungary finished 33rd with a score of 305.79 -- 207.27 points behind the leader in the preliminaries (who went on to win silver). No diving accidents, just low marks.

Football: Serbia-Montenegro finished 16th.

Rhythmic Gymnastics: Poland finished 10th in the group all-around qualification with a total score of 41.775; qualifiers had scores of between 44.600 and 49.875.

Sailing: In the tornado class, Mauricio Santa Cruz Oliveira and Joao Carlos Jordao finished 17th with 172 total points and 155 net points -- the winners had 48 and 34 points, respectively. And in the star class, Mark Mansfield and Killian Collins finished 17th (142 total, 125 net; the winners had 60 total, 42 net).

Volleyball: Kenya was 0-5 and had less good results than the other 0-5 team, so instead of awarding an 11th-place tie to both, I'm assigning the last-place finish to Kenya.

Standings to date: More than half the countries at these Games now have at least one last-place finish. Australia moves into third place and China moves past Uzbekistan and France to make the top five.

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Saturday, August 28, 2004

Results for Friday, August 27

Athletics: Men's 50-km walk: Janos Toth of Hungary finished 41st with a time of 4:29:33, nearly 51 minutes behind the winning time of 3:38:46 and a bit more than 9 minutes behind finisher number 40. There were eight DNFs and five DQs for breaking into a run. Men's pole vault: Several vaulters only cleared the opening height of 5.30 metres and no more, but the last-place finish goes, in a tie, to Kim Yoo-Suk (pun not intended) of Korea and Marios Evaggelou of Greece, because they only cleared 5.30 metres on their third attempt. The winner cleared 5.95 metres in the final. Five vaulters received no mark. Women's long jump: Svetlana Pessova of Turkmenistan's best jump in the prelims was 5.64 metres; the winner's best jump in the final was 7.07 metres. Two jumpers received no mark. Women's javelin: Samoan Patsy Selafina Akeli had a best throw of 45.93 metres; the winner's best final throw was 71.53 metres. One athlete received no mark. Men's 110-metre hurdles: Edy Jakariya of Indonesia had the slowest heat time of 14.11 seconds; the winner's final time was 12.91 seconds. Women's 10,000 metre: Natalia Cherches (mais elle ne le trouve pas) of Moldova finished 27th with a time of 34:04.97; the winner's time was 30:24.36. Four DNFs (including Paula Radcliffe, since some of you are probably wondering). Women's 4×100 relay: Greece widens its lead with a reasonably respectable (it seems to me) 44.45-second result in the prelims; the winning time in the final was 41.73 seconds, and there were three DNFs, two in the heats and one in the final.

Canoe/Kayak (Flatwater Racing): I'm guessing that wind was a factor in these events, because in many cases the slowest times were in the final -- everyone, including the winners, was slower. In many cases I'm going to have to go to place rather than time. Men's 1,000-metre K1: Tony Lespoir (Seychelles) had the slowest time in the prelims at 4:17.128, at least half a minute behind anyone else; the winner's final time was 3:25.897. Men's 1,000-metre C1: Paddling for Croatia, Emanuel Horvaticek's time of 4:27.115 was just marginally slower than the next-slowest preliminary result, but both of them were well back; the winner's time in the final was 3:46.201. Women's 500-metre K4: The foursome from the United States were the only team not to advance to the final. Men's 1,000-metre K2: Danila Turchin and Michail Tarasov (Uzbekistan) were the only team not to advance from the first round. Men's 1,000-metre C2: Jordan Malloch and Nathan Johnson (United States) finished last in the repechage. Men's 1,000-metre K4: The foursome from Uzbekistan did not make it out of the repechage. (I'm not sure they call it a repechage, but it functions as one: top finishers in the prelims get a bye to the final, where the bottom end competes in a semifinal where one or more may be eliminated.)

Cycling: In the women's mountain bike event, Cypriot Elina Sofocleous finished 24th. No time was recorded; she was two laps back. Six riders did not finish.

Equestrian: Argentina's Federico Sztyrle finished 77th; he and his horsie, "Who Knows Lilly", retired after the first qualifier.

Field Hockey: After an 0-5 record in the pool matches and losses to South Africa and Argentina in the classification round, Egypt finished 12th in men's field hockey. George Brink wrote in with the following commentary about Egypt's feat in qualifying for the Games:
The automatic qualifiers for the Games are the Continental Champions so while the other game features the European Champions and the Oceania Champions the last place game had the Pan American Champions, Argentina, and the African Champions, Egypt, in it. Egypt won the African Championships as a complete surprise by beating African powerhouse South Africa so it would have been difficult to get a decent bet on them coming last in the Games. Egypt happily fulfilled expectations by losing the 11th/12th place playoff to Argentina, who for most were complete surprise contenders for this position. Still congratulations to Egypt for getting to their first Olympic Games ever.
Indeed.

Modern Pentathlon: Thanks to a DNF in the equestrian portion, Federica Foghetti of Italy finished 32nd with 4,228 points and was 5:05 behind the winner, who had 5,448 points. Due to the horsey problems in both modern pentathlon events, competitors will be given a choice of mounts in 2008: (1) horse; (2) camel; (3) yak; and (4) Komodo dragon -- cloned velociraptors are not likely to be ready by that time.

Synchronized Swimming: Only eight entrants in the team synchronized swimming event, and Greece finished eighth; their score of 92.750 was 6.751 points behind that of the winners.

Standings to date: What can I say? Greece, Greece and more Greece: Greece's lead widens with three more last-place finishes, eleven overall. The United States and Uzbekistan, with two more last-place finishes each from the canoe/kayak events, take third and fourth places. Croatia, Indonesia and the Seychelles make their first appearances. And Samoa joins Brunei and Somalia in the 100 per cent club -- with as many last-place finishes as athletes.

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Thursday, August 26, 2004

Results for Thursday, August 26

Athletics: Men's long jump: Gregor Cankar of Slovenia had the shortest best jump in the qualifyings at 7.32 metres; the winner's final jump was 8.59 metres. One athlete received no mark. Men's 400-metre hurdles: Ibrahim Tondi of Niger had the slowest heat time of 52.62 seconds; the winner's final time was 47.63 seconds. One athlete was disqualified for running outside his lane. Men's 200 metre: Russel Roman of Palau narrowly edged out a Japanese runner for the slowest heat time -- 24.59 seconds. The winner's final time was 19.79 seconds.

Diving: In the women's 3-metre springboard, Diamantina Georgatou -- who we last saw finishing last in a synchronized diving event (results) -- finished 33rd with a score of 157.56. The leader in the prelims -- who eventually finished 3rd -- had a score of 347.04.

Football: In women's football ("soccer"), Greece was ranked last at the end of the tournament.

Hockey -- or "field hockey" as we say in Canada (never say "ice hockey"): Spain was 0-4 in the prelims and lost the 9-10 classification, finishing 10th. Reader George Brink makes the call: "Spain have just come last in the Women's Olympic Hockey competition losing 4-3 to South Africa by a Golden Goal. This must be the cruelest way to come last having scored the first goal then having fought back from a 3-1 deficit to draw 3-3 at full time only to have the 9th position snatched away from them when South Africa scored the first goal in Extra Time."

Modern Pentathlon: In men's upper-class twit of the year modern pentathlon, Marcin Horbacz of Poland finished 32nd with 4,388 points. He was 4:33 behind the winner, who had 5,480 points. Marcin started relatively strongly, placing 7th and 6th in the shooting and fencing portions, respectively (he's a better shot than the eventual medallists, for example), but a DNF in the riding component put him out of the running. (The results seem to indicate a horse substitution?)

Sailing: Some of you have been wondering, "Where's India?" Wonder no more. After 16 races, Indian sailors Malav Shroff and Sumeet Patel finished 19th in the 49er class, with a score of 292 total points, 253 net points. The winners had 91 and 67, respectively. (Lower is obviously better.)

Triathlon: In the men's triathlon, Marc Jenkins of Great Britain finished 45th with a time of 2:05:33.60, nearly 14½ minutes behind the winner and about a minute and a half behind finisher number 44. There were four DNFs.

Water Polo: Kazakhstan lost to Canada 4-10 in the women's 7th/8th classification game to finish 8th in women's water polo; they were 0-3 in the preliminary round. (Remember that there were only eight spots in this tournament.)

Standings to date: After achieving its rightful place on the throne after my goof of the standings, Greece solidifies its lead with a seventh and eighth last-place finish, denying Poland a chance at the top.

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Correction: Women's Heptathlon

More evidence that I can't read a frigging chart. Nancy Johnson writes to point out a mistake I made in the results for the women's heptathlon (reported here). I had reported the last-place finisher as Shen Shengfei of China with 4949 points, and, yet, on the same damn page, there was a listing for Yuki Nakata of Japan with 4871 points. Sorry again, everyone.

(I should apply to be a gymnastics judge.)

Anyway, as a result of this, one point is subtracted from China's total and Japan finally enters the standings. Which means that China falls to fifth fourth place, and should not have been in the lead for some time. (And with all the newspapers reporting China in the lead -- ouch!) Greece is now the undisputed leader in the standings.

I'll update the table when I write up today's results, and that should be within the next few hours.

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Pyambu Tuul in 1992

In 1992 I remember reading a story about the last-place finisher in the Barcelona marathon that completely blew me away. I'm indebted to Robert Pera for finding an online account of the story of Mongolian runner Pyambu Tuul. It's quite possibly the most extraordinary last-place story I've ever heard.
At a press conference Tuul answered quietly and calmly. Through an interpreter he said, "No, my time was not slow, after all you could call my run a Mongolian Olympic marathon record." That was an excellent reply I thought.

He carried on. "And as for it being the greatest day of my life, no it isn't."

The reporters craned forward with their notebooks at the ready. Tuul said, "Up till six months ago I had no sight at all. I was a totally blind person. When I trained it was only with the aid of friends who ran with me. But a group of doctors came to my country last year to do humanitarian medical work. One doctor took a look at my eyes and asked me questions. I told him I had been unable to see since childhood. He said 'But I can fix your sight with a simple operation'. So he did the operation on me and after 20 years I could see again. So today wasn't the greatest day of my life. The best day was when I got my sight back and I saw my wife and two daughters for the first time. And they are beautiful."
Page down past the stuff about the swimmers to read this story in full.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Results for Wednesday, August 25

Athletics: Surprisingly few results to report here today: lots of heats, few finals. Women's 400-metre hurdles: Klodiana Shala of Albania had the slowest result in the heats with the improbable time of 1:00.00 -- one minute even. The winner's final time was 52.82 seconds. Women's hammer throw: Marina Lapina of Azerbaijan had the lowest result in the qualifying rounds, with a best throw of 55.34. The winner's best throw in the final was 75.02 metres. Women's 200-metre: Gladys Thompson of Liberia had a heat time of 27.51 seconds, about 5½ seconds behind the winning final time of 22.05 seconds.

Baseball: Both Italy and Greece finished the prelims with a 1-6 record, but Italy takes last place because it had fewer runs scored and more runs scored against.

Cycling wrapped up today. In the women's points race, Lyudmyla Vypyraylo of Ukraine finished 18th; the bottom three finishers and one DNF each lost a lap after a sprint and finished with negative points. In the men's madison, Oleg Grishkin and Alexey Shmidt finished 17th with one lap point (compared to the winners' 22); there was one DNF. I'm not sure it's possible to figure out a last-place finisher in the men's keirin -- or am I mistaken?

Equestrian: In individual dressage, Gerta Lehmann, riding "Louis" for Greece, finished 51st in the grand prix and did not advance to the grand prix special. Her score was an even 60 per cent; the winner's average after the grand prix freestyle was 79.278 per cent.

Sailing: The last races in the mistral categories were run today. On the men's side, Martin Lapos of Slovakia was 34th after 11 races; on the women's side, Karla Barrera of Puerto Rico was 26th.

Synchronized Swimming: Australia's Amanda Laird and Leonie Nichols finished 24th in the preliminaries; only the top 12 advanced to the finals. If I'm reading the scores right, their score of 38.834 was 10.75 points behind the leaders' score at that stage.

Triathlon: In the women's triathlon, Delphine Pelletier of France finished 44th with a time of 2:22:39.28. That's about a minute behind the next-to-last-place finisher and 17:55.83 behind the winner. Four competitors did not finish after completing the swimming leg, one did not finish after completing the cycling leg, and one was overlapped during the cycling.

Weightlifting: The final weightlifting event was the +105 kg men's category, where Itte Detenamo of Nauru lifted a mere 347.5 kg. The winner's combined total was 472.5 kg. There were three DNFs.

Standings to date: (You all know about the number of athletes being recalibrated, right?) Greece leapfrogs Poland to move into second place, threatening China's lead. Australia and France make the top 5, while Slovakia and Ukraine make big jumps up the standings.

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Correction: Women's 5,000 Metre

Oops. While Sonia O'Sullivan finished last in the women's 5,000-metre final (see previous entries: The Irish Times on Sonia O'Sullivan, Results for Tuesday, August 24), I somehow overlooked the fact that there were also qualifying heats. The slowest time for the women's 5,000-metre was, in fact, put in by Francine Niyonizigiye of Burundi in heat 1 -- 17:21.27, compared with the winner's final time of 14:45.65. Sonia's story is compelling but she was not, in fact, DFL. Sorry about that. (Thanks to this anonymous commenter for pointing this out.)

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The Irish Times on Sonia O'Sullivan

The Irish Times has an essay by Keith Duggan on the last-place finish of Sonia O'Sullivan in Monday's women's 5,000-metre final. Via Eamonn Fitzgerald, who has some extremely nice things to say about DFL.

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Results for Tuesday, August 24

Athletics: Women's 5,000 metre: This should have been in yesterday's results, but I somehow missed it. Sonia O'Sullivan of Ireland finished 14th with a time of 16:20.90, more than a minute behind the next-to-last finisher and about 95 seconds behind the leader; she appears to have trailed badly at the end. There was one DNF. [Correction] Women's pole vault: Alejandra García of Argentina and Silke Spiegelburg of Germany tied for 13th place with a jump of 4.20 metres on the third attempt; the twelfth-place finisher also vaulted 4.20 but did so on the second attempt, and as a result was ranked higher. The winner vaulted 4.91 metres; one athlete failed to clear the minimum height and received no mark. Men's 3,000-metre steeplechase: In show jumping for humans, Polish runner Jakub Czaja's time of 8:56.24 was the slowest in the heats; the winner's final time was 8:05.81. There were two DNSes and one DNF in the heats. Women's 100-metre hurdles: Canadians may be bemoaning the result in the final (we're very good at bemoaning, actually), but the slowest time in the heats was put in by Maria Joelle Conjungo of the Central African Republic -- 14.24 seconds, compared with the winner's time of 12.37 seconds in the final. Women's 400 metre: Libyan runner Ruwita El Hubti's time of 1:03.57 was the slowest in the heats, but two other runners put in times in excess of a minute. The winner's final time was 49.41 seconds. Men's decathlon: Of 30 athletes competing, Victor Covalenko of Moldova had the lowest score, 6,543 points. The winner had 8,893 points. Victor was the only competitor to score fewer than 7,000 points, but hey, this is the decathlon, okay? Men's 1,500 metre: Despite media expectations that he would be the next Eric the Eel, Robert Caraciolo Mandje did not finish DFL in this event. I'm pleased to report that he came in third-last. (I love it when expectations are confounded.) Instead, Jimmy Anak Ahar of Brunei Darussalam put in the slowest heat time of 4:14.11. Each of the three slowest runners put in times above four minutes; the winner's final time was 3:34.18.

Cycling: In the men's points race, Wong Kam-Po of Hong Kong finished 20th with two points, compared to the winner's 93. Three competitors did not finish. In the women's sprint qualifying round, Evgenia Radanova of Bulgaria finished 12th with a time of 12.457 seconds and a speed of 57.798 km/h; the winner's time and speed in the qualifying were 11.291 seconds and 63.767 km/h, respectively. And in the qualifyings for the men's sprint, German cyclist Stefan Nimke finished 19th (11.338 seconds, 63.503 km/h; the winner's results were 10.177 seconds and 70.747 km/h in the qualifyings).

Diving: The men's 3-metre springboard wrapped up today; in the preliminaries yesterday, Justin Wilcock of the United States finished 32nd with a score of 225.87, 291.72 behind the leader in that round. Justin received a score of zero for his fifth dive, so something unfortunate must have happened, but he was trailing throughout.

Equestrian: They awarded the team jumping medals today; Mexico had the most penalties -- 70 -- after the first round and, like the other teams that did not make the top 10, did not advance to the second round.

Weightlifting started with little tiny people hauling giant weights; now the guys are getting much bigger. And the weights much heavier. Today it was the men's 105-kg class, and Eleei Ilalio of American Samoa was 16th, lifting a total of 295 kg. The winner lifted a combined total of 425 kg, and all but the bottom two were within a few kilos of 400. Six lifters were DNF; all of them trying to lift more weight than Eleei did -- and failing at it.

Standings to date: Poland moves into second place and Bulgaria and Germany make big moves up the board. But the big story is Brunei Darussalam, whose single athlete finished last in his single event. That means that Brunei has scored a perfect 100 per cent in the last-place sweepstakes -- though I suppose that percentages greater than 100 are theoretically possible if an athlete enters, and finishes last in, more than one event. Still!

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Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Results for Monday, August 23

Athletics: Women's 20-km walk: Fumilay Fonseca of S?o Tomé and Príncipe finished 52nd with a time of 2:04:54, which was 35:42 behind the winner and about 15 minutes behind the next-to-last finisher. Three walkers did not finish and two were disqualified, presumably for breaking into a run. Women's triple jump: Athanasia Perra of Greece had the shortest best jump in the qualifying rounds at 13.19 metres; the winner's final jump was 15.30 metres. Men's discus: Samoan competitor Shaka Sola's result of 51.10 metres was the lowest in the qualifying rounds; the winner's final result was 70.93 metres. Women's 800 metre: With a time of 2:32.10, Sanna Abubkheet of Palestine had the slowest time in the heats, well behind the other competitors and considerably behind the winner's time of 1:56.38. There was one DNF in the heats. Men's 400 metre: Abdulla Mohamed Hussein of Somalia had the slowest heat time, 51.52 seconds. This race was a bit tighter: the winner's final time was an even 44 seconds.

Cycling: In the men's team pursuit qualifying round, New Zealand's foursome finished 10th with a speed of 57.411 km/h. The winning team's speed in the final was 60.445 km/h.

Softball: With a 1-6 record in the preliminaries, Italy ended up at the bottom of the final standings. But bear in mind that only eight teams were in the softball tournament.

Weightlifting: Aruba's Isnaro Faro finished 19th in the men's 94-kg event, lifting a combined total of 307.5 kg. I don't think he was too far off the pace, though: the winner lifted exactly 100 kg more, and those in between lifted from 320 kg on up. Six athletes received DNFs.

Standings to date: Insofar as final results in sports I can figure out a last place finisher for are concerned, this was a comparatively light day. Greece seems determined not to let the most last-place finishes crown slip through its fingers. Results from Palestinian and Somalian competitors are rather distressing: fully half of their Olympic delegations (four each) have now finished last. And it's great to see cute little islands enter the list; I bet you don't even know where S?o Tomé is!

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Monday, August 23, 2004

Results for Sunday, August 22

Athletics: Women's marathon: Luvsanlkhundeg Otgonbayar of Mongolia finished 66th with a time of 3:48:42 -- half an hour behind the 65th-place finisher and over an hour and twenty minutes behind the winner. Sixteen competitors did not finish. Men's high jump: Liu Yang (China) and Alfredo Deza (Peru) both finished at the bottom of their qualifying heats with jumps of 2.10 metres, the minimum required, so I'll award them a last-place tie. Two jumpers received no mark; the gold-medal jump was 2.36 metres. Men's triple jump: Armen Martirosyan of Armenia had the shortest distance in the heats at 15.05 metres; the winning jump in the final was 17.79 metres. Men's 1,500-metre wheelchair: The wheelchair athletes weren't allowed to march with the athletes during the opening ceremonies. Screw that; I'm including them here. Joel Jeannot of France finished 7th with a time of 3:22.14, a little less than 12 seconds off the winning pace. There was one DNF. Women's 800-metre wheelchair: British athlete Tanni Grey Thompson finished 8th with a time of 1:56.87; this was a much closer race, with a bit more than three seconds separating all finishers. Men's hammer throw: Alfred Kruger of the USA had a best throw of 69.38 metres in the qualifying; the winner's best in the final was 83.19 metres. Two tossers received no mark. Men's 100-metre: In the Games' marquee event, the slowest time put in in the heats was by Sultan Saeed of the Maldives at 11.72 seconds; the winner's time was 9.85 seconds.

Cycling: Evelyn Garcia of El Salvador had the 12th-slowest speed in the qualifying rounds of the women's individual pursuit. Her speed was 45.752 km/h; the top eight speeds (you needed a top eight finish to advance to the next round) were between 50.191 and 52.325 km/h in the qualifying round.

Diving: South Africa's Jenna Dreyer finished 34th in the preliminary round of the women's 10-metre platform event. Her score of 186.90 was 184.20 points behind the leader in that round.

Rowing: Whether the last-place finisher is determined in the repechage, the semifinals, or one of the finals seems to depend on the number of entrants. Women's lightweight double sculls: Pham Thi Hien and Nguyen Thi Thi, Vietnam (C final). Men's lightweight double sculls: Three teams did not make it out of the C/D semifinal, but of those three, the Uzbek squad of Sergey Bogdanov and Ruslan Naurzaliyev had the slowest time: 6:45.47. Men's lightweight four: The foursome from Great Britain didn't make it out of the repechage. Women's quadruple sculls: Belarus (B final); only eight teams competed. Men's quadruple sculls: The foursome from France didn't make it out of the repechage. Women's eight: Canada (woe! alack!) didn't make it out of the repechage. Men's eight: Great Britain (B final). And that wraps up rowing.

Sailing: In the women's Europe class, Natalia Ivanova of Russia finished 25th; and Sami Kooheji of Bahrain finished 42nd in the mixed laser class.

Shooting: In the men's 50-metre rifle, three positions, Alexsander Babchenko of Kyrgyzstan finished 40th with a score of 1130; the scores were fairly close together in this event, but you needed a score of 1164 to advance to the final round. And in the men's skeet, Syrian Roger Dahi finished 41st with a score of 106 (those advancing to the final had scores of 122 or better).

Standings to date: China solidifies its hold on first place, France and Kyrgyzstan make a run for the "top", Great Britain makes a "strong" debut, and even more countries get added to the list.

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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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Saturday, August 21, 2004

Last-Place Finisher Disqualified

One thing you don't generally expect is to have a last-place finisher test positive for a banned substance -- fat lot of good the steroids are doing if you use them and you still finish dead fucking last. And yet that's just what has happened: Olga Shchukina of Uzbekistan, who, I reported Wednesday, finished last in the women's shot put, has tested positive for the steroid clenbuterol. At least she denies it like a top athlete: by blaming the cough syrup!

Accordingly, since this blog celebrates last-place finishes, and not DNFs, DQs and drug cheats (at least the ones we know about), the last-place finish goes to Eva Kurti of Hungary, who had the next lowest score of 14.60.

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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 Eric "the Eel" Moussambani 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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Sunday, August 15, 2004

A Baser Wasiqi in 1996

Much is made about the so-called spirit of the games; if it's real, it exists closer to the back of the pack than the front. A Baser Wasiqi of Afghanistan finished 111th out of 111 in the men's marathon at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics -- about 1½ hours after the 110th-place finisher. Though workers were already prepping the stadium for the following night's closing ceremonies, marathon volunteers made sure he was welcomed at the finish line. This is the kind of story the media just eats up.

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Derek Redmond in 1992

Most last-place finishes lack the obvious drama or poignancy of Derek Redmond's last-place finish in his 400-metre heat at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, where his father helped him finish the race.

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