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Dispatches : Athletes

5 Things to Know: August 7 at the Olympics

ZippDitty PhotoPhoto: Us Mission Canada/Wikimedia Commons

The five things you should know if you were only going to know five things about yesterday at the Olympics.

1. While last night might’ve been the most boring primetime night thus far in London, the U.S. and Canada women’s soccer teams made up for that with their semifinal match yesterday afternoon. The U.S. won 4-3 on a goal from Alex Morgan in injury time of the second extra-time period, minutes before heading to a shootout. As this team has a habit of doing, the U.S. shot itself in the foot enough to comeback numerous times and make this one of the greatest soccer games ever—men, women, or crab. Canadian Christine Sinclair scored three goals, and her coach John Herdman said the U.S. was “lucky” to win. What’s that, John? I can’t hear you because MY EARS ARE FILLED WITH 29 GOLD MEDALS.

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Your Non-Spoiler Olympic Primetime Guide: August 6

KogetoPhoto: ianpatterson99/Flickr

Everything you need to know about tonight's Olympic primetime coverage—without knowing what actually happened.

China’s Chen Yibeng comes into the event as the overwhelming favorite. In addition to winning rings gold in Beijing—with what’s maybe one of the best rings routines ever—the 27-year-old is the four-time defending world champ. Anything less than gold would be a massive disappointment. Brazilian Arthur Zanetti, silver medalist in the 2011 World Championships, and Aleksandr Balandin of Russia are expected to challenge for medals. If you’re going to watch only one event tonight, make it this. The ending measures up with any of the great swims from the past week.

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Slacklining Tips for Both Kids and Beginners

KogetoTesting out the kid-friendly SlackRack. Photo: Gibbon Slacklines

With their low center of gravity and natural ability to live fearlessly in the present, most kids are quick studies on the slackline. Just look at 14-year-old Alex Mason, who won the inaugural slackline competition at the Teva Summer Mountain Games earlier this summer, trumping competitors nearly twice his age. The sport—which entails balancing and performing tricks on a piece of dynamic climbing webbing strung horizontally between two fixed points—is booming in town parks, backyards, and climbing gyms around the country. And because the webbing is rigged low to the ground, it’s a great, safe way to teach little ones about agility, balance, and concentration.

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The 'Normal Life' of Bradley Wiggins

The more we hear from Bradley Wiggins, the more we like him. At a press conference following his historic gold medal in the Olympic time trial yesterday, the 32-year-old Brit downplayed his achievements and vowed that newfound notoriety won't go to his head.

Since July, the 32-year-old cyclist has become the first Briton to ever win the Tour de France and the most decorated British Olympic athlete in history, with four gold medals, one silver, and two bronze medals since he began competing in the 2000 Sydney Games. Thanks to those achievements, Wiggins' face has been splashed across the front pages of his country's biggest newspapers, but he says he's determined that those successes don't change him. "I am going to try and continue as things were," Wiggins said in a press conference after his historic gold medal. "I mean, I lead a pretty normal life like most people. I train hard, I work hard at what I do. Ultimately I am very normal in my life aside from cycling."

We're not certain about the "normal" part, but we dig the humility. Listen in on his post-race comments to hear how he thinks he compares to two other decorated British athletes (not their equal), how he plans to spend his post-Olympics (fetching milk), and what he thinks of celebrity culture (not a fan). Thanks for keeping it real, Bradley.

—Aaron Gulley

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An Interview with South Sudanese Marathoner Guor Marial

GuorSouthSudanGuor pointing to the flag of South Sudan Photo: Courtesy of Guor Marial

Guor Marial has no idea how many interviews he’s done in the last two weeks, but he knows it’s a lot. He is doing them to make sure people are familiar with his story and to raise awareness about his country, South Sudan. If you have not heard of him, Marial is the marathoner living in Flagstaff, Arizona who will run under the Olympic flag because South Sudan can not field a team.

According to numerous published reports, Marial spent his childhood running away from things. Sudanese soldiers fired guns and burnt his village in South Sudan many times, leading him to flee into the bush at night. Eventually, he moved in with his uncle in Khartoum, where Sudanese police broke into their apartment and broke his jaw with a rifle. Over the course of the country's civil war, Marial said 28 of his relatives were killed or died of sickness. Marial and his uncle fled to Egypt, and in 2001, landed in New Hampshire.

He tried out for the track team at Concord High and started running towards things. He won the New Hampshire state cross country championship, the two-mile race at the National Scholastic Indoor Championships in 2005, and earned a scholarship from Iowa State. In October of 2011, he ran the Twin Cities Marathon and finished under the Olympic qualifying time, clocking in at 2:14:32. He then improved his time (2:12:55) in the Rock 'n' Roll San Diego Marathon in June of this year. Unfortunately, his country, South Sudan, had no Olympic committee and thus, no representation in the Games. The IOC said he could run for Sudan. He said thank you, but no. A lawyer named Brad Poore took up his case, sent it to journalists, and put it in front of politicians. “A lot of this has to do with Brad Poore, who is special, for his commitment, for pitching my case in person, for taking on my case personally,” says Marial. “My case is nothing without Brad Poore.”

Guor and Brad Poore Photo: Courtesy of Guor Marial

Under pressure, the IOC changed their tune and invited Marial to run under the Olympic flag. He said yes. Then he said yes to countless interviews that had him recounting his past. All of that remembering has come at a cost, so he asked if we could switch up the conversation when I called. “I know what happened in the past, it’s very important to tell people and for people to hear, but as I recover and tell people over and over and over again, it’s creating a personal problem emotionally for me,” he says. “So I think it would be a good idea to talk about sport, which is what I want to do, and what is motivating me, rather than the past.”

At what point did you have the dream to run in the Olympics?
It was back in high school. I started to know that running is a sport, and not just something that people did to save their life, like I used to. That’s when I started saying, OK. I watched the Olympics in 2004, and I watched the Boston Marathon in high school, and those brought me a different way of seeing running. Those moments just kind of created a dream state, that running is something that I want to do. I will continue the dream to try and run in the Olympics some day.

Then, when I went to college my freshman year, me and my freshman roommate wrote on a piece of paper and posted it on our wall. It said, we are going to go to the Olympics in 2012. We were basically just joking, and we just left it there, and you know, then I had it in the back in my mind that one day I wanted the opportunity.

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