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No reason for Hoff to feel disappointment

To Kevin, et al.:

Subject: A world of expectations

When you’re eating, drinking and sleeping the Olympics for three weeks straight, it’s easy to get caught up in this Olympics bubble. Sometimes you lose track of what the outside world might be thinking. So I wonder what fans – the casual and the serious – make of Katie Hoff thus far. More to the point, I wonder if two medals – neither gold – is enough for people.

Yesterday an Australian reporter asked Jack Bauerle, the women’s coach, whether Hoff has taken on too much at these Games? The implication was clear: A silver and a bronze equal failure on some level. Here’s how Bauerle responded:

"No, I don’t think so at all. I really don’t. She’s a terrifically conditioned athlete. There might be, on the outside, she might look disappointed, but she has her head up high right now and she’s a tough, tough kid. The Olympic format, it’s not easy obviously. Every time she’s been beaten, it’s been by a great swim."

I understand the idea that second place might be considered the first loser, and obviously everybody aims for gold. But I’m not certain I’d shed tears over silver. Michael Phelps was expected to dominate his competition; based on her times, Hoff was merely expected to among the top finishers in several events. Which is exactly what she’s doing.

The whole thing reminds of something DJ Gallo wrote for ESPN’s Page 2 last week. In noting that Phelps’ final race – the 400 medley relay -- is this weekend, Gallo joked:

Will this be Phelps' chance for his eighth gold medal of the 2008 Games? Or just an anticlimactic finish to a four- or five-gold haul? If it's the latter, I think we can agree that loser better never dare set foot on American soil again.

Anyway, we’re just a few hours away from Hoff’s biggest morning of swimming (or night for our friends back home). She has the 200 free (at 10:13) and the 200 IM (at 11:12). It's an absolutely grueling schedule. She could medal in both.

But she shouldn't be blamed if neither happens to be gold.

(Photo: Getty)

Comments

I think Katie should just focus on less events not 5 (6 including relay)... she would have a better chance of getting a gold. Her program are mostly middle distance events and it requires a lot of energy. I hope she will learn from this and cut back her program a bit next time.

I disagree with the conclusion reached by the author in regards to the reporter's question to Bauerle - it didn't seem to imply failure for not quite reaching gold. Like the previous commenter stated, focusing on a fewer number events may help to improve her chances in future games. After all, the Olympics is essentially a team event. Not to say that she shouldn't be proud that she ranks among the top athletes in her sport in the world (that would be ridiculous) - but rather that it may in the future help to boost the USA's overall medal haul in the future, especially in the wake of new powerhouses emerging, especially in the case of China. But congratulations to her on her achievements in Beijing!

Any one who would presume to tell Katherine Hoff how she should compete in "The Olympics" or make critical comments about how she competed in "The Olympics" should feel ashamed. It is apparent these "Patriotic Americans" have never endured the continuous pain of training for most of their lives and feeling the overwhelming pressure competing at an elite athletic level. If they had, their would be no way they could say any thing critical about Katie. Did she quit,give up,not train hard enough or not do her best to bring home the gold. No! It is my opinion, the critics are those who have spent their entire life in the stands pulling splinters out of their butts;"The Wanna Bes". They have always lack one essential quality, natural athletic ability. The Olympics are not even over yet and I am reading ignorant and arrogant statements by so called "Patriotic Americans" about Katie Hoff's Olympic performance and comparing her to another American athlete. How dare you! What I saw in Katie's eyes at the finish of the 200 and IM was not just exhaustion after competing against "The World's" fastest athletes. What I saw in Katie's eyes was a very familiar feeling that originates within the painful core of every elite athlete who have endured overwhelming training programs to perform perfectly to do their best against the very best to win. What happens after they have believed they are the best,their times indicate they are competitive with the best and everyone is remainding them over and over again they are the best and after all of this they don't come close as expected. Coming in 4th in like coming in last. Never mind they are the 4th fasted elite Olympic athlete in the world. No gold means don't even bother coming back home. Americans love winners and everyone else is worthless and deserves to be personally attacked in an insensitive and arrogant manner. The critics missed Katie's look of personal humiliation. She was exhausted from the race and felt she had personally failed herself,her coach,her family,etc.etc. to achieve her goal of perfection, an Olympic gold medal despite all the hours of painful training and racing the best race she could put out there. This is going to haunt her until the next Olympics and there will always be the media to remind her. Katie risked the ultimate lose. I do not mean not coming in first. I mean feeling personally humiliated and the journalist wonder way she only spend 38 seconds talking with them. She went off to be by herself to break something and/or have a good cry. "Americans" only care about the results; taking center stage, wearing a gold Olympic medal, our national anthem playing with our flag in the middle raising high into the air. Nothing else matters. How many of you would sacrfice yourselves for four years,train to deny pain, strive to perform perfectly and compete with every intention to do their very best phyiscally,emotionally,mentally with a determination you cannot not imagine and then after all of that risking not finishing first feeling personally responsible for not winning a gold medal and feelng humiliated because you did perform and suceed as expected. Then you are ridiculed by Patrioic Americans, the American media and finally being compared to another team mate who know one could come close to being compared with. Every athlete contiously strives perform perfectly an illusionary goal which changes continously moving ever higher. Perfection is an ideal. Katie trained to do her best to win against the worlds very best elite athlete and she did it all knowing she ultimately had only one chance every four years. I know that look I saw in Katie's eyes and she has nothing to feel personally responsible and humilitated about especially about herself and any "American" that would dare compare her to another athlete is mean, cruel and has no conscience. Until you have trained and competed at an elite athletic level in Jr. High, High School and/or College shutup! The pain,sacrafice and risk to dare to compete in the top 1-.5% of athletes at any level is worthy of respect and admiration beginning when that gun goes off and is not contigent upon the outcome. I feel disappointed for Katie because I know how she did her best to win. Katie raced her perfect race as it relates to Katie on those days she competed in every event, every day. Why are only the very best, perfected elite athletes in the world priviledged enough to walk into that Olympic stadium on opening day,because they have earned it and deserve that honor. No one can ever take that title and honor away from them. Katie, 19 yrs old, competed in the same race, enter the same pool and raced along side the world's most perfect elite athletes in the world and she did her best to win. That makes her perfect and a winner in my book. How many of you would dare to risk, on any given day, the unknown, the possiblility of not finishing 1st, 2nd or 3rd whether you were expected to finish first or hoping not to finish last? Katie has two more Olympics in her and if she believes she can compete and win the events she enteres,despite the number of events, then it is arrogance to say she can't. At least she is doing her best to achieve the impossible. It is easier to win two or three events spread out over a few days that you know the probablity of winning is in your favor but try adding a few extra events were the probablity becomes less and you suceed. Now you really know how good you really are. During the next four years Katie is going to get stronger and wiser and more determined after these Olympics. Athletes are not afraid to learn from not performing as they believe they can. Every Gold Medal Olympian first had to learn from their heartbreaking disappointments. Even Mark Spitz. Everyone critized him as well after his first Olympics. Americans have got to get over expecting to win, all the time. What about those athletes who work their butts off training to compete and never finish any higher than 6th and they never quit. Are they losers? These athletes should also be admired for never quiting. Katie I hope to see you compete four years from now and shutup all these arm chair critics.

Wow some people are really writing a book on this...less events for Katie Hoff. Some people can't take on so much. Just means these other girls are better than Katie. But good for her for having her personal best.

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About this blog
Sun reporters Kevin Van Valkenburg and Rick Maese will blog from Beijing throughout the Summer Olympics. Kevin and Rick will blog back and forth with each other as a way of letting readers in on the sights, sounds and the action in Beijing.
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