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.