July 30th, 2012
07:23 PM ET

Letters to the President #1288: 'Olympic watching'

Reporter's Note: President Obama gets a letter from me every day. I don’t suppose I am setting any world records, but still…I’m going for the Letter Writing Gold!

Dear Mr. President,

Well, I certainly hope your week is off to a good start. I spent, as I anticipated, a fair part of the weekend watching the Olympics. Every time they come around I find myself marveling at the extraordinary skills of some people, and the extraordinarily unusual sports some people enjoy.

This year I was surprised to discover that there is an air rifle shooting contest! Go figure. I knew there were plenty of shooting competitions associated with the Olympics, but I’ve never heard of this air rifle business before. I thought at first it was just some kind of glorified BB gun competition, but after reading about it for a while, it seems like a dreadfully technical and demanding sport. Lots of really careful aiming, and perfect trigger squeezing, with virtually no margin for error.

But then, I suppose that is true of a lot of these contests.

You know what my favorite one was so far? The men’s bicycle road race. The finish was fantastic. While the British, American, German, and Spanish teams pounded away at each other trying to set up a sprint finish, Alexander Vinokourov of Kazakhstan quietly slipped away from the front of the pack with a Columbian rider. For mile after mile they held onto their lead and by the time everyone else realized how much of an advantage the two-man breakaway had developed, it was too late. All that was left was for Vinokourov, who is in his late 30’s, to break free from the much, much younger Columbian. He waited until almost the end, and when the younger rider glanced back to see if anyone was gaining on them, Vinokourov bolted. It was magnificent. A classic victory of experience and wile trumping youth.

Of course I would have liked to see our American cyclists on the medal stand, but it was awfully nice to see a great race anyway, and to see an old war horse win.

Anyway, we’re watching the games pretty late these days and I know your wife is over there, so if you want to come by for snacks and to join us a while, just give a call.


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