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Handball and bear stories

The Games of the XXIX Olympiad are in the books. The USA came in and snatched up medals left and right and won the overall medal count, though China did end up with quite a few more golds. We got to see Aquaman win 8 gold medals and The Flash redefine sprinting with his 2 golds. In an important moment for queer athletes worldwide, we got to see an out gay man walk away with Gold in 10m platform diving. But there were a couple of stories that you may not have seen that are equally compelling and show why they do this little world party every 4 years:
First, in a sport I, personally, was lucky enough to play in 8th grade (probably after my gym teacher saw it during the Seoul Olympics), team handball provided some major drama. Iceland had never medaled before in team handball and had not medaled in any sport since the 1984 Los Angeles games. The Icelanders hung very tough with heavily favored France during the final competition of the Olympic Games and ultimately their Cinderella run came up 5 points short. On the medal stand though, they took their place as Icelandic national sports heroes, as the silver was not only the first Icelandic medal in 24 years but the best any Icelandic Olympic athlete has done in over 50 years.

Second, that picture above there is Germany's Matthias Steiner - my, and your, new hero to the bear community. You'll notice the pretty gold medal in his right hand. Well, he won the Super-Heavyweight Weightlifting competion in a gigantic upset. His Snatch lifts left the Austrian-born Steiner in 4th place with Russian strongman Evgeny Chigishev holding a commanding lead. His first Clean & Jerk lift was a failed attempt. He pushed himself on his second lift and got himself up to silver medal level. His third and final lift had to be 10 kgs more than his previous lift to beat Chigishev (an austounding total of 258kgs - or 567.6 lbs) for the gold. He successfully did the next to impossible weight and began crying and jumping around like a little 320lb. boy. As if that wasn't dramatic enough, when he accepted his medal and Deutschlandlied played, he held up a picture of his late wife who died in a car crash a year ago. Tears flowed on the medal stand and for those lucky enough to watch the competition.

Farewell to Beijing. The games are now closed. Onto the Vancouver Winter Games in 2010!