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Olympic favorites


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7 replies to this topic

#1
softballmom

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We all know the United States women's softball team is heavily favored to win the gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics. Which international teams will provide the stiffest competition for Team USA?

#2
jlurban

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Realistically speaking, only the top four or five ranked National Teams have a legitimate shot at the gold medal. The top five teams are, in descending order, the United States, Japan, Australia, China, and Canada, as determined by the results from the 2006 International Softball Federation World Championship.

At this point, Japan has to be considered the #1 contender to the United States. The Japanese finished second at the 2000 Games in Sydney, beating Team USA in the preliminary round and barely losing to the Americans in the gold medal game 2-1 in eight innings. They achieved a bronze medal finish at the 2004 Games in Athens, and beat the United States in the inaugural World Cup of Softball a year later. They also shocked Team USA eight days ago by defeating them 5-2 in the final round robin game of the Japan Cup in Yokohama, before dropping the gold medal game 3-2 to the Americans in eleven innings.

Australia must also be viewed as a strong contender, finishing third at Atlanta in 1996, third at Sydney in 2000, and second at Athens in 2004.

Finally, China should not be overlooked—as the host country they are highly motivated to excel, and they have placed a strong emphasis on softball following their fourth place finish at the last Olympics.

#3
SpartanIlliniCub

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Team USA should be very worried about the Japanese softball team. Japan is a baseball-crazed country, and they have "promoted" several of their best baseball players in recent years to big league American teams. The most famous are Ichiro Suzuki (picture #1) and Daisuke Matsuzaka (Picture #2), and this year Japanese outfielder Kosuke Fukudome is a hot prospect for many major league teams.

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With the amount of baseball/softball played in Japan and its incredible popularity there, I think the Japanese might turn out some players that could defeat Team USA.

#4
SpartanIlliniCub

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Here is the newest Japanese import, Kosuke Fukudome (KO-Skay Foo-koo-DOE-me). He was a star outfielder with the Chunichi Dragons in Japan, and this week signed a 4-year deal worth $48 million to play right field for the Chicago Cubs.
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#5
sballer4life

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If history is any indication, the winner of the 2008 Olympic softball gold medal will be either the United States, Australia, or Japan. These three countries have absolutely dominated the sport since it was introduced to the Games back in 1996, winning eight of nine medals awarded. The US has won all three gold medals, Australia won the silver medal in 2004 and bronze medals in 1996 and 2000, and Japan won the silver medal in 2000 and the bronze medal in 2004. China is the only other country to win a medal is softball, capturing the silver in 1996. They would be a long-shot to win the gold but, as jlurban has said, they should not be entirely ruled out as the host country.

#6
SpartanIlliniCub

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Host countries always enjoy a home-field advantage, so to speak, at their own Olympic games. It is a great comfort to the athletes, I would guess, to be in their home country in familiar territory with a support network of family and friends. Also, a majority of the crowd in every venue at every event is likely going to also be from the host country, and their cheers may inspire the host country's athletes.

On the other hand, of course, being in an unfamiliar place away from your family and friends (which could be potential distractions) may force the Olympic athletes to bond more with each other, and could help them focus on performing in their respective sports.

#7
charle

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Softball is a famous game in all eurcpean countries. The winner of the 2008 Olympic softball gold medal will be either the United States, Australia, or Japan. These three countries have absolutely dominated the sport since it was introduced to the Games back in 1996, winning eight of nine medals awarded. The US has won all three gold medals, Australia won the silver medal in 2004 and bronze medals in 1996 and 2000, and Japan won the silver medal in 2000 and the bronze medal in 2004. China also has a chance of winning the gold medal this time.

#8
GuitarJoe

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IMO it will be the US winning the gold, Japan silver, and a toss up between Canada or Australia for the bronze. I'm leaning more towards Canada taking the bronze.




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