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Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: Twenty to go … don’t laugh

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

LONDON — Brief and to the Point …

>> The Tuesday Olympics column looks at Wexford’s Jake Herbert, a legit gold-medal candidate in freestyle wrestling this weekend.

How many of you recall Kurt Angle in Atlanta, before all the goofy stuff in his career?

Given how poorly the Americans have fared in this discipline the past decade-plus, a Herbert victory might be even more stunning. To everyone but him, anyway.

Be sure to scroll down to our accompanying video interview to see what I mean.

>> I love the velodrome. Shot this just as the British winner crossed the finish line yesterday …

>> Twenty wins until the streak ends. Make fun of those still seeing it as A priority, though not the priority, but there’s no way it doesn’t matter. Not after two decades.

Hard to fathom now, but just two years ago, I covered a team that won FIVE FEWER GAMES than the 62 this one has through the 6th of August. Don’t tell the people who hung on every pitch in THAT season that ending the streak should be overlooked on the way to greater glory.

I’ve said it all along: It’s the goal until it isn’t.

>> The athletes are everywhere.

It’s been the most striking difference between these Olympics and the first two I covered, seeing the officially attired participants shopping at the huge Westfield Mall near the Athletes’ Village. Some can even be seen on the streets of central London, eight Underground stops away.

It wasn’t that way in Athens, the first Summer Games after 9-11, when fears of terrorism consumed everyone to such a degree that the NBA players were housed on a large boat off the coast of Greece. It wasn’t that way in Vancouver, either.

Here, part of the fun in going through the mall is seeing the athletes and trying to guess their sport. That wasn’t hard at all for shoppers who spotted Yi Jianlian at Westfield. He’s the 7-foot center for the Chinese basketball team, and he could barely move through the other shoppers because of all the photo and autograph requests.

Poor kid just kept shaking his head and saying, “No. No. No.”

>> Oh, and before I hit the trains again, a final thought on 82.

It is 82.

I don’t want to hear about 81 when the time comes. That’s ending a losing streak, but it’s not ending the streak in any meaningful way. It still gives you 20 years of something negative. Non-winning, if you will.

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