08/24/2004: Thought for the Day:
In the first week of competition, NBC's disoriented announcers claimed that the inside of the Olympic courts had been filled with Dutch (or possibly Norwegian) sand while Greek sand covered the sidelines. But this rosy picture of a multinational beachóGreece with a light dusting of Holland on topówas far from accurate. On the eve of the tournament, Olympic officials covered every inch of the Olympic Beach Volleyball Centre with 1,700 tons of sand harvested from a mine in Mol, Belgium. As the director of the International Sand Collectors Society told me, sand from Greek beaches tends to be somewhat coarse. For finicky beach volleyballers, scratchy Greek sand just wouldn't do.
These days, qualifying for a beach volleyball tournament is harder for the sand than for the athletes. An exacting group of Canadian sand judges from a company called Hutcheson Sand and Mixes makes sure that every batch matches the standards set by the International Volleyball Federation. The sand has to be the right size, shape, and consistency; it has to be free from pebbles; it can't be too dusty or too sticky. The sand has to be flawless. But nature doesn't make perfect sandóBelgians do.
Len on 08.24.04 @ 06:56 AM CST