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Friday, August 15, 2008
August 15 results



Lucky number seven...

And you know what that seven is, right? Of course you do. And "lucky" is a good way to describe it...

• We begin tonight at The Water Cube, with Bob Costas talking to Rowdy Gaines about Michael Phelps. Their actual discussion here is irrelevant ("Is Phelps the greatest thing since our Olympic broadcasting contracts?"), because what is really amazing is that Rowdy is saying something without yelling it. Who knew he had another volume?

• Chevy Gold Medal Spotlight. It doesn't always mean fluff. In this case, it's just Chevy sponsoring a specific race (the 4x100-meter medley relay qualifier). Anything to show Michael Phelps again. Except... Phelps isn't even swimming in this one. But he might be later. He and Ian Crocker, who IS swimming now, might trade places later. It's all a little odd. I would think that you'd have to keep the same team throughout, but I guess that's not the way it works.

•  Here are Al, Tim, and Elfi with a fluffy look back at Nastia and Shawn, the triumphant American gymnasts who finished 1-2 last night. Or, more accurately, early this morning. Is this fluff? Hmm... yes and no. They do have some slow-motion footage, but mostly it's just a replay from last night. After all, most people in the Eastern and Central time zones didn't stay up until the end since it was after midnight.

You know, I'm going to make an executive decision here and say that--provided they avoid the slow-motion and the sappy music-- I'll count this as "events." Don't make me regret this, NBC.

• I know it's the proper gymnastics terminology, but saying "preparing to mount the floor" just sounds funny. What are you doing before you mount the floor? Hovering?

• Last night, when gymnastics was live, Tim Daggett said that Shawn Johnson couldn't get a high enough score to beat Nastia Liukin. Tonight, to build the drama, he says that she COULD have gotten a high enough score. LIAR! It's as if they still want Shawn to win the gold. Is it not enough that she needed a good score to win to silver? That, at least, was true. I thought there was plenty of drama last night when it was live, why does Tim feel the need to manufacture some drama tonight?

• Bela and Bob interview Shawn and Nastia. It's fluff, but it's a good interview. This was actually taped just a few hours after the competition, so Bela is wearing the same clothes as last night. The best part is when they show Bela's reaction to Nastia's floor routine. It's just as good the second time.

• Hey, it's track-and-field! Apparently the entire U.S. 1,500-meter team is made up of people who immigrated from eastern Africa. Bernard Legat previously ran for Kenya and Lopez Lomong is from Sudan.

We learn a little more about Lamong via a 30 second fluffette segment. He was one of the Lost Boys of Sudan before escaping to the United States.

He really has an inspiring story and, actually, a 30-second fluff piece doesn't do it justice. Go read this bio of Lomong, written by banned-from-China Joey Cheek. Go ahead. We'll be here when you get back.

• It's a beautiful blue-sky day at LIVE beach volleyball. Blue sky? We must not be in Beijing.

Sandy wants to know what's up with the women in bikinis standing courtside before the men's beach volleyball match. Are they cheerleaders?

And is it just me or does the U.S.'s Phil Dalhausser look like a taller version of James Carville? I would presume that the Rajin' Cajun doesn't have as good of a set shot, though.

• In the middle of the second Dalhausser and Rogers' second set, we get a quick view of the machine the Chinese use to maintain the sand in the beach volleyball arena. Announcer Chris Marlowe dubs it the "sand-boni." Sideline reporter Heather Cox even gives us a rundown of its functions, which include churning, cleaning, and smoothing the sand. Best of all, this little tidbit doesn't count as fluff, because they do it between points. That was interesting, NBC. Keep doing things like that.

• The Americans lost the second set and after a short commercial break, we come back to find them down 6-0 to the Swiss team of Martin Laciga and Jan Schnider. But just like that, the U.S. comes back and the score gets tied 8-8. Laciga, who is famous for not talking to his brother when they were teammates in the Athens Games, starts berating his current teammate. Nice strategy, dude.

AHHH! The score is tied 9-9 (they go to 15) and NBC cuts over to swimming so we can see, LIVE, the women's 200 meter backstroke. Not to nitpick here, but this isn't a Phelps race, and the Americans swimming in this one aren't even favored. Why not tape delay this race instead of the volleyball?

Zimbabwe's Kirsty Coventry wins easily. America's Margaret Hoelzer gets the silver. BOOM! Just like that we're back to volleyball, where Dalhausser and Rogers have a 14-13 lead over Laciga and Schnider. Match point! And the U.S. wins, 15-13, two sets to one!

BOOM! Back to swimming. NOW it's a Michael Phelps race. Yes, LIVE! This is the finals of the 100-meter butterfly. Now that I see how closely all of these events are to each other, it makes sense that NBC cut away when they did.

And the race is on for gold medal number seven. Phelps trails Serbia's Milorad Cavic at the turn, but is expected to make it up on the back. Except he doesn't! Cavic's still ahead! PHELPS IS GOING TO LOSE! And...

HE WINS! Oh my God, he wins! As if everything else he did wasn't enough, he wins this race by one hundreth of a second. How?! I don't know, Rowdy doesn't know, even Phelps' mom, Debbie, holds up two fingers, thinking he placed second. But then the results come up and we see the replay. Yep. Phelps touched first. Unbelievable. Un-freakin'-believable. Debbie drops to her knees she's so stunned. Great, great shot NBC. Yes, I know they always have a shot of his mom, but it's still a great look. Wow. Just... wow.

Andrea Kramer interviews Phelps afterwards and even he's speechless. Seven gold medals in one games. Great job, Michael.

• Cris Collinsworth is back for some fluff, talking with Kobe Bryant. I can't say I've been the biggest Kobe fan in the past, but it's clear how moved he is to be playing for the U.S.A., which he says maybe wasn't emphasized enough by U.S.A. players in the previous years. It's a pretty good interview, being mostly about Kobe and not about how Cris wants us to feel. Still, Collinsworth looks like a middle manager that just got home from the office. C'mon, Cris. It's the biggest audience in the world. Couldn't you at least wear a tie? Fluff!

• Back at the pool, Andrea Kramer says that Serbia has filed a protest regarding Phelps' win. I doubt anything will come of it, but after that finish, I can hardly blame them for disputing this one.

• It's time for Michael Phelps' medal ceremony. Will he sing? Of course he won't. But at least he looks happy on the stand this time (unlike previous times). Maybe now that he has number seven and some of the pressure is off of him, he can enjoy it.

And the protest is dead. Andrea Kramer reports that FINA has disallowed it. That was resolved a lot faster than I thought it would be. I thought we'd be hearing about it for days.

• It's old folks time at The Water Cube! In the women's 50-meter freestyle, 41-year-old American Dara Torres is about to race. She leaves her walker by the side of the pool and then asks an official to delay the race because Swedish racer Therese Alshammar has a tear in her suit. With age comes calm wisdom, and even though she spends her pre-race preparation helping Therese, she still finishes first in her heat.

• To the Bird's Nest, where we finally have some track and field to watch. After some Tyson Gay fluffette, we get to watch him race in the 100-meters. He qualifies to move on. Big shock there. I just want to point out here that I loooooove the camera that rolls along the side of the track with the racers. It really gives you a good feel for just how fast they're moving.

• Jamaica sprinter Asafa Powell fluffette. He's, like, fast. Fortunately, so is his fluff.

• After a taste of track and field, we jump over to men's volleyball, featuring the U.S. beating China. This is the first game back for head coach Hugh McCutcheon, whose father-in-law was murdered by a Chinese citizen on the first day of the games. On the one hand, I can't believe that incident would make any difference for the team, but on the other hand, this is as sharp as I've seen them look since the games started. The U.S. wins in a three set sweep.

• Back in the studio, Bob interviews Michael Phelps and previous gold medal record holder, Mark Spitz. Phelps reveals to Bob that even he can't believe he beat Cavic in the 100-meter butterfly earlier. Mark Spitz, meanwhile, sounds like a motivational speaker while praising Phelps and his accomplishments.

Bob asks both swimmers, who is the best Olympian? Phelps waffles a bit, but surprisingly, Spitz flat out states that he thinks it's Phelps. Spitz is surprisingly eloquent, although he does sound like he's been rehearsing this speech for a while. Phelps on the other hand, sounds like a 23-year-old athlete with lots of stuttering. But hey, he's got seven gold medals. I can't be too hard on the guy.

Congratulations to Michael Phelps, all-time gold medal record holder. He certainly made it exciting tonight, even though his extended end-of-the-show interview added mightily to the fluff count. But even my hard, cold heart has to admit that some fluff is worthy, like if you tie the record for most gold medals at an Olympics. Tomorrow he might break the record, but that doesn't mean I condone the fluff. Be careful NBC. I'm watching you. See you tomorrow.

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