on the landing...
Oh, NBC. You'd been doing so well! And then you had to go
and step out on the landing. The judges will be harsh...
• Bob introduces the evening and we go straight to
the Bird's Nest. The first shot is... from a blimp? A cable
I'm not sure. It tracks over the top of the stadium, and
it looks too low to be a blimp, but too high to be from a
cable-mounted camera. It's a great shot, I just don't know
where it came from. Still, very pretty.
• The first race is a heat in the
women's 100-meter hurdles and the winner is... the rolling
sideline camera, which crosses the finish line first! I don't
remember it being so prominent in the foreground before.
Raver can't lie in bed next to her husband thinking about
somebody else any more. And you know who that someone else
is, don't you? That's right... it's Jack Bauer. "24" meets "Lipstick
Jungle." Now THERE'S a show!
• Bob Neumeier interviews
both Lolo Jones and Dawn Harper after their respective heats
in the women's 100-meter hurdles, and even though the interviews
are only about 15 seconds each, they both contain more content
than any interview given by Michael Phelps. And, they both
have delightful personalities. Can they BOTH win the gold
• Speaking of a Phelps interview, we get one... a
lonnnnng one... joined by his coach Bob Bowman and Rowdy
Gaines in the International Broadcast Center. Admittedly,
is better than
some of his previous attempts, but I'd still rather watch
events than Phelps talking. Fluff!
• Hey! After 26 minutes
of Michael Phelps fluff, we get an event! It's the Women's
Eight rowing, and announcer Tim Ryan must have a thesaurus
in the booth he's using so many metaphors. And the camerawork?
Skycam! A great shot of the boats as the skycam passes on
the cable overhead. And the U.S.A. wins! Their first win
So will they sing on the medal stand? Would you look at
that! Singing! Singing and crying! Sorry, Natalie Coughlin,
I now have new
by the end. Okay, except for the one who is so overwhelmed
that she's about to cry. Heck, even I'M tearing up now.
Don't believe me? Watch
the feed and decide for yourself. Incidentally, I got an
email today from Olympic Watch reader Sunflower, who writes...
I think I'd give credit any time an athlete sings even a
bit of the national anthem. See, I personally have been known
to tear up slightly at the playing of the anthem when I'm
just at a baseball game. If I actually won an Olympic medal,
I would probably not be able to get through the whole song
without completely losing any semblance of composure. So
what you'd probably see is me mouthing as many of the words
as I could manage, but probably not all, and not actually
singing 'cause I'd be too choked up.
Now, if they don't even
try, that's different.
Watch that video, Sunflower, and you'll see all of that
and more. These women might not quite be this Olympics' Rulon
Gardner moment, but they're pretty close.
That's the way it's
done, Michael Phelps.
• Swimming is done,
so the only way to get your Water Cube fix for Sunday is
in the diving pool. NBC does a really good job on all of
the events in this building. I've said plenty of good things
about the swimming team already, but the diving team is just
as good. They use various technologies very well, and Cynthia
Potter is very good analyst. By listening to her enough,
I almost feel qualified to be a judge by now. That diver's
to win because her toes aren't pointed in her tuck! See?
I'm an Olympic judge!
• Mary Carillo does a five-minute fluff story on acupuncture.
Does it work by numbing you to the outside world, Mary? Because
that's how I felt after watching five minutes of this. Fluff!
• Did the story
on acupuncture leave you feeling relaxed? At peace? Like
all is right with the world? Well, NBC has the cure for that.
Back to the National Indoor Stadium, where Al Trautwig, Tim
Daggett, and Elfi Shlegal can ratchet up your stress
Once again, there are a large number of empty seats
here. I guess it's hard to fill an arena when your country
only has 1.3 BILLION people.
• Brazilian gymnast Diego Hypolito can, according
to Al, "rewrite
bringing home Brazil's first gymnastics gold medal with a
good performance in the floor exercise. No pressure. His
routine is great until the very last move, when he falls
after a series of flips.
What is it that grates me about Al, Tim, and
Elfi? They seem to linger on Hypolito, like they see this
as a good ratings moment as opposed to a very painful moment
• An interesting thing about the gymnastics
venue: it's impossible to hide the clock, so you can always
tell what time it is. Currently, the clock shows 6:17 p.m.
and it's 8:17 p.m. Central Time as I watch this, so all of
this happened fifteen hours ago. I just like that I know
Gold Medal Spotlight. Today we get to know Lauryn Williams,
the U.S. sprinter who was the silver medalist in the women's
100-meter dash in Athens. She has a great dane
in Miami. See that? One sentence. Ten seconds. It took NBC
two-and-a-half minutes to tell you that. Of course they did
it using slow-motion replays, wide-angle lens, and backed
it with U2's "The
Sweetest Thing." Did that make
it worth two-and-a-half minutes of YOUR time?
• On to
the track, where we watch Lauryn race in the 100-meter semifinal.
She qualifies. So do two other Americans and three Jamaicans.
Six of the final eight runners are either from Jamaica or
• Everyone's favorite soccer dad, Cris Collinsworth,
comes in to do an interview with Alicia Sacramone. She says
she's okay now, but her voice still sounds like she's going
to break up. I don't think she was going to, that's just
what her voice sounds like. Cris points out that he knows
how she feels because he lost two Super Bowls. Well, I'm
pretty sure your TEAM lost two Super Bowls, Cris, and I think
Joe Montana might have had something to do with that. But
point taken, anyway. The question I would REALLY like to
have seen him ask her was, "Have you listened to what
Al and Tim said about you? Wouldn't you just like to throttle
them?" Four minutes of fluff.
• I've been pretty hard on Tim Daggett,
but let's give him some props. He was right that Alicia Sacramone's
vaults tonight were good, not great. He did a great analysis
of what happened when China's Cheng Fei fell to her knees
after her second vault. Then he did a good job of explaining
Russia's Anna Pavlova got a zero for leaving early on her
second vault. So, we know he CAN do a good job, he just doesn't
do it all the time.
Alicia ends up finishing fourth. Al says
it's because she lost tenths of points for missing a landing.
I say it's because her starting difficulty wasn't enough.
But let's go back to the IBC and see what Bela Karolyi has
Bela says, "Why?! Why it has to be this way?" Karolyi
thinks that Chinese gymnast Cheng Fei got a better score
than she deserved on the landing-on-her-knees vault. High-ranking
Team Rockwood member Sandy feels the same
way. Well, who am I to argue with both Sandy AND Bela Karolyi?
• Back to the track. It's the women's 400-meter
qualifying heats. Boy, the U.S. didn't look good in those
• And over to the gym, where America's Alexander
Artemev gets to try for a pommel horse medal. AAAA!!! He
was looking great but fell off right in the middle of his
• And now we're paying the bills. Women's gymnastics.
Shawn Johnson goes first on the floor exercise. Hey, look
at that! It's 8: 29 p.m. in Beijing and it's 9:56 p.m. here.
This routine is twelve-and-a-half hours old. A couple of
missteps, but she does a good job. Let's see if she can hold
on to her lead.
A few gymnasts later is Russia's Anna Pavlova.
Funny, but every time they say her name and ring a bell,
I drool. What's up with that? She doesn't do very well, though.
Shawn is still in first with only three gymnasts to go.
first of those last three, Cheng Fei of China. Fei falls.
Johnson is guaranteed at least a bronze.
Next up, Nastia Liukin.
Let's see if she's in... duh-DAH-duhhhhh.... The Liukin
Zone. Wow. That was really good. A few tiny bobbles, but
that's going to be a good score. And......
Good, but still
behind Johnson. One gymnast remaining. Sandra Izbasa of Romania
is the only person standing behind another one-two U.S. finish.
And she does it! Izbasa comes in first, giving the U.S. a
two-three finish. Team Rockwood member Sandy is excited that
a Sandra won a gold medal, but she was still hoping for a
gold for the U.S.
Bela agrees with the outcome! You know,
if Karolyi's accent was a little less thick, I'd say that
HE should be in the gymnastics arena. He's fun to listen
And without a commercial break, we head back to the track
for the women's 100-meter dash final. Three Americans! Three
Jamaicans! Two other runners with no chance!
Wow. I take
it back. Three Jamaicans, and six other runners with no chance.
Jamaica goes one-two-three. Wait a minute. Even THAT'S not
right. The Jamaicans go one-two-TWO. A tie for silver means
no bronze. And how happy is Shelly-Ann Fraser, the winner?
I believe they can probably see her smile from space. Jamaica's
sweep is the first time ANY country has swept the women's
• And now the men's 1,500-meter semifinal
with American-via-Sudan Lopez Lomong. Unfortunately, Lomong
just didn't have it tonight, and he finishes dead last. Semifinal
two has the other American, this time via Kenya, Bernard
Legat. Analyst Ato Bolden tells us exactly what Legat's strategy
should be since he's the gold medal favorite. You don't often
think about strategy in something like a run, and it's good
of Bolden to remind us that there is such a thing. Legat
trails late and makes a surge at the end but is two hundreths
of a second too slow to qualify for the final.
• That was
last night, now we go LIVE where Tom Hammond shows us what
happened to Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang. Liu has a problem
with his Achilles tendon and is out. Yes, you haven't heard
of him, but all of China has. He won the 110-meter hurdles
in Athens and was expected to be the big star in these games.
Now? Nothing. Timely update points go to NBC.
• Bob tells us we can
wake up early for the Today show and watch ANOTHER Phelps
interview. How much more can we learn about him?
And if that wasn't enough, and if the 26 minutes we did
at the beginning of tonight's coverage wasn't enough, Bob
does another two minutes of fluff on Phelps, asking
if he's the greatest Olympian ever. Tune in tomorrow night
to see how many Michael Phelps will fit on the head of a
And we close the night with, what else? Another minute of
fluff about Michael Phelps. Holy Mark Spitz! Is this what
we have to look forward to for the rest of the Games?
Michael Phelps fluff-o-rama! I did a little math after all
of this was over and here's what I got. Tonight's show had
over 28 minutes of Michael Phelps fluff. How bad is that?
If you add up the times of all of Michael Phelps' races,
it was only 23:59.78. That's right, it would actually take
you less time to rewatch all of his races than it would
to rewatch all of his fluff. That's just sad, NBC.