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August 7, 2016

We shall overcome!

Our pain has made this the greatest blog ever.

  • Sunday night in Rio, and the first thing Bob Costas said is that we'll be seeing profiles of swimmer Katie Ladecky and gymnast Simone Biles. That's right, NBC is now teasing fluff. Egad.
  • To the diving pool, where women's synchronized springboard divers will be challenged by wind and weather. Well, that should make the people at Deadspin happy.
  • Cynthia Potter, the diving analyst at NBC, shows us a picture of the judges and asks if we'd like to know how judging is done. Actually, yes! I'd love to know how! Well, says Cynthia, there are some judges that look at synchronization and some that look at execution, then they give the divers a score. Given that there's a score for synchronization and a score for execution, I think this was pretty obvious. All I really learned here is that Cynthia thinks I can't read. But I bet I know who her favorite fictional character is!
  • Who wants to know more about Simone Biles? We do! We do! She's just like every other teenager. Except she has a sad past. Her grandparents raised her instead of her actual parents because her real mother… does it matter? This is the sad part of her story, the part justifying us being able to cheer for her. What's that you say? You were going to cheer for her anyway because she's a great athlete and because you're rooting for the US? Ha ha ha ha! You're so silly! NBC knows you can't possibly root for someone unless they've overcome personal hardship. And it was hard for Simone. Like when she said she never knew any different since her grandparents had always been like her parents. Wait a minute. That disrupts NBC's narrative. Forget that part. Let's show some more slow-motion training shots. Perfect!
  • Even more gymnast fluff follows the commercial break! Thrill at the close-up headshots of each American gymnast telling us how much they want this (as opposed to every other athlete in the competition) and how much they've trained for this (ditto). Cheer as the US gymnasts strut in silhouette in front of an American flag. Applaud as each athlete gets identified solely by their first name, just like American Idol! Hmm… in 2012, former American Idol winner Phillip Phillips's song "Home" was the theme song for the women gymnasts. Now the A.I.-style intros. And who is doing fluff from Copacabana Beach? It all makes sense now. Ryan Seacrest is trying to take over the Olympic Games.
  • Oksana Chusovitina of Uzbekistan is now competing in her seventh Olympic games as a 41-year-old gymnast. I've been doing the Olympic Watch since 2000. Oksana has been competing in the Olympics since 1992! She had an intro that could probably be counted as fluff, but given the circumstances, I think I'm going to let this one go. Let's just say she's been grandmothered in.
  • What's this? A new Star Wars trailer on Thursday's Olympic coverage? Sweeeeeet.
  • We follow that with a minute of fluff on how Team USA underperformed in London four years ago. Who cares? There's a new Star Wars trailer coming out on Thursday!
  • Enough taped gymnastics, let's have some live swimming! Ha ha! Just kidding! Let's have some swimming fluff instead. Dana Vollmer, US swimmer had to overcome the personal hardship of having a baby. She's participated in multiple Olympics, but what's important here? Her hardship. Who cares about her athletic ability?

    Well, apparently her hardship wasn't enough, as she finished third. She'll have to console herself with a bronze medal and a beautiful baby. Curse her ordinary, blessed life!

  • Team Rockwood member Sandy asks what are all those circular marks on Michael Phelps' shoulders? Well, he's not the only one who has them. It's called "cupping therapy." The put a glass cup on your back and suck the air out. The effect is like a big hickey. Does it work? Well, we'll see what happens with Phelps tonight. If he wins, are you going to question it?
  • The Japanese swimmers have a cap that has "361 degrees" printed on the front. Is that some kind of inside joke? Do you have to swim 360 degrees to win an Olympic swimming match? 360, 361… whatever it takes.

    In seventh place in the women's 100-meter breaststroke is Iceland's Hrafnhildur Luthersdottir. I've found a new favorite name.
  • Back in the studio, Bob gives Matt Lauer the chance to tell us all about Katie Ledecky's hardships. They start off talking about her secrets to training. When she responded that there was no secret it was just hard work, I thought that maybe we were past the "hardship" angle. And then we found out she broke her arm. Of course. My favorite part of this fluff is that NBC has forgotten to take the "live" tag off of the screen, so this is "live" slow-motion swimming we're watching. Fascinating.
  • Live at the pool, it's fluff! American Cody Miller has – wait for it – OVERCOME A HARDSHIP to swim in the Olympics. If you really care, you can read all about it here.
  • In the meantime, Miller has to settle for bronze to Adam Peaty's gold. Wow. There must REALLY be something wrong with Peaty to have won by such a margin. I wonder what his hardship is? He's from Britain, so maybe it's bad teeth.
  • New for this year in the swimming events is the skycam zooming over the water with the leader, in this case Katie Ledecky in the 400-meter women's freestyle final. Cool shot!
  • Swimming fluff! "It was the year 2000," says the first swimmer. I wonder if he'll follow that statement with, "And the Rockwood Olympic Watch was born." Probably not. It's actually about how the US has done in the 4x100-meter relay. Well, I suppose that's interesting, too.
  • American swimmer Olivia Smoliga could have represented Poland since her parents immigrated from there, but is instead swimming the 100-meter backstroke for the US. She says basically that in Polish, then asks how she did pronouncing that. Commentator Dan Hicks says she did great. Oh, like he speaks Polish. For all Dan knows Olivia could have just insulted him.
  • The big event arrives! Michael Phelps and the Americans will compete with the world in the 4x100-meter relay. Apparently, every photographer in the world is on the sideline. I looked for you, Kevin Jairaj, but I didn't see you!
  • The first US swimmer is already on the starting block and Phelps, swimmer number two, still has his headphones on. I guess when you've already won 18 gold medals you know how to relax.

    Phelps swims a monster leg, and vaults the US from third to first place. Can they hold on? Woo-hooooo!!! They do! Gold medal! U-S-A! U-S-A! Well, I guess it's time to fire up my cupping therapy franchise.
  • Live swimming is over. Let's go back to taped gymnastics. Team USA will be performing their rotation soon, but first let's watch one of the Brazilian gymnasts from earlier. From earlier? This is ALL from earlier! We're watching a tape replay DURING a tape replay? This is like Inception gymnastics. We then come back to "live" taped coverage of Team USA still waiting to perform, so we go back to "taped" taped coverage of Team Brazil performing on the vault. This time loop is more confusing than the one in Back To The Future 2.
  • British gymnast Ellie Downie fell on the floor exercise and was injured. Later, she came back out and competed. Al Trautwig described these events as "painful and inspiring." Al, I think company line you're looking for is that she "overcame a hardship."
  • Katie Ledecky gets her gold medal. Will she sing? YES! From the very first note! And so does bronze medal winner Leah Smith! Officially, that makes Katie and Leah Team Rockwood's two favorite US Olympians so far.
  • How much has this gymnastics session been tape-delayed? It's almost 10:45 pm central time right now and NBC just slipped up and showed a crowd shot where you could read someone's oversized wristwatch. It said 6:45. That would be 4:45 pm central time, so we're six hours in the past right now. This is the information you don't get anywhere else but the Rockwood Olympic Watch!
  • After the qualifying round, Team USA is in first place, and the gap between them and second place is over twice as big as the gap between second place and eighth. These women are dominant. As a result, the amount of fluff between now and their coronation as gold medal winners will probably be astounding.
  • We close the night with the gold medal ceremony for the 4x100 relay. Will Michael Phelps finally sing the national anthem while he receives his 19th gold medal? WHAT?! HE IS! Michael Phelps is finally singing the national anthem! Does that make him my new favorite? Well, no. Because right next to him, Ryan Held is not only singing, but full-out bawling as he sings. Crying beats singing, Michael. Sorry.

The greatest Olympian ever wins his 19th gold medal, and we've overcome the hardship in watching that to report on yet another day of Olympic coverage. What difficulties await us tomorrow?