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August 18, 2016

When Ryan Lochte Does This, You Won't Believe What Happens Next

I can't believe anything anymore.

  • Welcome back to the Ryan Lochte Mysteries, otherwise known as the Rio Olympics. Gadi Schwartz, NBC reporter, is talking LIVE from a gas station in Rio. Really? We're at the world's greatest sporting event and we're leading the coverage tonight with a live hit from a gas station? So what is today's version of the gunman story? Story number one was Lochte saying that he and three swimmers were held up at gunpoint. Story two was when the Rio police said that wasn't true. Tonight's story is that there is surveillance footage of a man sticking a gun in Lochte's taxi and making the swimmers pay for some damages that they'd inflicted on the gas station's rest room. Then an IOC official said that we should just accept that kids make mistakes, boys will be boys, and we should just let this whole thing go. Well, Lochte is 32 years old, so that's a little past "kid," and why is the IOC in such a hurry to sweep this under the rug? The video that Rio police released is apparently missing about three minutes of footage. What's in that? Yesterday, Lochte was telling the truth and Rio police were lying. Today it's reverse. Tomorrow it might be reverse again. All I know is that Ryan Lochte has found the most unusual way ever to stay in the Olympic spotlight.
  • To the field for the men's shot put. American Joe Kovacs hurls a 16-pound shot over 71 feet, then American Ryan Crouser hurls it over 73 feet. Think you could do that? To put it in perspective, a bowling lane is 60 feet long. Imagine standing at the foul line and hurling a 16-pound bowling ball over the pins. That's what these guys just did. Yowza.

    On their fifth throws, Kovacs fouled, but Crouser threw for an Olympic record 73 feet, 10 3/4 inches. I'm thinking he might win.

    And he did! The United States finishes gold and silver! Way to go, big guys!
  • Now LIVE on the track for the women's 800-meter semifinals. These long semifinal races are always a little anticlimactic. The good runners are always so good that they don't look like they're trying, and the not-so-good runners look like they're about to have heart attacks but can't catch up. The finals should be better.
  • In semifinal three, South Africa's Caster Semenya is competing in the women's 800-meter as a transsexual competitor. You want to talk about that? Take your flame wars to the Huffington Post; I'm not discussing that here. Team Rockwood is more interested in American Kate Grace, who is the daughter of Kathy Smith, the star of dozens of spandex-clad workout videos from the '80s. I guess all that working out actually did help. Semenya finishes in first. Grace finishes third, but qualifies for the final on time.
  • How about a medal ceremony for one of last night's races? I still don't know why the track events make you wait a day. Anyway, it's for the all-American sweep of the women's 200-meters. So that means there are three chances for athletes to sing. Do they? Gold medal winner Brianna Rollins does not, but silver winner Nia Ali and bronze winner Kristi Castlin do. Well, don't be sad, 'cause two out of three ain't bad.
  • It's day two of decathlon action. If these replays are accurate, Ashton Eaton of the United States is competing in this event all by himself. Wait! I take it back! Kevin Mayer of France is also in this competition. There are other names on the leader board, but I can only assume those people met their tragic death in gunman attacks at local Rio gas stations, because we haven't seen any of them on TV.

    Now we're LIVE for the final event of the decathlon, the 1,500-meter race. The race for first has come down to Mayer and Eaton. Ashton is ahead on points, so Kevin has to beat him by seven seconds if he wants to win the gold. That seems like a lot, but I don't know how fast either of these guys usually run. It seems like a good strategy for Eaton would be to stay just behind Mayer the whole way around the track. Eaton doesn't need to win, he just needs to not lose big. This seems like an impossible task for Mayer. Indeed it is, as Ashton Eaton overtakes Mayer on the last lap to repeat as the world's greatest athlete.
  • Here's comes the rain, just in time for the LIVE women's 400-meter hurdles. The US has never won gold in this event, and they've got the favorite tonight in Dalilah Muhammad, who should also have an advantage because she's running in lane 3, so she'll be able to see most of the field in front of her.

    And Muhammad runs away from the field, winning easily. In even more good news for the US team, Ashley Spencer picks up the bronze medal. So of six possible medals in Rio's 100 and 400 meter hurdles, the US women have won five of them. That will look good on some coach's resume.
  • The shot put medal ceremony is up next LIVE. Why do the track medals have to wait a day, but the field medals get awarded the same night? Maybe the Olympic officials were scared that Ryan Crouser was going to growl at them the same way he growled during the event. Do they sing? No. Crouser looks like he's getting a little teary-eyed, but Kovacs just stares straight ahead. There's something to work on for the next Olympics, guys!
  • Still LIVE, and here comes Bolt! The men's 200-meter is about to start. By about to start, I mean the runners are coming out of the tunnel and will spend the next several minutes doing random warm-up exercises and adjusting their starting blocks. Along with Bolt, only LaShawn Merritt of the US has run the 200m under 20 seconds in the last year. They'll be next to each other on the track. Here we go.

    Bolt! Holy cow, that man is fast! The time difference between Bolt and second place? 24 hundredths of a second. The time between second and seventh place? 21 hundredths of a second. Without Bolt, this race would have actually been competitive. With him, it's a runaway. The best part is watching him work the crowd afterwards, waving, pointing, taking selfies… he's a man of the people.
  • Earlier today in the women's 4x100m relay, the Brazilian team ran out of their lane and collided with the US team, resulting in a dropped US baton. But because of the collision, the Americans could protest. They did and their protest was upheld, so tonight they get to run a race on the track all by themselves to try to qualify for tomorrow's final solely by posting a fast time. All they have to do is beat the eighth place Chinese team's time. This one is not live, and the track is dry, so I'm guessing this happened earlier. The US manages to not drop the baton, so they qualify easily for the finals. The funniest part are the several replays NBC shows us of the "race." They were the only ones on the track, what is there to see? There's always something new at the Olympics.
  • Ato Boldon and Tom Hammond talk about why Usain Bolt is so fast. Ato attributes it to having the crowd behind him and being relaxed because of that. I think that's putting the cart before the horse. It's more probable that Bolt has the crowd behind him because he's so fast, not because he's so personable. No one would care how friendly he was if he was running a 10.5 second 100-meters. But because he runs it in 9.5 and is personable, everyone loves him.
  • Take us around the Games, Bob! US women's basketball is winning. US indoor volleyball is not. US women's wrestling won their first gold ever when Helen Maroulis defeated Japan's three-time Olympic champion Saori Yoshida in a match that Bob said recalled Karelin and Gardner. Oh, Bob. You've just recalled Team Rockwood's favorite Rockwood Olympic Watch moment ever!
  • Back in time we go, to the morning final of the men's 400m hurdles. And Kerron Clement of the US wins the gold! Had he not won this race, would NBC have shown it in prime time? Is Ryan Lochte a reliable narrator?
  • To the diving well, where women will hurl themselves off a 10-meter platform to the algae-choked water below. Wait! Sorry! That was days ago, back when Ryan Lochte was a mugging victim. Today it's the finals and after three rounds, American Jessica Parrato is in eighth, way behind the Chinese divers that always win this event. Not a good place to be. The Chinese finish one-two. Jessica finishes tenth.
  • LIVE to Copacabana Beach for men's beach volleyball featuring Brazil versus Italy. What? There aren't any Americans in this final! NBC, it's like I don't even know you any more! How am I supposed to enjoy a fantastic matchup featuring the best athletes in the world if they're not from the United States? Hmm… guess I'll get some popcorn.

    Incidentally, even though it's live, we didn't join in until midway through the first match. The Brazilians are the number one seed here, and the Italians are the "team of destiny" at a 10 seed. They've been winning all the games they shouldn't have won. Can they do it again tonight for the gold medal? Well, they just lost the first set, so it doesn't look good, but maybe all this rain will work in their favor.

    Even during the men's gold medal match, NBC finds a way to get Kerri Walsh Jennings into the show. It's raining tonight, "just like it was in Beijing when Kerri Walsh and Misty May Treanor won their gold medal." You've got to give them credit for knowing how to work that in there. And then during a time out, we get to see Kerri and April's reaction from last night's bronze medal match. Do you know who won the women's gold medal in beach volleyball? Not if you only watch prime time NBC, you don't.

    Italy is a team of destiny no more. Brazil wins the gold in front of an ecstatic home crowd.
  • Back in the studio with Bob and golf commentator David Feherty. This is his first Olympics since golf has never been here before so, now that golf is over, what has he been up to? Well, he watched some women's weightlifting, table tennis, archery, women's beach volleyball, judo… David Feherty has been seeing more of the Olympics than we have! I think he's taunting us. He channels his inner Jim Gray to tell us about the wonderful, mystical land of Olympic bliss where everyone is moved by sport. Well, that's fantastic David, but why did you get to see all of these different sports and we're stuck watching the same ones over and over again. Does no one at NBC see the irony in telling us how wonderful all these other sports are and then not showing us any of them?
  • We can't finish the night without having one more update on the Ryan Lochte story. Now two of the swimmers are on a plane to the US, and the USOC has put out a statement saying how sorry they are for the actions of their athletes. And you can tune in to the Today show tomorrow to hear more updates. Get up early? No thanks. I'll just wait until tomorrow night and hear how this story has changed three more times.

Michael Phelps is the greatest swimmer ever. Usain Bolt is the greatest sprinter ever. Simone Biles is the greatest gymnast ever. And who did we lead and close tonight's coverage with? Ryan Lochte. This truly is the Bizarro Olympics.