Tonight marks the last night of the swimming trials. While as TV viewers, we were hoping NBC’s coverage would include the special 100M runoff between sprinters Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh, who tied for third in that track and field final, that now appears to be off. Still worth watching tonight: 45-year-old swimmer Dara Torres tries to make her fifth Olympic team in the 50M Freestyle.
NBC had four hours of Olympic trials coverage Sunday night with swimming, track and field, and women’s gymnastics. The highlights:
• The crowd’s response to Nastia Liukin. After she missed a release on the uneven bars and fell hard flat onto her stomach, she was in visible neck pain. But she finished the routine and when the crowd applauded — some giving her a standing ovation — I teared up. They applauded and stood again after her beam routine, when we all knew she was waving farewell. In today’s world, when people are so quick to tear one another down, it was heartwarming that the reaction wasn’t an “I told you so.” If you’re a champion who tries to stage a comeback, the only way you truly hurt your legacy is if you bail when it doesn’t go according to plan. Liukin didn’t. Also, how brutal does the world of gymnastics look when you watch someone like Lashinda Demus, winner of the women’s 400M hurdles, celebrate returning to her second Olympics — eight years apart — with her twin 5-year-old boys? Or when you see swimmer Anthony Ervin qualify for his second Olympics — 12 years later — in the men’s 50M Freestyle?
• Gabby Douglas does the Dougie as her “happy dance” for making the women’s gymnastics team. How cute is this girl? You just want to see her smile, which she does more often than anyone. You know during the Olympics we’re going to get a package on her father, who showed up for the trials after not seeing Gabby for 2.5 years in-person (her parents aren’t together, he spent six months in Afghanistan with the Army). He was cheering his heart out for her. I think we’re supposed to like him?
• Michael Phelps quotes Home Alone. After winning the 100M Butterfly final, Phelps sat down with Bob Costas to discuss whether he’ll swim the same eight events he swam in Beijing now that he’s qualified for them, or if he’ll drop one. (UPDATE: His coach announced this morning via Twitter that Phelps will withdraw from the 200M Freestyle in London, giving his spot to Ricky Berens.) Costas also asked him what the best text he’s gotten this week was: Someone sent him one quoting Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone — “This is it. Don’t get scared now.” You take inspiration where you get it! My favorite Costas quote from that interview: After Phelps said he looks at the opportunity to win more medals in London as putting toppings on his sundae, Bob asked, “Do you need eight toppings?”
• The men’s 400M hurdlers being interviewed, while doubled over and gasping for air. Live TV! No time for a commercial! Someone should make a gif out of Angelo Taylor’s darting eyes after he clipped the ninth hurdle, lost his momentum, and struggled to make his fourth Olympic team (he did!). How about Bershawn Jackson diving/falling across the finish line and coming up short?
• Wallace Spearmon Jr.’s smile when asked if his buddy Usain Bolt had said anything to him about his second place finish at Jamaica’s nationals: “We won’t talk about that right now,” said Spearmon, who won the U.S.’s 200M final. “I’ll tell you about that later.”
• Will Leer’s mustache: He didn’t qualify to run the men’s 1,500M in London, but he clearly has the trials’ top facial hair.
• The young boys with MISSY written across their bare chests. A little awkward, but also pretty cool that boys would be that supportive of 17-year-old Missy Franklin, who’s now in a position to be the first female swimmer to ever win seven medals at an Olympics.
• Fifteen-year-old Kathleen Ledecky’s win in the 800M Freestyle. If you’re race is that long that they have to take a commercial during it, you deserve major props.
The low points:
• Why are gymnasts still using music from The Phantom of the Opera and “Hava Nagila”?! I’m not saying we should be hearing some dubstep…. wait, actually I am.
• Swimmer Haley Anderson yawning as she was introduced for her race.