Olympics recap, day 7: Swimming's biggest star and swimming's rising stars
Friday night was far from the sexiest night for Olympics coverage — especially when you compare it to the previous night, with the explosive women’s all-around finals. NBC must have realized this, which is probably why the first half hour of primetime coverage was dedicated to reliving the 1996 Women’s Gymnastics Team Finals, in which the Magnificent 7 walked away with the U.S.’s first gold in the event. (Well, most of them walked.)
But while it was no Gabby Douglas Night of Awesome, there was a good amount of action. So here’s the best recap I can muster. Yes, full disclosure: “Sandra: Olympics Recapper” makes about as much sense as “Jason Priestley: Old Navy Spokesperson.” So be gentle.
+ Michael effing Phelps… He may have started slow but the world’s greatest Olympian closed out his individual Olympic career with a gold in the 100m Butterfly. That’s 23 finals, 21 medals, two 3-peats, 19 golds, and endless Subway sandwiches. As the commentator said with a little emotional waver in his voice: “Gosh, I’m going to miss this man.”
That actually brings me to a question: Why does everyone keep second-guessing Phelps’ own words about retirement? “This is what he says will be his last race,” said one commentator. Um, he probably says it because he means it! I mean, I get tired simply walking up stairs, hauling groceries, and eating large sandwiches. Phelps has been competing hard for the better part of his life. Maybe he’s really done. Sure, people change their minds all the time. (The Rolling Stones. Amanda Bynes. 98 Degrees — yay.) But can we respect his words for now?
+ Missy effing Franklin… The Queen B of Olympic Swimming ended a 40-year drought in 200m backstroke, winning her gold and her fourth medal overall. I cheered. LeBron James cheered. Missy’s hot coach cheered. What a star.
+ Katie effing Ledecky… If this was the first season of Gossip Girl, Missy Franklin would be Blair and Katie Ledecky would be Jenny before she became a harlot. Because Ledecky wants to be Queen B. You can see it. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have thrown the concept of pace out the window during her 800m. She came out like a cannon and flew the entire way. She’s out to prove there’s more than one up-and-comer in swimming, and I can’t wait to see this battle ensue. (Truth: They both actually seem really sweet. How admirable — and boring.)
+ Reese Hoffa: “The distance the shot put goes depends on the effort you put into it — perspiration!” Agatha Trunchbull was the first person to introduce me to shot put, so I inevitably kept quoting her while watching this competition, which I got way more into than I thought I would. In the end, American Reese Hoffa took third in the shot put finals, and good for him (and his adorable mom!). He lost to Poland’s Tomasz Majewski, who at 6 ft. 8 inches and almost 300 lbs, was either going to be an Olympic shot putter or man lumberjack with a blue pet ox.
+ France’s Florent Manaudou and his dimples walked away with gold in 50m Freestyle, besting USA’s Anthony Ervin and Cullen Jones and controversial swimming figure Cesar Cielo (of Brazil).
+ Before you say anything quippy about Destinee Hooker’s name, let me make you aware of four things: 1. She loves her name. 2. I love her. 3. The woman has a mad spike so think twice about pissing her off. And 4. She’s going to lead the women’s volleyball team to gold. In the round that aired last night, she scored 19 points for the team, besting Serbia and helping the team clinch its fourth match victory in London. This has the makings of being a really exciting final, and by the end of these Games, you’ll know her name for so much more than an easy punchline.
+ Elsewhere in Prelim Land: Allyson Felix, Carmelita Jeter, Tianna Madison, and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce did their best imitations of the bloodsuckers on The Vampire Diaries in the first rounds of the 100m, moving at Super-Speed in the first track races of the Games. It was truly impressive — especially Fraser-Pryce, who was also carrying all that extra weight of her giant hair bow. (Truth: I loved how dolled up she was!)