Olympics: Allyson Felix, Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor
That sand looks super spongey, right? Like long jump gold medalist Brittney Reese is landing in a big cake? It’s tea time, fellow armchair Olympians. Let’s dig deep and dive right in.
Day 12 brought a gold-medal U.S. vs. U.S. beach volleyball match, a charmed third time for sprinter Allyson Felix, and my sneaking suspicion that I would willingly watch random track and field events in prime time any night. These athletes, man. They’re getting to me. I don’t know if I can go back to regular old humans again. Couldn’t NBC just keep showing more Olympics instead of America’s Got Talent? They could still call it that!
Of course, Diving preliminaries were up first — the women’s 10m Platform. Diving always seems to be first. It’s NBC’s chance to ease you into the treacherous waters of prime time at a soothing 35 miles per hour. All of today’s scores will be scrapped, of course, but two Americans — Katie Bell and Brittany Viola — advanced to the semifinal round.
The commentators were especially impressed by the visual transformation of Australia’s Michelle Wu from 2008 to present day.
“Michelle’s main thrill in life is a makeover,” added Dionne from Clueless. So weird that she was there!
Men’s 110m Hurdles: Aries Merritt, “an athlete in the form of his life,” and Jason Richardson, the reigning world champion, brought home gold and silver for the U.S. Hansle Parchment — one of my favorite names of the Olympics so far — won bronze for Jamaica. What’s even more impressive than Richardson’s huge diamond earrings are Merritt’s intricately patterned corn rows and the fact that he’d had to switch his push-off foot and focus his training on his weaker side. That’s incredible! He gave Lewis Johnson a great interview, saying he thinks of every race as just a practice.
When commercials came on, I thought to myself, “I could never make it over those hurdles” and realized how much I sounded like a QUITTER looking back on her miserable failure of a life. Unacceptable!
Women’s 400m Hurdles: Lashinda Demus — she of the adorable twin sons Duane and Dante — was PISSED that Russia’s Natalya Antyukh crossed the line just inches ahead of her after a well-fought race. The Olympics are so funny like this. Most medalists are thrilled to “win bronze,” but some refuse to “settle for silver.” Demus promised not to stop until she got the gold medal. “You will see me in 2016,” she fumed.
Another finalist in this race, Denisa Rosolova from the Czech Republic, sported one of the most befuddling free-flowing track and field hairstyles yet: a loosely arranged side pony with seemingly nothing holding it in place!
Freakin’ Olympians. How do they do it?
NEXT PAGE: Allyson Felix gets her gold
Women’s 200m Dash: Speaking of hair, this year’s U.S. gymnasts have nothing on the original scrunchie fiend, Jackie Joyner-Kersee. At least hers makes sense in this setting, the halcyon days of the mid-’90s.
We saw Jackie and her coach/husband, Bob Kersee, because Bob now coaches the new Olympic champion in the 200 meters: Allyson Felix!
“AFTER BEING A BRIDESMAID FOR THE LAST TWO OLYMPICS, Allyson Felix will be throwing the flowers tonight!” bellowed a commentator. Wheeeeee! Weddings! Allow me to translate: Felix had been edged out twice in this event, “her baby,” by Jamaica’s Veronica Campbell Brown. Brown finished fourth this time, behind double-hyphen Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (the one with all the ribbons) and the U.S.’s Carmelita Jeter (short hair, completely insane abs).
I’ve become obsessed with all of these women — these perfect, aspirational female specimens — and am already dreading the idea of losing them and having to watch normal TV again. Don’t run away, ladies! I just opened another barrel of Trader Joe’s mini peanut butter cups!
Felix “ran the race necessary” in Lane 7, so I guess that means she could have gone even faster. Whatever! Johnson asked Felix, who plans to become an elementary school teacher like her mom, what she would tell her students about competing. “It’s a journey. It’s never easy. Tons of hardships along the way. But you just can’t give up and lose sight of your dream.” Damn, girl. Can I travel back in time and join your class? Things could’ve turned out so much differently for me. I could’ve made it over those hurdles.
I’d totally forgotten that Bob Kersee was such a living product placement in ’96. He’s lovin’ it like some McDonald’s chicken selects up there. It hadn’t occurred to me before, but London has been delightfully logo-free, right?
Men’s 200M Dash: We saw the semifinals. Wallace Spearmon, Jr. will be the only American to face off against Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake and Warren Weir of Jamaica in Thursday’s final.
Women’s Long Jump: Janay DeLoach (pictured, below left) won bronze by one centimeter, while Brittney Reese (right) fought back after a disappointing fifth place finish in Beijing to win GOLD this time around. I’m really digging this event. For one thing, I’m learning a lot: If you put your head down early, it makes your legs come down early. Also, the sport is quite leisurely if you’re the best long jumper around. You jump for your life, set the gold standard, and then get to just bundle up and hang out while everyone else flails around trying to scoot their butts over your line in the sand. Fun! I love doing nothing.
“Okay, ladies, where’s that Olympic smile?” Lewis Johnson asked. And they LOVED it!
Which brings us to……
NEXT PAGE: Don’t leave us, Misty! Dig or die.
An All-American Women’s Beach Volleyball Final!
Guess who won?!
Olympic Studs of the Day Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings easily beat Jen Kessy and April Ross and have now THREE-PEATED at the Olympics! Incredible.
Of course they won. Misty May is so quick on D that during replays, she’s just a blur.
The medal standings for tans: Ross (gold), May-Treanor (silver), Kessy (bronze), Walsh Jennings (white).
The pair’s semifinals match against China was much more of a nail-biter, but obviously it was great to see both U.S. teams at the top. Kessy and Ross took some good swings and made Walsh Jennings chase them across the net, but May-Treanor had all the shots tonight — quick cuts into deep, unattended corners and all-out kills. “And Misty BURIES it.”
The commentators brought their A-game to the finals, with incisive, appropriately reverent, and sometimes dark/existential lines. A serve suddenly became “Misty’s high floater into the night.” And then: “Teams have been serving Misty for 11 years. What has it gotten them?” NOTHING. And finally: “[Kerri/Misty] are on a people mover, and you’re on a treadmill.” Better mark that one down in the books.
Even though “we’re all on the same side” here in the U.S.A. (what’s with the quotes, am I being unpatriotic?), I was startled to see the two teams’ coaches sitting this close together. Can they breathe? Does it matter? The ladies are on their own!
“I feel like I played terribly, but we won,” Walsh Jennings confessed to Heather Cox. As if!
I loved her faded-flag makeshift scarf — one of the best gold-medal accessories yet. Here’s Walsh Jennings on the verge of tears as May-Treanor, who’s retiring, promised to always support her — “the best player, best friend, best mom, best wife, everything.”
Misty and Kerri are everything. God, I love them!
(So does Kerri’s brother.)
Finally, May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings joined Bob Costas to close out prime time, where the age-defying host demanded that Walsh Jennings name who her new partner would be (“I wanna celebrate this — can you give me a night?” she begged) and chortled dismissively at May-Treanor for having participated in Dancing With the Stars. What’s your damage, Costas? Jeez.
By the way, Walsh Jennings’ new partner should be indoor U.S.A. star Logan Tom. I’ll bet you a million dollars it is.
It’s been decided, Costas informed them, that in the eventual Hollywood movie of their career, May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings will be played by Debra Messing and Laura Dern. For the record, May-Treanor would prefer Sandra Bullock.
This is the best: Misty and Kerri, casually ripping on themselves during footage of their gold-medal ceremony.
Misty: “Could my jacket go any higher?”
Kerri: “I look like my Dad!”
After that incisive play-by-play, Costas commented about what a “good feeling” that must have been, and Misty perked up: “That’s been our song all season!” Stone cold silence from Costas, who was all “What, the National Anthem?”
Kerri just winked at him and flicked her flip flop. “Flo Rida. Look it up.”
You’ll get ’em next time, Bob!
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