Olympics: Usain Bolt wins again, Tom Daley showers a lot
Saturday’s primetime Olympics telecast was an interesting piece of work: It started on a surprising note with the Tom Brokaw-hosted WWII-themed short film Their Finest Hour. While fascinating, it probably went on too long (like, 30 or 40 minutes too long) for viewers who’d tuned in to see Usain Bolt anchor Jamaica’s 4 x 100m relay team to a new world record, or the U.S. women’s 4 x 400m relay team strike gold, or our Olympic Stud of the Day David Boudia become the first U.S. diver to win on the 10m platform since Greg Louganis in 1988. The broadcast ended with a Mary Carillo report centered on Shakespeare, presumably because NBC didn’t think we could handle seeing more of how exactly the U.S. women’s volleyball team buckled after winning the first set of the gold medal match against Brazil 25-11. In between, we got an obscene amount of shots of Britain’s 18-year-old diving superstar Tom Daley using the deck shower and Usain Bolt running his mouth. I’m not complaining, mind you.
THE TOM DALEY SHOWER SHOW: Now granted, my outdated cell phone added the soft lens quality, but I cannot take credit for NBC’s placement of its graphics or cameramen who kept cutting him off so he looked nude. The five most inappropriate screengrabs:
Bonus: Not a shower shot, but come on…
As for Daley’s diving, he was leading going into round 6 of the final but had a lower difficulty dive planned and took bronze behind Boudia and China’s Qui Bo. Daley had been granted a rare re-dive in the first round of the final because he was distracted by all the flash photography in the arena. He would have still finished third, by the way, even without those 16 points he picked up on the do-over.
NBC’s commentators thought Qui Bo got lucky with two sets of scores that weren’t as low as they’d expected them to be considering he was dangerously close to the platform on one dive and never reached vertical on another. He, however, didn’t handle silver well. Daley, on the other hand, celebrated bronze by being thrown in the pool. The only thing that would have made that better is if they’d gone after David Beckham, who was in attendance, as well.
Before we leave diving, let’s take a moment to thank David Boudia’s dad for filling the void left by Aly Raisman’s father.
And let’s also thank this guy from Great Britain, who hugged Australia’s Matthew Mitcham when the reigning 10m Olympic champ missed the final by one spot.
P.S. I wish there was a 24-hour backstage diver live cam we could have watched.
NEXT: Usain Bolt does Usain Bolt
USAIN BOLT IS A LEGEND IN HIS OWN MIND… AND OKAY, EVERYONE ELSE’S: Bolt was pretty relaxed before the 4 x 100m relay, doing the Mo-bot and flexing for the crowd.
Yohan Blake looked a little more tense.
Bolt sought out the NBC camera, which you know was already on him, to deliver a message after the repeat: “They’ve been doubting me for years. All season they’ve been talking. Who’s number one? Who’s still a legend? Who is it? Me. Number one, every day, all day. Believe me.” (Cut to Bob Costas in the studio: “And as great as he is, I guess it’s hard to have a higher opinion of Usain Bolt than he has of himself.”)
Best use of a flag as an accessory. Bolt was asked what repeating his three golds said about him. His answer: there’s no doubt he’s a legend. Is it arrogance if it’s factually correct? It’s like asking Michael Phelps if he’s the greatest Olympian of all time. Technically, he is. (Though he tries not to say it himself.)
In other track results: The U.S. women handily defeated Russia in the 4 x 400m relay, prompting commentator Ato Bolton to proclaim: “Oh say can you see, the United States women have completely dominated the relays at these Olympics.” The U.S.’s 21-year-old Brigetta Barrett took silver in the women’s high jump behind Russia’s Anna Chicherova. Loved her stylish start, would probably have hated to be in the infield while Barrett sang to calm herself.
This is Belgium’s flagbearer, who finished sixth in high jump, but has the most badass Olympic last name after Hooker and Takeshita.
Loved that “You can’t touch this” move she did, which you know is why she even made the telecast.
Britain’s Mo Farah followed his memorable 10,000m win with a gold in the 5,000m. In a taped interview with Ryan Seacrest, he said because of the crowd’s loud cheers, he couldn’t even feel his feet for the last 200m of that 5,000m race. Just his introduction was deafening this time. I yelled and pushed him to the finish line from my couch. The stadium went insane. Mo celebrated with the Mo-bot… and a few crunches.
South Africa’s flagbearer Caster Semenya took silver in the women’s 800m behind Russia’s Mariya Savinova. It’s a shame NBC didn’t save the Mary Carillo piece it ran Saturday afternoon on Semenya and the gender testing she was forced to undergo in 2009 for primetime. It would have brought more attention to the controversial issue of the international federation that governs track and field deciding that female athletes must have testosterone levels between certain numbers.
NEXT: Volleyball and the obligatory Phelps mention
VOLLEYBALL “BEATDOWN FOR THE AGES”: Yeah, that’s what one of the NBC commentators called the U.S.’s first set win over defending Olympic champ Brazil. But somehow Brazil won the next two sets, which NBC skipped. Coverage resumed with Brazil closing out the fourth set as the U.S. literally took its eye off the ball.
Are volleyball players’ kisses with the net between them more awkward than gymnasts’ hugs?
Brazil celebrated with a dance.
HOW CAN WE MENTION MICHAEL PHELPS TONIGHT?: Seacrest was back to tell us that the most “Liked” Olympics-related status on Facebook was Phelps’ retirement motto. I’ll admit I RT’d that.
THEIR FINEST HOUR: I assume NBC put it first because it would have been awkward sandwiched between the Tom Daley shower show and Bolt boasting (the commercial breaks were awkward enough, right?). The most moving interview for me was with Mike Logan, who was 7-years-old when he and his brother were orphaned during Hitler’s 11-hour air assault on Coventry in November 1940.
Seeing him tear up when Brokaw showed him a picture of his mother and understate his pain when asked if it’d been traumatic for a child his age — “It was. And I still get a bit upset” — made me suddenly think of young Freddie Highmore sitting on that bench with Johnny Depp at the end of Finding Neverland. In other words, I teared up, too.