London Olympics: Studs of the Day
July 27: Independent Olympic Athletes
Mandi Bierly said: ''The Independent Olympic Athletes made their entrance during the Opening Ceremony's fast-paced Parade of Nations and we remembered why we sit through a 4.5 hour telecast — for surprises like their dance routine stealing the show from Queen Elizabeth and James Bond (Daniel Craig), who pretend-parachuted into the stadium from a helicopter.''
July 28: Ryan Lochte
Event: Swimming, 400m Individual Medley (Gold)
Darren Franich said: ''Whereas [Michael] Phelps' persona was based on pure unthinking power, Lochte's is simultaneously looser and more expansive. Lochte works out by flipping truck tires. He designs shoes — neon-green shoes with his name printed on the bottom. He spent half his interview with John McEnroe talking about the redemptive power of his skateboard. He owns a ridiculous red-white-and-blue diamond grill. (Apparently, the Olympic committee wouldn't let him wear it on the podium last night.) The most banal thing about Lochte is that he has a poster of Scarface up in his room. But you get the vibe that he watches it for the fashion.''
July 29: Dana Vollmer
Event: Swimming, 100m Butterfly (Gold)
Maane Khatchatourian said: ''In addition to overcoming injuries, health problems, and doubts about ever competing again, Vollmer, who competed for the first time as a 16-year-old in 2004's Athens Games, faced a potential setback in the water when her outer cap popped off. Instead of stressing about it, she told Andrea Kremer that the incident distracted her from her pain.''
July 30: Missy Franklin
Event: Swimming, 100m Backstroke (Gold) and 200m Freestyle (Qualifier)
Adam B. Vary said: ''I'm worried you don't understand what I'm saying here: She swam her heart out for 200 meters, waited as long as two-and-a-half songs on Adele's 21 album, and then won a gold medal swimming her heart out again for 100m, in the very first individual Olympic final of her career. Did I mention Franklin is a huge Justin Bieber fan, has a smile destined to light up Wheaties boxes across the nation, and that as the first American female swimmer to compete in seven events at the Olympics, she's just getting started? And that she was born a year after Friends premiered on NBC?!?''
July 31: Michael Phelps
Aug. 1: Heather Stanning and Helen Glover
Aug. 2: Gabby Douglas
Event: Gymnastics, Women's All-Around (Gold)
Lanford Beard said: '''The Flying Squirrel' has been a consistent, undeniably powerful force on Team USA since the qualifiers. More to the point, she was the only member of 2012's 'Fab Five' to compete in all four events at Tuesday's gold medal-winning team competition. That versatility has made her the very person who managed to take Team USA's All-Around Olympic success in 2004 and 2008 to dynasty level.''
Aug. 3: Katie Ledecky
Event: Swimming, Women's 800m Freestyle (Gold)
Sandra Gonzalez said: ''Ledecky also won points with me for her show of emotion during her medal ceremony. I'm not sure what it is with these Olympic-bots, but I just don't think we see enough happy tears. ... So note to Olympians (who I'm sure hang on PopWatch's every word): When accepting your medal, try changing your dial from ''compete/kill'' to ''feel.'' Makes for great TV.''
Aug. 4: Serena Williams
Aug. 5: Usain Bolt
Event: Track & Field, 100m Sprint (Gold)
Lanford Beard said: ''I'll be the first (or millionth) to say it: Usain Bolt is a ridiculous person. He is confident well past the point of arrogance. When his name was called at the finals, he mimicked a DJ spinning turntables, made dubious hand motions (I'm assuming they were meant to evoke running legs, but they could have easily been...ahem...misconstrued), did a Jersey Shore-style eyebrow smooth-out, and finally mimed an OK Corral-style double-gun draw. Seriously, if that sequence of gestures hasn't been GIF'ed by now, I don't know why the Internet exists.''
Aug. 6: Alex Morgan
Sandra Gonzalez said: ''My Facebook page erupted yesterday afternoon after the US Women's Soccer team had defeated Canada — thanks to a sharp, 123rd-minute header by Morgan, a 23-year-old fresh face in the soccer world — and won their ticket to the Olympics finals against Japan. After seeing the celebration, I immediately felt like a spoiled chump. But I still wanted to see the game. (This reaction is perfectly in line with how much of this year's Olympics has been for me. Spoilers > Anger > I'll watch anyway.)''
Aug. 7: Epke Zonderland
Event: Men's Gymnastics, Individual High Bar (Gold)
Mandi Bierly said: ''He's the first Dutch athlete to ever medal in gymnastics...[in no small part because his routine] had the highest difficulty of any gymnastics routine performed in London (male or female).''
Aug. 8: Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings
Event: Women's Beach Volleyball (Gold)
Annie Barrett said: ''The pair...have been finding sand in weird places together for TWELVE YEARS. That's nearly 2.1 million congratulatory mid-set ass pats! ... Every time they win a match, Kerri trots around and high-fives not only the game officials, but all of the random little volunteers around the court! My heart melts each time one of them breaks out a belated ear-to-ear grin once he or she's realized what just happened. They're both just really lovable, down-to-earth champions.''
Aug. 9: Ashton Eaton
Event: Decathlon (Gold)
Adam B. Vary said: ''Congratulations, Ashton Eaton! You're in better shape than everyone at the Olympics — and therefore the world — but you didn't feel the need to crow about it every time you saw a camera pointing anywhere near your face. Instead, you let your skills do the talking for you, and then you fell into your mother's arms as you both collapsed into tears, thereby making moms and sons bawl everywhere, and supplying the NBC overlords with their required quota of human tears. Plus, let's be honest here, you?re also pretty studly.''
Aug. 10: Bryshon Nellum
Event: Track & Field, Men's 4x400m Relay (Silver)
Mandi Bierly said: ''Some things are more important than the color of a medal. Nellum was a freshman at USC when, on Halloween night 2009, he was shot in both legs. ... It would be six months before he could walk again, and a year before he'd compete. When he returned to running, he'd collapse on the track in pain. He underwent three additional surgeries, the most recent in August 2011. As his mother said, just being at the Olympics was like winning. That's why his fellow athletes have chosen him to be the U.S. flagbearer at Sunday?s closing ceremony.''
Aug. 11: David Boudia
Event: Diving, Men's 10m Platform (Gold)
Annie Barrett said: ''The final round was possibly the most exciting in a men's platform final ever, with [Great Britain's Tom] Daley's fans going nuts and only 15 one-hundreths of a point separating the top three heading in. Boudia won the final by just one tenth of a point. And get this — the Indiana native had been the very last diver out of 18 to qualify for yesterday's semifinals!''
Aug. 12: The Olympic Flame
Lanford Beard said: ''Pomp and circumstance aside, the Olympic Flame lives on whether a cauldron is alight or not. It never really goes out. This sentiment has a tendency to lapse into a sort of greeting-card hokiness that viewers easily gloss over, but the creative minds behind these Games would not allow that kind of dismissal. They not only embraced the metaphor, they took it a step farther and made it tangible.''