My favorite moment of the early morning was in cycling when Kristin Armstrong of the U.S. crossed the finish line, exhausted and stood there on her bike, catching her breath. As the cameraman moved in on her, she eventually looked up and eeked out, "Did I win?" When assured that, yes, she did indeed win...she slowly extracted herself from her bicycle...and slowly collapsed to the ground in utter exhaustion. Adding to the charm of the story -- today (as I post this, the day after she won) is her birthday. Her 43rd. That makes her the oldest person to win a gold medal for cycling.
I have long had one wish for the TV coverage of swimming. It would be incredibly easy to do, yet never is. It's that they put at the bottom of the screen the world record or Olympic record for the race. I say this because swimming events, unlike other competitions, are just the athletes going back-and-forth endlessly -- and mostly underwater, so you you can't really see them. All in a very self-contained area. And each person in a strict lane. As a result, there's not much perspective as to what's going on. Unlike in a foot race, there's no jockeying for position and maneuvering, and no seeing faces, watching eyes. Moreover, if you're switching channels between the Many Networks of NBC and come upon a race in progress, you have even less perspective. Displaying the record time would at least give you an idea of how much time is left in the race, as you just watch the swimmers in their distinct lanes going back-and-forth. And back-and-forth. And...
The U.S. men's basketball team has been steamrolling every team they've played, back through the lead-in exhibition games with a margin of 40-50 points a game. Some have been talking about going back to college players -- though that's not going to happen, in large part because the other countries want the pros. It raises the level of competition and therefor their own games. Today, they played Australia which was expected to at least be competitive, given that they have five NBA pros on their team. Of course, the U.S. team is all NBA pros. And it was quite a game. Australia not only had the lead at halftime by five points, but the game was tied after three quarters. In fact, with about a half minute to go, the U.S. lead was only five, and Australia had the ball. In the end, thanks to Carmelo Anthony and Kyrie Irving who late in the fourth quarter had together scored all the team's points, the American team won by 10 points, 98-88, but the game was much closer, since in the end Australia had to foul and hope the U.S. would miss.
Happily, there was more whitewater kayaking in the late afternoon. Oh, joy.
One of the great non-athlete story of the Olylmpics is the actress/comedian Leslie Jones from Saturday Night Life and the film Ghostbusters. As you may have read, she had inundated by racist posting on Twitter, organized by one person who eventually got banned from the social media service. Jones had temporarily signed off, but recently returned to Twitter, and began maniacally and relentlessly began tweeting up a non-stop barrage of postings with brief Instagram videos to support her otherworldly love of the Olympics. Dressing up in America flag clothes and screaming her ethereal joy at everything. (Including her excitement at discovering my beloved whitewater kayaking.) Her comments aren't particularly insightful, and the language is surely not to everyone's taste, but her utter delight at everything likely is. In fact, several athletes have noticed, especially those who Leslie Jones has been massively supporting and started tweeting her back -- like volleyball star Kerry Walsh-Jennings No single tweet out of probably the thousand and more can do it justice to what the onslaught has been, but her's one example.
Well, it turned out that not only were some Olympic athletes in Rio reading along and following the videos, and enjoying the utter, unbridled enthusiasm, but Jim Bell of NBC Sports was, as well, and -- well, here's the Twitter exchange below.
Leslie Jones will be on NBC for the Olympics. In fact, she's there now and has tweeted about it. She expected to be on the air beginning this Sunday, and will be at the live events of swimming, track and field, gymnastics, and beach volleyball events. She'll also be attending some parties and meeting with a bunch of the athletes she's been especially enthusiastic supporters of.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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