On the NBCsports channel, they did an in-studio piece with the women's rugby team and host Carolyn Manno. At one point, they were set up to demonstrate a throw-in when one of the players is lifted in the air, with Manno to be used as the subject. It was a simple little thing, but a nice change of pace. The thing is, she seemed so flustered by it all -- even though it was planned before hand -- as she kept asking question after question about what she was expected to do. My first thought was...so, why didn't you discuss this during the hour they were in the studio beforehand? And then my second thought was...they're going to lift you in the air. All you have to do is let them lift you and then catch the ball when it's tossed to you from 10 feet away. Finally, they did the eight-second demo, and she was SO excited, almost flustered. "Oh, my Gosh, that was so much fun," she said, before adding, "My heart is beating so faster." (No, that's not a typo.) And then still excited, noted, "I've got my heart rate going." In fact, an hour-and-a-half later, when she handed over the host chair to Dan Patrick, she was still bubbling on about it and how nervous she was that they were going to drop her. Never mind that their Olympic atheltes and this is what they do. While I'm glad she was excited, and it was swell to see her enthusiasm -- let's be clear about this: what she did was get lifted in the air by others and then caught a ball. When they then prepared to show what a scrum was, she noted how excited she still was. I'm guessing she has a wide spectrum for joy.
And good news. I tracked down the video. Click here and jump to the 3:15 mark.
Also in the morning, they ran an interview with the defending women's judo gold medalist Kayla Harrison. The piece began with me rolling my eyes a bit, as she talked about others calling her a legend, and if she won two gold medals in a row that would cement her being a legend. But as the interview went on, she won me over. She had been saying all that matter-of-factly, not pompously, and then she got into why this was so meaningful to her, having been abused as a young girl by her first coach, and how -- after she was taking in by her current coach and his family, the Pedros, she's built on all this to help children, started a foundation, deals with teaching in schools, and when she does help children it's more meaningful that all medals. And then...she went out and won the gold medal, for her second in a row. The match was tied 0-0, but with an aggressive move, she forced a "tapout" by her opponent, which is a resignation, and she won with six seconds to go.
This is the video of her victory, starting with 20 seconds to left in the match. Just click here.
And this is her gold medal ceremony, worth watching for her clear, but understated joy at once again winning the gold meal. You can see it here, and then jump to the 1:10 mark.
I enjoyed watching the morning women's badminton match between India and host team Brazil. The only thing that makes it possible to watch badminton at the Olympics without giggling the whole time is knowing that you've also watched Olympic ping pong. The competitors are extremely talented, though. For those keeping score, the Indian won the match, two games to none, 21-17, 21-17.
Whenever I watch badminton though, I always flashback to a high school memory. During gym glass my senior year, we were in the midst of a period when badminton was on the agenda. And as always, I teamed up with a good friend, who had always beat me when we played. And by "always," I mean...always. I had never beaten him in our four years of high school. We didn't play a lot -- 10 games or so -- but it was enough. And here we were senior year, on the last day of the badminton rotation. And for some inexplicable reason, I was beating him -- and winning by a lot. In fact, in a game up to 21 point, I had 20...and the serve. When all of a sudden, the bell rang to end class. And before I could get off the one, last serve and a chance to win...my friend dropped his racquet and walked off the court. An no, there was no amount of pleading that could get him back.
Speaking of ping pong -- sorry, Table Tennis -- the finals were between two Chinese players, Jhong and Ma. Yes, that's right: Ma-Jhong. (Ma won the gold.)
It was fun to see the start of the rugby finals between Fiji and Great Britain. That's because I got the chance to hear the Fiji national anthem. (One of the treats of the Olympics in years-past, before they largely became All USA, was hearing other anthems. Happily, with the Many Networks of NBC, a few make it through on occasion.) The Fiji anthem a charming song. But then, I could have waited, because Fiji won the game -- and its very first gold medal, and so the anthem got played again at the medal ceremony. It was still charming.
And it was great to have indoor cycling start in the Velodrome. However it was the sprint event, and I prefer the team relay, with is one of the more ethereal sporting events that goes from snail-paced to breakneck speed within a moment, as the cyclist maneuver their position like jugglers.. But that's coming...
Finally, quite a night for The Simones. Much as they sound like they should be a singing group, it was a truly impressive and noteworthy gold medals for both of them. On Twitter, someone posted a note after Simone Manuel tied for the gold medal with her swimming victory with a personal commentary of great perspective that "When my mother was a little girl, she wasn't even allowed in the local pool." And it's stunning that Simone Biles' margin of victory in the women's All Round was great than the combined last NINE winners in that event, going back to the 1980 Olympics.
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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