Olympics: Scandalamity!


Itsuo Inouye : Associated Press


OK, OK, so you know how the Olympics makes you feel strangely patriotic? Well, maybe not you, but, personally, it really ramps up my red, white and blue pride. I’m not quite sure why; surely all these folks are deserving, but when you don’t know who to cheer for, I suppose you just root-root-root for the home team or whatever.

Well, that rampant patriotism was kicked up about 13,000 notches tonight when the American team took the gold in the 400m freestyle relay. So here’s how it went down: Apparently the French were talking all kinds of smack about “smashing” Phelps and his boys. So it’s looking like a pretty surefire bet for France in the final 50 of the race WHEN SERIOUSLY ALL OF A SUDDEN Jason Lezak comes out of NOWHERE and beats the Frenchies by, no lie, 8 one-hundredths of a second. That’s like nothing. Michael Phelps briefly channeled Ed Norton’s Hulk and added one more gold medallion to his growing collection.

While I love watching trash-talkers get their comeuppance, there was an even better story tonight. Switching allegiances here for a moment, did any of y’all catch the package on French swimmer Laure Manaudou? For serious, this stuff is right out of an episode of Maury. Get this: Manaudou (pronounced like Xanadu) became this total French paparazzi-hounded celebrity for being such a good swimmer and started to date this Italian swimmer, Luca Marin. Manaudou dumped her French coach and headed to Italy to train with her dreamy BF. Seems fine, right? BUT THEN the Italians wouldn’t train her with their top folks, so she high-tailed it back to France and broke up with Marin. He started seeing another Italian swimmer, Federica Pelligrini. (Do you call this “poolcest”?) That’s totally not even close to the best part … because then NAKED PICTURES OF MANAUDOU WERE RELEASED ON THE INTERNET. And now? She has to swim the 400m freestyle against Pelligrini, the girl who’s dating her ex and may or may not have been connected to the release of Manaudou’s nudey pics. HOW AWESOME IS THAT? It’s like Gossip Girl but underwater.

Too bad Manaudou lost. Big time.

And yet? There’s still one more scandal rocking the games. Read all about it after the jump.

Everyone’s making a big deal about the American/Chinese rivalry in gymnastics. And, after watching both women’s teams, it’s warranted. They’re both rilly, rilly good. Sorry for burying the lede here, but the real story everyone’s talking about is how these Chinese gymnasts might be like 12 years old. Literally. Of course, you’ve got to be 16 to compete and, of course, they’ve got documents to prove they are, but they have proven nothing to my very skeptical eyes. Twelve is generous, they look like they’re nine.

Mary Carillo, who could totally eat Bob Costas alive, did an awesome Emmy-baiting package on how the Chinese groom these kids to be gymnasts from the age of three. There’s was lots of back-bends and, one of my personal favorite Olympic backstory elements, orphans! I’m not entirely convinced some of these kids are much older than the toddlers they showcased.

After getting a first look at the two gymnastics team, it’s going to be a tough competition … hopefully jam-packed with lots of awesome backstory packages.

Here are some other notes from the less scintillating events of the day:

– Playing beach volleyball in rain looks absolutely miserable.

– Bicycling in the rain for like four hours looks worse.

– There’s a German gymnast, Oksana Chusovitina, who’s 33 years old. And has a son. Who has leukemia.

– Chinese diver Guo Jing Jing was reprimanded by her team for “excessive commercial activity.” Can we reprimand Paris Hilton, the president from 24 and the guy who sings those freecreditreport.com commericals?

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