DAY 10: NO MARY CARILLO.
Instead, running heats, more running heats and then some more running heats after that.
We literally spend 90 minutes watching the Men’s 110m Hurdles and the Women’s 400m Hurdles heats, events that aren’t going to have their semifinals or finals until tonight, and, y’all? I don’t care. Is that one boy who plays football at University of Oregon kinda cute? Sure. But not enough for me to want to spend 10 minutes talking about him instead of watching Mary Carillo and Leslie Jones tear up Rio de Janeiro. Is it interesting that Sydney McLaughlin, the youngest track and field team member on Team USA at 17, barely made it into the semifinals of her event? I guess, but not more interesting than what Mary Carillo could tell me about Carnival and those feathery outfits the dancers wear in a fun taped piece that might end with Mary Carillo dancing around wearing a goofy headdress. PRIORITIES, NBC.
Between the endless running heats, we do cut back and forth to the much more interesting Men’s Pole Vaulting final — which, again, is one of those sports that I find absolutely amazing that anyone can do. Even I can run. Not fast, mind you, but running is a thing that I can do. A thing that I can not do? Pole vaulting.
But NBC being NBC, they manage to fumble the coverage of this event by focusing entirely on some red-headed kid from Canada named Shawnacy Barber who doesn’t even makes the finals, and the American pole vaulter, Sam Kendricks. In fact, because they are so singularly focused on these two, they manage to completely ignore the eventual gold medalist, Brazilian Thiago Braz de Silva, until it’s determined he’s won, at which point NBC was like, “Oh yeah, here’s that Brazilian guy winning. Whatever.”
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And I kinda get it: it’s a live event, and NBC doesn’t know who is going to win, and so they figure Americans are mostly interested to see other Americans compete, or, at the very least, Canadians who have dual American citizenships even if they have a goofy Irish Setter’s name like “Shawnacey.” But the Brazilians were hosting these Olympics! At least give their athlete — YOU KNOW, THE ONE WHO WENT ON TO WIN THE GOLD MEDAL — a little respect, y’all, COME ON.
As for the other final track and field events that are actually interesting, we have the Men’s 800m in which Kenya’s David Rudisha is the favored winner. There’s a whole taped package about how David Rudisha helped create the Maasai Olympics in 2012 as a means to stop his fellow tribesmen from killing lions to prove their manhood, which is a Nice Thing, but probably overly optimistic if Minnesota dentists and Trump spawn are any indication.
David Rudisha, who is so soft-spoken and so lovely, goes on to win the gold in the 800m, calmly and smoothly pulling away from everyone else in the final 200 meters. Oh, and Algerian Taoufik Makhloufi wins silver and American Clayton Murphy wins bronze, if you care.
The final Big Deal race of the night is the Women’s 400m which NBC is very bunched up about because Team USA’s Allyson Felix is competing, and she won gold in this event in 2012. In fact, there’s a whole bio piece about Grandma Felix and how she was born in 1919 and how she lived through some real serious racial bullshit so it’s amazing to her that her granddaughter has met the Obamas. Grandma Felix is so old, they don’t allow her to actually watch Allyson compete because it is just too stressful for her 97-year-old heart.
And it’s a good thing they didn’t let Grandma Felix watch the Women’s 400m live because it very well might have killed her. Allyson Felix was behind for most of the race, but then in the last 100 meters she surged to catch up with the leader, Bahamas’ Shaunae Miller. So Miller, instead of running over the finish line, LITERALLY DOVE ACROSS IT and stole the gold medal from Allyson Felix.
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Apparently, and I did not know this before this whole mess, technically you win as long as some part of you crosses the finish line first. From Rule 164(2) of the IAAF Competion Rules: “The athletes shall be placed in the order in which any part of their bodies (i.e. torso, as distinguished from the head, neck, arms, legs, hands or feet) reaches the vertical plane of the nearer edge of the finish line[.]”
But I am calling some hot bullshit on this. IT’S A FOOT RACE. IT SHOULD BE ABOUT WHO CROSSES THE FINISH LINE ON THEIR FEET FIRST. Some nonsense. THIS IS SOME NONSENSE.
AND WHAT IS THIS, NBC?
WHY ARE YOU SHOWING US THIS? IS THIS SUPPOSED TO MEAN SOMETHING? WHAT AM I EVEN LOOKING AT? IS THIS ART?
Ugh. All of this, ugh. Would someone please go check on Grandma Felix and let me know she’s alright?
We head over to Women’s Gymnastics where Simone Biles and my girl crush Laurie Hernandez are competing on the balance beam for an individual medal. After we make our way past China and the poor Canadian who falls right off the beam mid-routine, we have Simone Biles. Everyone is making a big deal about how she has the potential to gold in this event, so it’s surprising when halfway through her routine she has a bit of a wobble and grabs the beam, earning herself a score of 14.733.
Next is the gymnast from the Netherlands, Sanne Wevers, whose routine to my very untrained eye seems to just be a long series of turns, with very few flips involved. And I don’t doubt that turning on a balance beam is very difficult, but doing a blind flip and landing on said beam seems much harder. But what do I know, because Wevers earns a 15.466 for her spinnies.
Next is the Romanian gymnast, Cătălina Ponor, who appears to be wearing some sort of supervillain/dominatrix getup:
And according to Wikipedia she even has a supervillain nickname: “The Black Tulip.” THE BLACK TULIP! I MEAN! However, her only supervillain powers appear to be”missing combos” and “underperforming,” so she’s not much of a threat to our American gymnasts.
Next is my girl crush and animated Disney character, Laurie Hernandez, who destroys her beam routine only to earn a bullshit score of 15.333. I mean, let’s cut to the chase: Hernandez wins silver, it’s not like she doesn’t do well. But I just personally think that her routine on the beam was considerably more challenging than Ms. Netherlands’ spinny schtick, and I’m not alone. After Hernandez performs, her coaches try to appeal to the judges that her routine deserved a higher starting score, but it falls on deaf ears. And all I’m saying is I’d like to see those judges get on the floor — not even a beam, just the floor — and do a series of backflips and then do a series of spins on one foot and then I’d like them to tell me which is harder.
Anyway, after watching the French and Brazilians, Simone Biles takes bronze, and no one is happy about it except for the stupid Netherlands. And I guess the lesson here is that American gymnasts should brush up on their spinning and American runners should practice diving BECAUSE THAT’S ALL IT TAKES TO WIN GOLD THESE DAYS.
We then go to a bunch of Men’s Springboard Diving Preliminaries, which are only interesting in that the wind was gusting up to 40mph during the event and blowing the divers around so much that one of them one the Women’s 400m. ZING!
NBC’s A.D.D. coverage then gives us two seconds of the Brazilians eliminating Team USA in Men’s Beach Volleyball, and I am just completely lost as to what is even happening here. When did we start watching Men’s Beach Volleyball? What happened to the diving I didn’t care about? Where are we? Am I drunk? Where is Mary Carillo again?
We then finish the evening with two Bob Costas interviews. One is with my girl crush Laurie Hernandez, which, sure! makes sense! She just won silver and she’s done with her Olympics, so why not chat with her about Taylor Swift being a fan or whatever? But the other is with Shawn White? The Winter Olympian who came in fourth in the one event he actually bothered to compete in back in 2014? WHY ARE WE TALKING TO SHAWN WHITE? WHO CARES WHAT SHAWN WHITE HAS TO SAY ABOUT ANY OF THIS? WHAT ARE YOU EVEN DOING IN RIO DE JANEIRO, SHAWN WHITE? SHOULDN’T YOU BE BACK IN CALIFORNIA SKATEBOARDING AND NOT WINNING OLYMPIC MEDALS?
Ugh, NBC, you’re the worst. #FREEMARYCARILLO
Bobby takes the baton from my cranky ass tonight and will cover a whole bunch of track and field heats, as well as some gymnastics medal rounds: Men’s Parallel Bars and High Bars and Women’s Floor Routine. Meanwhile, Grandma Felix and I are going to go have our lie downs.