Look, we’re all adults here. I can be honest with you, right? So here’s the thing: I didn’t watch the Olympics live on Friday because OH MY GOD I AM SO SICK OF THE OLYMPICS ALREADY SOMEONE FETCH ME A FROZEN MARGARITA IMMEDIATELY.
Instead, I watched Friday night’s taut 2 1/2 hours of coverage on Saturday morning with a cup of coffee and an Aleve, and decided that instead of doing two separate posts for the final events, I’d just lump Friday and Saturday together in one marathon post. You’ll take it and you’ll like it.
We begin with OH GOD MORE HEATS. ~weeping~ The Men’s 4×400 and the Women’s 4×400 heats happen and I am not going to even bother except to note that Jamaican runner, Novlene Williams-Mills, is a breast cancer survivor who days after winning the bronze in the 2012 Olympics, had a mastectomy, and that, ladies and gentlemen, is what a God damned hero looks like.
Friday night also saw the Women’s 5000m final which is mostly interesting because it was during this event’s preliminary that Team USA’s Abbey D’Agostino and New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin smashed into each other. Then they had that moment when D’Agostino urged Hamblin to get up, only to collapse herself, and then Hamblin helped D’Agostino up and even though they didn’t win the race, they completed it, and everyone cried and cried and was filled with “Olympic spirit,” and the Olympics officials themselves were so moved they were like, “THE HELL WITH IT, THEY’RE BOTH IN THE FINAL.” However, poor D’Agostino went and tore her ACL and meniscus during that collision — BUT, AGAIN, LET ME REMIND YOU, SHE STILL FINISHED THE RACE WITH SOME 1500 METERS LEFT TO GO — so she had to sit the final out.
And here’s where in the movie, Hamblin, played by Rachel McAdams, would, after an alarmingly slow start, somehow manage to come from behind and push ahead of the Kenyans and Ethiopians and win the gold and tearfully look into the stands and lock eyes with D’Agostino, played by Mila Kunis. However, this is not a feel-good movie for white ladies, and Kenyans Vivian Cheruiyot and Hellen Onsando Obiri take the gold and silver respectively, Ethiopian world record-holder Almaz Ayana takes the bronze and Hamblin comes in dead last. Still! It’s very inspirational, and I couldn’t run 50 meters if my entire life depended on it, so.
The Big Events of the night are the Women’s and Men’s 4×100 Relay finals because everyone can pay attention to a race for 40 seconds and everyone loves Usain Bolt.
As Bobby mentioned, the big story in the Women’s 4×100 is that Team USA dropped the baton during the preliminary which disqualified them from the finals. However, Team USA protested that they were bumped by Brazil (~shakes fist at Brazil~), so totally not their fault, guys, and they were allowed a do-over in the form of a time trial for a spot in the final. And yay! They made it! But boo! They were stuck in a shitty outside lane for the final, instead of one of the prime inside lanes.
And yet! Despite it all! Team USA wins, pulling ahead of even Jamaica over there in their cushy lane 6. U!S!A! U!S!A! U!S!A!
Before the Men’s 4×100, NBC made Team USA sit down and watch a video of the 2008 Olympics, in which they were disqualified after dropping the baton, and which sort of alludes to the fact that in 2012 they had the silver medal stripped from them after Tyson Gay tested positive for No-No drugs. And it’s cruel? But it’s also kinda funny? But it’s really kind of cruel? (But also really kinda funny.)
And as it turns out, it is also somewhat prophetic. In these Olympics, Jamaica, anchored by Usain Bolt in his last Olympic race, wins easily, with Japan pushing for a surprise silver and Team USA coming in third. BUT! THEN! Team USA is disqualified because officials say that lead off runner Mike Rodgers didn’t hand the baton to Justin Gatlin in the “exchange zone.” And, I dunno, man, but rewatching it, it is reaaaallllllllly close. Team USA protested, but unsuccessfully, so in the end: another Men’s 4×100, another massive fuckup for Team USA.
While all of that was happening, the Women’s Pole Vault final was also taking place. Team USA’s Jenn Suhr, who won gold in London, is eliminated pretty early on, leaving Team USA’s hopes in the hands of first-time Olympian, Sandi Morris. And she almost had it! It was thisclose! Not that I have any real idea how any of this works, as Google says they both cleared the same height, and the announcers are not helpful at all, just repeating the infuriating phrase, “misses earn medals,” over and over again, as if THAT MEANS ANYTHING AT ALL. Morris takes silver to Greece’s Ekateríni Stefanídi’s gold.
We finish Friday night with the Men’s 10m Platform Diving preliminaries, and we all know how I feel about preliminaries. However, there is a very nice video package about Tom Daley and how he was thrust into the spotlight as a very young teen and how his dad died a year before the London Olympics and then he won the bronze medal and then he came out of the closet and now he’s engaged and boy, he just loves diving so much.
Also interesting: when we leave the Men’s 10m Platform Diving, Tom Daley is winning with a score that is higher than the gold medal-winning score in the 2012 Olympics. However, as I was watching these on Saturday morning and not Friday night, I noticed something shocking: Daley wasn’t listed as a competitor in the finals that were scheduled for later in the afternoon, having been eliminated, apparently, in the semifinals. AND THIS IS WHY I DON’T PAY ATTENTION TO PRELIMINARIES. BAH.
Because it is the second to last day, praise Olympic mascot Vinicius, there are no heats or semifinals to endure, just straight-up medal events. We begin the track and field events with the Men’s 1500m final, which, oh boy, more people running around in a track. Just can’t get enough of people running around a track.
And in fact even NBC seems bored by this event because no American has won it since 1908 — which is before the Titanic sank, before Oklahoma was a state, before there was sliced bread — so why are we even bothering, right? If an American doesn’t have a chance, why are we even watching this? BUT THEN A GOD DAMNED AMERICAN WINS IT! Matthew Centrowitz Jr. manages to come out of nowhere and win the gold, surprising no one more than himself and his excitable family. It’s very awesome! And it not only bodes well for the cursed Chicago Cubs, but it also starts off a string of American wins in track events.
The Women’s 4×400 Relay is decisively won by Team USA’s Courtney Okolo, Natasha Hastings, Phyllis Francis and Allyson Felix, who with this gold becomes the only woman to win 6 gold medals in track and field, and ties Merlene Ottey as the most decorated woman in track and field history with 9 medals total. U!S!A! U!S!A! U!S!A!
Over in the Men’s 4×400 Relay, as opposed to their counterparts in the 4×100 Relay, Team USA manages to not humiliate themselves and their country, and Arman Hall, Tony McQuay, Gil Roberts, and LaShawn Merritt win the gold. U!S!A! U!S!A! U!S!A!
However, it wasn’t all rock, flag and eagle. In the Women’s 800m, controversial South African runner, Caster Semenya wins the gold. With in almost embarrassed hush, NBC briefly mentions that Semenya is intersex, and that some believe she should not be allowed to compete in women’s events as she has higher testosterone levels than most women. In fact, Semenya has been outright accused of being a man by some of her competition in incidents that are insensitive and ignorant at best, ugly and hateful at worst. As the New Yorker (who described her as “breathtakingly butch”) explained: “Semenya became accustomed to visiting the bathroom with a member of a competing team so that they could look at her private parts and then get on with the race.”
It’s a fascinating dilemma for modern sports — and a terribly humiliating one for the athletes in question, some of whom have gone so far as to have invasive surgeries to “rectify” the situation. Give this excellent Atlantic piece a read for more on Semenya, and ask yourself why it is that so many are comfortable with other athletes whose physical anomalies give them an extraordinary advantage — like Michael Phelps, for instance — but so many others want to keep athletes like Semenya from competing at all.
But back to Team USA. In the Men’s 5000m, Great Britain’s terrific long distance runner Mo Farah wins as expected. Team USA’s Paul Kipkemoi Chelimo takes the silver and Ethiopia’s Hagos Gebrhiwet wins bronze. So far, so good. But when USA’s Chelimo heads over for his obligatory post-race interview, reporter Lewis Johnson is all, “Hey, guess what, you just got disqualified, dude.” Chelimo is STUNNED at this news, and Johnson explains that it was apparently for unsportsmanlike behavior, when Chelimo sort of shoved another runner. Chelimo protests that he was being boxed in and he was just trying to get around the guy, but Johnson’s like, “I dunno, man.” Later, the story changes and Chelimo’s disqualification is said to be because he stepped out of bounds. Chelimo and Team USA call bullshit on this, protest it, and by the end of the evening, his silver medal is reinstated.
Finally, Women’s High Jump took place last night, and, again, I’m flabbergasted by this event. For those of you who don’t know me personally, I am very short. I am sub-5’3″-short. Some might call it “barely 5’2″ short.” My husband is very tall. He is 6’5″ tall. And these women, some of whom are barely taller than me (I see you, Inika McPhearson of Port Arthur, Texas), can — with just a running start — leap into the hair high enough to almost clear my giant of a husband while he is standing. THAT IS INCREDIBLE. GIVE THEM ALL PRIZES.
Ruth Beitia of Spain wins gold, with Bulgaria and Croatia taking silver and bronze, shutting out Team USA, but it’s OK, because all of them can literally throw their bodies almost six and a half feet into the air. They are fucking superheroes, y’all! All of these athletes are! I AM OVERWHELMED WITH OLYMPIC SPIRIT! OR IT COULD BE THE BOX WINE! WHO CAN SAY!
We then check in on the Men’s 10m Platform Diving semifinal, but all you need to know about that is that, as we discussed earlyer, after a spectacular performance in the preliminaries, Great Britain’s Tom Daley is shockingly eliminated for the finals. But he gets a gold medal in showering. He is a world-champion showerer. Can’t wait to watch you shower in Tokyo, Tom Daley!
Later that day, the Men’s 10m Platform Diving finals happen, and to no one’s surprise, Chen Aisen wins the gold. Mexico’s awesomely-named Germán Sanchéz wins silver, and super-cute David Boudia from Team USA takes the bronze. In a post-competition interview, Boudia gets all choked up talking about his wife and daughter, in was is clearly a blatant attempt to make every American woman’s ovaries explode. And though they didn’t win, everyone who participated takes home a medal for showering — except that one super-skinny, super-pale guy from France the announcers kept saying was an “aesthetically-appealing” diver, because their eyeballs don’t work. Non merci.
NBC filled the rest of the bloated four-hour coverage with:
- Telling us about all the other Americans who won medals that afternoon, including the Women’s Triathlete/Accountant.
- The end of the soccer final which concluded with a shoot-out. More fun facts about me: that giant that I am married to is a Premiere League superfan, so I endure a lot of soccer. A LOT OF SOCCER. SO MUCH SOCCER. And one of the things I’ve learned is that a shoot-out is a very exciting way to end a match. What a shoot-out isn’t is very exciting to watch just on its own. You need all that tension and frustration building over the course of the game to really make guys taking turns kicking a ball at a goal exciting. So what I’m saying here is, YAWN. Also, congratulations, Brazil. You did it, Brazil.
- Tom Brokaw riding horses with the owner of Fogo de Chao, pretending to be a cowboy. And look, I obviously really like these video packages, they’re one of my favorite parts of the Olympics. But why has Tom Brokaw been given Mary Carillo’s job this year? A friend of mine happened to text me just now alerting me to the fact that she found Mary Carrillo this afternoon, and I asked her what Mary Carrillo was up to. “Not sure. Kites.” came back the hilarious answer. KITES! MARY CARRILLO DID A SEVEN-MINUTE PIECE ON BRAZILIAN KITES AND SAID THINGS LIKE,
“Kites held up, by what they hope, are winds of change…” AND NBC CHOSE TO SHOW US TOM BROKAW YAMMERING ABOUT COWS DURING PRIMETIME INSTEAD? No medals for your Olympic coverage this year, NBC.
But the crown jewel of last night’s Olympic coverage was Matt Lauer’s HI-LARIOUS 14-minute-long interview with half-witted swim doofus Ryan Lochte in what I hope will be the last that I and the rest of America see of him for a very long time. The interview was a thing of glory.
Matt Lauer: You know, your buddies were yoinked off their plane and questioned for many hours, and one of them had to pay an $11,000 fine because you — a 32-year-old man — lied to your mom.
Ryan Lochte: I take full responsibility for “over-exaggerating.”
Matt Lauer: OK, but why lie in the first place and then double down on it with Billy Bush and then me when I interviewed you on Wednesday?
Ryan Lochte: I was drunk? For a solid week?
Matt Lauer: Be honest, were you robbed on Sunday?
Ryan Lochte: I mean, was it a robbery or was it extortion? What is language anyway, Matt?
Matt Lauer: But a passerby helped translate for you and explained to you that the security guard was asking you to pay for the damage you did, and you agreed to pay it because you didn’t want the police to get involved, so really it was a “negotiation,” right?
Ryan Lochte: …
Matt Lauer: And so in your first version of the story, you guys were victims of the “mean streets of Rio,” but in reality, you were trying to cover up your dumb behavior and you dragged down the reputation of an entire city in the process.
Ryan Lochte: …
Matt Lauer: Alright, so how’d you feel sitting safe and sound in the United States while your buddies were being dragged off an airplane in Rio?
Ryan Lochte: Hurt. I let them down. But I wanted to help make sure they were home safe before I came out and told the whole story. [musters tears]
Ryan Lochte: I am sorry for my immature “tantics.” (Note: he actually said this. He actually said the word “tantics.”)
Matt Lauer: Anything you want to say to the people of Rio?
Ryan Lochte: They put on a great Games and I am sorry for my immature tantic.
Matt Lauer: Some people want you banned from swimming and some commentators are saying this might cost you a lot of money in endorsements.
Ryan Lochte: I want another chance to prove myself. This is not who I am. I don’t want the world to look at me like an idiot frat boy.
Matt Lauer: LOL LOL OK.
And with that, all we have left are the closing ceremonies which will hopefully be full of giant crying robot jaguars and slaves on hamster wheels and Mary Carillo flying kites. My coverage of sportsball is officially over for at least another two years. NO ONE TALK TO ME ABOUT SPORTSBALL.