Bravo London, bravo! The games of the 30th Olympiad came off smashingly.
That by itself is reason enough to celebrate these days. There were concerns going in to the Games that London organizers had insufficient security personnel, but Sunday the 2012 Summer Olympics concluded in a grand European celebration without any major security mishaps.
London appeared gorgeous on my television screen in Kentucky. I’ve been to Europe but not Great Britain, and the coverage only made me want to visit more. I suppose that was the idea.
The organizers did some smart work of utilizing historic venues and keeping the Games close to numerous iconic edifices such as the Palace at Westminster, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Tower Bridge, Wimbledon and Wembley.
This made for wonderful visuals back home.
Thankfully NBC had the good sense to showcase London in all its brilliance.
I’m not going to overtly bash NBC too hard on its coverage. Televising the Games is a beast. Taking all these different events, with story lines from around the globe and attempting to weave them into a coherent program without it feeling piecemeal is a vicious task.
I found NBC did manage to succeed.
Bob Costas deserves kudos for his hosting abilities. He might want to ease up on the hair dye. Many found him to appear ill. Bob has been at this a long time and he should have some grey hair. To his credit he didn’t go under the knife to chase youth, but at this stage having pristine dark hair makes his face appear drawn and pale.
The three main complaints I have with NBC are Ryan Seacrest, why it didn’t show events in real-time, and why it botched the closing ceremony.
By only showing the Games on tape delay in our Internet-driven society, it took away the sizzle.
The closing ceremony was just one over-the-top expensive advertisement for London as a tourist destination. My understanding is the Olympics were nowhere near the cash bonanza Great Britain had hoped for in terms of tourist dollars.
To recoup revenue and costs British officials hyped London in hopes attendees will spread the good word of Great Britain and it will see a bump in tourism down the road.
The opening ceremony was pretty cool. The re-enactment of Britain’s rise to power and demonstration of the industrial revolution were fascinating to watch.
The closing ceremony was more of an elaborate concert. But NBC seemed to choose the wrong acts to show. You need to show Muse performing. They are current and happened to pen the Olympic theme song. You want to show the Kinks. And you especially don’t want to interrupt coverage at its climax to gratuitously hype some lame new sit-com.
This was the last moment of the 2012 games – and NBC made sure viewers walked away with a bad taste in their mouths.
Notably absent from the closing ceremonies were Radiohead, Coldplay and Eric Clapton.
The John Lennon tribute rocked; Fat Boy Slim spinning turntables in a ginormous inflatable octopus was a sight; Brian May’s expert guitar work was a pleasure; and the Eric Idle skit with him singing “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” brought down the house.
Now again, why did NBC suddenly become so prudish that it felt the need to censor the word “shit” from Idle’s song. If you give a microphone to Ryan Seacrest who are you to censor anyone?
Enough with NBC, now pardon me while I go on a Royal rant for a piece.
Is it me or do the monarchy folks come off as a bit creepy? They have some of that Utah-cult-polygamy weirdness to them. They are like this dysfunctional family that we all know shares some disturbing secret, and should creep away to live in the shadows, but are trotted out for public viewing because they are considered Royals.
It’s a bit embarrassing. In these days of constrained financial concerns it’s hard to make a case for their use or importance.
Prince Charles and Camilla are such caricatures of themselves, like they are playing a skit. I keep waiting for them to break character and burst into song and dance.
If it weren’t for the newbie, Duchess Kate Middleton, they would truly be a stodgy lot. Still, could Middleton possibly change outfits more often. All these Royals were desperately trying to retro-fit their image to appear more like regular people, yet here Kate goes changing designer outfits nine times a day, then popping back up perfectly coiffed like nothing happened.
And where was Pipa? She’s the hot, fun sister. Show them how to party girl!
Anyway, on to what really matters – medals.
The United States won the meet with 104 medals, 24 of which were gold. China came in a strong second with 87, and Russia finished third with 82.
Great Britain was the big surprise, posting a very respectable 65 medals.
China, evidently really got after developing its athletes going into the Beijing Olympics. Originally that was thought to be an isolated occurrence, but this is not the case. Experts are saying just wait till Rio after China has had 12-years to find and develop its extensive talent. They may be the country to beat going forward.
But in 2012 the United States still held most of the story lines.
Michael Phelps. What can you say? Twenty-two medals, 18 gold. This guy has more jewelry than most countries combined, and he’s dating one hot cocktail waitress.
I find it hard to believe Phelps will skip Rio. Give him a year or two. Let him party some, and then I wouldn’t be surprised if the guy gets bored. All his friends will be training for Rio. And it’s not like there is another level of swimming. Phelps has one more window where he could legitimately compete and then he’s forced into retirement.
Although it’s estimated that Phelps could already realize $100 million in revenue from his Olympic achievements.
One guy who can’t wait for Phelps to leave the pool is Ryan Lochte. This guy had a boom/bust Olympics. He started well then fizzled.
Lochte is a naughty boy it appears. At least his mom called it that way. Lochte has a hot hand. He’s talented and good-looking. With those eyes, physique and smile – Lochte could pull Mick Jagger-type ass.
The hottie of the meet was Missy Franklin. That girl has an infectious smile and personality.
Sorry to include this hideous song but the video does summarize the subplot of these Games. I love how Lochte shows up darkly at the 1:00 minute mark, looking all, “the hell with call me maybe, who wants to ride the Lochte-monster?”
Now what can we do about Friggin’ Justin Bieber? He was all over these Olympics. This guy puts a new low in suck. Amusingly, it’s the swimmers and gymnasts generally who are all giggling over this tool. You don’t see Biebs transitioning well to track and field.
Women’s gymnastics were outstanding. Jordyn Wieber, Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman and Kyla Ross brought home gold.
It’s a shame Wieber didn’t make the all-around final, but Douglas was incredible. Then you factor in she is an African-American training for gymnastics in Iowa – that’s fascinating by itself.
Wow, what a choke by McKayla Maroney on vault. Few have been built up so high to win a gold and literally fallen down. Very cool that Sandra Izbasa of Romania stepped up to seize victory.
As for Aly Raisman – I feel for the kid. She snatched Jordyn Wieber’s spot in the all-around. There’s nothing she can do about that, but then flopped. She still took home two golds and a bronze. Not too shabby for a teenager who originally was considered to be an afterthought.
Her parents are another matter. They are precisely why much of Europe and the world stereotype Americans as loud and obnoxious. Could you maybe dial down that Ralph Lauren wardrobe an octave or two, then shut up, sit down and stay still. They looked like two refugees from a flag cutting ceremony on Adderall wiggling about.
Putting the swagger in the London Olympics was Usain Bolt. This guy is greased lightning, and his earning potential is off the charts. This 6-foot 5-inch African-American speedster from party-central Jamaica is a rock star. He and Lochte together would be an ass Armageddon.
Usain Bolt, like Justin Bieber, is printin’ money.
After setting an Olympic record of 9.63 seconds in the 100m, Bolt then won the 200m to become the first man to achieve a double sprint double. Then anchored the Jamaican 4x100m team that set a new world record of 36.84.
These are the same three gold medals Bolt won in Beijing.
If there was one event, one race in both the summer and winter Olympics that typifies what all others strive to be it is the men’s 100m final. It’s the simplicity. It requires nothing but a pair of shorts really. The eight fastest guys in the world challenge each other to run from point A to point B to see who is King.
The drama is self-created not manufactured, and it’s sexy as hell.
Then there is USA basketball player Anthony Davis. Yes he had a good Olympics, but this is just another piece to a meteoric 2012 this young man is enjoying. As a freshman at the University of Kentucky he won every major individual award, helped Kentucky win the NCAA title, was designated most outstanding player of the tournament, was selected first in the NBA draft, made the Olympic team, and won a gold medal.
Those are all amazing accomplishments, but for a guy who has yet to begin his professional career, what an amazing benefit to travel around and play with guys like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul, not to mention having Mike Krzyzewski serve as his coach.
Watch out NBA.
Overall though, I would say the London Games belonged to the female athletes.
Michael Phelps concluded his career by earning the medals he needed to become the most decorated Olympian, but he wasn’t at his best. Male athletes hit some high notes, but the major plot lines were all driven by female accomplishments.
These games were about Missy Franklin and her swimming teammates; Gabby Douglas and the women’s gymnastics team; USA women’s soccer and basketball winning gold; Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor in beach volleyball; Claressa Shields in boxing; Kayla Harrison won America’s first gold in judo; and Serena Williams was golden in tennis.
London also may be looked back upon as a transitional Olympics. One that signals the Games are truly becoming more competitive internationally for all.
Several small countries excelled and won medals for the first time. Also there were openly gay athletes competing without bias, two female athletes from Saudi Arabia competed in judo and track wearing hijabs, the traditional Muslim headscarf, archer Matt Stutzman competed for gold even though he was born without arms, and there was the incomparable Oscar Pistorius.
This South African athlete, known as the Blade Runner, became the first double-amputee runner in the Olympics. A Paralympics champion, he ran his way into the 400m semi-finals. As amazing as it was to watch him, it pales in comparison to the inspiration Pistorius gave to other amputees around the world.
Are there too many sports deemed “Olympic” in these Games, absolutely. It’s a stretch to think of Zeus and Hermes playing team handball. Synchronized swimming, canoe/kayak, mountain biking, sailing, and trampolining, for example, don’t seem particularly Olympic.
It matters not. In this most international of cities, London welcomed and supported all who came graciously, and the crowds were tremendous.
“We lit the flame and we lit up the world,” declared Lord Sebastian Coe, the head of the London Olympic Organizing Committee. “When our time came, Britain – we did it right.”