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Ron Judd's Olympics Insider

Ron Judd, an Olympics junkie and Seattle Times columnist who has covered Olympic sports since 1997, will use this space to serve up news and opinion on the Summer and Winter Games -- also inviting you to chime in on Planet Earth's biggest get-together.

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August 11, 2008 5:24 PM

Monday prime-time live: Phelps wins third gold; bronze for Hoelzer

Posted by Ron Judd

And Finally: News from NBC's Omniscience Department:

"Anyone who is Chinese and who is near a television set right now is watching this." -- Al Trautwig, as the first Chinese gymnast takes the high bar.

Really? To listen to the constant hyperbole from NBC, you would think that all every single last man, woman and child composing the 1.3-billion population of China has to do at any given time is sit and watch the Olympics on a big flat screen.

He's not the first NBC yakker to make the claim. Can you imagine how foolish it would sound to assert that every single, last person in America, a fraction of the size, was glued to a TV at any one time?

That was only a warmup, though, for this gem that Trautwig has likely been sitting on for weeks, waiting for the Chinese to win:

"There's a new China syndrome, and it's China gold."


But wait. Back to the studio, with Bob Costas, who has just said, face straight:

"Generally, we don't emphasize the medal count."

You guessed it: Cut to medal-count chart. We can't top that. Over and out.

Men's gymnastics:

The U.S. falters badly on the pommel horse, but hangs on for the bronze, behind China and Japan.

China moves back into the lead after four rotations, with some sterling vaults.

An amazing story is developing for the young, unheralded U.S. men's team, which leads the Chinese -- that is not a misprint -- in the middle of the third rotation. Tip: Don't miss Jonathan Horton's high bar performance.

Women's 100 breaststroke: Jones runs away; silver for Soni

World-record holder Leisel Jones of Australia, surprising no one, swam 1:05.17 to run away with the race, with USC's Rebecca Soni charging for the silver medal, swimming 1:06.73. The bronze goes to Mima Jukic of Austria. Megan Jendrick of Tacoma swims 1:07.62 to finish fifth.

Men's 100 backstroke: Two more medals for U.S.

Aaron Piersol becomes the second U.S. swimmer to defend his Olympic crown, winning the 100 back in 52.54 -- yet another world record. SIlver to Matt Grevers of the U.S.; bronze to Arkady Vyatchanin of Russia.

Women's 100 back: Coughlin defends crown

Making history, Natalie Coughlin of Cal defended her 100 backstroke title, swimming 58.96 to edge out Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe and King Aquatic swimmer Margaret Hoelzer, who becomes the third Puget Sound-area medalist in only three days of the Beijing Games.

Phelps: On cruise control -- set to 80

Michael Phelps destroys the field in the 200 freestyle, pulling to a body-length lead at 50 meters and never relenting, winning in a new world-record time of 142.96. It was ridiculously not close.

Second: Taehwan Park of Korea, Third: Peter Vanderkaay, one of Phelps' Michigan training partners.
Real sports begin

Men's 200 freestyle final upcoming in moments...

On CBC, swimming, with heats in the women's 200 freestyle.

On NBC: The men's Chinese gymnastics team, looking flawless.


Another big night at swimming, with Michael Phelps, barring possible torpedo attack, likely to collect his third gold medal, in the 200 free, for which he owns the world record. (Our lament: Wouldn't it have been great to watch Phelps swim this race against Ian Thorpe, in his prime?) Local swimmers Megan Jendrick and Margaret Hoelzer also swim in finals. And then men's gymnastics.

Stay tuned. We're going to splash water on our face after that first hour of nothingness. Oops, make that two hours. It just flew by!

Meanwhile, in Timbit Nation

CBC is promising two hours of "nearly commercial free" coverage of swimming, starting after the top of the hour (7 p.m., local time). But you have to earn it. Because in the meantime, they're going to show you ... beach volleyball!

But, gracefully, it has now ended. America triumphs. "The key is, May and Walsh are playing May and Walsh volleyball," Kiraly says. Honestly.

"The ring is on the finger, and the win is in the bag," Marlowe says. Also honestly.

Stuck in Beach Volleyball hell

You can't get this kind of faux-Olympic-sport analysis (by Chris Marlowe and Karch Kiraly) just anywhere.

Like, did you know Kerri Walsh lost her wedding ring in the sand at beach volleyball the other day?

Oh, you will. Not only that, you'll see up-close photos of the ring, including the inscription inside. And a wonderful wedding photo. And another of the ring on her finger, now wrapped in tape to hold it in place after -- and we hate to play spoiler here on something this important -- they found it. And another showing....

Did you know that, as good as she and Misty May-Treanor are apart, they're even "better together?"

Did you know how Misty May met her husband, and where they went on their first date?

Answer: A volleyball game!

Do you know when Kerri Walsh will turn 30? (Answer: It's "coming right up!")

Did you know they both want to start families after the Olympics?

Did you know that NBC spent more than $900 million for the rights to do this for to us?

Do you know where all of Misty's tatts are, and why they're so meaningful to her?

Did you know Misty has the odd habit of carrying around little vials of her mom (in ash form), and ritually sprinkling them on the sand courts where she plays?

We can't take it. Can we please go back to synchro diving?

We'll never complain again. Ever.

Seriously. Give us Matt Lauer at fencing. Anything...

Phelps Pre-Show Begins:
In a canned feature on the Human Torso, Michael Phelps, who swims about five hours a day, reveals he was told he's supposed to eat 8,000 to 10,000 calories a day -- and describes how he tries to do that.:

"Sleep, eat, swim," narrates Bob Costas. "That's about all Michael Phelps has done since the world last saw him four years ago."

Yet someone probably spent weeks working on this little vignette.

When it ends, Costas gets us ready for the upcoming coverage of -- oh, for the love of God. More beach volleyball.

Just Wondering:

"Ling Long Pagoda:" Chinese takeout place on Aurora Avenue, or location of CBC studios in Beijing?

Lead-off Splatter:

Having mastered the time-zone thing, we know it's Tuesday morning in Beijing. What we didn't know was that it's Adrenaline-Free-Tuesday morning.

In other words: Don't rush dessert to get settled into NBC's prime-time coverage at 8.

First thirty-five minutes (and counting): Men's synchro diving, being led by ... two Chinese guys!

(NBC commentator's synchro-diving visualization exercise: Imagine jumping off the roof of a 30-story building into a tired metaphor.)

The bright side: It's not like you're missing anything on CBC, either. The Canadians are showing repeats of crew races.

We'd complain, but don't want to tempt anyone at the network to switch back to beach volleyball:

Bump, set, spike. Lather rinse repeat.


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Blogroll and links The official International Olympic Committtee site, with news releases, a searchable Olympic medals database and other archival information. Olympic news site from one of the Games' primary sponsors.
NBC Olympics columnist Alan Abrahamson's column/blog
Chicago Tribune Olympic sports writer Philip Hersh's blog U.S. Olympic Committee's athlete web site. Ed and Sheila Hula's Olympic News Service (subscription). News service with audio, video and text coverage of Olympic sports, during and between Olympics. Free, but charges for live video feed subscriptions. Beijing Organizing Committee Web site. Vancouver Organizing Committee's 2010 Winter Games site. London 2012 Summer Games site. Sochi, Russia's 2014 Winter Games site. Candidate city Chicago's summer 2016 bid committee site.
Olympic swimmer Tara Kirk's highly entertaining WCSN blog
Bellevue Olympian Scott Macartney's WCSN alpine ski-racing blog
Other WCSN Olympic athlete blogs.