After a brilliant performance from the American women on the most important day of team competition, the medal count is starting to lean very heavily toward the U.S., and we're enjoying our first lead in the gold-medal count in days.
Our resident Saber-Medal-Trician, Daniel G., has checked in, and according to his system — which uses Sports Illustrated's pre-Olympic medal predictions in conjunction with actual results to project a final tally — the U.S. is awfully close to clinching. The Americans are now on pace to win two more golds than predicted, and six more medals overall, while the Chinese are on pace to win three fewer golds than expected, and 10 (!) fewer overall. With just three days left, here are the projected final totals:
I have to share one sentence in Daniel's e-mail, since it gave me some patriotic goose bumps: "China could still catch us, but it would probably involve them winning both racewalking gold medals tomorrow and us failing to win both basketball golds."
If this were a presidential election, and Daniel were Brian Williams, here's how that sentence would have sounded: "Ladies and gentlemen ... [long pause while Daniel studies a paper and listens to an earpiece to build suspense] ... Ladies and gentlemen, based on the latest exit polls ... we can now project that the Americans are going to win the overall medal count, as well as the gold-medal count!"
[Joyous screeching noise]
[Ten minutes pass]
OK, I'm back. I just had to run around my apartment screaming in ecstasy until I passed out and woke up again. Now that I'm calm, let's talk about the U.S. women's teams. We went a perfect 4-for-4 on Thursday — the volleyball squad drubbed Korea in the semis, the basketball team topped Australia in the semis, and the water polo and soccer squads both won gold — and my friend Ben pointed out to me that the only team sports in which the Americans won't win at least a silver are handball and field hockey. If the Games finish as expected, it will be gold in all events but those two (plus beach volleyball and gymnastics, if you want to extend the definition of "team"). That is seriously impressive.
My man Daniel G., inventor of Saber-Medal-Trics — a system that uses SI's comprehensive medal predictions to evaluate current results and project the final tally — e-mailed me with the good news that Tuesday was a watershed day for the Americans. We're now on pace to win one more gold medal than Sports Illustrated projected and seven more overall, while China is on pace to win one gold fewer than projected, and seven fewer overall. Here's the updated projection for the final tally:
U.S.: 43 Golds, 106 Total China: 41 Golds, 90 Total
It's now looking like a certainty that the Americans will win the overall count, and the only drama left is the race for golds.
The other day I had an appointment with a new doctor. I fasted the night before, thinking he would draw some blood because my cholesterol levels were going to be checked. Note to other fat people planning on fasting before seeing a doctor: Do NOT schedule the appointment for 4 p.m. Way too late in the day. But I did, and since it was a new doctor and I figured I'd have to fill out a ton of paperwork, I got to the office at 3:45.
Four p.m. passed ... 4:30 ... 5 p.m. My starved blood was starting to boil over, as was my iPhone, which couldn't take another round on the free Texas hold'em app.
If you haven't been reading Shane Ryan's Olympic Viewing Guides ... well, you should be reading Shane Ryan's Olympic Viewing Guides. Shane has traded his sanity and sleep schedule to watch pretty much every jump, leap, shot, throw, heave, dive, and vault of these games, so we could think of no better person to wrap up this first week with a list of the top 10 moments of Olympics so far.
We're nearing the end of the first week, so I thought I'd take this moment to run down my top ten memorable moments of the London Games so far. Yes, these will be incredibly Americo-centric (it doesn't matter if that's not an English word, because we're not English). There have been a slew of incredible athletes, dramatic finishes, and inspirational stories, and no list comes without debate. But here's my list, and keep in mind that it's the correct one. Live Extra video links are included.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Thursday.
Michael Phelps out-dueled Ryan Lochte in the 200-meter individual medley to win his 16th Olympic gold and 20th medal overall. A heartbroken Lochte told reporters that he was really sad to finish second, since the other swimmers told him the gold medal is the only one with chocolate inside, and he still can't get the foil off of his 400 IM gold.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Wednesday.
In the finals of the 100-meter freestyle, American Nathan Adrian stunned the field to take the gold medal by .01 seconds. After the race, Adrian had to interrupt his interview with NBC to stop half-witted teammate Ryan Lochte from drinking too much pool water after he wandered off from his parents.
We're about halfway through the slate of swimming events in the 2012 Olympics, and things have not turned out exactly as expected. (Allison Schmitt's gold in the 200-meter freestyle and Matt Grevers's in the 100-meter back are the notable exceptions.) Ryan Lochte failed to medal in his 200 free; Michael Phelps didn't win gold in his 200 fly, and several youngsters swam out of nowhere to make waves. Let's take a look at who's standing atop the latest Poolside Podium.
GOLD: The Next Generation of Women
Ruta Meilutyte finished her 100-meter breaststroke and broke down in tears, as if she were trying to dissolve into the water. They were overwhelmed tears, though happy tears: Meilutyte had just put in a blazing 1:05.56 in Sunday's preliminaries, the fastest time of the whole field of swimmers. Later that night, in the semifinals, the 15-year-old Lithuanian outdid even that, pulling away to finish with a 1:05.21 and give her the top seeding for the final.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday.
With a silver medal in the 200-meter butterfly and a gold in the 4x200 freestyle relay, Michael Phelps now owns 19 Olympic medals, surpassing Soviet gymnast Larissa Latynina for the most medals of all time. When reached for comment via telephone, the 77-year-old Latynina couldn't be heard over my loud shouts of, "COLD WAR OVER! U-S-A! U-S-A!"
American swimmer Allison Schmitt won her third medal in London, and her first-ever gold, with a dominant, Olympic record performance in the 200-meter freestyle. She then enjoyed an awkward hot tub bath with a naked Kathy Bates. Hold on … am I thinking of Allison Schmitt, or the movie About Schmidt? It's definitely one or the other …
Whoa! We've got a busy day, and there's no time for chatter. Let's jump right in.
You know the drill by now. With this guide, which can be followed with one computer and one TV with cable, we're aiming to see every gold-medal event and every team-sport game featuring Americans live and on London time. For further assistance, use this complete timetable as a cheat sheet. All times below are Eastern Daylight.
Knowledge is power. Educate yourself. Use this Olympics glossary and impress your friends with your new-found understanding of everything.
GLOSSARY OF TERMS
Adams, Guy:Los Angeles bureau chief of Great Britain's The Independent; harsh critic of NBC's Olympics coverage; currently in Twitter detention.
Adolph (trampoline):A front flip with 3.5 twists.
aerial (artistic gymnastics):Singular: essentially a cartwheel, but with no hands; plural: second-best System of a Down song.
apron (boxing):The part of the ring canvas that extends beyond the ropes.
arm stand dive (diving):The dive that starts from a handstand; only on platforms and not springboards, because that would just be too crazy. This isn't the X Games.
artistic impression (synchronized swimming):One of the two categories that the event is judged in (the other being technical merit); all about how the choreography, music, and presentation make the judges feel; is as subjective as it sounds.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Monday.
A disastrous showing by American gymnasts Danell Leyva and John Orozco on the pommel horse relegated their country to fifth place in the team finals, and the Chinese gymnasts won gold for the second straight Olympics. The Americans' struggle casts doubt on their unique pommel philosophy, known as "Butter the Horse!," though U.S. team coordinator Marta Karolyi put forth the possibility that maybe they didn't "Butter the Horse!" enough.
Scene: Shane Ryan on his computer Monday afternoon, fighting the good fight, trying to love his country despite the best efforts of technology. It's the 200-meter freestyle, one of the premier events of the swimming program, and Ryan Lochte is fighting for his second gold medal against Chinese swimmer Sun Yang. Ryan starts up the live feed with trepidation, knowing that whatever system is used for streaming the Olympics tends to freeze if more than 37 people log on at the same time. And indeed, the feed skips at first, but thankfully recovers in time for the start of the race. Lochte is third after 50 meters, and third again after 100 meters. Ryan knows it could be a dramatic finish, and he leans forward, forgetting the technical issues that have plagued him for three days.
The swimmers turn at the wall, but the moment Ryan blinks his eyes — maybe because he blinks his eyes — the feed dies. Panicked, he lets the site try to correct itself while opening a new window and restarting the whole process. In window one, the little white dots revolve in their hateful circle. In window two, an advertisement plays — to capitalism's eternal glory, the frequent ads always stream in perfect quality — before the site loads. It all leads to a coincidence that inspires Ryan's subsequent insanity, a brief fugue state in which he runs naked through the streets of Chapel Hill laughing hysterically and shouting the names of former gold medalists, a crime punishable by 30-to-life in North Carolina. Both windows recover in time to show that the race is over, and the French guy who swam out of his mind to deprive the U.S. of a 4x100 gold has won again. Ryan has pulled off the rare feat of spoiling the event for himself without actually seeing the finish, and that's why he can never run for political office. End Scene.
Before we get going, forgive me as I become the 6,087,345th person to rant about NBC's decision not to air the swimming finals live on television. Put simply, it's a disgrace. I don't think I need to enumerate the reasons why it's a repugnant move from a spectator's standpoint, so let me instead tackle the business angle. First, I'm fine with the existence of NBC prime time. I'm glad they replay the best events. Sure, maybe they show actual sports at about the same rate that MTV shows actual music videos, but whatever. If prepackaged stories and scant coverage and Ryan Seacrest talking about social media is what "America" wants, and by "America" I mean the faceless mythical majority that apparently exists to dumb down everything cool, I can live with it.
But we are living in the age of the spoiler. People are going to find out the results if they're around the Internet, television, or other humans. They just are. And if they don't want to know? They're going to avoid everything, including NBC stations. So, my question: How does it change anything if you broadcast the events live in the afternoon?? The people who watch prime time are still going to watch prime time. They're ALREADY avoiding TV, presumably while at work, and it wouldn't change anything to throw the rest of us a bone and put the swimming on CNBC. I mean, they even announce the results on the NBC news show that leads into the prime-time coverage! Even the rest of NBC isn't avoiding spoilers! AHHHH THIS RAGE IS GOING TO KILL ME! I should probably just give up and light my TV on fire, right?
LISTEN UP, gang. The Olympics are here, and we're all excited. But there's a lot going on, and I know it can be hard to catch all the relevant action. You need to focus. You don't want to dishonor your country, do you? I still have nightmares about Olympics past where I got mired in water polo matches between countries like South Africa and Serbia while actual gold medals were being contested somewhere else. So for your benefit, I've constructed an itinerary that will keep you up to date on all the most important events throughout the next two days. This is for true fanatics, and the casual viewer should take caution before attempting any of this at home.
A couple notes before we begin. First, I assume for this itinerary that you are in possession of (1) a television with cable and (2) a computer with access to NBC's Live Extra, where you can watch every Olympic event live over the next two weeks provided you have a cable account or can "borrow" one from a friend. If you don't have these two essentials, I apologize, but you're out of luck. It's like a zombie apocalypse movie — when you come across a weak stranger without any weapons or supplies who's just going to hold you back and make survival harder, you have to make the tough choice and leave them to the brain-eaters.
Second, my priorities are threefold. One, I want to see the medal events — all of them. Follow my lead and you won't miss a single event where a gold is at stake. Two, I want to watch Americans in the team sports, and pretty much nobody else. We're all American here (for those who aren't — what are you waiting for?), and we want to watch Americans compete. Three, I want to see almost everything live. If you're the kind of lightweight who waits until NBC prime time to see the action, that's your prerogative, but expect me to call you up and scream the results at you immediately after they happen.
Time to get patriotic. Also, in the "don't say I never did anything for you" department, here's a public Google spreadsheet I made with a pretty full schedule of dates and times for event finals over the next two weeks.
With the U.S. Olympic team trials finally over after a week of racing in Omaha, the swimmers who will represent Team USA in a few weeks have been finalized. You already know about Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte — if you don't, you can read more about them over here — but here is some starter material, ranked in order of age from the 15-year-old Katie Ledecky to the 36-year-old Jason Lezak, on some of the other notable athletes to come out of the event bearing tickets to London.