Five stories/assorted nonsense from the first “official” day of the London Games:
Phelps-Lochte, Round 1 The two American swimming giants went head-to-head on Saturday in the 400m IM—the first finals heat of the competition—and the race was supposed to be one of the most closely-contested between them.
So much for that. Lochte cruised to an easy win by more than three seconds, but Phelps (who barely even qualified for the finals) failed to medal entirely for the first time since he was a 15 year-old in Sydney. That’s right: 8-for-8 in gold medals last time around, and no podium spot at all in his first effort here. Tough to fathom.
And while he surely won’t get shut out of golds during his time here, Lochte’s excellent form thus far makes it seem as if Phelps isn’t likely to grab one against him.
Tape-Delay Controversy NBC, which once again holds the U.S Olympic broadcasting rights, has decided to only air a number of events—swimming among them—in primetime on a delay, a decision that has come with a great deal of backlash. Thanks to Twitter, it’s impossible to keep anything a secret these days, meaning that anyone with the vaguest understanding of the internet could’ve learned of Lochte’s win way before seeing it on TV.
For many out there, that just doesn’t cut it, and they’ve been forced to seek out pirated live streams online. It’s 2012, NBC: that shouldn’t happen. Just give us a free, legit, live feed.
May and Walsh win a tough opener Besides Phelps, there was another pair of American Olympic legends in action on Saturday, as beach volleyball stars Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh-Jennings took to the sand in their first London match. The duo were the gold medalists in ’04 and ’08 without dropping a set, but their presence at these Games was in doubt for a while after having taken some time off from the sport following Beijing.
Saturday, in two sets that were about as long as their names, May-Treanor and Walsh-Jennings battled it out against Aussies Natalie Cook and Tamsin Hinchley, eventually winning a hard-fought contest 21-18, 21-19. Whether it was a matter of nerves, shaking off the cobwebs, or simply not being at the same level anymore isn’t yet clear.
Solo Steals Spotlight After Win The United States women’s soccer team won its second game in pool play, 3-0, over Colombia to qualify for the quarters with a game to spare. Goals from Megan Rapinoe, Abby Wambach, and Carli Lloyd powered the Stars and Stripes to a convincing win that alleviated any lingering doubts about their shaky performance against France last time out.
Oddly enough, though, it was goalkeeper Hope Solo who grabbed most of the headlines in the wake of the U.S.’s win, as she sent out a vicious barrage of tweets directed at former American great and current NBC commentator Brandi Chastain. It’s not clear why Solo was so angry—part of any broadcaster’s job inherently involves criticism—but the incident is only set to further fuel the netminder’s reputation.
Opening Ceremony a Success This might be kind of a stretch since it technically took place yesterday, but England’s in a way different time zone, so I’m pretty sure there’s gotta be a loophole there somewhere. Anyway, the London Opening Ceremony was as long and drawn-out as ever, but the organizers nonetheless did an outstanding job of conveying the incredible breadth of the country’s history and culture. Much of the Opening Ceremony is essentially a bragging exercise, but the Brits did it well.
One of the cooler moments involved Daniel Craig (in character as James Bond) going into the Queen’s chambers and proceeding to fly over the stadium and have her parachute in. Then, after her impressive entrance (and yes, we’re aware it wasn’t real), the Queen looked less than enthused, shall we say, immediately creating a pretty funny new meme in the process. Add in a performance by Paul McCartney and some awe-inspiring visual displays, and it was a pretty good night.