Well, this is it. After Sunday, we’re going to go on with our lives without traveling to London via our televisions and computers every day.
It has been an interesting two-plus weeks of action, filled with memorable moments, great stories and, for lack of a better phrase, the agony of defeat.
Of course, one of the biggest stories of the Games has been the broadcaster itself. NBC has its strategy, and they’re happy with it. But it’s also been a frustrating thing as an Olympic and sports fan to cut through.
Take Saturday’s Day 16, for example. At 1 p.m. (Pacific), the U.S. women’s basketball team was set to start the gold medal game against France. At the same time, the men’s 4x100 relay was being raced.
According to the online TV schedule – provided by NBC – the basketball game was set for broadcast at 4 p.m. local time (on tape delay – after being live in the East). After getting out mid-day to find air conditioning, I turned on the TV at 4 p.m. and was pleasantly surprised that the game was not on.
I wasn’t going to cry that I missed the game. But the whole idea that NBC can’t even get its own act together is just frustrating. Here we get used to being the forgotten consumer, only to have them throw us a last-minute curve.
The thing is, that no matter how much people like me and other media critics complain, NBC isn’t going to change. On the whole, they did a pretty good job of covering the Games. Everything was available online (and on your mobile device). The announcers (save a certain Idol) were competent and provided good work. And we were given the right mix of inspirational stories and actual action.
(Speaking of the mobile coverage, I actually had a clear, uninterrupted live view of the 4x100 race, which was good since it lasted less than 40 seconds.)
So, as you gear up for the final day of action (more on times later), NBC did toss us one last bone – they’re going to show the Closing Ceremonies live online (1 p.m.). That way you can see all the British music acts perform, before passing the reins to Rio for 2016.
SATURDAY’S ACTION: No surprises with the two big events I mentioned above.
The U.S. women’s basketball team won its fifth straight gold medal, dismantling France by 36 points. And after a beating like that, the French … danced. Well, no one expected them to be there, so winning silver had to be a pretty good way to get over that kind of game.
Even though the American squad had put up a stronger qualifying time in the preliminaries, everyone knew that wouldn’t matter in the final. And it didn’t. The Jamaican team easily sprinted away, setting a world record in the 4x100. There was some drama afterward as officials hovered around the team. Turned out, Usain Bolt didn’t want to give up the baton.
And not to be left out, the U.S. women ran away from the field to pick up another gold medal, this time in the 4x400 meter relay.
Meanwhile, there was a big surprise in the aquatics center. American David Boudia became the first from the U.S. to win a gold medal in diving since Greg Louganis in 1988 (a year before Boudia was born).
While the American women were winners in basketball and got to see the other team dance, the volleyball team got to watch Brazil dance and celebrate after falling in four sets. The Americans were plenty upset over the hijinks, but they need to chill. After what other American teams have done during this Olympics, we have no room to talk.
In the men's soccer final, Mexico scored in the first minute of the game and got a second in the second half to extend Brazil's 0-for-the-Olympics with a 2-1 victory. The pressure will be on the Brazilians to finally get that first Olympic gold at home in four years.
Also watched the race walking in the early morning hours Satuday. Can we just get on with it and call it running? That is the most frustrating thing to watch and such a horrible gait to watch someone perform. It looks unnatural and probably isn’t healthy. Either that, or make them do a segment of the race backwards. At least that’d be funny.
And caught the women’s cross-country (mountain) biking race. That – and the BMX – has been welcome additions to the cycling competitions over the years. An American, Georgia Gould, finished third, but was stuck between a rock and an opponent, literally, during the race. In a spot on the course made up of rocks, second place finisher Sabine Spitz of Germany crashed – right in front of Gould, leaving her no room to go around her.
UPCOMING: Well, it’s the last day, so there’s not much. We get the traditional closing running of the men’s marathon, which will be starting on its 26-plus mile run at 3 a.m. Live in all time zones (as NBC has been saying), we’ll have the gold medal game of the men’s basketball tournament, with Spain facing the U.S. in the last major U.S. team contest of the Games. The finals will also be held in men’s water polo (Croatia-Italy, 7:50 a.m.), men’s volleyball (Russia-Brazil, 5 a.m.) and men’s handball (Sweden-France, 7 a.m.). Other events on the final day include boxing, wrestling, rhythmic gymnastics, the modern pentathlon and the men’s cross-country cycling. All capped off with the closing ceremonies, which we’re scheduled to see starting at 7 p.m. on NBC.