Bela Karolyi and Ugly Seven Year Olds: More Notes from the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing

Before getting to the latest of the controversies arising from Beijing, let’s give props to Katy’s Glenn Heller who, yesterday, won the gold medal in the double trap shooting competition. Congratulations, Glenn, and way to hang in with the sport after your setbacks in 2000 and 2004.

While that was happening yesterday, the Chinese were admitting to some more irregularities in Friday night’s Opening Ceremonies. I didn’t watch the Opening Ceremonies because if I want to watch a bunch of phony pageantry I’ll just watch the overlong Super Bowl halftime show. But to go along with the fake fireworks, it has now come out that the young girl who sang some song in the ceremony didn’t actually sing the song. Kind of. A seven-year-old girl did sing the song, and she sang it several times, including in rehearsals. But not long before the Ceremonies, the people staging the show decided that she wasn’t pretty enough, so they substituted in a nine-year-old girl. Only the nine-year-old substitute, who was seen on international television singing the song, wasn’t who was actually singing. The one people heard singing was the ugly seven year old.

So, I guess you have to question whether anything about the Opening Ceremony was real.

Speaking of questioning what is real, there is now some questioning out there regarding NBC’s so-called record ratings. I’m not going to go into all of it, being that I don’t understand all of it, but some of those who do are now saying that NBC’s numbers really aren’t what they say they are – here’s the link to the blog Awful Announcing so that maybe you can figure it out better than I can. And while I’m on NBC, it appears that the network suits appear to believe the people living on the West Coast and the Mountain Time Zone are idiots as, though they’re seeing all events on a three-hour tape delay, NBC still has a live bug slapped on the video.

Enough of the complaining, for it’s time to marvel some more at Michael Phelps. Swimming in two finals less than an hour apart, Phelps not only won two more gold medals – to bring his count to five for this Olympics – but he also set two more world records – bringing his count to five world records set for this Olympics. Phelps has now won more gold medals than any other Olympic athlete, and if he wins his three remaining events, he will break the record held by Mark Spitz for the most gold medals won in one Olympics. Spitz set the record with seven in 1972. Phelps can tie with two gold medal victories and break the record by winning his three remaining events.

And let’s hear it for Bela Karolyi. Bela’s not coaching this year, so he’s not in the arena and is thus not available to carry in his arms any young lady who was injured on the vault. So NBC stuck him in the broadcast center with Bob Costas to comment on the women’s gymnastics last night. If you watched, you know that the women were in a position at one point to get the gold medal but had to settle for the silver. Now, if you’re like me, you probably thought this was because one woman fell off of the balance beam, and several of them stepped out of bounds on the floor exercise. Thankfully, Bela was around to tell everyone that the U.S. lost because the Chinese were liars, and that their gymnasts were too young and wouldn’t be competing but for a Chinese ability to supply fake passports to the Olympic officials.

I’m still confused because I don’t see how the Chinese “breaking the rules” prevents the U.S. women from falling, but what do I know, I’m not a highly paid commentator.

If you want to watch the main network tonight, NBC’s events for the seven to midnight hours including the men’s all-around gymnastics final, and various men and women swimming finals – none, surprisingly, involving Michael Phelps, Natalie Coughlin, or Katie Hoff. There will also be some more beach volleyball along with some women’s cycling. – John Royal


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