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Fake Fireworks and Feminine Swimsuits: More Notes on the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing

I thought I would return with a few more of my thoughts after another day and night of the Olympics, though I doubt that anything I write can come close to topping anything even contemplated by Michael Phelps, though I feel this will be better than the fake fireworks show put on by the Chinese on Friday night.

Fake fireworks? Yep. The viewer on NBC Friday night got to see a few things with the fireworks that those sitting in the Beijing didn’t get to see, and it’s not because of bad seat angles; it’s because they were added in afterwards. You would think that a great news organization like NBC – which had Matt Lauer co-hosting the Ceremonies on Friday – would have seen fit to share. But seeing as how NBC is also being accused of recutting the footage to change the appearance of the U.S. team in order to keep the audience tuned into the tape-delayed coverage, maybe NBC and China are going for that whole truthiness thing instead.

Before getting to Michael Phelps, it needs to be mentioned that while many think baseball has a steroids problem, it’s got nothing on biking. There were numerous bikers arrested or disqualified for doping during the just-completed Tour de France, and yesterday, a Spanish bicycle Olympian was booted from the Olympics for doping. Maybe you guys should take a few lessons from Barry Bonds and Miguel Tejada.

And as I’ve learned from watching Bob Costas, why go to the heart of my story when I can throw out more tidbits to keep you tuned in? Like another appearance by Misty May- Treanor and Kerri Walsh in their beach volleyball bikinis. They’re really fun to watch – and it’s kind of fun watching the Chinese girls in bikinis acting as cheerleaders – I’d like to hear NBC/TNT commentator Craig Sager’s comments on the cheerleaders since he’s a fan of basketball dance squads, but at least I know why he’s not wearing his normal and colorful clothing.

How about those swimmers? Is Michael Phelps phenomenal, or what? He won his third goal in three nights last night, and once again, he set a world record. I wonder if the swimsuit has anything to do with it – speaking of which, one of my bosses here at the Press ain’t too thrilled with the suits the guys are wearing – she doesn’t think they are masculine-looking enough. But seeing as Phelps now has nine career gold medals – tying him with Houston’s Carl Lewis, swimmer Mark Spitz, Soviet gymnast Larysa Latynina, and Finnish runner Paauo Nurmi – and seeing as how tomorrow he will probably hold the record for most golds ever with ten, I doubt that he cares.

Mark Spitz, the previous record holder with seven gold medals won in one Olympics, isn’t exactly thrilled with how things are going in Beijing. He’s got nothing against Phelps, he’s just pissed that nobody – like NBC, some swimming federation, the IOC, etc. -- paid to send him over to watch like they did in 2004 when Phelps originally attempted to break the record. Phelps, the winner of three gold medals so far, is still favored to win five more golds.

While I’m in the swimming pool, let’s hear it for Natalie Coughlin who not only won the gold medal in the 100-meter backstroke, but who was rather emotional during the playing of the anthem. I can’t imagine what it must be like to finally achieve something like that. So congratulations.

And speaking of congratulations, here’s to the U.S. Men’s Gymnastic team who surprised the world by winning the bronze despite two of their best gymnasts having to pull out of the Olympics at the last moment due to injury. Houstonian’s Raj Bhavsar and Jonathan Horton played key roles in the winning of the team medal.

For those of you interested in watching NBC tonight, you’ll see Michael Phelps go for two more gold medals and Katie Hoff attempt to win her first gold medals in the swimming pool. There will be men’s beach volleyball, women’s synchronized diving, and the final night of women’s team gymnastics. – John Royal


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