Monday, August 18, 2008

Feeling All Red, White and Blue. And Sometimes Pink.

So we've been enjoying the Olympics at my house. We cheered on Michael Phelps and the U.S. swim team who destroyed so many records. I stayed up WAAAY too late to watch gymnastics, both men's and women's team competitions. And then the all-around. I know it was an individual competition, but I still wish Nastia Luikin had worn a red/white/blue leotard instead of a pink one. But I cheered for her anyway -- she makes the sport look graceful in addition to strong and plucky.

But the judging seems all wacky. Disclaimer: aside from cartwheels, backbends, and the occasional handspring (front only, I was never able to do a back handspring) I know nothing personally about gymnastics. I'm the armchair gymnast (like an armchair quarterback, you know) who relies on the commentators for information. But I have been watching gymnastics since about 1973. It's like art. I know what I like. I know when there are mistakes even before the commentators say, "Ooooo, slight bobble there. That's a one-tenth deduction."

So when a Chinese gymnast went down On. Her. Knees. during NBC's not quite live gymnastics coverage of the individual vault competition, you'd think she would score less than a U.S. gymnast who had done a perfect vault with a very similar start value. (Start value. See, I could be a color commentator!)

Yeah. No. She actually scored better than the U.S. gymnast (Alicia Sacramone in this case.) who got bumped down to 4th. No medal.

In all fairness, it wasn't that gymnast who bumped her to fourth. It was 33-year-old Oksana Chusovitina who bumped her to third. Then a Romanian gymnast bumped Oksana to silver.

While I feel bad for Alicia, I'm totally psyched for all the thirty and forty-somethings who are medaling. Can you believe a 33 year old woman just medaled in gymnastics? This is a sport where 19 year old women are considered almost too old, and there are many rumors about the underage Chinese gymnastics team. If they are true, Oksana is almost two decades older than some of her competition. And Oksana's story -- a Ukranian competing for Germany -- just melts my Mommy heart.

My husband isn't as interested in gymnastics as I am. He feels the same way about ice skating because both sports are judged, which is really subjective. Kind of like trying to get hired or evaluated in TV news ... but I digress. He's been totally into the swimming.

He's even been DVR-ing some of Phelp's races so he can see just how close the finishes are. I missed the one he won by one one-hundreth of a second, and he played it back for me. And again.

The PR pro in me just ate up all of Michael Phelp's interviews. Both him and his mom. I know they have been in the spotlight for a while, and they are used to all the media attention. But boy, they handle it like pros. If they got media training -- it was really GOOD media training. But I think, deep down, that they have the right personalities for these interviews. That kind of sincerity is really hard to fake. And during the Olympics, fake isn't fun.

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