Oh, NBC, you think you’re so tricky. How could we have possibly guessed who would win the men’s 10m platform diving when you showed us two teenage Americans low in the rankings, two Chinese divers striving to close out their country’s sweep, and a stray Australian? With a mysterious Russian popping up for the last two rounds? How could that possibly end? Kudos, though, for keeping the camera on the Japanese synchronized swimming team as they tried to help a stricken teammate out of the pool, because I swear there was a rescue diver in the water. In synchronized swimming. That’s more golden than the medals.
Sunday’s Blue Plate Special: NBC may have mentioned this once or twice, but the Closing Ceremony will be broadcast tonight. These always make me a touch melancholy–especially when the flame is extinguished; four years to wait!–but it’s a lot of fun to see the athletes let their hair down and mingle. It’s also fun to see what wackiness the next host city presents to introduce themselves to the world. The 2012 Games are in London, so I’m kind of hoping Boris Johnson steps aside and lets Eddie Izzard accept the Olympic flag while The Who play at the top of Big Ben with Harry Potter characters whizzing by Parliament. Or something. The closing spectacular was again designed by the wonderful director Zhang Yimou, and not, as I kept hearing as I wandered in and out of the living room during the Opening Ceremony, Johnnie Mo (“is he a Hong Kong action director? That doesn’t sound exactly right.”)
Sunday’s Chef’s Special: The euphoria following the Opening Ceremony was quickly deflated when a bizarre and random attack killed a tourist and seriously injured his wife and guide. What a strange coincidence when the victims turned out to be the in-laws of US men’s volleyball coach Hugh McCutcheon, who has exhibited at least as much endurance as the marathon runners in seeing this Olympics through after such a tragedy. His team has responded, making an unlikely run to the gold medal game, which will be broadcast on NBC in primetime (before the Closing Ceremony; spoilers will abound). McCutcheon’s wife is 2004 US volleyball Olympian Elisabeth Bachman McCutcheon, and her former teammates rallied to an emotional and unexpected silver medal. McCutcheon’s own team is guaranteed at least the same, and whether they take home that or the gold, their perseverance is emblematic of the determination and spirit of all the athletes we’ve enjoyed through the last weeks. Those athletes will be banking all of that will for the next four years–and we’ll be back to watch them.