Unreported Moments from London 2012: Part 2
This piece was originally published, in another form, on August 15, 2012.
What can you say? It's remarkable what goes unreported at the Olympic Games. Here's Part 2 of a London 2012 flashback, through unreported moments.
For Part 1—including: Debbie Phelps vs. Steve Lochte for a parenting award; the Italian water polo team's misadventures in uniform; and the meaning of Mary Carillo's facial contortions—go here.
Part 2: Unreported Moments, #6 — #1
American tennis star Serena Williams captured Olympic gold in women’s singles, but it was Russia’s Maria Sharapova who arrested the affections of at least one hopelessly delusional male. While Sharapova was clearly struggling in the final, the fan yelled: “I still want to marry you.” Things were not as fortunate for Germany’s Matthias Steiner, a 2008 gold-medalist in weightlifting. Steiner dropped 432 pounds on the back of his neck, which prompted one star-struck woman to scream, rather unhelpfully: “You’re breaking my neck over here.” It was Steiner’s wife.
Wowing men’s gymnastics aficionados with his go-for-broke style on the high bar, Epke Zonderland became the first Dutch gymnast to strike gold since 1928. In watching the high bar routine, perhaps you’ve noticed: the athlete’s coach must lift the performer up to the bar in order to begin. Off the record, NBC’s Dan Patrick commented: “We often have to do the same thing with Ryan Seacrest, so he can reach the coffee filters in the studio cupboards.”
One of the most thrilling broadcasting calls during the London Games came on the last day. NBC's indoor volleyball play-by-play guy Paul Sunderland got a little silly. As the Russians completed a miraculous comeback from two sets down to beat the Brazilians in the men’s gold-medal match, Sunderland exclaimed: “Dmitriy Muserskiy for president of Russia.” Muserskiy, a power hitter, indeed will be immortalized in Russia. But actual president Vladimir Putin responded quickly with a state-sponsored tweet: “Just so everyone knows: I’m not going anywhere. I’ve proven that. Besides, can Muserskiy do this?”
"Revenge is a dish best served cold." In reclaiming women’s soccer superiority from 2011 World Cup winners Japan, the U.S. brought the chill. Hope Solo, an inescapably cool name for a goaltender, literally saved the day even as she is widely known for saving the night. Lost in the clamor surrounding her book was this press release by Ms. Solo: “Despite our friendship, Brandi Chastain and I will not be competing on the synchronized swimming team in 2016."
@alliseeisgold—aka Jordan Burroughs—provided American joy by defeating Iranian Sadegh Saeed Goudarzi in the men’s freestyle wrestling (74 kg) gold-medal match. But, of course, what matters most when Americans and Iranians wrestle is political subtext. While the photo portrays a dejected silver-medalist—Burroughs has his arm around him—there is more to the story. On the podium Burroughs had apparently further distressed the Iranian by saying: “@alliseeisuranium. Get it?" Get it: uranium.
From the annals of how not to play the good guest: 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney questioned London’s security readiness on the eve of the Games. The gaffe drew a coded rebuke by the British prime minister, who effectively equated Salt Lake City with Greenland. Interestingly, before leaving London, Romney was seen hovering over the 17 year old American swimming sensation Missy Franklin, trying to advise her not to credit her parents in any way for her achievements but instead to say (with a straight face): “I alone did this. I am a corporation.” Meanwhile, when asked about same-sex marriage, Romney responded, “I like Chick-fil-A sandwiches, but only on Sundays—reheated from Saturday night.” It was a thoroughly cryptic statement, which, to date, no political analyst has been able to parse.
Here, for "Unreported Moments from London 2012: Part 1," featuring Debbie Phelps and Steve Lochte, the Italian men's water polo team, Mary Carillo's facial contortions, and Usain Bolt and Carl Lewis.