Today was a fun day. And the first chance I had to explore the Olympic Village. After a morning spent figuring out why our hot water heater was not heating water–the “booster” button had not been pushed, obviously–Jackie and I explored the Village and made our first appearance at the MPC. That’s the Main Press Center, for those of you who haven’t covered an Olympics. It’s a drab, desolate land of stressed-out reporters, ashen faced photographers who haven’t slept, nor seen the sun in days, and, in London, inexpensive lunch options.
After our tour, we headed back to our flat, showered (with hot water, yay!) and then hopped the DLR to North Greenwich Arena to cover the women’s gymnastics individual all-around competition. I was excited the schedule worked out to allow me to cover one women’s gymnastics event in person.
Now, I’m usually not the pay myself on the back type, but I swear to you I called this one. After meeting Gabby Douglas at the USOC Media Summit in May, I predicted she would make the team and leave these Games a megastar.
After she won trials, I was sure of it. I know her rise seems meteoric, but sometimes if it is possible to see confidence building in a person, I saw that in her that day in Dallas. Her competition results were only solidifying my feeling that I would be writing about her a lot in London. I can’t believe I’m saying this about a gymnast, but the girl’s got swagger. She’s funny. She’s smart. And her fast-twitch muscles seem to control her wit as much as her whipbacks.
I was not surprised by what she did tonight. But I was impressed and dazzled and, after her floor routine, I had goosebumps. I feel bad for Aly Raisman. I did not expect he to live up to her performance from qualifiers, but to lose out on a medal because of a tie-break–and to a girl who fell off the beam–is heartbreaking. I’m not a fan of a lot of these rules changes. After the competition, I stood in the middle of Nadia Comaneci and Bella Karolyi as they argued over how the tie-break was determined. (I was interviewing them at the time.) Raisman said she found out she lost the tiebreak and how it was determined from a member of the media. This stuff needs to be simplified.
After the competition, Jackie and I arm-wrestled to decide who would write about Douglas, and she landed the gold medalist. I was able to catch up with Gabby’s mom, Natalie–I think I’m the only journalist she spoke to before she was able to meet up with her daughter–and wrote a quick piece about her reaction to watching her daughter become the first African American woman to win an Olympic individual all-around gold medal in gymnastics. You can read that HERE.
I also wrote about the boost the decision to name the team at trials–instead of after a two-week training camp–was for this team. You can read that story HERE.
And, with that, I will leave this arena – actually, were getting kicked out – return to my flat and turn on the BBC, while Jackie heads to our ESPN HQ to do a 6 pm ET SportsCenter hit.
I can’t get enough of this stuff!