Phelps Becomes Greatest Olympian of All-Time with Gold in 4 x 200 Freestyle Relay

Michael Phelps stands alone as the greatest – or most prolific, you call it – Olympic athlete of all time. No modern Olympic athlete, in any sport, Summer or Winter, from any country, ever, has won more medals than Phelps.

It was a historic gold medal for Michael Phelps in the Men’s 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay – the 19th of his Olympic career. It capped a field day for Team USA in the pool Tuesday, with Americans winning medals in every final event, including gold in the Women’s 200m Freestyle.

Men’s 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay Final

The American men were heavily favored to repeate as gold medalists in the Men’s 2 x 400m Free, but I certainly didn’t expect the dominating performance begun on the second 100m of the leadoff swim by Ryan Lochte and ended on the resolute determination of Michael Phelps’ anchor leg. It was an interesting shift in strategy for Team USA, taking the pressure of the finish off Lochte and shifting it to their best swimmer.

While Lochte, Conor Dwyer and Ricky Berens share in the golden glory, the weight of the moment belongs to Phelps. His gold medal in this event was his 19th Olympic medal, which is the most of any athlete in any sport from any country in the modern history of the Olympic Games. Phelps’ family – watching from the grandstands – was clearly emotional, and Phelps hugged the lane divider for quite a while following the race’s conclusion to take in the moment.

France finished 3.07 seconds behind Team USA for the silver, and China was 6.6 seconds behind for the bronze.

Men’s 200m Butterfly Final

Phelps was not invincible on the day, however, faltering in his best event in probably the best race of the day. Phelps had the lead at every touch of the wall by tenths of a second and was seemingly on his way to gold at the final turn, but South African Chad le Clos, swimming in the lane to Phelps’ right, rode his wake and chased him down in the last half-length of the pool for the gold medal. Phelps lost his signature event by only five-hundredths of a second. Japan’s Takeshi Matsuda won the bronze, and American Tyler Clary finished fifth.

It came down to the finish, which was the exact opposite of the same event in Beijing in 2008. Then, Phelps took a final stroke into the wall, overtaking an opponent who stayed underwater, stretching for the wall, by one one-hundredth of a second. This time around, Phelps was the one stretching underwater, and le Clos took the extra stroke.

Women’s 200m Freestyle Final

Allison Schmitt has hit for the cycle, topping her silver medal in the women’s 400m freestyle and bronze in the 4 x 100m free relay with an Olympic record time of 1:53.61 for the gold medal in the 200m free, blowing away the field. Schmitt was fourth after the 50m mark but posted the best time at each split the rest of the way. French swimmer Camille Muffat took silver and Aussie Bronte Barratt took bronze. Missy Franklin, the gold medalist in the women’s 100m backstroke, was in medal contention at each split but finished .01 seconds out of a tie for bronze.

Women’s 200m Individual Medley Final

Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen, amid allegations of doping after she posted a better freestyle split time than male American swimmer Ryan Lochte in a previous semifinal, chased down American Caitlin Leverenz and Australia’s Alicia Coutts in the last 50 meters on the freestyle to win her second gold medal of the Games. Shiwen’s time of 2:07.57 was an Olympic record. Coutts also overtook Leverenz, who led at the 150m mark after the breaststroke, for silver, though Leverenz held on for the bronze after coming back from sixth place at the 100m mark following the backstroke.

World record holder, American Ariana Kukors, finished fifth.

Men’s 100m Freestyle Semifinals

Cullen Jones and Nathan Adrian, swimming in the same semifinal, were in contention for the lead at the 50m mark, with Adrian touching the wall first. Adrian pulled away from the field with 25 meters to go to win an intense semifinal, but Jones struggled visibly, finishing last and missing the final. Adrian’s 47.97 second result was the second-fastest time in the semis.

Men’s 200m Breaststroke Semifinals

Americans Scott Weltz and Clark Burckle advanced to the Men’s 200m Breaststroke Final, swum tomorrow at 1:30 p.m., with times of 2:08.99 and 2:09.11, respectively. Weltz qualified in the fourth position, and Burckle qualified sixth.

Women’s 200m Butterfly Semifinals

Kathleen Hersey enters the Women’s 200m Butterfly Finals with the top qualifying time of 2:05.90, .2 seconds quicker than Jiao Liuyang of China. American Cammile Adams also qualified for the finals, finishing seventh. The finals will be swum tomorrow at 2:12 p.m. CT.

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What’s Your Favorite Olympic Event?

If you’re like me, flipping to coverage of any Olympic event will get your blood pumping. During the Winter Olympics, I’ll go back and forth between hockey games, bobsled and cross-country skiing and be sure to keep myself aware of every single curling match on CNBC.

The Summer Olympics, which for me are easily the better of the two, it’s the same way. Swimming is by far my favorite event. I love the water, and the intensity of the races and seeing all those flags in the pool, there’s just something about it. Gymnastics, beach volleyball and track and field are up there also and – maybe surprisingly for you – rowing as well. But when NBC and MSNBC’s coverage goes to commercial, I’ll happily catch a random boxing match on CNBC.

So what’s your favorite Summer event? Air rifle? Triathlon? Water polo? Or, is there a Winter Olympics event that is tops for you? Let us know!

The US A-Team: Thoughts from the Beginning of Olympic Men’s Basketball Play

Editor’s Note:  Sebastian Henao is a friend I met while attending LSU. He is one of the more passionate and observant fans of basketball and the NBA that I know, and he has offered to provide some analysis and – as you can see – color commentary on basketball at the 2012 Olympic Games.

Jason Kidd, LeBron James and Chris Paul celebrate gold in the 2008 Beijing Olympics
LeBron James and Chris Paul are back for Team USA in defense of the gold medal. 

Before I begin, I would love to thank Mary Carillo, Olympics tennis commentator, for introducing me to the NBC Olympics Live Extra app. You have saved me from another Dan Patrick monologue about his love for the L.A. Kings. If you own cable and need to get your updates, live feed, and replays, this is a must! (See our post on how to Live Stream the Olympics)

What if I told you that you can choose the best 12 players in the world and put them on one team? What if I also told you that we will move the 3-point line three feet closer so your best player can be even more versatile? Finally what if I told you that you were playing against Boris Diaw? Is that something you might be interested in?

For our casual fans, Boris Diaw is an NBA player. Unfortunately, he has the motor of a sloth after eating a Grand Slam at Denny’s. Throughout the Olympics, the U.S. of A will be playing scrubs like this. Watching USA versus France taught me a few things.

Kings at Court 

First, no matter how much international talent has increased, USA will always be the kings of basketball. Led by the current King James of South Beach, Coach K (Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski) has enlisted an army even Leonidas would fear. Although the losses of Dwight Howard, Blake Griffin and Chris Bosh have diminished our front court, have you watched the NBA lately? The days of Sky Hook and The Dream Shake are over.

Enter Run n’ Gun and a million free throws. Both NBA finals teams – the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder – which consisted of two former Olympians and four current ones, led the league in free throws. Coach K knows his team’s strengths and knows them well. His job is to control all these superstars and stop them from making my second point relevant.

Recklessness!!!

Keeping such an up-tempo offense also has its weaknesses. If you are at a bar or watching the game with your boys, you may hear a few common phrases. “Why did you take that shot?” “Quit turning the ball over.” “Just give the ball to Durant.” High tempo offenses have just as much risk as reward. Turnovers and forced jumpers are very common in such game plans. At the end of the 1 st quarter, the US led France by only 1 because they made 7 out of 24 shots. Unfortunately, no one gave the French a memo that the 2 best players on Team USA were run n’ gun specialists.

Imagine a 265-pound behemoth running the floor either jamming it in your face or passing the ball to someone with the prettiest shot in the NBA. Did I forget to mention that the shooter is also 6’10 with a 7’5 wingspan? I just described either a giraffe and a rhino or LeBron and Durant. Either way, there is no way those two should be on the same team let alone the same watering hole.

Parity or Unfair-ity

Touching on my last point, there is no reason why these guys should be on the same team. It is just unfair. I know this might upset people, but I think the 23 and under rule is a great idea. (One proposal is to have basketball follow the same rules as soccer, by which countries may have no more than three players over the age of 23). I love the drama, the emotion, and the feel-good stories during the Olympics. The only emotion I got out of this game is Melo getting up in de Colo’s face yelling, “YOU WANT TO GO NIGHT NIGHT!”

I also feel like I’m watching Space Jam 2, except this time the MonStars win and the French are working like slaves at Six Flags. As a basketball fan, I love watching teams like the Spurs dismantle teams with their teamwork and high basketball IQ and watching Chris Paul make scrubs like Aaron Gray and Jannero Pargo look like Olympians.

Don’t get me wrong, though. I love Space Jam, and I love Team USA. If we don’t get 10 alley oops a game, then I’m disappointed. I hope Parker lets me come back for a sequel so I can give you a more in-depth background on the final four teams.

Tired of Spoilers? Beat the Tape Delay with NBC Live Extra!

Know how the Women’s Gymnastics Team Final turned out?  The next question is, did you WANT to find out?

Millions of Americans are struggling with NBC’s decision not to show some of the most popular Olympic events live as they happen from London, choosing instead to air these events in prime time on a tape delay. That would have worked fine back in 1992 when the Games were in Barcelona, but these days, it just won’t fly. Sports fans hoping to avoid hearing the results until they can see the events in their full glory in prime time must run a gauntlet of mobile app push notifications, website coverage and word of mouth if they want to avoid hearing the results in advance.

But fear not!  The London 2012 Games have been dubbed the “Digital Olympics” because of the prolific content being disseminated to audiences the world over in real time. And you can be a part of it!

To watch live coverage of the Olympic events – ALL of the Olympic events – you need three simple things:

1)  A cable, satellite or digital subscription which includes NBC (most do). You’ll need your account login ID and password. If you don’t have a login ID, you’ll need your account number and may have to call your cable company.

2) A computer, smartphone or tablet with Internet, data or wi-fi connectivity

3) TIME!

NBC has provided streaming access to all Olympic events, everything from gymnastics to swimming to the qualifying matches in air rifle and table tennis. Additionally, you can watch full replay coverage of every event, every match, online at NBCOlympics.com. If you want to use your phone or tablet, you can download the Live Extra app from NBC, absolutely free.

Here’s how to do it. It takes just a few minutes and in most cases, you only have to do it one time.

ONLINE

1)  Go to http://www.nbcolympics.com/liveextra/index.html.

2)  Click the red “Get Ready” box, where you’ll be prompted with an array of cable and satellite choices and a pulldown box with more choices. Pick yours.

3)  Enter your login information. Kids, ask your parents for permission first.

4)  Watch the Games!

Phone/Tablet

1)  Go to your AppStore and search NBC Live Extra, or NBC Olympics.

2)  Download the NBC Live Extra App, fo free.

3)  Open the app and, when prompted, select your cable or satellite provider.

4)  Enter your cable or satellite provider login information.

5)  Watch the Games!

2012 Summer Olympics – Day 4 Schedule

Today’s action. All times Central.

  • NOW:  Women’s Gymnastics Team Final (streaming online); Team USA Men’s Volleyball vs. Germany (NBC); Women’s Tennis – Varvara Lepchenko vs. Germany’s Julia Goerges; Women’s Tennis – Huber/Raymond vs. Radwanska/Radwanksa (POL) and Williams/Williams vs. Kerber/Lisicki (GER)
  • 11:15 a.m.:  Women’s Soccer vs. North Korea, Group Play
  • 12:45 p.m.:  Men’s Tennis vs. Russia, Bryan/Bryan vs. Davydenko/Youzhny
  • 1:00 p.m.:  Women’s Field Hockey vs. Argentina, Group Play
  • 1:30 p.m.:  Swimming, Americans Cullen Jones and Nathan Adrian swim in the semifinals of the Men’s 100m Freestyle
  • 1:40 p.m.:  Men’s Water Polo vs. Romania, Group Play
  • 1:41 p.m.:  Swimming, American medalists Allison Schmitt and Missy Franklin swim for gold in the Women’s 200m Freestyle Finals
  • 1:49 p.m.:  Swimming, American Olympic hero Michael Phelps swims for gold in his best event, and Tyler Clary also swims in the Men’s 200m Butterfly Finals
  • 2:12 p.m.:  Swimming, Americans Kathleen Hersey and Cammile Adams swim in the Women’s 200m Butterfly Semifinals
  • 2:20 p.m.:  Swimming, Americans Clark Burckle and Scott Weltz swim in the Men’s 200m Breaststroke Semifinals
  • 2:43 p.m.:  Swimming, Americans Caitlin Leverenz and world record holder Ariana Kukors swim for gold in the Women’s 200m Individual Medley Finals
  • 2:51 p.m.:  Swimming, Team USA will swim for gold in the Men’s 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay, likely to feature Michael Phelps
  • 3:00 p.m.:  Men’s Beach Volleyball vs. Spain, Dalhausser/Rogers vs. Gavira Collado/Herrera Allepuz
  • 4:15 p.m.:  Men’s Basketball vs. Tunisia, Group Play
  • 5:00 p.m.:  Women’s Beach Volleyball vs. Netherlands, Ross/Kessy vs. Van Iersel/Keizer

May-Treanor, Walsh Jennings Continue Dominance

When will the world acknowledge the greatness of Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings?

Actually, most of the world has seemingly accepted this fact, which has only been proven by science time and time again, but for some reason pairs of volleyball players from countries far and wide are determined to challenge the reigning beach queens. The Czech Republic was the latest nation to fall to May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings – as good of an example of Olympic royalty as there is, having never lost a set of volleyball in the Olympics, let alone a match.

Walsh Jennings and May-Treanor won their 16th consecutive Olympic match and 32nd consecutive set, defeating Marketa Slukova and Kristyna Kolocova, 21-14, 21-19. The women showed brief hints of mortality in the second set, much like they did in their previous match against Australia, but both athletes tapped their respective strengths to pull out a clutch victory in the end.

After a timeout, down 18-15 in the second set, May-Treanor made several acrobatic digs and three successful kills to bring the score back to even. The Czech pair broke the American serve to go up one point, but then they presented the Americans with a couple gifts before Walsh Jennings, serving for match point, came up with a huge block to clinch.

May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings (boy, that’s a lot less fun to type and say than the good old May/Walsh) will next take on the Austrian Schwaiger sister act under the lights on Wednesday. The live stream will begin 5 p.m. Central Time, and NBC will undoubtedly broadcast the match on prime time.

Men’s Gymnastics Falters, Places 5th in Team Finals

The bad fortune of other countries that vaulted the United States men’s gymnastics team to the top qualifying spot cruelly reversed course today, sending the American men tumbling from both the apparatuses and the standings.

China and Japan – traditional gymnastics powerhouses – recovered from atypical subpar scores in the qualifying rounds to earn the gold and silver medals, respectively, with host nation Great Britain earning a surprising bronze medal in third. This was only Great Britain’s third men’s gymnastics medal – and second bronze – in Olympic history.

Team USA finished a disappointing fifth behind Ukraine, which had qualified seventh.

The Americans were competitive – relatively – in the floor and bar exercises, but they lost nearly a point in their floor score from qualifying, and inherent weakness on the pommel horse and a disastrous performance on the vault doomed hopes for any medal, let alone gold.

Team USA dropped nearly 1.5 points on the vault, going from fourth in the qualifying on the event to sixth in the finals. Sam Mikulak and Jake Dalton did well but stepped off on their landings, and John Orozco missed his vault completely.

The Americans posted a low score again on the pommel, the apparatus that proved the deciding factor in the medal standings. The Americans’ lowest score for any event in qualifying was on the pommel horse, but it was good enough for third place then. The team’s performance in the finals was more than 3 points worse, dropping them to seventh in the field on that apparatus. Danell Leyva and Orozco, both considered proficient on the apparatus, faltered, posting scores in the 13’s and 12’s, respectively. Had Team USA simply maintained its performance on the pommel from the qualifying round, it would have comfortably won Team Silver.

In fact, Team USA regressed on every apparatus except parallel bar, where they gained nearly half a point. But in order to match rejuvenated Japanese and Chinese squads, they needed to replicate or nearly replicate their qualifying totals and were unable to do so. The qualifying score of 275.342 would have put USA quite comfortably in silver position.

Jonathan Horton, the sole gymnast returning from Beijing’s rotation, posted the sixth-best score on rings, but this was his only officially tallied event score on the day.

Orozco performed on five of the six apparatuses (floor exercise was the sole omission). He was eighth-best on high bar, 13th-best on rings and tied for 15th on parallel bars.

Please don’t mistake what I can only classify as cold analysis for malicious criticism. The U.S. men have some fantastic personalities and great back stories, and they provided the world with quite the show in the qualifying rounds. And to be sure, there is no shame in finishing fifth-best in the world at anything.

The Americans’ fall paved the way for a memorable moment for host nation Great Britain, which stuck in silver position after completing the final rotation, initiating a raucous explosion of applause and cheers from the home crowd, which included princes William and Harry. However, the final Japanese vault score was incorrectly tallied, and after a formal inquiry by Japan’s delegation, the score was reverted and Japan took silver, with Great Britain taking bronze.

Lleyva, who posted the top all-around qualifying score, and Orozco will move on to compete in the Men’s Individual All-Around finals. In terms of individual event finals, Dalton qualified for the floor exercise (Mikulak just missed), Lleyva is a reserve for pommel horse and parallel bars, Horton is a reserve for rings, Mikulak qualified for vault, and Horton and Lleyva qualified on horizontal bar.

Final standings:

RANK TEAM SCORE
1 CHNCHN 275.997
2 JPNJPN 271.952
3 GBRGBR 271.711
4 UKRUKR 271.526
5 USAUSA 269.952
6 RUSRUS 269.603
7 GERGER 268.019
8 FRAFRA 265.441

 

Points Breakdown by Event

TEAM USA TOTAL QUALIFYING SCORE:  275.342
TEAM USA TOTAL FINAL SCORE:  269.952
Differential:  -5.39

Floor Exercise

Qualifying:  46.165
Final:  45.266
Differential:   -0.899

Pommel Horse

Qualifying:  43.965
Final:  40.633
Differential:   -3.332

Rings

Qualifying:  45.332
Final:  45.257
Differential:   -0.075

Parallel Bar

Qualifying:  45.182
Final:  45.765
Differential:  +0.583

Vault

Qualifying:  48.000
Final:  46.632
Differential:  -1.368

Horizontal Bar

Qualifying:  46.698
Final:  46.399
Differential:   -0.299