I am in full-on Olympic obsession mode, with my general productivity taking a dramatic dive (with no splash on the entry!) over the last week. I’ve watched a billion hours, give or take, of Olympic coverage and have now reached the place where I’ve heard announcers repeat athletes’ life stories so many times that I feel I practically know them. Or, at the very least, am qualified to judge them, which I will do now.
Favorite Athlete, Male: Nathan Adrian
Everybody talks endlessly about Phelps and Lochte, but no swimmer has been more loveable than Nathan Adrian, in my humble opinion. He won the 100m freestyle, turning in a surprising upset and a nail-biting finish. And his reaction after winning was ridiculously endearing.
Favorite Athlete, Female: McKayla Maroney
My favorite athlete from the Fab Five is hands down McKayla Maroney. She vaults like nobody’s business. She has an icy cold glare to rival Posh Spice when preparing for a routine. She does a cute little victory dance after nailing her vaults. And she’s pretty much more awesome than anybody else. And if you don’t believe me, read this article.
Most Welcome Surprise: USA Diving Success
Not that I’m a diving expert, but I don’t think that Team USA was expected to win many medals in diving. In week one, however, we picked up three in synchro: Troy Dumais and Kristian Ipsen scored a bronze, David Boudia and Nick McCrory grabbed another, and Kelci Bryant and Abby Johnston won a silver. It was nice to see the USA succeed in an area where we traditionally don’t. Now, if only a Chinese diver would make a mistake and allow us to grab a gold in week two…
Most Endearing: Missy Franklin
When a 17-year-old goes into her first Olympic Games with a crazy amount of hype, my gut reaction is: choke time. But Missy Franklin had an amazing Olympics and, even better, seemed to genuinely enjoy the ride. Her excitement at just being there was enough to make her an instant fave; the fact that she won three gold medals (so far) was just icing on the cake.
Best Comeback: Danell Leyva Wins All-Around Bronze
After struggling on the pommel horse, Danell Leyva fell to 17th place in the men’s all-around competition. Then, he battled back to earn a very well-deserved bronze. I love him because he seems like a genuinely nice guy, he has an awesome dad/coach, and he escapes from gymnastic pressure by hiding under a towel on the sidelines. I’m rooting for him to take all-around gold in 2016.
Most Heartbreaking: Jordyn Wieber Fails to Qualify for the All-Around
Remember the time Jordyn Wieber finished 4th overall in qualifying? And remember the time when that wasn’t good enough to get a spot in a field of 24 for the all-around competition, simply because her two teammates finished ahead of her? Shenanigans. And particularly upsetting when you consider that this was her only shot at all-around gold, given that by gymnastic standards, she will be practically ancient in 2016.
Most Unnecessary: Ryan Lochte’s Diamond Grill
I don’t even think I need to explain why Lochte’s diamond grill is totally unnecessary. Dude, I want to like you, but you keep making it difficult.
Most Dominant: Team USA’s Beatdown of Team Russia in Women’s Gymnastics
After watching the women’s gymnastics teams come in as favorites and then finish with silver at the two previous Olympics, I was somewhat doubtful we’d actually snag gold this time. Way to prove me wrong, Fab Five. The USA ladies looked rock solid; this collection of GIFs illustrates their dominance quite nicely.
Most Well-Deserved: Brendan Hansen
After losing out on gold in both Athens and Beijing to Kosuke Kitajima, Brendan Hansen finally beat him in London. Granted, Hansen was 3rd and Kitajima 5th, but it still felt like a good victory. Also, Hansen is the captain of the men’s team and basically seems like an all-around nice guy. Good for him.
Most Entertaining Meltdowns: Aliya Mustafina and Viktoria Komova
I know I shouldn’t be amused by the heartbreak of tiny Russian gymnasts, but I can’t remember the last time I saw someone so upset and disgusted over winning a silver medal. Oh, wait, I can. Her name was Svetlana Khorkina and she also happened to be a Russian gymnast. Looks like Mustafina and Komova learned everything they know from the number one Russian diva gymnast of all time.
Best Battle: Federer defeats Del Potro 19-17 in the Third Set
Tennis gets zero love during the Olympics, which is really a shame since it’s as compelling as ever. Roger Federer suddenly looks ageless, and his win over Juan Martin Del Potro was an amazing effort. Del Potro’s crushed reaction after the match said it all: the Olympics is huge for tennis players too.
Most Dynamic Duo: Bela Karolyi and Bob Costas
The above picture is from the Beijing Olympics, but it pretty much sums things up. Bela and Bob are my favorite Olympic odd couple: Bob calmly asks a rational question; Bela exuberantly responds with whatever thought pops into his mind, whether relevant to the question or not. Bela needs subtitles even when ostensibly speaking in English, but that’s all part of his charm.
Most Unexpected: Great Britain Wins Bronze in Men’s Gymnastics
One of the announcers said, “Nobody alive today has seen Great Britain win a team medal in gymnastics before.” And that pretty much sums up why their bronze finish was so incredible. It’s always nice to see the home team do better than expected.
Most Frustrating: NBC’s Olympic Coverage
I generally think NBC does a solid job with Olympic coverage, and many of their commentators are top-notch. But, there have been a lot of dicey moments for NBC these games: Andrea Kremer’s super-awkward interviews with swimmers immediately after they get out of the pool, Al Trautwig’s unending hyperbole during gymnastics, Ryan Seacrest’s general existence, and all the time spent showing fluff at the expense of athletic events. But NBC’s most egregious offense? Interviewing Aly Raisman about securing a spot in the all-around while Jordyn Wieber stood a foot away, crying. Party foul, NBC.
Best Fans: Will and Kate
I love that William and Kate (and Harry too!) have been basically everywhere these Games. Kate is looking crazy stylish, per usual, and William and Harry cheering for the British gymnasts was just awesome. Also, William and Kate always look unfairly adorable, whether hugging as above or doing the wave.
Best Makeup: Aliya Mustafina
I have to give Aliya Mustafina, the aforementioned Russian diva gymnast, snaps for her prowess at eye makeup application. Her black winged makeup seems to say, “Bitch, please. Of course I’m going to stick the landing.”
Best Apparel: Water Polo Robes
The magic of the Olympics is that I become utterly engrossed in sports that I neither know nor care that much about 99% of the time. This week’s obsession was water polo, where I discovered that the most entertaining part of the sport happens even before the guys jump into the pool: they walk out in robes, a la boxing. Too cool. Also of note: those Speedos.
Best Legacy: USA Women’s All-Around Champions
This week, Gabby joined Mary Lou, Carly, and Nastia as American all-around champions. I thought it was pretty cool that they were all in London. Also cool? Nastia Liukin was all, “screw red, white, and blue, I’m going to rock gold and hot pink like nobody’s business.” Get it, girl.
Most Emotional: Mary Whipple
After the USA won the gold in women’s rowing, they gave the cutest interview with NBC. I thought tiny coxswain Mary Whipple was particularly adorable, crying because this Olympics would be her last. Awww!
(Image sources: Nathan Adrian via NBC Olympics, McKayla Maroney via CBS News, Kelci Bryant and Abby Johnston via Oregon Live, Missy Franklin via Vanity Fair, Danell Leyva via The Boston Globe, Jordyn Wieber via The Daily Beast, Ryan Lochte via New York Mag, USA Gymnastics via Universal Sports, Brendan Hansen via Bleacher Report, Mustafina and Komova via The Beauty of Gymnastics, Juan Martin Del Potro via Daylife, Bela and Bob via Fan IQ, British Gymnastics via Daily Mail, NBC Delayed via Uproxx, William and Kate via People and What Kate Wore, Aliya Mustafina via Annie Barrett’s Twitter feed, USA Water Polo via Fly with a Freebird, USA All-Around Champions via People Magazine, and USA Rowers via CT Post)