<![CDATA[NBC Bay Area - 2012 Olympics]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcbayarea.com/feature/2012-olympics http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/nbc_bayarea_blue.png NBC Bay Area http://www.nbcbayarea.com en-us Thu, 17 Apr 2014 01:37:36 -0700 Thu, 17 Apr 2014 01:37:36 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Dramatic Photos: London 2012]]> Mon, 13 Aug 2012 17:56:54 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/gymnast-thumb-P2.jpg Take a look back at the most dramatic photos of the world's greatest athletes as they compete in the 2012 London Games.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[If Cal and Stanford Were a Country]]> Sun, 12 Aug 2012 16:09:43 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/bb-olympic-rings-close.JPG

There were nearly 100 Stanford and Cal athletes competing in the Olympic Summer Games this summer and they brought home medals in record numbers.

In fact, each school had 16 medals in London for a total of 32 leading into the final day of competition.

Many alums will tell you that if the two were a country the duo would come in seventh overall behind Japan and ahead of Australia in the list of nations. (See chart below).  We know that math doesn't actually work out here because sometimes there are two members on a team, but you get the idea. 

The heavy Bay Area college presence was not lost on the Cal women's volleyball team as they practiced at the Haas Pavilion this weekend.  Cal has 46 current or former student athletes who competed in London. 

"We kind of knew, going in, we had some people who were poised to take medals.  So you're really not all that surprised? Excited, but not so surprised, yeah," junior Noah Efron said.

Cal Athletic Director Sandy Barbour credits a longstanding Olympic tradition at the school for the numbers. He said it's a tradition rooted in the institution that is dedicated to excellence. "But that's the environment that's built on this campus that's part of this campus culture around everything that this campus does," Barbour added. 

The same can be said across the bay at Stanford. 

"And that competition extends not only to "Big Game" and "Big Splash" and "Big Spike" but it extends to the Olympics," Barbour said.

Both Cal and Stanford had a chance to get one more medal on the final day of competition.

Stanford's Ryan Hall didn't finish the marathon, stopping at Mile 11 with a bad hamstring putting him out of race entirely.

Cal's Kari Karlsson was also running the marathon for his home country of Iceland. He came in 42 - no medal for him.

So it came down to Cal's Aleksa Saponjic, who was on the Serbian men's water polo team. His team won the bronze medal match against Montenegro.Score one bronze medal for Cal.

That put Cal up one medal on Stanford 17-16 in the unofficial medal match between two rivals.

Great showings anyway you look at it.

 

 
NatION MEDALISTS Gold Medal Silver Medal Bronze Medal TOTAL
See names 46 29 29 104
See names 38 27 22 87
See names 24 25 33 82
See names 29 17 19 65
See names 11 19 14 44
See names 7 14 17 38
See names 7 16 12 35
See names 11 11 12 34
See names 13 8 7 28
See names 8 9 11 28

 

 

 



Photo Credit: Bruce Beck/NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Golden Athletes of the London 2012 Games]]> Sun, 12 Aug 2012 23:26:08 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Olympics-Lochte-Gold-Medal.jpg See which athletes from around the world bring home gold from the London 2012 Games.

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[London 2012's Most Memorable Moments]]> Mon, 13 Aug 2012 13:12:13 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/combine-P4.jpg

After two weeks of competition, hundreds of medals and an endless reel of heart-grabbing moments, the London Olympics are history and a fresh crop of champions departed the stern city they collectively charmed.

All the pre-Games grumbling over terrorism and price tags gave way to glory and goodwill as athletes pushed their bodies to extraordinary limits, enchanting audiences around the world with as much personality as prowess.

While the full athletic and economic impact of the so-called legacy Games remain to be seen, the London Olympics are already being hailed as enough of a victory to inspire calls for London’s mayor Boris Johnson to run for prime minister. No apocalyptic gridlock. No mishaps at the Opening Ceremony.  No real scandal.

Sure there were some glitches—bizarre cheating allegations, some doping charges, a few judging protests—but they were heavily outweighed by displays of goodwill, terrifically silly memes and those stirring moments of Shakespearean caliber that, for a two-week period, seemed to make day-to-day life happily recede.

Who can forget the 2012 Games' most memorable moments?

SPECTACLE
Much of the symbolism of artistic director Danny Boyle's Opening Ceremony was lost on American audiences, but there's no denying that it was a wildly ambitious, eye-popping spectacle. The $42 million show spanned more than a century of British history. Farm animals, chimneys and creepy children's book characters made appearances alongside Paul McCartney and Mr. Bean. A stunt double playing Queen Elizabeth II descended into Olympic Stadium from a helicopter as the real monarch stood solemnly in her VIP seat. Her unsmiling expression was one of many images to make the internet and Photoshop rounds.

The badminton competition got off to a strange start after eight players were booted for trying to lose. The doubles players from China, South Korea and Indonesia apparently tried to blow their matches so they could get an easier match-up in the knockout round.

Boris Johnson dangled helplessly from a zipline that was supposed to launch the spirited London mayor into Victoria Park after Great Britain notched its first gold medal. The image of Johnson in a blue helmet and suit holding two drooping Union Jacks became instant internet fodder and spawned a whole catalogue of comically photoshopped pictures.

INTERNET
As usual, the Olympics provided ample inspiration for social media memes and humor blogs. Perhaps the 3,500 hours of live-streamed coverage made it easier for viewers, already sitting at their computers, to instantly post their comedic interpretations.

A quick highlight reel: As mentioned, there was "Dangling Boris." Gymnast McKayla Maroney's sour expression on the medal podium spawned the "McKayla is Not Impressed" Tumblr, in which the teenager appears as a disapproving witness to everything from a Justin Bieber concert to a promo for Bravo's "The Real Housewives of New Jersey."

The U.S. swim team made a lip-synced music video to "Call Me Maybe" that had been played more than 6 million times by day 15 of the games. Sprinter Usain Bolt's "Bolting" celebratory move became the latest pose to imitate and share with the world on Facebook and Twitter.

And Ryan Lochte's confession to in-pool peeing earned him a spot in two Funny or Die videos, in which he expounded on his habit.

FIRSTS
Oscar "Blade Runner" Pistorius of South Africa became the first amputee ever to compete in the Olympics. He finished last in the 400m semifinal heat and again in the final 4x400 relay, but the cheerful athlete won a standing ovation and fulfilled his goal to compete in the Games alongside able-bodied competitors.

Thirty-six female boxers made history by competing in an Olympic sport that was boys-only until this year. Claressa Shields, a 17-year-old American who grew up in Flint, Mich., a city marred by poverty and crime, won the middleweight gold medal. Ireland's champion boxer Katie Taylor won gold in the lightweight division, and in fairy-tale form, the host country got a piece of the glory as Nicola Adams won the flyweight title and "God Save the Queen" was piped through the Excel Center.

Hundreds of spectators at London’s Olympic Stadium rose to their feet and applauded Sarah Attar, a 19-year-old who competed in the 800 meters under the flag of Saudi Arabia. She and one other pioneering woman, judoka Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani, were the first women ever permitted to represent the Gulf nation in an international sporting event. Attar came in last place, but told The Associated Press that she participated to inspire, not to win. Their presence at the Games came down to an 11th-hour compromise between Olympic officials and Saudi leaders over details including how much skin the athletes would be permitted to cover. Women from Qatar and Brunei competed for the first time as well.

RECORDS
More than 60 Olympic records and 30 world records were broken at the London Games, mostly in weightlifting and swimming. Some of the flashiest records included Usain Bolt's 9.63 second 100m sprint that broke his own Olympic record, but fell short of breaking his world record of 9.58.

The U.S. women's 4x100 relay team ran the race in 40.82 seconds, smashing the old world record of 41.37.

First-timer Missy Franklin set an Olympic and world record in the 200m backstroke with her time of 2 minutes 4.06 seconds, while her teammate Allison Schmitt set an Olympic record in the 200m freestyle (1:53.61).

And Michael Phelps headed off into retirement after setting one of the most impressive records of the Games. By adding six medals to his astounding 16-piece collection, Phelps became the most-decorated Olympian of all time.

CELEBRITY
If the ease with which Jamaica's Usain Bolt set records and effortlessly clobbered competitors was not enough to make him the star of the 2012 Games, his outsized personality would probably have been. Bolt was a walking spectacle through the Games. After winning gold in the 200m he shushed the crowd, dropped to the track and started doing push-ups. He offered fist-bumps to track attendants, he danced at the starting blocks and he identified himself as "the most naturally gifted athlete the world has ever seen" on a Twitter page that's a window into his personality.

Ryan Lochte arrived in London a self-assured, sometimes dopey sex symbol—an image his appearance at the Games only amplified. He winked and blew kisses, he thought out loud about a future that might include designing Speedos and moving to an L.A. bachelor pad. He tried to defend his mom who characterization his relationships with women as "one-night stands." It was all fuel to the fire. Blogs called him fratty and conceited. He wore a grill with his gold medal. Fellow Olympians scrambled for pictures with him and female divers inserted a request in a parody video for Ryan Lochte to call them—maybe.

Michael Phelps was nearly overshadowed by his bombastic teammate. Locthe had beaten Phelps in a few key events and predictions abounded that Phelps' glory days were over. But then he swam into history by grabbing golds in the 100m fly, 200m individual medley, men's 4x200m IM and 4x200m freestyle relay and became the most-decorated Olympic athlete ever.

Gabby Douglas became America's latest sweetheart after she led the U.S. women's gymnastics team to a gold, and then scored another gold in the individual all-around. Her flawless, jaw-dropping routines made her the "most-clicked" athlete on NBC's Olympic site and won her the cereal box treatment. But her ascent was quickly reversed after she placed last on bars, fell off the beam and became the subject of a mean-spirited debate about her hair. Still, the 16-year-old appears to have gracefully weathered the storm.

Gymnast McKayla Maroney first became a superstar when she dazzled spectators with an opening vault that sent her body rocketing through the air and into a landing that was so sudden and still that it appeared to have surprised even Maroney. She scored a 16.233 on the vault, to give the U.S. women's gymnastics team a lead it would not relinquish. At the next competition, however, Maroney landed a vault on her backside, which was still enough to earn her a silver on the apparatus, her disappointment not-withstanding.

Kate Middleton had even the celebrities of the Olympics feeling star struck. The women's gymnastics team told the "Today" show how excited they were to meet the Duchess and find out that she was a fan of their leotards.

Missy Franklin's magnetic smile lit up the Aquatic Center again and again as she racked up her first four Olympic medals, inspiring a massive interest in the 17-year-old's post high school plans. Would it be college or professional swimming? She's leaning toward college, she told The AP, but she's still figuring it out.

POLITICS
Johnson was a famously good sport about the whole zip line fiasco. He cracked jokes and goofily waved the flags he was holding until he was rescued several minutes after his descent slowed to a mid-air stop. His lighthearted response to the awkward situation, along with his vehement defense of his city after Mitt Romney questioned its preparedness gave a big boost to his popularity and increased speculation that he might be bound for 10 Downing—speculation that Johnson has swatted away.

Mitt Romney's trip to the London Olympics turned into a fumble on his first international trip of his candidacy. The presidential nominee called London's security strikes "disconcerting" and wondered aloud if the city was ready to host such a large-scale event. These comments sparked a backlash from the British press, Mayor Johnson and Prime Minister David Cameron who said "It's easier if you hold an Olympic games in the middle of nowhere"—a reference to the Salt Lake City Games Romney oversaw.

And a day after Ralph Lauren unveiled the uniforms team USA would wear into Olympic stadium for the Opening Ceremony, someone decided to look at the tags and discovered, to the horror of American politicians, that they were made in China. The bipartisan firestorm that erupted with the news prompted Lauren to agree to have them manufactured in the USA next time around.

HEROICS
The U.S. women's soccer team won a thrilling semi-final over Canada that included a flurry of five goals in 26 minutes, with the Americans never taking the lead until the game's final minute. Two days later, the U.S. team would avenge its 2011 World Cup loss by beating Japan 2-1 to take the gold.

No one at the 2012 Games put on a greater display of pure toughness than Manteo Mitchell of the American 4x400-meter relay  team, who ran the second of of his leg with a broken leg to help the U.S. advance to the finals.

South Korean Im Dong Hyun, the legally blind archer who on the first day of competition broke his own world record with a 72-arrow score of 699.

HEARTBREAK
Soaring expectations for some athletes amplified the heartbreak and disappointment of their failures. That was no more apparent than in the men's and women's gymnastics competitions.

Everyone expected Jordyn Weiber to win the all-around gold in Gymnastics. But the 17-year-old didn't even qualify and had to watch her teammates compete from the sidelines. The gold medal went to her lesser-known teammate Gabby Douglas, whose stellar performance made her an overnight celebrity. Seeing heartbreak later were Douglas and Maroney, both falling in individual rounds.

On the men's side, John Orozco was hailed as the rising star who could challenge the Chinese and Japanese who dominate men's gymnastics. The Bronx native did just that during a preliminary round but then stumbled and stumbled yet again on the pommel horse, landing in a disappointing eighth place in the individual all-around.

Lolo Jones was hoping for a comeback. She was on pace to win the 100m hurdles in Beijing, but clipped the final hurdle and landed in seventh. The London Games were supposed to be her chance at redemption. Instead, she became the subject of major media scrutiny for such things as posing nude in ESPN the Magazine. Even worse, she ended the Games with a fourth-place finish—just shy of the bronze.

Morgan Uceny, a runner from California had fallen down in the 1,500m at the world championships last year. She picked herself up, finished 10th, and fought her way onto the Olympic track and into a perfect position to make a go for a medal. But then it happened again. She was tripped from behind on the last lap of the race and fell to the track, pounding her palms onto the ground in frustration. This time, she did not finish the race.

The strength these athletes showed in subsequent media appearances and interviews, in which they were forced to recount the details of some of the most devastating moments of their careers, were stunning examples of Olympic grace. Their failures, as much as their previous successes, were lessons in poise and in handling the tragedies that life invariably has in store.

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<![CDATA[Goodbye London, Hello Sochi!]]> Fri, 17 May 2013 09:42:01 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/sochi.jpg

As London 2012 closes, Olympic addicts are already getting excited about the 2014 Sochi Winter Games in Russia.

A surprise winner back in 2007, the tourist resort area on the southwest coast of the Black Sea near Russia's border with Georgia won the bid to host the games following intensive campaigning from noted sports fan and Russian President, Vladimir Putin. Sochi beat out Peyongchang in South Korea which, at the time, was considered to be the favorite choice for host city.

Adding fuel to the early excitement fire was Evan Lysacek's announcement on "Today" Friday that he would be returning to professional skating competition and hopes to make the U.S. team that will be Russia bound. The revelation gives Lysacek two years to get back into elite form - he took gold in men's figure skating at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics - and audiences a chance to regain their Olympic fervor following London.

Sochi, where palm-lined beaches are set against a backdrop of snow-capped mountains, has been a popular vacation draw for Russians for over a century and has 343, 285 residents according to a 2010 census. To brush off the dust, raise the area to Olympic standards and host the games will cost Russia a reported $30 billion. Every venue has to be constructed by scratch according to the Washington Post. An upgrade of the telecommunication and power systems is underway while 220 miles of new roads and 125 miles of railway are being built to avoid gridlock.

Even with all the building and investment, Sochi will be the most compact Winter Games in Olympic history with only two multisport venues - one in the mountains for the downhill events as well as city venues for hockey, skating, curling and the opening and closing ceremonies.

Private investment in the region has also increased. Rosa Khutor, the new ski resort where many of the downhill events will be staged has a projected private industry cost of $2 billion according to the AP. That amount buys 60 miles of new ski paths. Some 20,000 new hotel rooms are also being built in the area.

"We’re creating the new standard in environmentally-friendly construction, and we’re creating the volunteerism culture that did not exist in our country before,” said Dmitri Chernyshenko, president and chief executive of the Sochi Winter Games organizing committee, in an interview with the AP.

Like London with its security woes, the Sochi Games are already making headlines of the negative variety. Russian officials recently defied the Olympic Charter by banning Pride House, a gay-targeted venue for LGBT athletes and allies during the games which first appeared in Vancouver in 2010 and then again in London. While the move has activists citing human rights violations, the I.O.C. has yet to make a statement concerning the ban.

On the fun side, the five mascots for the Winter Games were announced in February following a public vote during the live television show "Talismaniya Sochi 2014." The hare, polar bear and leopard have been chosen, while the Ray of Light and Snowflake were named as Paralympic Winter Games mascots. It was the first time in the history of the Olympic movement that an entire country was involved with the selection process.

While tickets are still not available for sale, online registration for news and updates is available at tickets.sochi2014.com.

The XXII Winter Olympic Games will be held in Sochi, Russia from February 7-23, 2014 and broadcast on NBC.

 



Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jamaican Bobsled Team Gets Silicon Valley Olympic Boost]]> Tue, 21 Jan 2014 20:32:38 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/01-21-2014-jamaican-bobsled.jpg

Remember the Jamaican Bobsled team? Of course you do. They kicked up some snow back in the 1988 Olympic Games, made a movie, and then kept going.

Until they slid to a stop.

But now, they're back, with a new way to get back to the Games: Crowdfunding. With a boost from crowdfunders like Indiegogo, Crowdtilt, and Reddit, the Jamaican Bobsled Team is well on its way to booking another round of flights, this time to Sochi Russia.

At last check, the team is closing in on its goal of $80,000 to cover expenses and supplies. The team says it also wants to raise cash to make sure future generations of Jamaican Bobsledders can hit the mountains as well.

If you're interested in helping, check one of the sites, and be a part of the team.

Scott covers tech (and the Olympics) on Twitter: @scottbudman

 



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Olympic Medalist: I Was Pregnant in London]]> Mon, 24 Sep 2012 10:54:41 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/kerriwalshjennings.jpg

The odd feeling Kerri Walsh Jennings felt in her stomach at the London Olympics wasn't just butterflies.

The three-time gold medalist in beach volleyball was five weeks pregnant at the games, she told Matt Lauer on Monday's "Today" show.

“When I was throwing my body around fearlessly, and going for gold for our country, I was pregnant,” Walsh Jennings said.

The Olympian first started noticing that her "body started to feel different" while she was overseas.

"I'm a pretty happy girl and I was unreasonably moody," she said. “I thought it could have been the stress of the games and travel kind of throws your schedule off. But I knew. At some point, you’re late and then you start feeling something. And I definitely felt something in London.”

Walsh Jennings, who successfully defended her gold medal title with teammate and fellow Californian Misty-May Treanor, said that the pregnancy did not affect her game. The duo became the first women’s beach volleyball pair to win three consecutive gold medals.

“I gave everything I had,” Walsh Jennings said on "Today."

The baby, due April 9, will be the athlete’s third child. Walsh Jennings and her husband, Casey Jennings, have two boys, Joey, 3, and Sundance, 2.

The gold medalist has a history of quickly returning to the game. Kerri Walsh returned within four months to the volleyball court after giving birth to her second son in 2010.

"I want to be the best," she then answered on a Q&A at the NBC Olympics site. "I want to win a gold medal in London." 

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy



Photo Credit: FILE-Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA["Blade Runner" Pistorius Surrenders Another Olympic Title]]> Fri, 07 Sep 2012 06:57:04 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP681714961761.jpg

Surrendering a second Paralympic title in London, a chastened Oscar Pistorius was gracious in defeat this time.

Four days after suggesting a rival bent the rules to take away his 200-meter title, Pistorius — the original "Blade Runner" — didn't even make the podium for the showpiece 100 final on Thursday.

The 2008 Beijing champion had to settle for fourth place in the Olympic Stadium, even finishing behind compatriot Arnu Fourie, who earned the bronze medal.

It was British teenager Jonnie Peacock who claimed the glory, roared to gold by an 80,000-strong home crowd, in 10.90 seconds.

"For me not to be able to defend my title, but to see a performance and to be beaten by an athlete like that, makes me extremely happy," Pistorius said of the 19-year-old world-record holder. "He really epitomizes professional sprinting — not just as a Paralympic athlete but as one of the world's best.

"And to be part of that race, even if I didn't finish on the podium, was a blessing."

Pistorius, the 25-year-old double amputee, was not bothered about being upstaged in the T43 classification race by roommate Fourie, who is two years his senior and narrowly edged him a tight finish.

"I saw my name come up in third place when we crossed the line and I was quite happy ... and when I actually saw that Arnu had beaten me I think I was more happy that I came fourth," said Pistorius, who made his groundbreaking debut at the Olympics last month.

"I am going to celebrate his medal with him tonight."

The pleasure was a far cry from the seemingly bitter aftermath on Sunday in the stadium when Pistorius accused 200 winner Alan Oliveira of using lengthened blades to depose him as Paralympic champion in that race. The Brazilian could place only seventh in the shorter sprint, a place behind world champion Jerome Singleton of the United States.

"I think the sport has been appreciated a lot more now, and we can focus on proper performances," Pistorius said. "And we saw a proper performance by Jonnie Peacock tonight. ... I just got beaten by three better guys."

Richard Browne, the American who took silver in 11.03, sees a changing of the guard in the Paralympic sprints.

"It's good to be that new wave coming in," the 21-year-old Browne said. "It's a new generation — me and Jonnie."

Asked if it was the end of his dominance, Pistorius replied: "Most definitely. I haven't dominated the 100 in about three years."

But he did anchor the South Africa team to victory in the 4x100 relay on Wednesday.

The priority in London for Pistorius has always been on defending the third of his Beijing titles: the 400 meters.

"I'm desperate for that," Pistorius said.

Just as desperate as he was to become the first amputee sprinter to compete at the Olympics, where he reached the 4x400 relay final and the semifinal in the 400 on the London track last month.

Saturday's 400 final now presents his last chance at an individual gold medal during his duel-games summer in London.

"People place a lot of emphasis on the 100 meters. For me, I place that emphasis on my 400. ... I will give the crowd the best 400 they have seen," he said.

This edition of the Paralympics has sold more tickets, generated more revenue and been broadcast in more countries than any previous.

Around 45 million pounds ($71.7 million) is expected to be raised in ticket sales, exceeding initial expectations of 35 million pounds ($55.7 million), organizers said Thursday.

More than 2.7 million tickets already have been sold, surpassing the previous mark of 900,000 at the Beijing Paralympics in 2008. The 2012 Games have been broadcast in more than 100 countries.

"People out here don't even take notice of the disabilities," Pistorius said. "They see hardcore athletics."



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Allyson Felix Discusses Olympic Gold on Leno]]> Sat, 18 Aug 2012 01:13:48 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AllysonFelix.jpg

Olympic gold medalist Allyson Felix stopped by “The Tonight Show” Friday night to speak with Jay Leno about her performance at the London Games, her future as a competitor and a childhood nickname she can’t seem to escape.

Wearing a long-sleeve red dress, the track and field star discussed her three gold medal victories in the 200-meter, 4x400-meter relay and 4x100-meter relay in London.

She said one of her proudest moments was seeing her parents after her races. In fact, she keeps her gold medals at her parents’ house.

“They like to do a bit of bragging when people come over,” she said.

And they have a lot to brag about. In London, Felix, 26, became the first U.S. woman to win three golds in Olympic track and field since 1988. She also became the second to win Olympic gold at the 4x100 and 4x400 either at one Games or all-time.

When asked what she did after her victories, Felix said she indulged by asking her brother to buy her Ben and Jerry’s Oatmeal Cookie Chunk ice cream.

“I sat on my bed all alone and just pigged out,” she said.

Finally, Felix discussed her plans for the future and a childhood nickname that followed her to London. During one of her races, an announcer said classmates used to call her “chicken legs,” a name she hated but now embraces. She also said she plans to compete in the 2016 Games in Rio De Janeiro.

“I’m going to shoot for it,” she said. "I feel like everything's finally coming together. I've got to keep it going."
 



Photo Credit: NBC]]>
<![CDATA[Golden Olympian Comes Home to Hero's Welcome]]> Sat, 18 Aug 2012 13:06:32 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/193*120/8-18-2012+1-05-28+PM.jpg

With the 2012 Olympic Games of London fading into memory, the red white and blue clothing stuffed back into drawers, and the evening’s TV selection no longer pre-determined, Olympic athletes have begun slipping back into their old regular lives.

But even in the quiet East Bay town of Danville, women’s water polo gold medalist Maggie Steffens wasn’t shying from the spotlight.

On Friday, an appearance at a Danville gym turned into an Olympic-sized fan fest. Inside a scrum of kids, parents and well-wishers Steffens signed autographs, posed for about a zillion photos, and let the youngsters lift her four-pound gold medal.

She happily fielded questions like; “What did she eat after the U.S. beat Spain?(McDonalds); “Has she ever gotten hurt under water?”(not really); and “is water polo as violent as it looks in the underwater cameras?”(it’s physical, but fun). “I was once in their spot,” said Steffens between autographs.

“I was once five or ten years old dreaming of being an Olympian.” Steffens dreams have probably now defied even the limits of a truly bold imagination. Steffen lead the women’s water polo team to an 8 – 5 victory over Spain, earning a gold medal in the process.  

With her sister Jessica as a teammate, she did the locals proud. “I’m just in awe of them,” said Maggie’s mother Peggy Steffens.

“They’re amazing and they have so much fun in the pool so it makes it easier for us.” After the games, Maggie Steffens arrived back in Danville to posters and flags strewn throughout her tranquil neighborhood. The neighbors even took to posting the scores of her games on trees.

“The first thing I see is ‘congratulations Olympians Jessica and Maggie’ and all of our scores on the corner of our street,” said Steffens. 

Among the first orders of business for Steffens was to hug her dog Speedo, visit friends and sleep… a lot.

But soon she was embracing her role as a new ambassador for a sport that doesn’t normally grab headlines. “She’s got a lot of energy in case you didn’t notice,” said Peggy Steffens.

“She’s been like that since she was little. She’s enjoying every minute of it.” The Olympian says she plans to enjoy a week of rest before resuming her training. In a month, she’ll begin her freshman year at Stanford. “So it’s going to be kind of fun to just go to Stanford, be 19 years old and make new friends, go to school, do homework,” Maggie said, without even a trace of sarcasm.

But try as she might, life as normal, may prove elusive. During a visit to a recent Danville car show, she was swamped by well-wishers who recognized her, even without her swim cap. For at least now, she said she’s happy for the accolades.

“To know that I have an impact to help water polo grow, especially women’s water polo,” Steffens said, “that’s the best opportunity to me.”

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<![CDATA[Michael Phelps' Agent Says Swimmer in the Clear]]> Fri, 17 Aug 2012 15:38:54 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/phelps-gold-P2.jpg

Michael Phelps agent is flatly denying that the swimmer broke International Olympic Committee rules with photos in which he posed with luggage.

Two photos that Annie Leibovitz took of Phelps went into heavy rotation on the internet earlier this week — one showing him sitting on a couch with former Russian gymnast Larisa Latynina, whose medal record he just broke, and another showing him wearing a Speedo while he slumps in a bathtub. In each, a Louis Vuitton bag is prominently featured

The IOC's infamous Rule 40 (PDF) prohibits Olympic athletes from appearing in advertising for non-Olympic sponsors from July 18 to Aug. 15.

The rule states that athletes found in violation of the rule may face fines or even the loss of their medals, but Phelps' agent, Peter Carlisle, says his client did nothing wrong.

"He didn't violate Rule 40, it's as simple as that," Carlisle said in a telephone interview with the Associated Press. "All that matters is whether the athlete permitted that use. That's all he can control. In this case, Michael did not authorize that use. The images hadn't even been reviewed, much less approved. It's as simple as that. An athlete can't control unauthorized uses any more than you can guarantee someone isn't going to break into your house."  

The photo of Phelps with Latynina, the only one to which Louis Vuitton owns the rights, made its official debut in the Aug. 16 editions of the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

If it the leaking of the photos had been intentional, “it is probably a violation of Rule 40,” Sekou Campbell, an intellectual property attorney at Fox Rothschild who has written about Rule 40, told CNBC.

It seems unlikely that the IOC would go as far as to strip Phelps of some hardware, as far too much of the excitement around this year's Games centered on his pursuit of Latynina's record.

The rule sparked a minor protest, as many Olympians took to Twitter to express their displeasure over the financial hardship it created for most of the athletes.

"They don’t see the three or four years leading up to the Olympic Games, when a lot of my peers are struggling to stay in the sport. The majority of track and field athletes don’t have sponsors and don’t have support to stay in the sport,” Sonya Richards-Ross told The Associated Press. “A lot of my peers have second and third jobs to be able to do this. And that’s just unfortunate. And so it was a concerted effort.”



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Nike's "Gold Digging" T-Shirt Stirs Controversy]]> Thu, 15 Nov 2012 10:50:25 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/195*120/gold-digging.jpg

Trying to capitalize on a historic effort by the women of the U.S. Olympic team, Nike offered up a tribute via t-shirt. But what they thought was a clever play on words is being met with outrage.

Nike's "Gold Digging" t-shirt—available only in women's sizes—was meant to acknowledge the 46 gold medals won by American women at the 2012 Olympics in London.

But the phrase "gold digging" has for years been a reference to women who date wealthy men only for their money. Apparently aware Nike was possibly wading into dangerous waters, the description of the tee at World Soccer Shop tries to diffuse any controversy:

We aren’t saying they’re gold diggers – we’re just saying they’re out for the gold! What’s wrong with that?

Nike, for its part, describes the shirt on its website as "style that starts a conversation."

"When nothing less than the best will do, the Nike 'Gold Digging' Women's T-Shirt is up to the challenge with a bold design that's a treat on the eyes in a slim, comfortable fit," they write.

Nonetheless, Nike is being called out by some for suggesting that only women can be gold diggers.

"What’s wrong? Well, lots of things, actually," wrote Styleite. "For instance, does this shirt come in men’s sizes? Nope. Because gold digging is just for the ladies, of course! Come on, Nike."

Nike denies any charges of sexism, saying the shirt was meant to cast in a positive light the recent success of female athletes. 

"Nike has consistently supported female athletes and the position they enjoy as positive role models," Nike said in a statement. "The t-shirt uses a phrase in an ironic way that is relevant given it was released just as the world focused on the success of female athletes."
 



Photo Credit: Nike]]>
<![CDATA[Gymnast's Homecoming "Super-Duper Emotional"]]> Thu, 16 Aug 2012 07:54:19 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/mckaylasmiles.jpg

It was a heroine's welcome for gold medalist McKayla Maroney on Wednesday when she returned to her Westside Los Angeles gymnastics center after the London 2012 Olympics.

She was greeted by young gymnasts bearing roses at All Olympia Gymnastics Center. They even rolled out a red carpet for the 16-year-old.

"It was so amazing," Maroney said. "I immediately started getting super-duper emotional. I was just so shocked. ... It just meant so much to me, and I feel so happy right now."

Maroney won a gold medal in the women's team competition and a silver in the vault. But the medals were just part of Maroney's Olympic story.

During the latter medal ceremony, she made an dissatisfied expression that has come to be known as the "McKayla is not impressed" face. Images of Maroney making the face became an Internet sensation.

She took her online meme-hood lightly, even retweeting an image in which she appeared making the now-signature expression in a Peanuts cartoon.

"I don't regret anything. Everything happens for a reason," Maroney said. "I still thought it was funny even in the very beginning."

One of the banners that greeted her upon her return Wednesday night read: "We are impressed! Welcome back, McKayla!"

As for her future after gymnastics, this Olympian has her sights set on acting.

"I have an agent and I love fashion and modeling and all that kind of stuff," Maroney said. "It's definitely one of my other passions, other than gymnastics."

Follow NBCLA for the latest LA news, events and entertainment: iPhone/iPad App | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Instagram | RSS | Text Alerts | Email Alerts

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<![CDATA[Bay Area Olympians Return Home]]> Mon, 13 Aug 2012 21:39:38 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/N6POLYMPIANSRETURNPKG_7113679_722x406_31787110.jpg Several Olympians from the Bay Area returned home after competing in the London Games.]]> <![CDATA[Phelps Goes Back in the Water with Louis Vuitton]]> Mon, 13 Aug 2012 12:31:58 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Phelps-Bathtub-P3.jpg

Has your Michael Phelps hangover left you with a pounding headache? Try a little hair of the dog.

Just hours after the closing ceremonies for the 2012 Olympics, A photo of Phelps lounging in a bathtub in Speedo, open Louis Vuitton bag at his side, made its way to the Internet via Just Jared.

With a pair of swim goggles perched atop his forehead, the look on Phelps' face is somewhere between "come hither" and "get out"--maybe a bit of both. On the floor next to the tub a pair of jeans and towels sits a top the luxury bag.

The image appears to be an ad for Vuitton, which is featuring Phelps as the latest celebrity in its Core Values campaign, according to the Daily Mail. In that ad, he sits clothed in a three-piece suit on a couch with 77-year-old former Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina. But the fashion giant was mum on details on the bathtub photo. None-the-less fashion blogs around the nation pronounced it divine.

If the two images don't give you your fill of Phelps, stay tuned for the start of season five of "The Haney Project," during which Phelps will travel the globe with acclaimed golf coach Hank Haney, playing the best courses in the world.

No world on a Ryan Lochte reality show.



Photo Credit: Louis Vuitton]]>
<![CDATA[Joyful and Rockin' Close to London 2012]]> Mon, 13 Aug 2012 05:37:35 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/CS-fire.jpg

The cream of the British music industry -- including The Spice Girls, The Who, and the teaming of pop goddess Jesse J with the remaining members of Queen -- rocked Olympic Stadium to close the London 2012 Games in a spectacular, joyful ceremony.

The dazzling, psychedelic celebration took spectators on a journey through the swinging sixties of Carnaby Street into 1980s new wave and onto the power ballads of the nineties before closing with rap and pop tracks that rule today's U.K. charts. Sunday's ceremony, titled "A Symphony of British Music," was set against an ever-changing physical and digital backdrop.

"We lit the flame, and we lit up the world," London organizing committee chief Sebastian Coe said. "When our time came, Britain, we did it right."

The often tongue-in-cheek performances began with replicas of famed London landmarks Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, and the London Eye being stripped of newspaper wrappings to reveal a bustling, technicolor representation of a metropolis in motion. The soundtrack? "Our House," sung live by 80s' chart-toppers Madness, as well as Blur's "Park Life," and the Pet Shop Boys' "West End Girls." Singer Ray Davies later arrived via black cab to perform the Kink's 1967 classic “Waterloo Sunset."

Members of Stomp, the ageless, trash-can-pounding West End musical really got the 80,000 revelers in attendance cheering the city, the athletes and the volunteers that made these Games such a success.

Along with the greats of the British music scene, more than 4,100 participants including 3,500 adult volunteers and 380 schoolchildren from the six east London host boroughs participated in the event according to the official London 2012 website.

‘We want to create a fabulous emotional experience, something people remember for years to come," said artistic director Kim Gavin in a statement prior to the closing ceremony. And memorable it was, in particular the moment when the thousands of indefatigable volunteers were symbolically thanked for their hard work.

The audience first rose to their feet in unison as the march of the athletes began with flag-bearers entering the stadium in single file. In a surprise twist, the more than 10,000 participants from 204 countries arrived via many entry points, including through the rows of seated spectators who cheered and offered back-slaps to the competitors as they took their places around a giant Union Jack shaped stage that covered the arena floor.

In contrast to the opening ceremony athletes marched together, not by nationality, thus allowing them to be free to enjoy the festivities as a united group. This tradition began in Melbourne, Australia at the 1956 Games and is seen as bringing the global athletes together as one nation.

Some 70,000 pixels adorned the seats of the stadium, turning the arena into a giant light-box of flashing visuals that encouraged the participants to sing along as George Michael took the stage for his mega-hit "Freedom 90." In a poignant moment, the face of John Lennon appeared to hover above the crowd and sing his 1971 hit "Imagine" while a three dimensional jigsaw of the late Beatle's face was created center stage. Later in the proceedings, Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of Queen who died in 1991, also made an appearance via video screens.

Prince Harry, the Duchess of Cambridge and other members of the Royal Family were in attendance to watch the flag handover ceremony. The Queen released a statement thanking the volunteers but did not attend as there was no official role for the head of state, according to Buckingham Palace. Prince William had to return to his post as a helicopter search-and-rescue pilot for the Royal Air Force in advance of the evening's entertainment.

During a tribute to British fashion, models Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Lily Cole, Georgia Jagger and Stella Tennant were clad in gold designer duds by homegrown designers including Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, Burberry and Jonathan Saunders as they strut across the stage - all to the strains of what else but David Bowie's "Fashion."

And it wouldn't have been a celebration of English quirk without a nod to the country's great tradition of comedy. Monty Python alum Eric Idle almost stole the show as he enlisted everyone in a sing-along version of "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" from 1979s "Life of Brian."

Another banner moment occurred when The Spice Girls reunited to sing "Wannabe" and "Spice Up Your Life" all the while careening around the track atop glittering black taxis. Liam Gallagher followed with a performance of the Oasis hit "Wonderwall." In other Brit supergroup pairings, the remaining members of Queen enlisted the vocal prowess of Jesse J. to get the audience chanting the anthem "We Will Rock You."

Other entertainers on the night included celebrated "Right Here, Right Now" deejay Fat Boy Slim, singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran who joined members of Pink Floyd for a version of "Wish You Were Here," Annie Lennox in full 1980s goth-get-up belting out "Little Bird" and comedian Russell Brand who made his entrance via a psychedelic bus and then proceeded to shout "I Am the Walrus." Jesse J was back on deck along with Tinie Tempah and Taio Cruz -- the trio collaborating on a bass-thumping version of the Bee Gees' "You Should Be Dancing."

Former teen heartthrobs Take That also regrouped for a performance. The '90s group sang "Rule the World" before prima ballerina Darcy Bussell and 300 dancers took to the stage as embodiments of the dying flames of the Olympic Cauldron. As their dance played out, a giant red Phoenix rose above the fire that at its extinguishing, signaled the official end of the London 2012 Games.

In a breathtaking finale, The Who belted out their hits "Baba O'Riley" and "My Generation" as the London sky was punctuated with erupting fireworks.

The celebration allowed competitors to let down their hair, mingle and momentarily forget sporting battles won and lost. It also provided host country Great Britain a final opportunity to show off its artistic accomplishments before handing the Olympic reigns to Sochi, Russia, the tourist resort area on the southwest coast of the Black Sea that will host the 2014 Winter Games.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ryan Hall Drops Out of Olympic Marathon]]> Sun, 12 Aug 2012 10:50:08 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Ryan-Hall.jpg

Stanford's Ryan Hall dropped out of the Olympic marathon Sunday with a hamstring injury dashing his hopes at a medal.

Hall dropped out around mile 11 Sunday morning. 

Hall said he knew he was hurt when the race started, but said he tried to continue until his hamstring muscle got progressively tighter.  

He talked about the painful decision to walk away from the race with NBC Sports. 

Just had some hamstring tightness going into the race and it was something that was getting progressively worse as I was going, and I start to feel my stride start to alter. From the beginning, it didn't feel fluid ... I was trying to work through it the best I could, but it got to a point to where it wasn't going to let me continue. It was the first I've ever DNF'd in my life, so, ya know, it's a real bummer. I'm kinda in shock right now. It hasn't really hit me, what just happened. One of those things where it's going to take some time to get through. You gotta have big perspective, I guess, and know what your body can handle and what it can't and today it just ... wasn't ... wasn't in the cards.

(DNF stands for "did not finish.:)

The gold medal went to Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda, who finished in 2:08:01.

Abel Kirui of Kenya won the silver in 2:08:27.  

Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich of Kenya took bronze in 2:09:37.

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Closing Ceremony: A Symphony of British Music]]> Mon, 13 Aug 2012 09:43:52 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Close-Sub-P9.jpg The after party of Olympic proportion. The London 2012 Closing Ceremony, directed by Kim Gavin and entitled "A Symphony of British Music," highlighted some of the best British music. Click to see amazing photos from the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Raj Has Some Final Fun on Famous Road]]> Sat, 11 Aug 2012 10:53:11 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/243*120/rajhd.jpg We take a pause from the sport of Olympics and have some fun with a road made famous by the Beatles.]]> <![CDATA[The Who to Close Out London Olympics ]]> Sat, 11 Aug 2012 05:53:10 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/96424085.jpg

The last time The Who played to a huge TV audience as part of a major sporting event – as the halftime act at Super Bowl XLIV in 2010 – the reviews ranged from lukewarm to as cruel as pinball wizard Tommy's sadistic Cousin Kevin.

The poor notices, to our ears, were overstated, even if packing a medley of five classic songs into 12 minutes didn't best represent the group – or best serve more than 100 million TV viewers.

On Sunday, Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend will close the Olympics before an expected worldwide audience of four billion – offering the group’s surviving members a chance to prove The Who is the perfect imperfect band to send the Games out on a high note.

Sure, the reported reunion of the Spice Girls, who are expected to regroup for the closing ceremony, is grabbing much of the pre-show attention. And it's a fairly safe bet that if Robert Plant had acquiesced to just one more trip up the stairway, Led Zeppelin would have been the Games' final act. We’re guessing the Rolling Stones, whose latest possible comeback has been unfolding in slow motion, also could have scored the gig.

But The Who might be best built to take the games home – and not just because of a catalogue filled with anthemic songs that still soar on Daltrey’s preternaturally powerful voice and Townsend’s windmill-fueled power chords, even as both approach 70.

The opening ceremony, wonderfully quirky with its share of odd moments, bounced – literally, during the trampoline-filled salute to the National Health Service – from the UK’s impact on capitalism to literature to the Internet, a scattershot pastiche that underscored the country's ongoing post-British Empire search a place in the world. The show also reinforced that UK's greatest export during Queen Elizabeth II's reign has been music – brilliantly exemplified by Paul McCartney, who represented his fellow Beatles by leading the world in a sing-a-long of "Hey Jude."

The Who, however, more than any other British Invasion rock act, reflects in very personal songs their nation’s search for its identity and place. Those themes – fueled in the group’s youth by an energy born of rage and frustration, and in more recent years by a refusal to die spiritually by getting old – are at the heart of “Quadrophenia” and “Tommy,” rock-opera masterworks by a group that famously asked in song, “Who Are You?”

Daltrey told reporters last month that he and Townshend were planning “a piece of music that is a fabulous ending for the Olympics ... and just shows the great music that has come out of this country.” That’s a tantalizing thought – as is the notion of capping the Games with “We Won’t Get Fooled Again,” “Baba O’Reilly” or “Pinball Wizard,” which celebrated a sport of sorts that has yet to make it as an Olympic event.

Daltrey and Townshend, after taking the world stage, are set to embark on their first U.S. tour in four years this fall, playing “Quadrophenia” and a set of hits. But on Sunday, the group that both defied and defined Britain with “My Generation,” will have the opportunity to put on a performance for the ages.

Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992. Follow him on Twitter.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bolt Wins 3rd Gold, World Relay Record]]> Sat, 11 Aug 2012 13:53:18 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Usain-Bolt-P21.jpg

Usain Bolt won his third gold of the London games Saturday, anchoring a Jamaican team that set a world record in the men's 4x100m relay.

Bolt, already a near-mythical figure in track and field, entered the London games facing questions about his ability to defend the three titles he won in Beijing four years ago. With his customary braggadocio and flair for the dramatic, he swept all three -- the 100m, the 200m and, finally, the 4x100m.

The Jamaicans finished the relay in 36.85 seconds, breaking their own record of 37.04, which they set last year in Korea.

The American team, staffed with its own set of heavyweights, including Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay,  equalled that broken record, finishing second in 37.04. Trinidad and Tobago won bronze in 38.12.

The record-fast relay brought Olympic track and field competition to a fitting end. It was the last event at Olympic Stadium before Sunday's closing ceremony.

Bolt was sure to make the celebration last.

After crossing the finish line ahead of Team USA's Ryan Bailey, Bolt saluted the roaring crowd, headed to the stands for some hugs with fans, then walked the track with his teammates, flexing and posing. At one point, an Olympics official asked Bolt to return the yellow relay baton he was holding, and initially Bolt refused, apparently wanting to keep it as a memento. The official persisted, and finally Bolt acquiesced. The crowd booed. The Jamaicans then posed for pictures in front of a scoreboard showing their record-breaking time.

A little while later, an Olympics official appeared to return the baton to Bolt, and the crowd cheered its approval.

The Bolt performance followed a dominating race by American women, who won their second relay gold in as many days.

The team of Dee Dee Trotter, Allyson Felix, Francena McCrory, and anchorwoman Sanya Richards-Ross crushed the field in the 4x400m, finshing in 3:16:88, nearly four seconds ahead of the Russians, who came in second. The Jamaicans took bronze.

The victory came a day after the American team of Tianna Madison, Felix, Bianca Knight and Carmelita Jeter set a new world record in the women's 4x100m relay.

Felix has now won three gold medals in London, and Richards-Ross two. Each has four medals in their Olympic careers.

Also on Saturday, Briton Mo Farah won his second long-distance gold of the London games, completing the men’s 5000m in 13 minutes, 41.66 seconds, crossing just ahead of Ethopia’s Dejen Gebremeskel. Kenya’s Thomas Pkemei Longosiwa came in third.

Russian Mariya Savinova won the women’s 800m in 1:56:19, beating silver-medal winner Pamela Jelimo of Kenya and bronze-winner Alysia Montano Johnson of Team USA.

American Brigetta Barrett won silver in the women's high jump, clearing 2.03 meters, just short of Russian Anna Chicherova's 2.05.

The men's javelin was won by Keshorn Walcott of Trinidad and Tobago.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Cal Grad Alysia Montano Doesn't Medal]]> Sat, 11 Aug 2012 15:49:01 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/166*120/montano.JPG

On the final weekend of the London Olympics UC Berkeley graduate Alysia Montano failed to medal in the 800-meter final.

Mariya Savinova of Russia took the gold. Montano came in 5th.

Montano lead the field in the first lap, but lost steam in the final stretch. The opposite happened for silver medal winner Caster Semenya of South Africa. She was last with 250 meters to go, but had a  strong finish that kicked her to second place. Semenya is the athlete who was forced to undergo gender tests.

Savinova finished the race in a season's-best 1:56.19, beating Semenya by 1.04 seconds.

Russia also took the bronze with Ekaterina Poistogova.

Back to Montano and her Bay Area ties:

The road to the London Olympic Games for the UC Berkeley graduate took a medical detour in 2008. She was considered a shoe-in for the Bejing games before a broken foot nearly broke her Olympic dreams.

But at that level, athletes can't give up. And Montano didn't.

"I had a couple of doctors telling me I wasn't going to run again at the elite level, but I just left them behind and found other ones," Montano said.

The 26-year-old healed from her injury, and soon become the fastest woman in the 800-meter run in 2010.

Montano also finds strength and beauty in what has now become a staple in her hair. A flower. "It was my symbol of strength in femininity and not losing that part of me," Montano said.

Montano talks about qualifying for the women's 800m in London, and about the strength she draws from the ever-present hair decoration.  Watch that video here.

Montano's team also includes her husband of a little more than a year, Louis Montano. The two met in junior high in Santa Clarita and kept in touch as friends through college. A couple of years ago, that friendship turned into a romance. They now live in Canyon Country in Southern California.

"This sport at the end of the day can be very lonely," Alysia Montano said. "You become introverted in what you are doing, that the balance on the other side is very important. Louis really brings that balance for me."

To see uncut video of Alysia Montano talk about how she began running at an early age, click here:

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[U.S. Women Outperformed Men in London]]> Sat, 11 Aug 2012 20:01:12 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/soccer+ground.jpg

The London Olympics were historic for American women before they even started: For the first time, women outnumbered men on the Team USA roster.

Now the ladies can boast that they outperformed the guys, too.

Of America’s world-leading haul of 102 medals as of Saturday night, 58 were won by its women, including 29 of Team USA's 41 golds.

Most of the American women say their success has a lot to do with the fact that they grew up during a time when there were many more women athletes to emulate, thanks to Title IX, the 1972 federal law that expanded educational and athletic opportunities for women and girls.

“The exposure for women in sports has never been greater,” U.S. track coach Amy Deem told the Associated Press.

But it’s not only an American development. The 2012 games are the first in which all participating countries sent at least one woman competitor. And with the addition of women’s boxing, females for the first time competed in all the sports that men did.

Many of the greatest triumphs of this year’s competition starred women: Jessica Ennis in the heptathlon, Gabby Douglas in gymnastics, swimmer Missy Franklin, 17-year-old boxer Claressa Shields, the American relay team beating a 27-year-old record in the 4x100m, judoka Kyla Harrison winning gold.

The literal and symbolic culmination of women’s impact on the London games may have been Thursday’s gold medal match in women’s soccer, when a record 80,000 people showed up at London’s Wembley stadium to watch the Americans beat Japan.

Even so, many members of that U.S. squad pointed out afterward that there is still a long way to go. The Women’s Professional Soccer league folded this year, and plans to create a new league are in doubt. That means the Olympic champions will return home without much idea of where they will continue their careers.

“If I sit and think about it, there’s a little bitterness. More than a little bitterness,” American goalkeeper Hope Solo told the AP. “It’s the times we live in, there should be opportunities for women.”

In other words, the women still expect better. And they know they deserve it.

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<![CDATA[Olympic Viewing Guide: Closing Ceremony]]> Fri, 05 Oct 2012 10:19:38 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/spice-girls-flag.jpg

Sunday's closing ceremony will be every bit as spectacular as its opening counterpart that took place a mere 16 days ago. Only this time, fun will take precedence over the actual Games.

A relaxed celebration of the athletic achievements that have preceded it, the ceremony allows competitors to let down their hair, mingle and momentarily forget sporting battles won and lost. It also provides host country Great Britain a final opportunity to show off its artistic accomplishments before the official handover to Rio de Janeiro, who will stage the summer games in 2016.

The event will be streamed lived on NBCOlympics com at 4 p.m ET and air during the final Olympics prime-time show on NBC at 7 p.m. ET/PT Sunday.

Titled "A Symphony of British Music," the evening's performances will feature some of the greatest names of the British music industry along with more than 4,100 participants, including 3,500 adult volunteers and 380 schoolchildren from the six east London host boroughs, according to the official London 2012 website.

Like its opening bookend, Sunday's ceremony must contain certain elements as outlined in the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Charter: the march of the athletes; hoisting of the flags of the countries of the first Olympics (Greece), current (United Kingdom) and future (Brazil); the passing of the Olympic flag and the extinguishing of the Olympic flame -- a poignant moment signaling the official end of the games.

Following these formalities, the partying really begins.

In what remains a guessing game of bold-faced pop-music names, artistic director Kim Gavin and his team have assembled a cast that will showcase how music has been one of Britain’s strongest cultural exports over the last 50 years. ‘We want to create a fabulous emotional experience, something people remember for years to come," said Gavin in a recent statement. "It will be an elegant mash-up of British music."

Rumors of just who will entertain the 80,000+ physical attendees and around 1 billion television viewers include reunions of Brit super-groups Spice Girls and Take That, as well as appearances by Annie Lennox, The Pet Shop Boys, Ray Davies, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Madness, Muse, One Direction, Jesse J, Elbow, Adele, Elton John, and the remaining members of Queen. According to a preliminary set list obtained by the Daily Mail, ballerina Darcy Bussell and 300 dancers will perform as the flame is extinguished while The Who are currently expected to close the show.

One performer definitely confirmed to appear is George Michael, who announced his participation via Twitter. Chided by a follower for going public amidst all the secrecy, the "Freedom 90" singer replied: "It's been all over the press for weeks, and I think you all needed to be put out of your misery," before adding, "Obviously a bit nervous not having played for nearly a year, but rehearsals sounding great so far!"

The evening's musical director David Arnold told the Daily Telegraph that predictions Paul McCartney and Adele would perform were "scarily accurate," but would not confirm growing rumors that reclusive singer Kate Bush would appear.

In a tribute to British fashion, models Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Lily Cole, Georgia Jagger and Stella Tennant will strut a catwalk to the strains of David Bowie's "Fashion," the Daily Mail also revealed.

How these events will be staged is still guesswork, but sneak-peak photographs of some of the sets were leaked this week showing reduced-scale reconstructions of some of London's most famous landmarks, including Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, St. Pauls Cathedral, Tower Bridge and the London Eye - all covered in newspaper. These iconic monuments will reportedly be unwrapped early in the program as 300 performers take part in a routine based on London's rush hour, with cars, bicycles, motorcycles and commuters whizzing about the main stage.

The Daily Mail also reports that London's famed Notting Hill Carnival will be recreated, along with a parade of 160 Coldstream Guards and a comedy performance by Russell Brand, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders that contains a version of the Sex Pistol's "Pretty Vacant."

Ultimately, the closing ceremony is all about the competitors as they bid goodbye to London and bring the curtain down on the Games of the 30th Olympiad. The march of the athletes will begin with flag-bearers entering the stadium in single file, closely followed by the athletes who, in contrast to the opening ceremony, march together, not by nationality. They are then free to enjoy the festivities as a united group. This tradition began in Melbourne, Australia at the 1956 Games and is seen as bringing the global athletes together as one nation.

The closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games will be broadcast at 7 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.

 

 


 

 



Photo Credit: FilmMagic]]>
<![CDATA[Czech David Svoboda Takes Gold in Men's Modern Pentathlon]]> Sun, 12 Aug 2012 08:07:58 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/David-Svoboda.jpg

David Svoboda of the Czech Republic won the Olympic gold in men's modern pentathlon after matching the Olympic record in the fencing event by winning 26 of his 36 bouts.

The Czech military officer Svoboda, 27, had topped the leaderboard after fencing, but he struggled in his swimming heat and finished 17th out of the 36 athletes, making him second overall with 2,328 points. For the second and final part, the contest moved to Greenwich Park for the horse riding, running and shooting.

That's where Svoboda, the 2010 European champion, regained the lead. After the third show jumping test, he was four points ahead of Cao Zhongrong of China as they entered the final combined shoot and run event.

Svoboda briefly lost the lead again after Zhongrong was quicker to hit the five targets but regained the lead in the running part. The 20th-ranked Svoboda overtook Zhongrong on the final one-kilometer run scoring 5,928 points and beating Zhongrong by 24 points. Adam Marosi of Hungary won the bronze with 5,836 points.

The men's sport has been dominated by Russia, represented in London by world champion and top-ranked Aleksander Lesun and Andrei Moiseev. Lesun finished fourth and Moiseev placed seventh.

It was the first Olympics held under the sport's new format. The women's event is on Sunday.

The modern pentathlon celebrates 100 years at the 2012 London Games, but don’t worry if you’ve never heard of it.

The sport doesn’t enjoy much popularity outside Eastern Europe. Recent calls for its removal from the Olympics Games even led to a vote by the International Olympic Committe last month. The event sport survived that vote, but the London Games might be the last time the modern pentathlon is featured on the Olympic schedule.

The founder of the modern games, Baron Pierre de Coubertin invented the sport. He thought the Olympics needed an event that challenged the mind as well as the body. The ancient pentathlon, where athletes competed in running, long-jump, discus, javelin and wrestling, was his inspiration.

Modern pentathlon made its debut at Stockholm Games in 1912 challenging athletes in five very different events: fencing, 200m freestyle swimming, show jumping, 3km country run and pistol shooting. These events are meant to represent the duties of a 19th century cavalry officer.

Originally the sport was staged over four or five days, but in the 1996 games, the events were piled into one day to assure a more audience-friendly experience. That was the format for the last Olympic Games at Bejing 2008, but under pressure to revamp the sport further, in 2009 some features underwent a fundamental transformation.

First, the running and shooting sections were merged into a biathlon-style event, which now gurantees an exciting and unpredictable finale. And laser guns have replaced air pistols, in an effort to make the sport more accessible and kid friendly.

The changes pose a challenge for the athletes, who have no choice but to adapt.

Thirty-six men and 36 women who have qualified for the Games through a series of World Cup events competed in all five disciplines this year. Two athletes from each country are allowed to take part. The rules are the same for men and women.

In the women’s competition, reigning champion Lena Schoneborn of Germany is the favorite to win gold.

The competition starts with fencing in the Copper Box followed by swimming in the Aquatics Centre. The athletes then leave the Olympic Park for Greenwich Park, where they will compete in a show jumping course on an unfamiliar horse. Athletes receive a score for each of these elements.

The athletes’ total scores are converted into a time handicap, which determines the starting times for the combined event. The athlete with the most points from the three previous events starts first. In that event athletes complete a 3km run, including stop-offs at shooting points where they must hit five targets. 

The first pentathlete to cross the finish line takes the gold medal.



Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Gold Medalists: Then & Now]]> Fri, 10 Aug 2012 18:29:07 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Bruce-Jenner-Split.jpg Take a look at Summer Olympics gold medalists when they won gold and now, years later.

Photo Credit: Allsport/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[U.S. Women Set Relay Record]]> Fri, 10 Aug 2012 15:07:50 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/jeter-wins-4x100.jpg

U.S. women set a new world record in the 4x100 relay Friday, crushing their Jamaican rivals.

The star-studded American team – Tianna Madison, Allyson Felix, Bianca Knight and anchor Carmelita Jeter – finished in 40.82 seconds, more than half a second faster than the prior world record of 41.37, set in 1985 by Germany.

The Jamaicans, including gold medal sprinters Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Veronica Campbell Brown, finished second, in 41.41.

Ukraine won bronze, finishing in 42.04.

The Americans won after substituting Felix, who won gold this week in the 200m, and Jeter, who won silver in the 100m, into the lineup on Friday afternoon. It is common for track coaches to rest their best sprinters in qualifying relay races and insert them in finals.

The switch meant that Jeneba Tarmoh and Lauryn Williams did not run. The relay was Tarmoh's only Olympic event; she had a chance at the 100m spring, but withdrew from a dead-heat runoff against Felix at the U.S. Olympic trials.

The women's relay was followed by the men’s 4x400 relay, which the American team lost for the first time in 60 years. Bahamian anchorman Ramon Miller overcame American Angelo Taylor in the final 50 meters, and they finished at the 2:56.72 and 2:57.05 marks, respectively.

Trinidad and Tobago finished third, in 2:59.40. The South African team, anchored by “The Blade Runner,” Oscar Pistorius, came in last.

Team USA has dominated the 4x400m relay for many decades. The last time a non-U.S. team won the event was at the 1980 games in Moscow, which the Americans boycotted. In Munich in 1972, two Americans were disqualified and a third was injured, leaving Team USA without enough runners to compete. The last time the Americans lost was in Helsinki in 1952, when Jamaica beat them.

This year's team were hampered before the race began because they were missing two prior gold medal winners, LaShawn Merritt and Jeremy Warnier, who were out with injuries.

Also on Friday, world-record holder Meseret Defar of Ethopia won the women's 5000m in 15 minutes, 4.25 seconds. Vivian Cheruiyot of Kenya finished second and Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia third.

Turkish women finished first and second in the women’s 1500m. The winner was Asli Cakir Alptekin n 4 minutes, 10.23 seconds, followed by teammate Gamze Bulut. Maryam Yusuf Jamal of Bahrain finished third.

Inside the track, Russian Tatyana Lysenko won gold in the women's hammer throw.

Renaud Lavillenie of France won the men's pole vault.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Live Blog: 2012 Summer Olympics in London]]> Sun, 12 Aug 2012 13:19:18 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/flames-oly-P2.jpg

Sneak a peek behind the scenes of the London Olympics. We're live blogging the entire games, curating the top tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram photos and more from NBC journalists on the ground in London and social media users around the world.

Using Storify, this social experience will be updated in real-time from now until the end of the Games and featured across the NBC Owned Television Stations websites and TODAY.com to tell the story of the Olympics through social media.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Bay Area-Packed Water Polo Makes History]]> Fri, 10 Aug 2012 13:02:20 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Maggie-Steffens1.jpg

The U.S. Water Polo team won a gold medal on Thursday and every point was scored by a player who has ties to the Bay Area.

The end result was 8-5 against Spain.

Danville-raised Maggie Steffens scored five goals and had one assist.

Heather Petri, who grew up in Orinda; Melissa Seidemann, who lives in Walnut Creek and attended Stanford; and Brenda Villa , who attended Stanford, each scored one goal apiece.

Jessica Steffens, Maggie's older sister, Villa and Else Windes, who attended Cal, also had assists during the game.

The other player with Bay Area ties is Annika Dries, who attended Stanford.

This was the United States' first gold medal in women's water polo history; in past Olympics the team took bronze in 2004 and silver in 2000 and 2008.

This has just been a stellar Olympics for Maggie Steffens, who graduated from Monte Vista High School and who will attend Stanford University, where Jessica also attended.

Not surprisingly, water polo runs in the family.

Aside from her older sister, Jessica, her father, Carlos, played water polo at Cal, winning a NCAA title in 1977. Uncle Peter Schnugg was a two-time All-American at Cal and was poised to go to the Olympics until the U.S. decided to boycott the 1980 Moscow Games. Brother Charlie graduated from Cal last year as a team captain and now plays professionally in Australia. Cousin Stephanie Schnugg played at Cal, and mother Peggy, has played the sport, too.

The entire Steffens family attended the Beijing Games in 2008, when Jessica was part of the U.S. team that lost to the Netherlands. Carlos Steffens sat with Maggie, who was 15 at the time, and turned to her: "Now it's your turn to get the gold."

In men's water polo, the team wasn't as lucky. Team USA lost to Croatia, in an 8-2 quarterfinal loss on Wednesday. This team was also packed with Bay Area  talent, including its captain, Tony Azevedo, who is a Stanford graduate, Peter Varellas of Moraga, who also graduated from Stanford, and Cal graduate, John Mann.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Medal Count Glory – U.S. Leads the Way]]> Fri, 10 Aug 2012 03:30:13 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/207*120/149650669-1.jpg

Team USA enters the final three days of Olympic competition with a commanding lead in the medal count, well ahead of arch-rival China. The advance follows historic performances Thursday by the U.S. women’s soccer squad, 17-year-old boxer Claressa Shields and decathletes Ashton Eaton and Trey Hardee.

America has 90 total medals, 39 of them gold. China has 80 total, 37 gold. Russia is third with 56 total medals, including 12 gold, and host Great Britain is in fourth with 52 total medals, 25 gold.

Team USA hopes to add to its cache of precious metal Friday at Olympic Stadium, where the women’s 4x100m relay team hopes to win America’s first title in the event since 1996. The race starts at 3:40 p.m. ET.

Brad Walker will compete in the men's pole vault final at 2 p.m. ET, and Molly Huddle and Julie Culley will run in the women's 5,000m at 3:05 p.m. ET.

(Not an American team member, but a man who has captured the hearts of many Americans, "Blade Runner" Oscar Pistorius will run for South Africa in the men's 4 x 400 relay at 4:20 p.m. ET.)

At the Aquatic Centre, divers Nick McCrory and David Boudia, who took bronze together in the 10m synchronized, compete in the individual 10m platform at 2 p.m. ET.

Freestyle wrestler Jordan Burroughs, a two-time NCAA champion and defending world champion, is the favorite in the 74 kg weight class.

The men’s basketball team continues its march to gold with a 4 p.m. ET semifinal game against Argentina.

America’s success in London so far is largely due to its dominance in the Aquatic Centre. The 2012 games’ five top medal winners are all U.S. swimmers, led by Michael Phelps, whose record career medal haul included four golds and two silvers in London. Teenage phenom Missy Franklin is in second place, with four golds and one bronze.

The top Chinese medalist is swimmer Sun Yang, with two golds, a silver and a bronze.

The top non-swimmer on the list is another American, gymnast Aly Raisman, whose two golds and a bronze places her 12th overall.

The team results largely match projections by Colorado College economist Dan Johnson, who uses a formula that takes into account countries’ wealth, population, and whether they’ve recently hosted the games.

China which hosted the Olympics in 2008, lost the total medal count to the Americans that year, 110 to 100, but won many more gold medals – 51 to America’s 36.

Johnson’s most recent model forecasted that the United States would win the total- and gold-medal count in 2012, followed by China, then Russia, then Great Britain.

He says he makes the predictions to put the medal count in context, allowing spectators to compare nations against statistics-based presumptions.

“It’s not about the count but how well your country performed against the expectation of what they should have done,” Johnson said in an interview before the Olympics.

He relishes the anomalies, like Kazakhstan, which has just as many gold medals -- but far fewer total medals – as Australia.

“It’s very fun to say we’re number one. But we should be number one," Johnson said. "It would be embarrassing if we weren’t number one, and to put us in a count against Romania is kind of ridiculous.”

For a full local listing of events being shown all day on NBC, the NBC Sports Network, Bravo, CNBC, MSNBC, the NBC Olympic Soccer Channel, the NBC Basketball Channel and Telemundo, please see NBCOlympics.com, where you can also find listings for all livestreamed events.

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Raj Mathai Catches Up With Maggie Steffens]]> Fri, 10 Aug 2012 15:36:10 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/WEBRAJMAGGIESTEFFENS_7092344_722x406_30764508.jpg NBC Bay Area's Raj Mathai catches up with the Danville-raised Maggie Steffens, the day after her water polo team won gold at the Olympics.]]>