Today began with more bright, beautiful skies and warm temperatures...and a pocket full of "mugging money!" At the advice of my coworker, I put some Brazilian money in my running shorts and headed off on this mystery run he told me about. It was absolutely BEAUTIFUL!! NO muggings and even a few "Bon Dias" from the locals! I cannot believe I just discovered this area and I leave in 48 hours. The run is along a winding mountain road, with beautiful homes, farms and gated communities. There are tons of bikers and other runners/walkers on this road. Of course, I forgot my phone...so no pictures today, but I'll do the run again before I leave and promise to show some spectacular scenery. The place I turned around was a fork, where if you went to the left, you would head down to a beach and if you turned right, you would be able to run up a cliffside trail. I so hope I can make it back out there to take some pictures. My final working day is tomorrow (Wed), and since Gymnastics ended today, I cover Womens Golf tomorrow and therefore have to be at the course early.
So...today was the final day of Gymnastics competition and it was a big day for Team USA, wth lots of other storylines attached.
The Men's Parallel Bars was the first event and Danell (duh-NELL) Leyva (LAY-vah) won Silver for the USA! What makes his story interesting is he was originally an ALTERNATE for this year's team, but John Orozco got injured before the Games, meaning Leyva was put on the team for Rio.
As you'll see by the end of this, he made the most of his second chance! In the Parallel Bars, he went first and put up a score that only one other gymnast beat. So the day started with Silver for Leyva!
Next was the Womens Floor Final. Simone Biles and Aly Raisman had finished 1, 2 in the Qualifying Competition. Raisman won the Gold in this event in the last Olympics and Biles was going for her record-tying 4th Gold Medal of these Olympics. To make a long story short, Biles took the Gold and Raisman won Silver...and (another great name), Amy Tinkler, of Great Britain won Bronze!
What many people don't understand is Biles' level of difficulty is what gives her the advantage over the other competitors, even Raisman. She can even afford a less than perfect routine because she is attempting such difficult moves. That was the case today, and she edged out Raisman.
I'm free to discuss the following now since it's over...but Simone was tired. This was her 1st Olympics and she competed every day. The Floor is the most physically demanding event, so many behind the scenes were wondering if her fatigue would prevent her from bringing her best. It did not!
So..Biles became the 1st American woman gymnast to win 4 Gold Medals in the same Olympics and the 5th overall in history. Once it was confirmed they would win Gold and Silver, Amanda and I were sent down to the Interview area to talk to them, then would have to sprint back up to the booth to announce the Men's Horizontal(High) Bar competition.
We had to keep our eye on a monitor at our position to know when we would be getting the gymnasts and when the mens event would begin. Here's a picture of the monitor we have to watch when we're in the interview area, because we can't see the competition floor:
He's much taller than I thought, as I've been around the shorter Al Roker several times, but not Matt. He's not out in public as much as the other Today Show personalities. Once I felt like we were on good enough terms, I got him to pose for a picture to send to my family. He did a shocked pose, though it was all staged...haha! After that, Aly Raisman came through. Matt interviewed her first, then Amanda and I got her. She posed for us with her medal, since she and Amanda are such good friends. Even Matt Lauer didn't get THIS! Haha!
On the monitor behind us, the mens high bar competition had begun. We only had to call the American routines, so we had a few moments before we would have to leave. At the time Aly finished with us, she said "wow...there's the flying Dutchman and I gotta see his routine!" Google "Epke Zonderland", of the Netherlands. He's a legend in the Horizontal(High) Bar event...does insane things that no one else dares to do! Today at that moment, he went up for a crazy, high-flying move and came crashing down right on the side of his face!
Raisman looked at me and said, "Did you see that?! Is he ok?!" (Amanda won't watch him because she's always afraid he's going to get killed!)
I said, "yes I saw it... and he face planted but hasn't gotten up!"
Raisman then turned and looked across the room where Simone had just started her interviews and screams, "SIMONE, SIMONE...you gotta come see THIS!!" Simone looked conflicted and the press officer told Raisman not to do that because Simone was being interviewed on LIVE television!! Haha!
Anyway...he was fine but had a huge welt and red mark on the top of his forehead...whew!
The other behind-the-scenes moment was Raisman telling us she couldn't wait to get home to see her dogs! She said she had been gone a month and was so homesick for them...really sweet.
The worst part about Matt Lauer being there was he took WAY too long interviewing Raisman, so by the time we finished ours, we didn't have time to talk to Simone. We had to literally sprint back up the booth...two steps at a time, 4 floors up, to be in position to call the Mens High Bar, as American Sam Mikulak was about to go.
So we got up to the booth out of breath and Mikulak was just about to begin. He posted a good score that remained in 3rd until the final competitor went...Silver Medlaist from earlier in the day, Danell Leyva. Leyva did the routine of his life and jumped up into 2nd place, knocking his US teammate, Sam Mikulak, into 4th! Bittersweet...as Leyva won his 2nd silver of the day but Mikulak got no medal!
Afterwards, we interviewed Leyva and asked him about originally being the alternate and then getting on the team after Orozco got hurt. He said that's why he won two medals, one for him and one for Orozco...really kind and touching perspective
SOME FINAL GYMNASTICS FACTS FROM RIO:
• Simone Biles made history, becoming the 5th woman from any country to win 4 gymnastics GOLD medals at a single Olympic Games and also became the 1st American female gymnast to win 4 career GOLD medals.
• The U.S. women’s team took in its largest medal haul ever at a single Olympic Games with 9 total medals – eclipsing its previous record of 8 set in 1984 and 2008.
• Aly Raisman contributed to those 9 total medals by winning silver on floor exercise, her 3rd medal of these Olympics. So with 6 total Olympic medals, Raisman now ranks 2nd behind Shannon Miller (7 medals) amongst the list of top medal winners in U.S. women’s gymnastics history.
• The U.S. men’s and women’s gymnastics teams combined for a total of 12 medals at these Games, its most since 1984 when the teams combined to win 16.
I've told people I've cried every single day of the Gymnastics competition, because I've seen something inspiring every day!
We took the Media Shuttle back the IBC and our office to wrap up the long day. One of cool things about going to the studio is you never know who's going to be in there! As we were meeting with our Executive Producer, he announced he had just found out the US' Gold/Silver Medal Triple Jumpers were headed in! For the second straight Olympic Games, Christian Taylor and Will Claye won Gold and Silver in the Triple Jump for the US! They came into the studio and hung out for a bit after their interview. Here's the scoreboard of them winning and also a picture of them signing a ball for our Track Analyst, Carol Lewis...a former Olympian and sister of legend Carl Lewis.
**One interesting note is that Claye proposed to his girlfriend, 2008 track and field Olympian, Queen Harrison, after winning silver...she said yes! Since they were really cool guys and we were having fun, I had to ask if he had not won a medal, would she still have said "yes" ?! He said she probably would've asked HIM in that case, because she would've felt so bad for him...awwwww
So after they cleared out, Amanda started saying good bye to all the crew. Our producer told her he had something he wanted to show her before she left. He opened his laptop and began playing the 1996 Olympic Gymnastics Gala, which is a tradition that the night after competition ends, the medal-winning gymnasts from every event put on a light-hearted exhibition for fans. It was HILARIOUS! 2016 Amanda Borden, now happily married and the mother of three beautiful children...was forced to watch 1996 US Gymnast Amanda Borden, performing the "macarena" and dancing to the song "YMCA"with all her teammates and other medal-winners...with a sporty 90s hairdo! Haha...it was the first time since I've been here that I was glad NOT to be an Olympian!!
So that ends my work as a Gymnastics announcer but I still have a couple of days to go. Tomorrow, I'll be reporting from the Womens Golf Competition, which is loaded with the top LPGA golfers in the world! I'm looking forward to working an outdoor event!
Sorry the humor quotient was a little lower tonight, but it was a news-making kind of day!
Since one of my friends' told me his kids love reading about the bathroom stuff I endure here, I'll slide this picture in of what men pee in here...(you're welcome... Carter, Lacy and Bentley Kennedy!)
(Please don't be mad at me, Wistie...totally Robert's fault...NEVER tell a journalist the truth...
and obviously, always be careful what you ask for! HAHA)
and obviously, always be careful what you ask for! HAHA)