Worst Moments of the Summer Olympics: Opening Ceremony to Synchronized Diving

The Summer Olympics in London had wondrous times. But there were also moments of catastrophe. Athletes and announcers said stupid things and NBC obsessed over the irrelevant.

Here are the top-10 worst moments of the London Olympics:

The Queen of England wasn't smiling (and with good reason) during the Summer Olympics' opening ceremonies.

10. The over-the-top-after-every-point gyrations by American beach volleyball silver medalists Jennifer Kessy and April Ross. Ladies, please, don't do that in Rio. Please.

9. Usain Bolt said in his post 200-meter gold medal effort: “I would like to say one more thing. I am now a living legend. Bask in my glory!” Great runner, yes. Jesus Christ, he ain't.

8. A few seconds of NBC pandering to Michael Phelps' mother would have been more than sufficient, right? Could she have possibly changed her jewelry more often?

7. The NBC gymnastics broadcast braintrust of Al Trautwig, Tim Daggett and Elfi Schlegel. Repulsive shills.

6. Opening ceremony. For once, it was easy to understand why the Queen of England wasn't smiling. Two-word review: jumbled mess.

5. Synchronized diving. Hot tub and miniscule hand towels after a few seconds of exhaustion? I kept waiting for John Belushi and Dan Akroyd to come out from waiting room and drop some epic cannonballs off the 10-meter board. I would have gladly handed them a towel.

4. NBC's decision to showcase volleyball. How could coverage of bikinis and sand and spikes and digs turn out so bad? Answer: When NBC over produced every move.

3. Ryan Seacrest/Shaun White. Wrong guys for their respective gigs and it showed.

2. Andrea Kremer. I kept hoping a swimmer would push her in the pool after she asked for the umpteenth time, “What were you thinking?” Probably not one swimmer who didn't want to reply, “To swim f-ing fast.”

1. Serena Williams. Girl, guess what? The fallen American flag during the awards ceremony did not want to hug you. Shame on you.

James Raia is an editor and publisher in Sacramento, California. Visit his site: www.tourdefrancelife.com


Best Moments of the Summer Olympics: Oscar Pistorius to Missy Franklin

Sports we otherwise don't care about. Subjective judging. Commercial overload. The 30th Summer Olympics were ripe with issues. But it was still hard not to watch and there were plenty of reasons we're glad we did.

Here are the Top-10 Best Things about the London Olympic Games.

Gabby Douglas soared high above the balance beam

10. Michael Phelps. Mission Accomplished. Now go and enjoy life.

9. Bulgarian gymnast Yordan Yovchev, 39 and silver-haired, competed in his sixth Olympics. For once, “You're the Man” meant something.

8. Bob Costas, commenting during athletes' parade in the Closing Ceremonies: “Forging friendships and in some cases, being vibrant, perhaps more than friendships.”

7. Closing Ceremonies. Would have served well as the Opening Ceremonies.

6. Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Jack Nicklaus, Lance Armstrong. Hey, fellas, meet Mr. Usain Bolt.

5. The image by Reuters photographer Luke MacGregor who took three days but finally got what he wanted — the shot of the full moon under the Tower Bridge as the sixth Olympic ring. No action, no athletes, no image more poignant.

4. Grenada teenager Kirani James asking fellow 400-meter “Blade Runner” Oscar Pistorius to exchange numbers after their semifinal. Pure class at age 19.

3. Oscar Pistorius. Three words: Inspiration, athleticism, graciousness.

2. The image of Gabby Douglas frozen in time a stratosphere about the balance beam taken by Ken Budd of the Associated Press. Note to Pulitzer Prize judges: Look no further.

1. Missy Franklin. One ever-smiling teenager who never stopped proving there's hope for the Olympic Games as something other than sponsor-driven, network-controlled madness.

James Raia is an editor and publisher in Sacramento, California. Visit his site: www.tourdefrancelife.com


Gabby Douglas Soars in Gymnastics and in Twitter Popularity

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) might not readily come to mind as a leading source of sports news from the London Olympics. But with the 30th Summer Games now complete, the newspaper should be rewarded with its own gold medal.

Where else could a Summer Olympics enthusiast read a front page article about former figure skating gold medalist Peggy Fleming and other former Olympians who have had successful careers as artists?

Gabrielle Douglas had huge Olympic and Twitter success during the Summer Olympics in London

And where else could Olympic followers read in such detail the trials, tribulations and impact of Social Media in London?

From the Opening Ceremonies to the Closing Ceremonies, no other social media platform was more discussed and utilized than Twitter.

The WSJ followed the Twitter coverage of the Olympics in detail, including an August 11 article that charted the most popular Twitter feeds among the London Games' most celebrated athletes.

For example, gymnast Gabrielle Douglas was an unheralded athlete prior to the Olympics, and the WSJ called her a “relative nobody” on Twitter. But that didn't last long. When Douglas claim

ed two gold medals in t

he first few days of the Olympics, her social media status soared into another stratosphere — much like she did while competing.

By the final weekend of the Olympics, Douglas had 576,654 followers on Twitter, an increase of 1,522 percent and the biggest jump among the top-20 most popular athletes on Twitter who competed in London.

Here's the top-5 largest Twitter popularity increases during the Summer Olympics, with name, sport, Twitter name, Twitter followers on July 27, followers on Aug. 10 and percentage increase:

1. Gabrielle Douglas, gymnastic, (@grabrielledoug), 37,888, 614,542, +1,522%
2. Missy Franklin, swimming, (@FranklinMissy), 29,694, 346,353, +1,066%
3. Jordyn Wieber, gymnastics, (@jordyn_wieber), 65,404, 446,108, +582%
4. Ryan Lochte, swimming, (@ryanlochte), 161,045, 911,290, +388%
5. Jake Dalton, gymnastics, (@jake_dalton), 16,939, 82,635, +342%

Michael Phelps was the most poplar American competing in the Summer Olympics via Twitter. Phelps had 319,427 followers at the start of the London Games and 1,246,351 after two weeks of competition. His popularity increase of 290 percent was the eighth-largest increase.

Equally interesting, of course, will be to re-visit the athletes' Twitter totals in the near future to determine if they retain their Twitter popularity.

James Raia is a California-based journalist who writes about sports, travel and leisure. Visit his cycling site at tourdefrancelife.com


New York Times Comes Full Circle With Online Olympic Track Cycling Video

Like other Olympic sports with global popularity but only in niche locales, track cycling comes to the masses every four years at the Summer Olympics.

There were few sports more prominent in the United States in the early 1900s when six-day races were all the rage for celebrities and high society theater patrons who made bets on riders competing in Madison Square Garden.

London Olympics' track cycling venue

Bobby Walthour, a track cycling champion at the time, was among the country’s highest paid athletes and made more than $100,000 a year. His exploits on and off the track were prominently displayed in the New York Times — including his image in a display advertisement for Camel cigarettes.

How ironic is it that it’s the online edition of the New York Times’ (Page 1, Aug. 3) that  featured a video, detailed charts and accompanying audio explaining the nuances of the sport’s most well-known event — the match sprint?

The video, “A Simple Bicycle Race,” begins with the description: “In the track cycling match sprint, riders go around a 250-meter track three times. Typically, they go slowly at the start, until someone makes a move.”

The narration of the video describes the event’s strategy and takes viewers around the track in animation and via the perspective of two riders’ head cameras via a split screen.

In addition to the Olympics, track cycling has a yearly World Cup circuit and a World Championship, the latter of which was last held in the United States in 2005 at California State University, Dominguez Hills in Carson, California.

The Olympic track cycling competition continues through Aug. 6.

To view the New York Times’ video, visit: Olympic Track Cycling

James Raia is an editor and publisher in Sacramento, California. Visit his site: www.tourdefrancelife.com

Olympic PoolCam Reveals Strange Creatures Via Twitter

Creature in the Olympic swimming pool?

Amid various athletes taking verbal swipes at each other and the paranoia of network PR types overreacting to 140-character opinions is the beauty of Twitter, photography and swimming at the Summer Olympics — direct from a submerged camera.

Specifically, throughout the swimming competition, the Twitter feed L2012 (@L2012PoolCam) has posted 17 tweets — all stunning images from the bottom of the pool at the Aquatic Centre in London.

The image to the left is captioned: “Aargh, what creature is this that’s upon me?”

The Twitter’s description, without human identification, reads: “I match the world’s best swimmers, stroke for stroke. They speed along on top. I race along the bottom, always looking up – and always wet.”

Here’s another sample:

The feed has attracted a wide following of more than 17,000 since the Summer Olympics began. And although the swimming competition largely concludes Aug. 4, two events will remain, the women’s 10km on Aug. 9 and swimming’s concluding event, the men’s 10km, Aug. 10.

James Raia is an editor and publisher in Sacramento, California. Visit his site: www.tourdefrancelife.com

Honda Debuts Aha, Vast Sports Programnning Options Including Olympic Content

Honda has introduced its new in-dash connectivity system. In addition to music and news options, the system provided by Aha will offer vast sports programming choices.

Available via a smartphone application, the system will act as a “conduit to a wealth of cloud-based media,” according to Aha.

Content is pre-selected via the smartphone app. It’s controlled via voice commands and as well as in-dash and steering wheel-based controls after your phone is connected.

Honda’s also developing an EV-centric version of the service, which will be available in upcoming versions of the Fit EV and Accord Plug-in Hybrid. The apps will be available for both iOS and Android.

According to an Aha spokesperson, sports programming in 2013 Honda (and Subaru models, soon), will include mainstays: ESPN, Fox Sports, Fox Deportes, SI Olympic and podcasts from partners such as CBS, Shoutcast and NPR.

Addditional niche sports programming will include: Puck Nuts, Download The Line, Surf Talk Radio and Poker Road among other content. During the Summer Olympics, sports Twitter feeds will be curated and featured.

For additional information, visit: http://aharadio.com

James Raia is editor and publisher of www.tourdefranclife.com