I tried to stay awake but couldn’t. Ever since having a kid, staying up past 10:30 p.m. is like pulling an all-nighter. We had watched women’s gymnastics and Michael Phelps swim in the 200-meter freestyle semis shortly after 10 p.m. ET. The NBC announcer said the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay was a little over an hour away.
Rowdy Gaines, also commentating, was speculating whether an hour was enough time for Phelps to adequately rest. I was speculating whether an hour was too long for me to wait for adequate rest. We set the TV’s sleep timer, and I hoped for the best.
I awoke at 2:30 a.m., TV off. Oh well, it was only a relay, I thought.
The radio went off at 6:30 a.m. “For sheer drama, speed, and a remarkable finish, it was one for the record books,” said the NPR reporter.
Uh oh, what had we missed?
“This is one of the moments elite athletes carve into our memories,” continued the NPR reporter. The rest of his commentary featured phrases like, “finger tip finish, “last lap made history, “just 8/100ths of a second apart,” “fastest relay lap ever.”
“[Expletive],” I muttered as I got out of bed. “We missed something good.”
(Photo: French swimmer Amaury Leveaux reaction to race)
Worse, I had turned off the DVR recording last night’s NBC primetime coverage because the recorder’s hard drive was almost full — what with an entire weekend’s worth of high-def recordings stored on it. Why record it if we were watching it? I didn’t count on falling asleep. I
logged onto nbcolympics.com but wasn’t very hopeful. I assumed they were just showing live video, not events that had already happened.
But there it was, an 11+-minute video of the electrifying relay. It showed anchor Jason Lezak almost lifting himself out of the water with each stroke in the last 50 meters trying to catch Alain Bernard of France. It showed Phelps and teammate Garrett Weber-Gale giving primal screams after the team won, and Cullen Jones moving into the picture for a group hug.
I watched it twice.
Better still, an ad for Neosporin at the top of the enlarged video kept showing the word “OUCH!” I chuckled. How appropriate — for how the French were feeling, and for what the Americans had done, coming behind like that to snatch victory from them.
I may just have to watch the video again.
Peggy Shinn is a freelance contributor for teamusa.org. This blog was not subject to the approval of the United States Olympic Committee or any National Governing Bodies.