Week 1 Olympic Viewing Guide — Events You Can’t Miss
by Albert Liao | Cornell University
No matter how big a football, basketball or baseball fan you are, it’s hard to argue that the Summer Olympics are not the most monumental sporting event in the world. Once every four years, the most athletically gifted people in the world gather to compete against each other and put on a spectacular show of athletic achievement, while we are all able to watch from the comfort of our homes. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to catch all 32 events, so we’ve put together an Olympic viewing guide of what to watch and when for the first week of the London games. (Note that the Olympics will be broadcasted on various channels including NBC, MSNBC, CNBC, Bravo and nbcolympics.com will offer live streaming of every event— times below are adjusted if offered in Primetime programming).
The Opening Ceremonies – Friday, July 27: 7:30 PM EST
This is always a spectacle; the host country pulling out all the stops to impress the entire world through their televisions. It will be hard to top Beijing in 2008, but London will try, led by the iconic Paul McCartney performing “Hey Jude” to end the ceremonies.
Men’s Cycling Road Race – Saturday, July 28: ~10:00-11:00 AM EST
After Lance Armstrong’s retirement, cycling has been out of the general public’s eye; however, this race deserves your attention. After finishing the Tour de France on July 22, the world’s top cyclists will race again in a much shorter race (just 155 miles long!) for an Olympic gold. Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins – a Briton – will attempt to be the first cyclist to win both the Tour de France and an Olympic gold in the same year. The race begins at about 5 AM EST, but will end around 11 AM in a guaranteed photo finish.
Men’s Swimming 400 Meter Individual Medley Finals – Saturday, July 28: 8:00 PM EST
Unlike in 2008, the men’s swimming world will not be completely dominated by Michael Phelps. The friendly rivalry between teammates Ryan Lotche and Phelps raised more than a few eyebrows when Lochte declared that “this is my time” last month, a clear reference to the supposed end of Phelps’ domination. He has backed up his assertion by winning gold at the last two World Championships and by beating Phelps in this race during the U.S. Trials. The race will be your first opportunity to see the rivalry in the spotlight and is something that should not be missed; will Phelps continue his incredible run of dominance, or will he give way to the talented Lotche? Must see in London Week 1.
Men’s Basketball – USA v. France – Preliminary Round – Sunday, July 29: 9:30 AM EST
Ever since the original Dream Team of 1992, the USA Men’s Basketball team has been one of the main attractions of the Summer Olympics, and this year is no different. However, this year the U.S. team desperately lacks size (Tyson Chandler is the only center on the roster) and will need to rely on quickness and their athletic ability to make up for it. To make it even more interesting, the team is facing an unearthly amount of pressure to win. “For us, it’s win gold or don’t come back [home to the United States],” Kobe Bryant said in a recent ESPN article. “It’s tough. They might revoke our citizenship.”
Women’s Swimming 100 Meter Backstroke Finals – Monday, July 30: 2:30 PM EST
This event will be your first look at Missy Franklin, the 17-year old American swimmer who has already set an American record – she is swimming in seven different events – and is destined to be one of the breakout stars from the London games a la Michael Phelps four years ago. This charismatic high school senior has already broken the American record in this race and holds the world record in the 200-meter backstroke.
Women’s Synchronized 10 Meter Diving – Tuesday, July 31: 10:00 AM EST
Most of us are afraid of heights. Watching these women jump off a 10 meter diving platform, doing insane twists and flips, and then landing with no sign of a splash in sight is just incredible. Oh yeah, and they have to time their routine perfectly with their partner. Worth the watch.
Men’s Individual All-Around Gymnastics Finals – Wednesday, August 1: 8:00 PM EST
Women’s Individual All-Around Gymnastics Finals – Thursday, August 2: 8:00 PM EST
Gymnastics is more than just eye-candy for the viewers. While most can barely do a few chin-ups, these gymnasts are doing flips, cartwheels and incredible contortions of their body without seeming to break a sweat. The only reason you shouldn’t watch this is if you don’t want to feel bad about yourself and contemplate pulling out the P90X DVD.
Men’s Table Tennis Gold Medal Match – Thursday, August 2: 10:30 AM EST
When you watch Federer, Nadal or Djokovic play tennis, you think, “Wow! These guys are incredible! I could never keep up with them in tennis!” When watching the world’s best table tennis players, you think, “Wait, this doesn’t look like table tennis…how are they doing that with the ball? What’s going on?!” In other words, table tennis played by professionals barely looks like the recreational game you play in your basement. Take this opportunity to observe the gold medal match and see what all the buzz is about.
Men’s Trampoline Finals – Friday, August 3: 10:30 AM EST
This just looks fun; how they turned trampolines into an Olympic sport is reason enough to tune in and check it out.Albert Liao is a NGJ Staff Writer and a sophomore studying Electrical and Computer Engineering at Cornell University.