By DAVID BAUDER
Greg Louganis had a quick answer for why he is in London this week, participating in chats about the Olympics for a sports-oriented social media website.
“They paid me,” he said.
The four-time Olympic gold medal winner in diving says he is joking, but there is a ring of truth there. The current Olympics have plenty of former champions around as business opportunities abound, particularly in the media. Louganis might run into former decathlete Bruce Jenner, working for E! Entertainment, or Winter Olympics star Apolo Anton Ohno, who visited with Bob Costas the other day.
NBC alone has 28 former Olympians working for the network. They have won a combined total of 45 medals, 25 of them gold.
Louganis is also working as a mentor for U.S. divers, who have won three medals in London after being shut out at the last two Olympics. His media work for ConnecTV involves participating in a handful of “Watercooler” chats run by the site. Swimmers Aaron Piersol and Amanda Beard are also chatting.
Most of the queries put to Louganis are about the U.S. team, such as “Do you think our divers have that ‘nothing to lose’ mentality?” and “who has our best shot at gold?” One questioner wondered whether other athletes had thanked Louganis for coming out as gay and whether it inspired them. Louganis answered that “I wanted it to be about my diving and not being a gay athlete.”
“We cover all kinds of bases, which has been fascinating and fun,” Louganis said.
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RATINGS: An estimated 31.3 million people watched NBC’s prime-time coverage Sunday night. NBC’s audience has exceeded 30 million people on seven of the 10 nights of Olympics coverage.
SOCCER: “What an epic game we have here tonight!” play-by-play man Arlo White said during the semifinal soccer match between the U.S. and Canadian women, won by the Americans 4-3 with a go-ahead goal in the last minute of a second overtime period. For once, it wasn’t hyperbole. The game, shown live on the NBC Sports cable channel, was one of the best competitions of the Olympics. NBC recognized it as an instant classic, choosing to rerun the overtime periods on the cable network following the U.S. men’s basketball game Monday evening.
GRANDMA: Sweet moment when the Dominican Republic’s Felix Sanchez won the 400 meters hurdle gold medal. He took out a picture of his late grandmother, laid it on the track and kissed it. Those are the shots you don’t want to miss, and NBC was right there.
GABBY: Gabby Douglas admitted to feeling drained after a last-place finish in the uneven parallel bars. But she was the picture of grace and good sportsmanship after her disappointment, a display that, in the long run, will mean much more than missing a move on the bars.
QUOTE: “The spice island will celebrate huge tonight because Kirani is king.” NBC track analyst Ato Boldon following Kirani James’ inspirational win in the 400 meter sprint.
POLE VAULT: What did Jenn Suhr do to NBC? The American gold medalist in the pole vault got strangely little face time for her achievement.
TRAPPED: The final of the men’s trap shooting was one of the few times we felt airlifted into a foreign world, and the broadcasters were unable to let us know what was really going on. Analyst Shari Legate was tuned in enough to tell how a competitor was nervous when he looked as though he was barely moving. But she didn’t do enough to keep up with the basics.
FINEST HOUR: NBC News’ Tom Brokaw, author of “The Greatest Generation,” will deliver a documentary about Britain’s stand against the Nazis in World War II. “Their Finest Hour” will air Saturday during NBC’s daytime Olympics coverage. The network didn’t pinpoint an exact time.
UPCOMING: Gymnastics and track and field will dominate NBC’s Wednesday night coverage.
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