It Was NOT NBC's Fault US Gymnasts Blew Gold Medal*

*UPDATE: After we published this post, which we intended to be mostly tongue-in-cheek, NBC Sports was kind enough to say they had no responsibility for the TV delay. Instead, they say, the delay was caused by Chinese TV (a.k.a., China). Which means Martha Karolyi was right in the first place.

We apologise for tarring NBC with this one. While we’re at it, though, we’d still love to understand the thinking behind the west coast tape delay.

EARLIER: And here we thought NBC’s Olympics coverage was finally improving.

For those of you who weren’t watching live last night and therefore missed Alicia Sacramone tumbling arms-waving off the balance beam and then, moments later, ending up on her butt in the floor exercises, it was mostly these gaffes that cost the US women gymnasts the gold.

No one likes to train every day for 16 years only to have that happen, so Martha Karolyi, the team co-ordinator, was quick to blame officials at Beijing’s stadium (i.e., the Chinese) for giving Sacramone an interminable couple of minutes to sweat before blowing her balance beam mount. AFP:

Karolyi said immediately after the US loss to China that officials at Beijing’s National Indoor Stadium disrupted Sacramone’s beam routine by delaying her performance for an extended period, breaking her concentration

“First they called her name up, then they did not even put her name up even though the Chinese had finished … (it was) totally unusual holding,” she said.

“She was mentally prepared and then she had a mental break, then after not doing the job, the beam, on the floor exercise her concentration was bothered.”…

Karolyi insisted the world champion US team would have won gold if Sacramone had not become unsettled.

Alas, the truth was soon revealed: It was NBC’s fault.

USA Gymnastics president Steve Penny said the delay involving Sacramone’s beam routine happened because of scheduling issues related to the Games’ television feed.

“It’s a normal television thing that’s typical in international competition,” he told AFP.

To her credit, Sacramone herself never made any excuses. She was just disconsolate.

“I think everybody knows there’ll be good days and bad days, I just wish this was a good day for me,” she said.

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