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Olympic Stud of the Day: The Olympic Flame

Yes, the Flame technically was extinguished last night in London, but its elegance — its power — rests in its symbolism. Pomp and circumstance aside, the Olympic Flame lives on whether a cauldron is alight or not. It never really goes out. This sentiment has a tendency to lapse into a sort of greeting-card hokiness that viewers easily gloss over, but the creative minds behind these Games would not allow that kind of dismissal. They not only embraced the metaphor, they took it a step farther and made it tangible.

By constructing one giant Flame from scores of individual torches engraved with the names of each athletic delegation, they offered a poetic visualization of the spirit of unity that underpins the Games. More over, this particular Flame ensured that each country had its own torch to take home — a poignant parting gift that quite literally distributed a piece of the Games to everyone, not just medal winners and/or countries with an outside shot of hosting a future Games.

Add to that another arresting visual during last night’s Closing Ceremony: A phoenix rising over the Flame. This Games’ end is also a beginning — not only the beginning of preparations for the 2016 Summer Games in Rio, but also the beginning of countless dreams of future Olympians. READ FULL STORY

Olympic gold medalist David Boudia's Must List: AC/DC, Michael Buble, and 'Modern Family'

During Saturday night’s electrifying Olympic final in men’s 10 meter platform diving, viewers likely caught a glimpse or two of eventual gold medal winner David Boudia with a large pair of headphones latched to his head. According to Boudia, it’s more than likely that’s how he would look if you saw him anywhere else, too. “I have over 2,000 songs on my phone that travel with me everywhere, and my headphones are constantly in my ears,” the Indiana native told EW last month, the day before he was to leave for London, his second Olympics after Beijing. “I listen to music all the time. The genre of music is so sporadic that it’s so hard to apply — I listen to anywhere from rap to hip-hop to country to Michael Bublé, a lot of Christian music — all over the place.”

So what was the 23-year-old Boudia — the first American man to win gold in the event since the legendary Greg Louganis did it at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea — listening to as he prepared for his dives? READ FULL STORY

PopWatch Planner: Katniss grabs the torch from Olympics, 'The Closer' says farewell

The Olympics are almost finished, but archery’s greatest heroine is set to return this week when The Hunger Games arrives on home video. Jennifer Lawrence helped the first installment of the dystopian franchise split the box-office bulls eye, cashing in more than $400 million, and the blockbuster gets a special Saturday Blu-ray release. With midnight purchase parties, it could conceivably hurt the movies actually opening in theaters and make them… Expendable.

SUNDAY, AUG. 12

Olympics closing ceremonies and men’s basketball final, NBC

The closing ceremonies are notoriously a pot-luck affair, with the host nation dusting off every native-born international star who missed the cut for the opening act. Muse, the Who, George Michael, and the Spice Girls seem like sure things as London hands the torch to Rio de Janeiro, but don’t be surprised if Queen, the Kinks, and Annie Lennox pop in for a medley of some sort to celebrate five decades of British music. (The Rolling Stones are not expected, which somehow makes me respect them more.)

For American sports fans who annually look forward to getting up for Breakfast at Wimbledon every July, set your alarms for just before 10 a.m. ET for Breakfast with The King. That’s King LeBron James and the U.S. men’s hoops team, which faces Spain in the gold-medal game today, a rematch of the final four years ago in Beijing, where the U.S. took the gold, 118-107. READ FULL STORY

Olympics recap, Day 15: NBC loves to bait Usain Bolt, plus Top 5 shots of Tom Daley showering

Saturday’s primetime Olympics telecast was an interesting piece of work: It started on a surprising note with the Tom Brokaw-hosted WWII-themed short film Their Finest Hour. While fascinating, it probably went on too long (like, 30 or 40 minutes too long) for viewers who’d tuned in to see Usain Bolt anchor Jamaica’s 4 x 100m relay team to a new world record, or the U.S. women’s 4 x 400m relay team strike gold, or our Olympic Stud of the Day David Boudia become the first U.S. diver to win on the 10m platform since Greg Louganis in 1988. The broadcast ended with a Mary Carillo report centered on Shakespeare, presumably because NBC didn’t think we could handle seeing more of how exactly the U.S. women’s volleyball team buckled after winning the first set of the gold medal match against Brazil 25-11. In between, we got an obscene amount of shots of Britain’s 18-year-old diving superstar Tom Daley using the deck shower and Usain Bolt running his mouth. I’m not complaining, mind you.

THE TOM DALEY SHOWER SHOW: Now granted, my outdated cell phone added the soft lens quality, but I cannot take credit for NBC’s placement of its graphics or cameramen who kept cutting him off so he looked nude. The five most inappropriate screengrabs: READ FULL STORY

Olympics recap, Day 14: The joy of Carmelita Jeter's victory, agony of Morgan Uceny's defeat

NBC’s primetime telecast had something for everyone Friday night: Joy and pain at the track (both running and BMX), the network’s two best trips down memory lane (with the 1992 Dream Team and the first charming man to run under a four-minute mile), male 10m platform divers with and without body hair, and a Downton Abbey shout-out in a Mary Carillo segment on castles and coats of arms. (Why didn’t they choose a funnier sound bite from the Dowager Countess?) Let’s dig in. READ FULL STORY

Olympic Stud of the Day: Bryshon Nellum

The Olympic Stud of the Day was going to be Carmelita Jeter, for anchoring the U.S. women’s 4 x 100m relay team to redemption, a world record, a first win since 1996, and an awesome post-race interview, but after hearing the story of U.S. runner Bryshon Nellum, we had to reevaluate. Yes, the men’s 4 x 400m relay team finished second for the first time in 40 years (without Manteo Mitchell, who’d broken his fibula halfway through his leg of a preliminary race Thursday and finished and had himself been a replacement for LaShawn Merritt, who’d suffered a hamstring injury). But some things are more important than the color of a medal. Nellum was a freshman at USC when, on Halloween night 2009, he was shot in both legs. “I never really fell to the ground,” Nellum has said. “I hopped up and down on one leg to get away and to get to safety.” It would be six months before he could walk again, and a year before he’d compete. When he returned to running, he’d collapse on the track in pain. He underwent three additional surgeries, the most recent in August 2011. As his mother said, just being at the Olympics was like winning. That’s why his fellow athletes have chosen him to be the U.S. flagbearer at Sunday’s closing ceremony.

Read more:
Olympics recap, Day 14: The joy of Carmelita Jeter’s victory, agony of Morgan Uceny’s defeat
More Olympics coverage
Gallery: Olympic Studs of the Day
Gallery: The Olympics’ Best/Worst Athletic Wear

PopWatch Confessional: What's the craziest thing the Olympics have inspired you to do?

As the EW Daily Poll on our homepage shows, Olympic fatigue has officially set in. Most of us will be ready for Sunday’s Closing Ceremony. As the Games come to an end, let’s take a moment to admit the craziest thing(s) obsessive viewing has inspired us to do. I’ll start: Last night, I spent my evening commute listening to Duran Duran’s “All She Wants Is” on repeat and choreographing a team synchronized swimming free routine to it in my head. Considering I just watched Team Australia use an AC/DC medley for its free routine this morning, I assume the song might actually be legal. So if any nation just starting its synchro program wants to work with someone cheap, call me. We could ask Team Spain to borrow its sea monster-themed costumes from today (pictured), which I think would translate nicely. READ FULL STORY

What is your damage, London Olympics? (Vol. 4)

Welcome to ‘What Is Your Damage,’ Annie Barrett’s summer shop of all the melodrama and self-absorption she misses from springtime reality TV. Every Tuesday and Friday, she’ll rant about a current offense to her humanity, then assess readers’ damages via video replies. Don’t be shy about admitting what annoys or intrigues you. We’re all in this pop cult together!

What’s your damage, Olympics? (After the exhaustive picture roundups of Volume 1, Volume 2, and Volume 3, I ask you for the last time.) Why must you end in two days and RUIN MY LIFE?

I’m particularly mad at you, Bob Costas, for wearing those random yet intriguing glasses that kept disappearing and reappearing during last night’s primetime telecast. Why’d you wait ’til Day 13 to transform into Harry Potter’s wet hot American uncle? Those hipster specs of yours were just like the Olympics: As soon as you get invested — poof! They’re gone. Brutal.

READ FULL STORY

Olympics recap, day 13: Usain Bolt makes a big splash... as do U.S. women divers

During his semi-regular hazing* last night on NBC’s primetime coverage of the Olympic Games, Ryan Seacrest was either forced to say, or voluntarily chose to say, that certain female Olympic champions had blown up Twitter by delivering something called “buzzable bests.” While I’m not sure that’s the exact phrase the U.S. women’s soccer team used in the locker room before they won their gold medal match against Japan, I will at least concede that the only thing Usain Bolt wants to be is his “buzzable best.” The U.S. women’s divers? Not so buzzable, and not at their best. The U.S. women’s indoor volleball team? Totally buzzable, and totally at their best. Bob Costas’ disappearing-reappearing Harry Potter hipster glasses? The bestest and buzzablest of all! Let’s get to it!  READ FULL STORY

Olympic Stud of the Day: Ashton Eaton

There’s a reason the winner of the decathlon is called the world’s greatest athlete. Over two grueling days, decathletes compete in 10 track and field events: 100 meter race, long jump, shot put, high jump and 400 meter race on day 1; 110 meter hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin, and 1500 meter race on day 2. The point system to score the event may be more convoluted than the plot of Inception, but the result is crystal clear: Whoever takes home the gold is one damn fit human being, and deserving of the superlative honorific of PopWatch Stud of the Day.

So congratulations, Ashton Eaton! READ FULL STORY

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