Nelson Mandela: A life in pictures
Nelson Mandela and his wife Winnie in this undated file picture.
Topics: From the Wires
American gymnast Aly Raisman earned a gold medal for her athletic prowess in London. It’s her mom who’s gone viral.
NBC’s video of Lynn Raisman watching her daughter perform on the uneven bars Sunday, with her nervous murmurs and face and body contortions, was the single most replayed moment on Tivo digital video recorders that night. It has even inspired a YouTube spoof.
The network doesn’t have “parent cams” trained on the stands during every Olympic event. Moms and dads are featured only when they are relevant to the story lines, veteran NBC producer Molly Solomon said Thursday. But they’ve already been indelible parts of the network’s coverage in the first few days of the London Games.
The parents of American gymnasts John Orozco and Dannel Leyva were palpable presences during that sport’s coverage. The bronze medal-winning Leyva’s dad was his coach and a bundle of energy. NBC introduced Orozco’s parents in a segment that talked about the sacrifices they made in helping the Bronx athlete reach a high level of competition. When Orozco’s dreams were shattered by some subpar performances, he was near tears, and his mother’s face reflected similar agony.
“Can you imagine the emotions of watching your kid compete?” Solomon said. “To me it’s part of the fabric of the story.”
One of NBC’s best moments came after South African Chad Le Clos unexpectedly beat American Michael Phelps in the butterfly. Americans by now are used to seeing Phelps’ mom, Debbie, cheer her son’s many medal-winning performances. This time the camera caught her in a double-take, first thinking it was another gold medal before learning her son had been beaten in the end.
NBC producer Dan Beard was in the stands and heard a man shouting, “That’s my son! That’s my son!” He quickly ordered cameras to catch video of Le Clos’ sobbing father, his head wrapped in a South African flag. The parents with their contrasting emotions made for arresting images. It was much the same Thursday with Phelps’ mother and Ryan Lochte’s disappointed dad following their sons’ final pool duel.
For many American athletes, NBC producers know the parents already through the research-gathering process leading up to the Olympics. Seemingly more athletes these days are teenagers, and their parents are the emotional and financial support system through years of training. A Procter & Gamble ad campaign for the Olympics focuses on just these sacrifices that moms make.
Not all parents are comfortable being a part of their child’s moments. Solomon recalled a recent Winter Olympics where the parents of an ice dancing team asked that the cameras stay focused on their children. The mother of American ice skater Evan Lysacek is usually out of the arena, unable to watch her son perform live.
“If they don’t want to be on camera, we are respectful of that,” Solomon said.
NBC learns from Olympics officials where an athlete’s family has seats before the competition takes place. There’s always a double-check, with a researcher going up in the stands to make sure that information is correct.
Imagine the embarrassment of getting it wrong. Judging by many of the expressions, however, it’s usually pretty easy to tell when they’ve got it right.
THIS CAME OUT WRONG: “Gabby is far and away the best bar worker in the United States,” said NBC’s Tim Daggett as gymnast Gabby Douglas began her uneven parallel bars performance.
TAPE DELAY: NBC says its researchers have found that people who learn the results from major competitions before NBC shows them on its tape-delayed prime-time coverage are more likely to watch them later. The fear that people would find out early and not bother to tune in has been the major assumption behind holding back live coverage during Olympics where time zones present a serious issue. Nielsen said that 30.8 million people watched Wednesday night’s NBC show, as the games continue to do better on U.S. TV than the Beijing Olympics of 2008. NBC said all of its cable telecasts are seeing ratings increases from four years ago, too.
READY, AIM. ..: Archery is the hot Olympic sport. NBC said archery is the top-rated sport of all the ones it shows on its cable networks, higher even than basketball.
JUDO CHAMP: Heart-melting moment watching Ohio’s Kayla Harrison win the first American gold medal in judo ever. As a sensitive report by NBC’s Stephanie Gosk pointed out, Harrison kept with the sport despite being sexually abused for three years as a teenager by a former coach. Her last hurdle Thursday was facing British underdog Gemma Gibbons before a boisterous hometown crowd. The 22-year-old Harrison leaped into the stands after winning to hug her fiance, who draped her with an American flag as David Bowie’s “Heroes” played in the background.
QUOTE: “If I’m the Lithuanian coaching staff, I’m not showing this tape.” — basketball announcer Bob Fitzgerald, advising the next opponent of the U.S. men’s team in the closing moments of the Americans’ 156-73 victory over Nigeria.
UPCOMING: As swimming and gymnastics wind down, the track and field events begin. NBC will cover the men’s shot put gold medal finals.
Nelson Mandela and his wife Winnie in this undated file picture.
Mandela is accompanied by his former wife Winnie, moments after his release from prison February 11, 1990 after serving 27 years in jail. (Reuters)
In this February, 1990 photo, shortly after his release from 27 years in prison, Nelson Mandela, gives the black power salute to the 120,000 supporters packing Soccer City stadium in Soweto, near Johannesburg. (AP Photo)
Nelson Mandela showed his passport in February 19, 1990, shortly after his release from prison. The South African government authorized an application for himself and his wife Winnie - (Juda Ngwenya / Reuters)
In this July 27, 1991 photo, Cuban President Fidel Castro, and Nelson Mandela gesture during the celebration of the "Day of the Revolution" in Matanzas, Cuba. (AP Photo)
In this July 4, 1993 photo, President Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela listen during Fourth of July ceremonies in Philadelphia during which Clinton presented the Philadelphia Liberty Medal to the African National Congress president and South African President F.W. de Klerk. (AP Photo/Greg Gibson)
President of the African National Congress Nelson Mandela acknowledges cheers from the crowd as he prepares to unveil the ANC's official election platform in 1994. (AP Photo/David Brauchli)
African National Congress (ANC) leader Nelson Mandela greeted residents of Mmabatho in March 1994, during a visit after the nominal homeland came under South African control following the ousting of the former President Lucas Mangope. (Reuters/Howard Burditt)
South African President Nelson Mandela smiles with actor Sidney Poitier at a press conference in Cape Town in 1996. Poitier played Mandela in the film "One Man, One Vote" (AP Photo / Sasa Kralj)
South African President Nelson Mandela waves to crowds as he sits next to Queen Elizabeth II in a an open carriage on the way to Buckingham Palace.(AP/Louisa Buller)
Chairman of the Constitutional Assembly Cyril Ramaphosa, left, holds up a copy of the country's constitution which was signed by President Nelson Mandela, in December 1996. (AP Photo / Adil Bradlow / POOL)
Nelson Mandela at a news conference in Johannesburg in February 2000. (AP Photo / Denis Farrell)
South African rugby captain Francois Pienaar, right, received the Rugby World Cup trophy from President Nelson Mandela also wearing a South African rugby shirt, after South Africa defeated New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup , in 1995. (AP Photo / Ross Setford)