On a Wednesday, it's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And I'm Renee Montagne.
At the London Olympics, the U.S. women's gymnastics team did what it was expected to do yesterday - and then some. The five Americans won the gold medal. It's the first time in 16 years that's happened for a U.S. women's team. And they did it in a big way - beating second place Russia by what team members called a huge margin. From London, NPR's Tom Goldman has the story.
Let us go back an Olympiad, to August of 2008. Incredibly, then, in all four of the world's most popular men's individual sports, we were at a time when, quite possibly, the four greatest champions ever in each of those sports was at or near his peak.
There they were, as the Beijing Olympics began:
Tiger Woods, 32 years old, still a prime age for a golfer, winner of his 14th major, the U.S. Open, only a few weeks ago — gloriously alone at the top.
When I say citius, you say altius; when I say altius, you say fortius. Or don't. That's fine, too, traditional even. But these Olympics have conspicuously defied traditional notions by having cheerleaders, in a few different styles, at a few different venues. In basketball, dance teams perform between matches. In beach volleyball, highly choreographed teams delight attendees.
U.S. gymnast McKayla Maroney took the floor on Tuesday to tackle the event that can make or break Team USA in just a fraction of a second. It's the vault. And Maroney has the approval of the man who's been on the mat for so many memorable vault moments — Bela Karolyi. Audie Cornish asks Karolyi about the pivotal moments that can make or break success in the event.
The U.S. men's swimming team has won the 4x200m freestyle relay, in a race that also gave Michael Phelps a record 19 medals in the Olympics. He netted his 18th, a silver, earlier in the day.
Update at 4:05 p.m. EDT: For the relay final, the American team swam in the fourth lane, next to their greatest rivals, the French, who posted the fasted qualifying time. The French are led by Yannick Agnel, who soundly defeated Ryan Lochte and others in the men's 200m freestyle Monday.
Equestrian sports are getting more attention than usual at this year's Olympic Games. The queen's granddaughter, Zara Phillips, brought royalty to the stands for her Olympic debut. Prince Harry, Prince William and Kate Middleton watched Phillips help Britain's equestrian team win a silver medal in the jumping competition. Ann Romney, the wife of the Republican presidential candidate, is also at the games to watch her horse, Rafalca, compete in dressage, an event also known as horse ballet.
The U.S. women's gymnastics team has won the team gold medal at the London 2012 Olympics, handily beating Russia, which took silver, and Romania, which took bronze. China finished fourth.
Update at 2:25 p.m. EDT: The U.S. women led off with their strength — the vault. The apparatus gives them an advantage, and not only because Maroney is the world champion and gold-medal favorite in the event.
The London 2012 Games have been touted as the first Olympics to live fully in the age of social media. After all, the organization's Twitter feed has nearly 1.4 million followers, as it lists on its special portal for Facebook and other social sites. But a rash of scandals and news related to Twitter has put a new mark on the face of these games. And, as they say, it ain't pretty.
Missy Franklin couldn't contain herself — in the pool, on the medals stand and at her first gold medal news conference — after a dramatic finish in the 100 meter Olympic backstroke Monday night in London.
It wasn't an easy race. Out front and pulling hard with her graceful but powerful strokes, Emily Seebohm of Australia led in the last 50 meters, with the American Franklin a few strokes back.