In Depth

Olympics 2016 virals: TV star in coma and hockey beats football

Charlie Webster 'fighting for her life' in Rio, while Ellen DeGeneres gets caught up in Usain Bolt racism row

The Olympics isn't just about what happens on the field of sporting combat; it has also become a media juggernaut. Here's what is trending after day 12 in Rio:

Charlie Webster seriously ill with malaria

Former Sky Sports TV presenter Charlie Webster, who has been in Rio with the Team GB Olympic media team, is reportedly fighting for her life and has been placed in an induced coma in hospital in Rio after contracting a rare strain of malaria.

She is believed to have picked up the disease on a charity bike ride from London to Rio, where she was due to join Team GB's Great Britons campaign alongside Nick Grimshaw and Jodie Kidd.

"She fell ill with what was initially thought to be a kidney problem before becoming seriously ill," reports the Daily Telegraph. "Doctors from Britain are being consulted about her treatment. The very rare malaria strain she has contracted has now been identified so she is receiving the right treatment in Rio, with advice being provided by doctors at the London School of Tropical Medicine."

US swimmers questioned over 'mugging'

US Olympic swimmers Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger were barred from boarding a plane home from Rio amid reports of "inconsistencies" in their accounts of a gunpoint mugging.

A judge in Brazil also asked for the passport of Ryan Lochte to be confiscated, hours after the US gold medallist flew back to the US.

Lochte, Bentz, Conger and team-mate James Feigen claimed they were robbed at gunpoint in the early hours of Sunday by a man claiming to be a police officer, who apparently stopped the taxi they were travelling in.

However, doubts have been raised about the incident. No witnesses have come forward and police have been unable to track down the taxi driver.

Benz and Conger were hauled off the plane and taken for questioning by federal officers on Wednesday, O Globo newspaper reported.

Ellen DeGeneres in Usain Bolt racism storm

US talk show host Ellen DeGeneres has been accused of racism after uploading a picture photoshopped to look as though she is getting a piggyback from Usain Bolt.

Some Twitter users took offence to the idea of a white woman riding on the back of a black man, while others dismissed their concerns as over sensitive.

Ellen, who has had Bolt as a guest on her show, was quick to take on the critics.

GB hockey stars show footballers how it's done

Team GB's women's hockey players gave the footballers of the Premier League a lesson in bravery in the eyes of many last night during their semi-final win over New Zealand.

Two of the team suffered from horrible head injuries during the match but returned to help their side win 3-0.

Crista Cullen suffered a nasty cut when she was elbowed on the forehead and the game was held up for several minutes as her blood was washed off the pitch. Georgie Twigg, meanwhile, took a ball in the face but played on, despite sporting a bruise almost as big as the ball.

The game was the biggest hockey match involving Team GB for years and was broadcast live on the BBC, offering the chance for new fans to watch the game. And many were impressed.

Olympics 2016 virals: Laura Trott and Jason Kenny sexism storm

17 August

The Olympics isn't just about what happens on the field of sporting combat; it has also become a media juggernaut. Here's what is trending after day 11 in Rio:

Trott and Kenny sexism row

Laura Trott and Jason Kenny may be the golden couple of the Olympics, but the issue of who makes dinner sparked a sexism row in the wake of their triumphs in the velodrome on Tuesday night. BBC commentator Chris Boardman was lambasted after Kenny won the keirin event for saying the cyclist appeared unfazed while his fiancee, who had earlier won the omnium, was in tears.

"She's doing the emotion for both of them really, isn't it?" he said. "He's looking at her going, 'What's for tea?'"

The remark prompted an immediate backlash, with many interpreting it to mean Boardman believed Trott should cook for her partner. However, the 1992 Olympic gold medallist was quick to refute the claims.

His wife also backed him up.

The Daily Mail reported on the claims of sexism while at the same time running a profile of Trott with the headline: "How Laura Trott beat the odds to become Britain's greatest female Olympian and bagged the Bolton Bullet along the way."

The Olympian spirit... or not

Distance runners Nikki Hamblin and Abbey D’Agostino have been praised for their display of Olympian spirit after stopping to help each other following their collision in the 5,000m.

New Zealander Hamblin went down after being clipped and US athlete D'Agostino fell on top of her – but then made sure her rival was unhurt and pulled her to her feet.

However, when the pair restarted the race, D'Agostino's knee buckled and this time it was Hamblin who stopped to help.

"The two competitors finished the race last, and embraced closely before D’Agostino was taken away in a wheelchair for treatment," reports The Guardian, which adds they were hailed as heroes on social media and awarded places in the final by the Olympic organisers.

But not everyone was impressed. New Zealand Herald columnist Chris Rattue took issue with the "teary eyed" interpretation of what happened, saying neither had a chance in the race after their fall.

"Good luck to both runners, but spare us the need for tissues. What does the Hamblin-D'Agostino incident represent? It's the over-selling of sport as something far more meaningful in life than it actually is. A couple of athletes get in a tangle, and hey presto, we've all been saved," he said.

Redgrave vs Inverdale

Team GB may be enjoying a stellar games, but relations away from the sporting action are becoming frayed. There have been reports of friction between cyclists Sir Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish and gymnasts Max Whitlock and Louis Smith, now it appears all is not well between Sir Steve Redgrave and co-commentator John Inverdale.

Redgrave was seen exiting stage left with a fed-up look on his face midway through a link, deliberately shaking an umbrella on to Inverdale and telling him not to interview a New Zealand rower before his domestic TV presenters had spoken to him.

"The presenter spent most of the week in close proximity to the five-time Olympic gold medallist in the broadcasters’ enclosure by the finishing line and if there was not the palpable hostility that others claim to have discerned between the two, there was a frostiness and absence of chemistry," says Rob Bagchi of the Daily Telegraph.

He adds that Inverdale, once a journalist who was "respected and admired", is now "at the bottom of another mass pile-on, pilloried all over social media and the press for being at best a berk, at worst a serially sexist buffoon".

German twins accused over 'fun run'

Another double act causing controversy is that of German twins Anna and Lisa Hahner, who competed in the marathon on Sunday. Their performance was average at best - they finished 20 minutes behind the leaders in 81st and 82nd place – but they made headlines by crossing the line holding hands.

However, that did not go down well with the sports director of the German Athletics Federation, who accused them of treating the race like a "fun run" and using it to boost their media profile.

"Victory and medals are not the only goal," wrote Thomas Kurschilgen, in an email to the New York Times. “Still, every athlete in the Olympic competitions should be motivated to demonstrate his or her best performance and aim for the best possible result.

“Their main aim was to generate media attention,” he said. “That is what we criticize.”

Olympics 2016 virals: Cavendish vs Wiggins and Shaunae Miller's gold dive

16 August

The Olympics isn't just about what happens on the field of sporting combat; it has also become a media juggernaut. Here's what is trending after day ten in Rio:

Cavendish wins silver – and takes a shot at Wiggins?

Mark Cavendish may have finally won an Olympic medal, but he seemed far from happy after the end of the men's omnium event on Tuesday.

The Manx cyclist failed to raise a smile in TV interviews and made it clear he had been chasing gold.

He also threatened to sue a journalist for asking if he were to blame for the crash with Korean rider Park Sang-hoon that also unseated eventual winner Elia Viviani. Most observers felt the collision was accidental and none of the other riders complained about the incident, but Cavendish appeared rattled and gave Dutch reporter Thijs Zonneveld short shrift.

He also appeared to take a dig at team-mate Sir Bradley Wiggins when he had to wait before being interviewed by the BBC.

"They would have been straight on for Brad, wouldn't they, eh?" he was caught saying.

The comment "comes amid reports about Cavendish's strained relationship with Wiggins, Britain's most decorated Olympian, after an interview he gave last week suggested that the pair's relationship may be less harmonious when the camera stops rolling", reports the Daily Telegraph.

Miller dives for gold

There was high drama in the final of the women's 400m in Rio on Monday night as Shaunae Miller of the Bahamas grabbed gold from US rival Allyson Felix by literally throwing herself over the line.

The 22-year-old seemed to have run out of steam as she approached the line, but her desperate lunge earned her top place on the podium and denied Felix a record fifth Olympic victory.

The dive divided fans, with many Felix supporters accusing the Bahamian of cheating. US athletics legend Michael Johnson was rather more charitable, however, stating that Miller had stumbled.

Others pointed out to US track fans that in 2008, David Neville grabbed third place at the expense of Bahamian runner Christopher Brown in the men's 400m in exactly the same way.

Wedding bells for Dujardin 

Charlotte Dujardin joined Laura Trott in an exclusive group of UK women with three Olympic gold medals to their name after winning the dressage for the second Olympics running.

Like Trott, she is also engaged - and fiance Dean Golding has made it clear he expects her to walk down the aisle sooner rather than later.

He watched her in action with a sign reading: "Can we get married now?" attached to his T-shirt.

Afterwards, Dujardin told the BBC: "He has already asked me, so he already knows it's yes. I'm going to get married hopefully next year."

"I always said I was going to get married after Rio but time just flew by, but it's definitely on the cards now."

The gesture is not the first marriage request at Rio. There have been several proposals involving athletes, the most dramatic of which saw Chinese diver Qin Kai propose to his girlfriend He Zi in front of the crowd after she was awarded silver in the women's 3m springboard.

Seven hurt by falling camera

There was another setback for the Olympic organisers on Monday when several visitors to the Olympic park were injured by a falling camera.

As many as seven people were reportedly hurt by the piece of equipment, which had been suspended from wires above the park. Four people were taken to hospital, said organisers, including two children who were hit by the wire, which appears to have snapped.

"I was looking to the camera... and suddenly I heard a big snap on the cable and the camera came down," Chris Adams, a member of the British gymnastics delegation, told Reuters.

The incident comes after athletes including swimmer Ryan Lochte were robbed a gunpoint, there was a shooting near the equestrian centre, rocks were thrown at a bus of journalists and there was widespread criticism at the number of empty seats at Olympic venues.

Germany mourns canoe coach

German flags will be flying at half-mast at the Olympics after the death of canoe slalom coach Stefan Henze, who was involved in a car crash on his way back to the athlete's village on Friday night.

The 35-year-old trainer was in a taxi when it hit a concrete barrier.

"Henze, a former Olympian who won a silver medal in the canoe slalom C2 at the 2004 Games in Athens, was taken to the nearest hospital for emergency brain surgery and his condition was described as critical," reports The Guardian, but his death was announced by the German team on Monday.

Japanese pole vaulter in slapstick display

Japanese pole vaulter Hiroki Ogita's hopes of reaching the final in Rio were dashed in dramatic fashion... by his protruding penis. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"content_original","fid":"98991","attributes":{"class":"media-image"}}]]

As he attempted a jump of 5.3m he clearly dislodged the bar with his private parts. But although his dream of reaching the final was over, he is in the running for a gold for the best way to exit the Olympics.

Olympic 2016 virals: Green pool mystery and Whitlock vs Smith

15 August

The Olympics isn't just about what happens on the field of sporting combat; it has also become a media juggernaut. Here's what is trending after day nine in Rio:

Has the mystery of the green diving pool been solved?

The water in the Olympic pool turned green overnight last week, prompting worldwide speculation as to why. Now organisers have given an official explanation - 80 litres of hydrogen peroxide was added to the pool in error at the start of the Games.

"This creates a reaction to the chlorine which neutralizes the ability of the chlorine to kill organics," said Gustavo Nascimento. "This is not a problem for the health of anyone."

However, organisers were sufficiently concerned to drain the water polo pool next to the diving pool, which has also been turning green, ahead of the synchronised swimming events after complaints about itchy eyes from competitors.

The diving pool will not be drained, however. Instead, the organisers say they will try to improve the pool's filters.

Max and Louis

Double gold winner Max Whitlock may be the toast of Team GB, but not everyone was smiling after he won the pommel horse competition.

Team-mate Louis Smith seemed less than impressed by the result and was caught on camera apparently describing Whitlock's performance, which relegated him to second place, as "bulls***".

There were "awkward scenes" after the event, claims the Daily Mirror. Whitlock and Smith "shook hands with several of their fellow competitors - but noticeably kept their distance from each other".

But the paper also notes that "the pair, who are known to be fiercely competitive rivals, later embraced at the medal ceremony".

Phelps and Biles

Another day, another meme involving Michael Phelps, this time showing a picture of the greatest-ever Olympian alongside diminutive US gymnast Simone Biles.

Australian website The Shovel has claimed the US superstar, who has hinted he will hang up his cap and goggles now he has 23 Olympic golds to his name, is to be released back into the ocean.

"After a dazzling career, trainers said it was now time to return him to his natural environment," joked the site.

The essence of Usain Bolt

The iconic image of the 2016 Olympics may have been revealed - superstar Usain Bolt apparently grinning for the camera as he speeds to victory in the 100m semi-final.

The picture "captures the essence of Bolt so perfectly" that it must rank as the best-ever snap of him, says Chris Chase of Fox Sport

"It's the lead. The stride. The perfect form. It's the grin. It's the mischievousness. It's the fact that he can be racing against eight of the fastest 16 men in the world and have flipped on the cruise control halfway through the race then, just for fun, flash a smile as if the point is to enjoy yourself, not hit the tape first."

Wiggins mugs for the camera

It's safe to say that Sir Bradley Wiggins is not a typical athlete and Team GB's most successful Olympian, with eight medals, was in typically irreverent form as he collected his fifth gold after the team pursuit in Rio.

As the national anthem played, Wiggins could not help playing up for the camera and reducing his team-mates to giggles.

Olympics 2016 virals: Phelps's TV blooper and Fiji wins admirers

12 August

The Olympics isn't just about what happens on the field of sporting combat; it has also become a media juggernaut. Here's what is trending after day six in Rio:

Canadian commentator blows Phelps win

Another day, another viral moment involving Michael Phelps, this time from Friday morning, when he stormed to victory in the 200m medley to claim a historic 22nd Olympic gold, his third of the Rio Games.

"Phelps has now overtaken Leonidas of Rhodes as the most decorated Olympian of this, that, and every era," states The Guardian.

But viewers in Canada could be forgiven for feeling confused after commentator Elliotte Friedman made a Horlicks of the race coverage and confused Phelps for his long-term term rival, Ryan Lochte, who finished fifth.

"Lochte is finally going to win," Friedman told viewers. "He'll finally beat Phelps. Lochte is going to take the gold, Phelps might not even medal."

This was followed by a pause, after which Friedman admitted getting his lanes confused. He later posted a shamefaced tweet taking responsibility for his error.

NBC coverage in last place

But it's not just the Canadian TV presenters under scrutiny, US broadcaster NBC has been panned for its coverage of the Games.There have been "complaints about excessive advert breaks, sexism from presenters, poor commentary and patronising attitudes", reports the Daily Telegraph. "Although Rio is only an hour ahead of American East Coast time, the most eagerly-anticipated events, including gymnastics, are being shown on delay, forcing many viewers to stay up until midnight."

Presenters have also been accused of announcing results before events are broadcast, prompting fury from viewers.Perhaps even worse for NBC is the dire viewing figures it has pulled in, with fewer people watching than in 1992.

Dignified Fiji showcase culture

Fiji's sevens side showed no mercy against Team GB in the final at Rio, claiming their country's first ever Olympic medal of any sort and sparking wild celebrations across the tiny Pacific Island state.

They also showcased their culture after the 43-7 drubbing, singing a traditional hymn before, upon being presented with their medals by Princess Anne, kneeling down and clapping three times, a mark of respect in Fijian culture.

Flying fish

Katherine Grainger is the toast of Team GB after winning silver in the rowing to net her fifth Olympic medal and become the UK's most successful female athlete.

However, it almost never happened after she and her partner, Vicky Thornley, were nearly relegated to bronze by a limelight-grabbing fish.The beast made an appearance in the final, leaping from the water as Team GB battled for the lead with Poland.

Olympics 2016 virals: Did GB swimmer mock Michael Phelps?

11 August

The Olympics isn't just about what happens on the field of sporting combat; it has also become a media juggernaut. Here's what is trending after day five in Rio:

Phelps is meme of the Games…

Swimmer Michael Phelps has been unofficially crowned king of the Olympic memes.

After the cupping controversy, the sight of his son, Boomer, in the crowd, the Chad le Clos death stare and the subsequent victory over Le Clos in the 200m butterfly comes the adoration of his rivals - or does it?

A member of the British swimming team was caught on camera bowing down to Phelps backstage at the Games but the question is: was it a genuine moment of genuflection or a sarcastic reference to the great man's ego?[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"content_original","fid":"98746","attributes":{"class":"media-image"}}]]

... and equals 2,000-year-old record

If there was an element of sarcasm to the worship of Phelps in Rio, then perhaps the swimmer should think again. It has now been confirmed that after winning 12 individual titles, Phelps is the greatest Olympian since Leonidas of Rhodes in 152BC.

"Tied with Leonidas with 12 Olympic titles, Phelps will have a chance to break the record on Thursday when he swims the 200 individual medley race," says the Washington Post.

"Phelps has a total of 21 Olympic gold medals, but nine have come in relays. There were no relays in Leonidas’s day - nor was there competitive swimming - so it’s impossible to know his true Olympic potential. Historians suggest he was pretty good."

Weightlifter dances

Weightlifter Nijat Rahimov from Kazakhstan smashed the world record on his way to gold in the 77kg (170lbs) category at Rio, but it was his celebrations that really made an impact.

The 22-year-old, who hoisted a remarkable 471lbs above his head to smash the existing record by 8.8lbs, broke into an impromptu jig of delight on the podium.

His moves were well received on social media, although many lifting fans were less than impressed. The celebrations were heartwarming, but less so are the rumours of doping that have dogged the Kazakh team.

There is a "doping epidemic in Kazakhstan weightlifting", says Eurosport, adding: "The rapid improvement of Rahimov’s performances since returning from a two-year drugs ban in 2015 have raised eyebrows, with bronze medallist Mohamed Mahmoud of Egypt claiming that the result of the competition may yet change."

Skelton's father gives her critics a dressing down

There has been almost as much drama in the BBC commentary gantry as in the pool at the Rio Olympics, with wild speculation over the relationship between pundits Becky Adlington and Mark Foster and intense scrutiny of presenter Helen Skelton's outfits.

Now her father, Richard, "has leapt to her defence following days of criticism over her outfit choices", reports the Daily Mail, which cannot help but note that her costumes have "offered more than a glimpse of her enviably long legs" and claims, rather improbably, that some viewers "have tuned into the swimming - on in the early hours of the morning - just to see the stunning presenter".

Richard appeared on daytime TV to implore: "Why do we always have to comment on women's clothes?"

The Mail dutifully reports his concerns and adds: "His comments come after Helen settled on a more demure choice on Wednesday. The BBC host went for an elegant all-black number for the fifth day of coverage at the pool."

Olympics 2016 virals: Pool goes green and journalists are 'shot at'

10 August

The Olympics isn't just about what happens on the field of sporting combat; it has also become a media juggernaut. Here's what is trending after day four in Rio:

Green is the colour

Gold, silver and bronze are the colours that usually dominate the headlines at the Olympics, but green was the hue on everyone's lips at the women's 10m synchronised diving final after Rio's pool changed from blue to the colour of grass.

"Divers were forced to compete in water the colour sea lions - rather than Olympians - are accustomed to performing in," said the BBC.

Team GB's Tonia Couch said she had never dived in anything like it, although the odd colour had made it easier to spot the surface of the water, she added. It had not impacted on the result, she said.

It was initially suggested the pool had been dyed on purpose, but that claim was refuted by the organisers, who said they had carried out tests and found the water was perfectly safe. They are still investigating the cause of the colour change, although it could be down to the levels of chlorine rather than pollution or algae.

Phelps beats Le Clos

Michael Phelps had the last laugh in the eagerly awaited men's 200m butterfly final as he exacted a brutal revenge on South African Chad le Clos, who had beaten him to gold in 2012.

That there was no love lost between the two men was evident from a viral video showing the American giving his rival the death stare as he warmed up ahead of the semi-finals.

Phelps went on to regain his Olympic title and Le Clos was left without a medal after finishing fourth. The reaction of both athletes spoke volumes.

Keeping the Olympic spirit

Still in the pool, but at the other end of the scale, was Robel Kiros Habte. Taking part in the 100m freestyle heats, the Ethiopian attracted plenty of attention thanks to a physique that was as far removed from Phelps's as his times.

Habte finished 18 seconds off world-record pace and was the slowest competitor in the event by more than ten seconds. Although he has been likened to Eric the Eel, who found fame at the Sydney Olympics, Habte was much faster and many club swimmers would have been pleased with his time of 1.04.95.

Whether they would be pleased to boast the same paunch is a different question.

Journalists' bus comes under fire

On a more serious note, the issue of security was back on the agenda after a bus carrying journalists and photographers apparently came under fire in Rio on Tuesday night.

The windows were shattered as the bus travelled to the press centre at the Olympic Park at around 7.30pm local time and those on board were forced to dive for cover.

"Three of the 12 passengers on board suffered minor cuts from flying shards of glass but no one was seriously injured," reports The Independent. "Olympic officials have not confirmed what caused the windows to smash, saying stones might be responsible, but witnesses insisted they saw gunfire."

Croat teen styles it out

If "styling it out" were an Olympic sport, then 17-year-old gymnast Ana Derek would win the gold.

The Croat's vault went horribly wrong in qualification on Monday but, after losing her run up, she gracefully hopped over the vault and, as they say in gymnastics, totally stuck the landing.

Sadly, she didn't make it through to the next round.

Goodfellow's mother, Sharon, even joined in the chorus of disapproval, before finding herself the centre of attention.

Phelps vs Le Clos

Michael Phelps vs Chad le Clos has been one of the most hotly anticipated match-ups of the Games to date and they will face off the 200m butterfly final on Wednesday morning.

Phelps got first blood as he came second in Tuesday's semi-final ahead of Le Clos and many observers were wondering if the intensity of his game face had unsettled the amiable South African.

The Bolt is in town

You know the Olympics has really begun when Usain Bolt rolls into town - and the athlete made a typically flamboyant entrance, accompanied by a troupe of carnival dancers.

The Jamaican superstar said he was in Rio "to entertain" and hinted that these could be his last Games before a member of the media pack tried, and failed, to steal his thunder with a cringeworthy "rap" about his collision with a Segway at the 2015 World Championships.


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