• Bye, Britain! We already miss you.
    London 2012/Facebook
  • The American swimmers represent the best (Phelps, l) and worst (Lochte, secondto r) of what America had to offer at these games.
  • "Her Majesty thanks you for attending the 2012 Olympics and requests you pleaseexit the country in a swift fashion so that we may go back to business asusual."

I don't know if y'all are as bummed as I am about the London Olympics coming to a close, but I'm taking it pretty hard.

After a month of watching NBC's melodramatic hyper-coverage of these superhumans and their physical exploits, it feels like this chapter of our lives has come to a swift close. It's the cruelest breakup because we knew it had to end the whole time. We would only have this bright, shining moment in the London sun.

Did we watch enough and catch all the best moments? Did the Olympics know how much it meant to us? Will we ever find an Olympics as good as this one?

Helping to ease the pain of this passing was the mixed bag of bizarre British performers past and present who sang or played (or lip synched) in Sunday's closing ceremony. It was thankfully less Shakespearean than Danny Boyle's opening ceremony, but it was no less dramatic or cathartic for those of us facing impending singledom.

Take That, The Pet Shop Boys, Jessie J and (thank goodness!) New Direction were all there to remind us that we are just obsessive American pop culture snobs who swallow up this over-romanticized hullabaloo with reckless abandon, just like our forefathers and foremothers.

It's in our nature to love the story of an underdog rising above all odds to claim victory, and we saw that all over these games. But we also love to watch an untouchable demi-god come in and trample all the rest of the puny humans below. These same tropes came to light again in the closing ceremonies themselves, with our musical superheroes getting back up and trying again to show us they still got it.

George Michael, Annie Lennox, The Who and the damn Spice Girls got themselves together enough to get up on that giant stage and let you know that they're still alive and happy to accept your money and praise. It may be a little slower, a little duller — like, say, a London Michael Phelps instead of a Beijing Michael Phelps — but you remember why you still cheer for them.

It was odd that we didn't see Muse play the song that was chosen as the official theme of the Olympics. Kate Bush was also chopped in the editing, leaving more room for a now-musical Russell Brand to sing a song from Willy Wonka. Those strange choices in the NBC editing room were really noticeable this year, as it seems we got far more volleyball and rowing than the events we want to see more of, such as Olympic trampoline.

Oh, and then the Pet Shop Boys played synthesizers while wearing silly pointed hats and capes. Some fashion models showed up to walk the runway. And an elderly Fatboy Slim was DJing from inside a translucent, light-up octopus for a while. So... y'know, that happened, too.

But it is the legendary performances that remind us what the Olympics is all about. Those accomplished athletes that continue accomplishing unheard of records, like Usain Bolt, Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh, and, yeah, Michael Phelps. They make us remember that there is something larger than life happening here.

In that same way, Freddie Mercury got the honor he always deserved, leading the packed stadium in a posthumous call-and-response before everyone sang "We Will Rock You." And John Lennon's giant head got reconstructed in the stadium while children showed off choreographed sign language skills to "Imagine." Clearly, the pantheon of British singers continues to affect the whole world.

Helping to ease the passing of this month-long affair with the London Olympics, we got a taste of the passion and excitement that Rio de Janiero is going to bring to the 2016 games. It won't be the same — mostly because Kate Middleton won't be there — but I think that somehow, we'll muddle through until we see all those polo players wearing their silly hats once more.

It sure doesn't hurt that we've got figure skater Johnny Weir wearing his glittery Vera Wang outfits to look forward to in the 2014 Winter Olympics. Maybe we can love again after all.

  • Usain Bolt left no doubt in the last leg of the 4x100 meter.
    Photo by Byrn Lennon/Getty Images
  • No matter how much they were promoted, U.S. stars like Hope Solo, Ryan Lochteand Serena Williams could not live up to Usain Bolt's greatness.
    Photo by Annie Leibovitz/Vogue
  • Michael Phelps
  • Usain Bolt managed to blow away the other fastest man in the world — again. Evenin the shortest race, Bolt leaves no doubt.
    Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Usain Bolt blows away U.S. bores: Bests smug Phelps, diva Hope Solo & Old ManCostas in Olympic run

Beyond the Boxscore

The Most Interesting Olympian in the World does not keep a secret girlfriend — who he promptly leaves behind to party with the guys. The Most Interesting Olympian in the World does not act like a petulant diva for years, almost tearing apart a team and an entire program, only to turn around and wax poetic about teamwork to Bob Costas with gold in hand.

No, The Most Interesting Olympian in the World just dominates. Every time. On the globe's grandest stage. Whenever it truly counts.

Usain Bolt only wins gold — in the most spectacular ways possible. He proves it for the third time in Saturday's 4x100 relay, turning a dead heat with the American team into another Bolt runaway in his 100 meters, the last 100 meters of these Games.

Bolt's Games.

​He didn't just blow away the other would-be fastest men in the world in these London Olympics. He lapped Michael Phelps, who couldn't capture everyone's attention the way he had in Beijing. He ran circles around Hope Solo, the U.S. Women's Soccer goalie who confuses being beautiful and talented with being charismatic — and dominant.

The loudest athlete in the Olympics is also the easiest to root for — and far more interesting than all the American stars driving another medal count romp.

Bolt is the athlete of the XXX Olympiad, and whoever took silver isn't even close.

For it's Bolt and then everyone else.

It's not so much that Phelps wasn't quite as spectacular in these games — he did still completely expose so-called rival Ryan Lochte as the reality TV-level "star" that Lochte himself is now scheming to become. Phelps was still great. But he came across as almost bored and burdened by the London Olympics, by his place in the sports world.

He "hid" his girlfriend until it was convenient for him, treating her like some sort of media pawn rather than a person. He talked endlessly about his need to get away and live a normal life — as if he hasn't benefited greatly from his time in the spotlight.

Then there's Bolt. He's as known and dissected around the world as Phelps, he's as hounded by international fame. Yet the Jamaican superstar embraces it, turns it into part of his act.

Few athletes in history grab the stage quite like Bolt. It's not just about the Lightning poses that are threatening to give Tebowing a run for its money. It's not just about the clowning with that ridiculous Olympic mascot. It's not just about fueling the legend talk that other athletes would run away from.

Bolt is so over the top, his bragging is more performance art than offensive.

No, it's about having fun with sports.

Remember that?

That's what beats at the heart of all of Bolt's showmanship and dramatics . . . fun. It's why the loudest athlete in the Olympics is also the easiest to root for — and far more interesting than all the American stars driving another medal count romp.

Bolt gets that big-time sports depend on an audience. It means little if you're running in an empty stadium. So Bolt makes sure everyone in a packed palace of a venue has a good time.

He's the one modern athlete who is capable of dancing the line that Muhammad Ali ruled for years: Bolt manages to be both the cockiest athlete in the Olympics and one of the most lovable.

It's hard not to leave a Usain Bolt race with a smile on your face. Whether you're watching it live in London, online for the real-time simulcast or as part of NBC's endlessly taped-delayed primetime show.

"I've done what I came here to do," Bolt says in the press conference after his third gold in three events.

What the 25-year-old Bolt's done is thrill the world with his unprecedented powerful speed. His almost cartoon-figure-like pull away from the fastest 100-meter field in history grabbed the Olympics by the throat and Bolt didn't let go until there was little left to decide in London besides how much Mike Krzyzewski tears up in his final Olympic press conference.

How fascinating is Bolt? How much has he utterly dominated these Summer Games?

Even IOC President Jacques Rogge cannot help but comment on Bolt, with the 70-year-old despot insisting that the runner is not a legend yet, that he must do more. Hey, Rogge's not stupid.

He knows he needs Bolt for Rio in 2016. That's how big of a superstar Bolt is. He makes any Olympics more compelling.

You have to be as old as Rogge or Costas to not appreciate Bolt. How can you not get a kick out of a guy who tries to run away with the official Olympic baton after the 4x100, drawing a scolding from the uptight race officials? Bolt is so over the top, his bragging is more performance art than offensive.

Yet there's Costas chiding in his best schoolmarm tone, "As great as Bolt is, it's hard to have a higher opinion of him than he does of himself" as NBC leaves the track and field venue for the last time.

Lighten up, Bob. No one gets more overblown than NBC itself. And Usain Bolt's made your overwrought, two-week TV show.

Bringing The Show

Bolt manages to talk big and preen without venturing into Reggie Jackson territory. Even when he's firing back at Rogge or making silly, angry statements about not respecting the University of Houston's own Carl Lewis, Bolt still comes across like he's having fun.

Hope Solo so desperately wants to be an edgy star, yet she still often seems lost in fame.

Contrast that with U.S. Women's Soccer star Hope Solo, who always seems to be bothered by something. After playing well in the Gold Medal Match against Japan (having been gifted a berth in the final by some horrendous calls against Canada in the semis), Solo still feels the need to tell Costas that this is the first time she's felt like she's been on a true team.


Is that because Solo destroyed other teams by whining about being replaced in goal? Or that she become so involved in a Twitter fight with Brandi Chastain, one of the women who made Solo's level of crossover stardom possible, that she kept the focus off the actual on-field play?

Solo so desperately wants to be an edgy star, yet she still often seems lost in fame. Michael Phelps sometimes seems to be wrestling with fame, happiest when he's tuning out the world and listening to the music blaring over his expensive headphones.

Usain Bolt has no such issues. There may be no one in the world more comfortable in his own skin.

Everyone wants to be The Most Interesting Olympian in the World. But only one superhuman is equipped to handle it.

There's Usain Bolt streaking across the London night, leaving everyone else behind.

It's OK to sit forward and stare. And just smile.

See the other Dream Team one last time as U.S. Women's Soccer goes for gold

Olympic Gold

There's been a lot of hoopla around the U.S. men's basketball team at this Olympics — with University of Texas' Kevin Durant among a roster of one of the best basketball teams ever assembled — but so far, there's been precious little drama associated with the Dream Team 2.0 as it alley-oops its way to the medal rounds of the tournament.

If you want a combination of incredible talent, high energy and a flair for the dramatic in an American team at the Olympics, you've got one chance remaining to see them. They're the U.S. National Women's Soccer Team (or USWNT, for short), and they face a rematch of sorts Thursday afternoon in the gold medal game vs. Japan.

Last year, at the FIFA Women's World Cup, the Americans lost to Japan in the finals after a dramatic run that included one of the all-time great games in U.S. soccer history — men's or women's. That game, a penalty shoot-out win over Brazil in the quarterfinals, included the indelible moment when Abby Wambach scored the tying goal with roughly a minute remaining in a two-hour match that sent fans through a spectrum of human emotions.

Thursday's game (viewable at Austin's usual slate of soccer-friendly bars, as well as on the NBC Sports Network and on NBC's online feed) starts at 1:45 p.m. Austin time and will be played in front of what's expected to be the largest crowd to ever watch a women's Olympic soccer match.

It'll be hard to match the drama of this past Monday's semifinal match against Canada, in which the USWNT won in arguably the most dramatic fashion possible. They went down 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 on three goals by Canadian captain Christine Sinclair, getting level each time, first on two remarkable Megan Rapinoe goals, and then on a penalty kick from Abby Wambach following a controversial pair of foul calls.

With about thirty seconds left in extra time, with penalty kicks looming to decide who would go to the gold medal game and who would go to the bronze medal game, Alex Morgan headed the winning goal into the sliver of space between the crossbar and Canadian goalie Erin McLeod's outstretched fingers.

If you're unfamiliar with the other Dream Team, here are some reasons to love the USWNT.

Hope Solo

The American goalkeeper has had an incredible tournament. With the exception of the Canada game and the 4-2 opening match against France, she's kept the other three U.S. opponents scoreless and maintained a remarkable goal-free stretch of 368 minutes over five games. The only thing she's lacked is diplomacy.

She Twitter-slapped NBC commentator and USWNT legend Brandi Chastain for criticizing the defending of a USWNT teammate during a broadcast, which is reminiscent of the time she publicly questioned her coach's decision to leave her out of the 2007 Women's World Cup semifinals. Solo was tested by Sinclair throughout the Canada game, and her frustration following the second and third goals was a dramatic departure from her usual in-control demeanor.

But if the game does come down to penalty kicks, there's no one USWNT fans would rather have in front of the net.

Goal-scoring acumen

Wambach and Morgan have typically been the women most likely to score for the USWNT with decidedly different styles. Whereas Morgan is quick and opportunistic, using her speed and instincts to get in great position, Wambach (who's averaged nearly a goal a game in almost 200 USWNT matches) is often the tallest, strongest player on the field, equally adept with her head and her feet.

Rapinoe has had a foot in nearly every American goal this tournament, scoring from long range and assisting teammates with ridiculously on-target passes. Sydney Leroux is thriving in her role as end-of-game substitute, bringing energy, chaos and another attacking option for the team.

Terrific thirty-somethings

Captain Christie Rampone (37), Heather Mitts (34), Amy LePielbet (30) and Shannon Boxx (35) are stalwarts in the USWNT defense, with the leadership qualities and steadiness you'd want immediately in front of a goalie like Solo. And the senior players aren't just in the back: Wambach is 32 and midfielder Carli Lloyd turns 30 later this month.

Four women on the team have more international game experience than Landon Donovan, the most senior of the active U.S. men's players.


This team has so much of it. Solo talked candidly to ESPN The Magazine about the 2008 USWNT's gold medal win in Beijing — to a TODAY Show blog writer's horror — recalling, "When we were done partying, we got out of our nice dresses, got back into our stadium coats and at 7 a.m. with no sleep, went on the TODAY show drunk."

Wambach was sucker-punched in the face during the team's second group play game against Colombia, kept her emotions to a low boil, and scored a goal on a play where she was knocked down. Then, after the game, she tweeted a photo of her black eye with the hashtag "#reversesmokeeye."

In an act of courage that transcends playing on the field, Rapinoe came out in an OUT magazine feature just before the Olympics, and is arguably considered the most valuable player of this tournament.

They're Americans, after all

The men's team wasn't able to qualify, and while other American teams are still in the medal hunt, there's just the right balance of we're-the-best confidence and willful suspense in the USWNT mix. The men's and women's soccer games are more similar to one another than men's and women's basketball, though some are chauvinistically critical of the women's game as being somehow less than the men's.

Pay that no mind. The USWNT is worth watching. And come Thursday night, they very well might have reason to party again.

  • Douglas's journey to the Olympics, epitomizes hard work, persistence andsacrifice.
    Photo by Al Tielemans /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images
  • Following in a long list of Olympic winners, Gabby Douglas now graces the box ofKellogg's Corn Flakes.
    Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images for Kelloggs

Lesson from London: Gabby Douglas's journey means more than her gold medaloutcome

Chalk Talk

Gabby Douglas captured the hearts of Americans and many people around the world this week as she competed and won gold twice at the 2012 Olympics. This 16-year old gymnast made history on multiple fronts. She’s the first United States gymnast to win a team gold and an individual gold in the all-around competition. She’s also the first African-American gymnast to win the all around title. Douglas is hands down America’s sweetheart and her timing couldn’t be better.

As a nation, we need a “happy story," one that epitomizes hard work, persistence and even sacrifice. Douglas is all of that and more. I’m not suggesting we canonize her or put her on some unrealistic pedestal, I’m talking about recognizing what her journey means to so many of us.

I’m not suggesting we canonize her or put her on some unrealistic pedestal, I’m talking about recognizing what her journey means to so many of us.

To get a little perspective on Douglas’ victory I spoke with Zina Garrison, a Houstonian who also achieved a first at the Olympics back in1988. Garrison was the first African-American tennis player to win an Olympic gold medal when she teamed with Pam Shriver to win the doubles title in Seoul. Garrison also won bronze in the singles competition.

She was one of the millions of Americans following and cheering for Douglas this week and says she too felt the emotion shared by people around the world.

“I remember being on that podium and not having any idea how my life was about to change,” said Garrison. “It is an amazing and overwhelming experience that might not soak in for days.”

Douglas’s performance, composure and million dollar smile have people tweeting, sending Facebook messages and engaging in positive conversations about all of the above. It’s a triumphant thing that connects people of various backgrounds regardless of race and economics. In this current climate, that’s rare and quite refreshing. It’s why I love sports so much because it’s one of those moments that people can be on the same page despite their differences — even if only for a moment.

This brave, talented and focused teenager’s journey is the end and at the same time the beginning of a great story. I have no doubt her Olympic dominance will someday be just a chapter in the book of her amazing life. Whenever she is interviewed she talks about her faith, hard work, sacrifice and just the dream she had to be at this very place. What a concept in this microwave society we live in. You know the kind where we focus on the outcome and overlook the journey?

“I remember being on that podium and not having any idea how my life was about to change,” said Garrison. “It is an amazing and overwhelming experience that might not soak in for days.”

Garrison says Douglas has changed the face of gymnastics.

“Gabby had the insight to see at that at a very young age she needed to make a bold move,” Garrison says of Douglas’ decision to move to Iowa and train with her coach Liang Chow. “She put in the work. With reality TV all people see is the outcome, no one talks about the work. Gabby kept talking about the hard work and sacrifices it took to get here. It’s just like when you look at Beyoncé, people don’t know what all she did to succeed, how hard she worked and what she sacrificed, but I remember.”

This is also a good message for parents of aspiring athletes. There are no shortcuts or magic pills. You have to go through the process. The process is undoubtedly part of what makes Douglas so mentally tough. Garrison says one of things African-American athletes in sports like tennis and gymnastics always hear is that they can’t handle the pressure. Well Douglas shut that down as well. She not only handled the pressure, she vaulted over it and credited her God every chance she got.

Dominique Dawes won a gold medal with the U.S. team in the 1996 games and is covering the London Olympics for FoxSports.com. She says she’s proud to take down her website that lists her as the only African American gymnast to win an Olympic gold medal. Filled with emotion she too weighs in on what Douglas accomplished.

“What touches my heart is the fact that there is a whole generation of young people are now looking up to Gabby like they looked up to me," Dawes said.

When asked what advice she would give Douglas at this important time in her life. “Keep God fist in your live. She’s been tweeting about her faith; she’s been tweeting scriptures. Keep Him first and foremost and only be guided my Him," answered Dawes.

Sage advice from someone who herself has a pretty amazing story.


Kim Davis is a seasoned journalist with nearly two decades of experience covering sports, news and politics in television, radio and print. She’s a talk show host, keynote speaker, media coach, entrepreneur and health and fitness enthusiast. If you have questions or comments for Kim or about “Chalk Talk," you can reach her at kim@thekdcompany.com.

A parody of Olympic proportions: Call Me Lochte lampoons swimmers' rivalry tothe tune of Carly Rae Jepsen

Inventive minds

First there was the U.S. swim team's video parody of the ubiquitous song of the summer, Carly Rae Jepsen's"Call Me Maybe." Now an enterprising videographer has devised a hilarious parody about the rivalry between swimmers Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte.

Just to give you a taste of what's in store, words in the spoof include:

“Hey, I’m not Michael, don’t eat at Subway/But this is my year, so call me Lochte/It’s hard to swim right, by Phelps baby/But this is my year, so call me Lochte.”

See the video here:

  • TheRoundtableAbroad.org
  • Allyson Felix
    Photo by Erik van Leeuwen/Wiki
  • Michael Phelps
    Photo by Kerim Okten
  • Ryan Lochte
  • Bryshon Nellum
    PRK/PR Photos

Top five Olympic excuses for watching TV rather than working in the yard

Let the Games begin

In support of Team USA and all the elite athletes who have spent the better part of their lives training for this moment, I've compiled a list of reasons to support London 2012. Let us not forget the summer of 1980 where the U.S. boycotted the Games in Moscow for political reasons — there is never a guarantee of the next Olympic Games and certainly not a guarantee your favorite athletes will return. These athletes, not to mention our country, deserve our undivided attention and quite frankly a few chestbumps interwined.
1. Allyson Felix
The 26 year old eight-time-world-champion (six-time U.S. champion) sprinter from Los Angeles is headed to London and she's probably the best reason to tune in to the Games. Not only did I get the chance to meet this elite athlete at SXSW this year (she declined my challenge for a nice jaunt through Austin, but all is forgiven), this woman of firsts is also the same inspiration on about a million pieces of Nike training and motivational running collateral.
She is the first woman ever to win national championships in the 100, 200, and 400 meters and is a gold (a member of U.S. women's 4x400 team in Beijing in 2008) and silver (200 meters) Olympic medalist. Aside from all she's accomplished in the past, her tenacity and training regime are second to none. Literally, none.
You may recall a bit of controversy from the trials held in Eugene in June. Jeneba Tarmoh crossed the finish line in the 100-meter race to see her name pop up on the scoreboard for 3rd place, securing what she thought was her spot in London. Shortly after, it was ruled a dead heat with her training partner, none other than Felix as they both crossed the line in exactly 11.068 seconds.
The two were set for a rematch on the track days later on prime time television to see which would be heading to London alongside Carmelita Jeter and Tianna Madison. Perhaps the most talked about race in all of track and field, it never happened as Tarmoh pulled out at the last minute and conceded to Felix.
While it may mean Felix had it in her heart more than Tarmoh, it does mean one thing for sure: Felix is working that much harder to prove to the world she deserves to be there. In a statement in a recent Huffington Post article, she said, "I wanted to earn my spot on this team and not have it conceded to me so I share in everyone's disappointment that this runoff will not happen. All I can do now is turn my focus to London."
I can assure you this focus of hers is something you'll want to tune in to.
Follow her tweets (@allysonfelix) and send her notes of encouragement during the next few weeks- the lady is beast-mode busy and has one thing on her mind: GOLD.
2.Joe Buck will not be announcing
(Sports fans everywhere can rejoice)
3.TheRyan Lochte vs. Michael Phelps matchup
In 2008, American swimmer Phelps dominated every newspaper, every blog, every bit of Olympic coverage and every woman's dreams thanks to his all-star performance in Beijing with a record-setting eight gold medals. This is the same Phelps who holds 16 Olympic medals and more world records than any other swimmer, but this year eyes aren't just on him, they're split dead even.

While it seems last time we saw Phelps on the grand stage in Beijing, there wasn't anything the Speedo-laden beast could have done to better prepare himself — either mentally or physically. He was king of the pool, not to mention the world and there was no denying that. Lochte on the other hand, has since changed his diet, started lifting heavier weights and gotten his mind right — although great in his last two Olympic appearances, he had room for improvement, where it seems Phelps did not.
Both 27, both in impeccable shape, both starving for gold, but perhaps Locthe is a bit hungrier. Although Lochte has won six medals in his last two Olympic appearances (including a gold alongside teammate Phelps in the 4x200-meter freestyle relay), he hasn't had nearly the notoriety as Phelps. As with all things in life, change may just be around the bend.

It'll be interesting to see what this additional training and focus does in the water and how it'll serve as stiff competition for Phelps. In last month's Olympic trials in Omaha, Lochte actually beat out Phelps in the 400-meter individual race which prompted addtional debate over who will reign supreme in London waters. This will be Phelps fourth appearance on the Olympic stage and Locthe's third.

It's no question we'll get to witness two of the world's best swimmers competing in parallel lanes in the 200-meter freestyle and the 200 individual medley, where Phelps is the defending Olympic champion. Lochte is certainly no stranger to the events by winning both world titles this year. The two claim to be close friends, but come Games time, the two are competing to see which hardbody will be donned with gold as the fastest swimmer in the world. No matter which one of these amazing athletes wins, it's a win for the USA and will be worth watching.

Follow both of these great athletes, teammates and competitors @ryanlocthe@michaelphelps.

4.Bryshon Nellum
We all love a feel good story, and this is the one. Almost four years ago, Nellum was shot three times in the leg after a Halloween party near the campus of the University of Southern California, where he was on the track and field team. Fearful he'd never walk again, it seemed any Olympic journey was out of question, but now, his dreams are coming true.
It took 44 months and three surgeries (his last one just last August), but now the most decorated high school sprinter in all of California just ran his personal best in the 400-meters (44.80 seconds) at the U.S. Trials in Eugene last month and is headed to London to chase his lifelong dream of not only making the Olympics, but coming home with a well-deserved medal around his neck.

In a Los Angeles Times article, Nellum recalled his accident, "It's crazy because I never did fall to the ground. I kept going, just to run to safety."
Perhaps it was this need and persistence to keep moving that not only saved his life, but got him back on track, literally. The men who shot Nellum were tried for attempted murder and are now serving 15 years. When I asked Nellum via Twitter for a quote about his journey both past and present, he offered this: "When the odds are against you keep faith and never give up."

You can follow Nellum's inspirational journey on Twitter @bnellum1.

5. Missy Franklin
She's 17. And she rocks a size 13 shoe. The young girl who just two months ago went to her junior prom is the same girl (woman) to become the first American woman to swim in seven events in a single Games (four individual events and three relays). Franklin set a new American 100-meter backstroke record in Omaha where she qualified for her spot on the U.S. Swim Team sending her to London.
Even Michael Phelps calls Franklin "a stud" with her 76-inch wingspan, which is three inches longer than she is tall (standing at 6-foot-1). She's got a body built for swimming and an attitude built for anything she can possibly dream.

Franklin has already won a total of seven medals in major international competition, three gold, three silver, and one bronze in the World Championships and the fresh-faced youngster is now setting her sites on Olympic gold. Having dual citizenship (in both Canada and the U.S.), Franklin was urged to represent Canada during the Games due to the depth and experience already on Team USA. But showing her true patriotism, she went for it and is now a proud representative for Team USA.

It's hard not to root for a gal like this both in and out of the water. Franklin has come a long way having competed in the 2008 Team Trials at the age of 13 and not making the trip to Beijing to now being a world record holder. Her toughest competition, 11-times medal winner Natalie Coughlin also happens to be her lifelong role model where both have shown immense support for one other.

Both Coughlin and Franklin will be ones to watch in London, but if I had to keep my eyes on just one, it'd be Franklin all-the-way.

You can follow this amazing athlete and inspriation to us all on Twitter @franklinmissy.

Those are just my Top 5 reasons to tune into London, but it seems almost every Olympian has a story worth telling and certainly one worth watching. What's your favorite story heading into the Games this year? Perhaps we'll compile a Top 10 list before the end of it all.

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Blossom into a new Easter or Passover tradition with these spring treats and feasts around Austin


Easter and Passover (April 9 and April 5-13) are right around the corner; you might want to consider solidifying any plans before it gets any nicer outside and the crowds come out. Whether you’re enjoying the holiday with your friends or family, or taking yourself out to brunch, we’ve gathered a basketful of egg-cellent happenings for you to hop to in Austin.

Check back here for more recommendations as businesses finalize their plans.

Easter brunches and egg hunts

Fairmont Austin's Easter brunch and egg hunt
Come for the brunch, stay for the egg hunt. The first brunch we’re eyeing is at Fairmont Austin downtown on Red River Street. They’ll host two different brunch buffets at 10 am and 1:30 pm on Easter Sunday. Guests can take their pick of an egg-stravagant spread of seafood, oak-smoked prime rib, and other delicacies. After you’ve had your fill, head to the rooftop for the hotel’s brunch attendee-exclusive Easter Egg Hunt at 11:30 am or 3:00 pm. Word on the street says the Easter Bunny might make a special appearance. The Tiny Tails petting zoo will also be at the hotel to show off the cutest animals for friends of all ages. Brunch bookings can be made via OpenTable.

Fareground's Easter brunch specials and egg hunts
For an afternoon of fun for children of all ages, consider bringing the family to downtown Austin’s first food hall, Fareground, for their Easter Egg-Stravaganza. From 12-3 pm, there will be plenty of brunch specials at the food hall's many eateries while children can enjoy sweets like cotton candy and get their face painted. There will be three egg hunts throughout the afternoon for three different age groups. Free general admission reservations can be made via Eventbrite.

Aba's Easter weekend brunches
Mediterranean cuisine lovers can spend their Easter brunch on the patio at Aba, Austin’s premiere Mediterranean restaurant on South Congress. Their exclusive Easter special on April 8 and 9 includes a spring frittata with lump crab, English peas, shaved asparagus, avocado, pickled fresnos, and parmesan. Guests can also pick a weekend favorite like the short rib shakshuka or khachapuri. Reserve on Tock.

Kalahari Resorts' Easter brunch buffet
If you live farther north, Kalahari Resorts in Round Rock will host their own Easter brunch buffet from 11 am to 3 pm with a delightful assortment of local charcuterie, fresh crudité, soups, and more. Children aged three and under eat free. The resort will also have two Easter egg hunts for two age ranges at 10:30 am and 1:30 pm. Brunch tickets can be made on Tock.

TRACE's April drag brunch
Though this brunch isn’t Easter themed, Trace (stylized TRACE) inside the W Hotel is going all out for its April Fool’s Comedy Drag Brunch from 11 am to 4 pm on April 9 with some of Austin’s favorite queens, The Beckies. The iconic duo are the restaurant’s regular brunch hosts every second Sunday of the month. Their performances begin at 11 am and 2 pm. Reserve ($10 per person) on OpenTable.

Passover meals

Aba's passover dine-in and take-out
In addition to its Easter specials, Aba will also offer guests a special Passover dine-in or take-home meal by Chef CJ Jacobson. The to-go package includes hummus, matzo crackers and crudité, potato and Brussels sprout latkes, slow-braised short rib, and much more. The dine-in Passover specials will be available April 5 and 6, but to-go specials must be pre-ordered by 3 pm on April 4. Pickup is available between 11 am and 5 pm on April 5 and 6. Reservations for both offers ($58.95 per person) can be made on Tock.

L’Oca D’Oro's Passover Seder
Neighborhood Italian restaurant L’Oca D’Oro is bringing back their omni-denominational Passover Seder. Chef Fiore Tedesco will delight guests with his version of a traditional Seder meal on April 10 and 11. The first celebration will be led by Cantor Sarah Avner (Beth Israel), and the next by Rabbi Neil Blumofe (Aguadas Achim). Reserve ($100 per person) on OpenTable.

Sweet Treats

What’s Easter without a couple extra desserts to take home? SusieCakes is baking up its SusieChick lemon cake, Easter carrot cupcakes, peeps sugar cookies, dessert decorating kits, and more for the occasion. Their festive Easter treats will be available through April 9.

Bakery Lorraine
Bakery Lorraine at the Domain is accepting pre-orders for its classic seven-inch Easter carrot cake. The luscious dessert serves 10-12 people and contains pineapple, coconut, walnuts, and is topped with a cream cheese frosting. Fill out a form to preorder ($80) by April 4 to pick up on April 8, just in time for your Easter feast.

Popular restaurant in Austin suburb brings spinoff bar and live music to Leander

Down the Rabbit Hole

A new bar is hopping into a growing Austin suburb: After the success of opening the Lucky Rabbit in the Lake Travis area last year, Matt Morcher, Sandra Cleveland, and Matt and Shelly Delahoussaye are set to open a new spinoff neighborhood bar in Leander next week.

Located located in the San Gabriel Ridge shopping center at 2080 N. US-183 unit 145, The Rabbit Hole will open on Friday, March 31, starting at 2 pm. The team will celebrate with a grand opening party, featuring live music by Luke Daniel from 6-9 pm and Carter Whitaker from 9 pm - midnight. A special time-related happy hour will offer new specials for guests to enjoy at the top of every hour.

The name is, of course, a small nod to The Lucky Rabbit, but also an invitation to "go down the rabbit hole” — whether with friends and family or passing time solo. The bar will serve high quality cocktails in a swanky space, bringing in live music acts most weekend nights for locals to enjoy.

The 68-seat interior play on the theme of time and the trippy experience of going down the rabbit hole, featuring exposed brick walls with murals of clock-like rabbits and gears painted by local artist Sarah Blankenship, along with a variety of light fixtures featuring Edison-style bulbs and gears that light the space.

The drink menu carries that theme through its featured cocktails, with rabbit names like Bug’s Old Fashioned (rye, demerara, bitters, orange, luxardo cherry); the 24 Carrot Gold (vodka, triple sec, blood orange, lime, bitters); and the Bubbly Bunny (gin, lavender, lemon, prosecco). Perfect as we head into hotter temperatures, frozen drink option include traditional and flavored margaritas, the Hot Hare (Spicy Mango, Chamoy, Tajin rim), or the Perky Bunny (Red Bull floater, Pop Rocks rim). Local beer and wine is also available, as well as bar snacks. Heartier food options will also be available to order from neighboring restaurants, Sabino’s Pizza Pub and Ah Thinh Asian Cuisine.

Morcher and Cleveland are veterans in the industry with a big heart for the local community:

“Sandra and I live in the area, and we often found ourselves looking for a nearby neighborhood bar to hang out in," said Morcher via release. "We saw this space, and felt that there was great potential to make it into a fun local spot — so we just decided to create one ourselves! We’re excited to be bringing this to an underserved area here in Leander, Liberty Hill and beyond. It was tough to find a place out here with affordable craft cocktails, great service, and live music on the weekends. We’re thrilled to be able to bring that to our community.”

Zilker Botanical Garden seeks budding fey architects for 2023 Woodland Faerie Trail

enchanting summer homes

Love thy neighbor, but don’t give them your name, eat their food, or trespass. You can’t be too careful when the fey — in this case, your design clients — move in. Zilker Botanical Garden has opened applications to “become a faerie home architect” on the 2023 Woodland Faerie Trail.

Skilled architects and well-meaning amateurs alike can purchase a four-by-four-inch plot for $25, as applications are accepted in the order they’re received rather than based on skill. These woodland creatures can appreciate houses of all shapes and sensibilities, but photos the garden chose for inspiration are mostly stick, moss, and pebble-based.

The houses are exposed to the elements, so architects should consider durability. However, landscaping is the exclusive purview of Zilker Botanical Garden and the woodland creatures, so plants are not accepted. Neither are glass, plastic, non-solar lighting, and a few other materials listed in the builders’ guidelines.

Faeries have been living in the pop-up neighborhood since 2013, when the garden started the tradition, and 2022 saw a record number of new builds on 75 plots.

Walking the path is free for anyone who buys a ticket to the garden ($8 or less depending on age), and sometimes there are surprises like a story time for children, harp and flute music, or wearable wings for sale. Before the fairie houses are installed, Zilker Botanical Garden has another, more adult-oriented walking trail called the Surreal Garden (April 6-8, and13-15) — essentially a garden rave amid neon art installations.

More information, including guidelines and dates of installation and removal, is available at zilkergarden.org.