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Steinberg: What it takes to win at the Olympics

August 04, 2012|By Leigh Steinberg

The first week is in the books at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

These are the first Games which are using multiple platforms to deliver content. You can enjoy the Olympics on four different television networks and via live Internet stream which can be delivered to iPads, computers and mobile phones.

NBC is predicting that they will actually make a profit, which is unusual given the prohibitively expensive rights fees and massive production. Given the fact that they are squeezing minuscule amounts of action amid a tsunami wave of advertising, perhaps it is not so surprising. Much of the focus is on American medals — we are a nation that exults in victory. These Games have crowned new heroes and labeled less successful performers as disappointments.

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Clearly there is a group of fresh-faced American champions.

Gabrielle Douglas, "The Flying Squirrel," who delivered an electrifying performance while winning a gold medal in the individual gymnastics all-around competition Thursday night is already on the way to becoming "America's Sweetheart."

Her smiling face and diminutive stature promise to be reflected in major endorsements in the months to come. Watch how the post-Olympic celebrity making machine – appearances on late-night and early-morning shows as well as print prominence – elevate her stature. She was not expected to be the winner. Her teammates, who won the team gold medal, are attractive figures.

Swimmer Missy Franklin has won four gold medals and has a great smile and enthusiasm that is heartwarming. She was joined by gold-medal-winning swimmers Rebecca Soni and 15-year-old Katie Ledecky as fresh faces.

Michael Phelps has been a fixture, but his unprecedented medal haul has taken him to iconic status. Tyler Clary and Nathan Adrian won unexpected swimming medals. Track and field, volleyball and basketball will add new stars.

The television coverage exalts the winners and fixates on the losers.

Gymnastics star Jordyn Wieber was a favorite to win the all-around and didn't make the final cut. There was seemingly endless coverage of her sadness.

Aly Raisman failed at the last minute to medal in the wopmen's gymnastics all-around.

Ryan Lochte was predicted to be the new Michael Phelps, and much has been made of his shortcoming.

The reigning gold medal men's beach volleyball team was dethroned by Italy.

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