A British knight's tale, a Japanese "superman" with Keith Richards bangs and a hell on horseback for Team USA.
The men's gymnastics team final smoldered with drama and style. Even royals William and Harry were all agog in their seats at North Greenwich Arena.
But through the glint of Chinese gold and the inevitable scoring controversy (did Kohei Uchimura effectively execute a proper pommel dismount, or was that a faceplant?) viewers may not have noticed a gaping, grimacing, face-contorting absence.
Namely, where were the rings?
The true crucible of men's gymnastics, the bane of the biceps—why did NBC exile coverage of this essential apparatus?
Never as seductive as the high bar, devoid of the vault's epic stakes—and with athletes like Britain's Dan Purvis embodying the elegance possible on the floor routine—perhaps the Iron Cross has become a relic. More Tower of London than London 2012, too medieval for primetime.
NBC's gauzy coverage of the women's team certainly suggests a new gussying up of gymnastics coverage. The women indeed are fabulously talented and winsome, every one of them. But do we need the go-to-commercial cover girl montage at each MasterCard break?
Beauty and anguish have co-defined sport since the original Olympics, and that's exactly why the rings must be recalled from the darkness.
The swinging chains, the raw exhibition of strength, a man hanging there in distress—it's the sternest apparatus. The most classical and most difficult to watch.
Bring the rings back. If men's gymnastics need to modernize, reassess or transform the element, so be it.
Evolution is good, especially for a relic.
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