The waves have settled in Weymouth as the 2012 Olympics have drawn to a close, and the Sperry Topsider U.S. Sailing Team will return to the states without the medals they hoped for. In the 16 days of racing, the Americans did not medal in any of the sailing events in which they competed, marking the first Olympics without any medals for U.S. sailors since the 1936 Games. Despite the outcome, the sailors can hold their heads high knowing that U.S. Sailing has come a long way in the last eight years, and that the 2016 Games in Rio will be another chance to prove themselves on the world sailing stage.

The majority of the U.S. competitors finished somewhere in the middle of their respective fleets, and a few sailors made the top ten.

One of Team USA's best shots for a medal was the Women's Elliott 6M team of Anna Tunnicliffe, Debbie Capozzi and Molly Vandemoer. In the round-robin stage of match racing, they won eight of their 11 races to qualify for the eight-team knockout stage as the fourth seed. In the quarterfinal round, the U.S. boat lost to fifth-seeded Finland, and the defeat dashed Team USA's medal hopes. Finland went on to win the bronze medal and Spain eventually won the event.

In the Star class, U.S. sailors Mark Mendelblatt and Brian Fatih sat in sixth place heading into the medal race on Sunday. However they had no chance at a medal, as they trailed third-place Sweden by an insurmountable 29-point margin. Mendelblatt and Fatih eventually finished seventh. The team from Sweden came back from third place and won gold in the medal race.

Finn sailor and U.S. sailing team captain Zach Railey could not build on his silver medal in the 2008 Games, as he finished 12th in Weymouth.

The women's 470 two-handed event was another event where it looked like the U.S. had a chance to medal early. Over the week of sailing, Amanda Clark and Sarah Lihan had seven top-nine finishes in the 20 boat fleet, but their other results were towards the back of the fleet. Clark and Lihan qualified for the medal race, but finished 9th out of 20 boats in the final standings.

The Australian team proved themselves as the best Olympic sailors in 2012, as they won three golds and one silver. The British took home the most medals, with one gold and four silvers. Ben Ainslie of Great Britain became the most decorated Olympic sailor of all time, as he won his fourth gold in as many games.

Since many of the sailing events involve a mental challenge as well as a physical one, sailors can often sail well past their mid-30’s, and U.S. sailing fans can expect to see many returning team members at the 2016 games.

Team Leader Dean Brenner had this to say on his blog at the end of the Olympics:

“Thanks to everyone for their support during these last few weeks. As I wrote yesterday, I’m proud of our Olympians, regardless of the results. I stand with this team, no matter what. We all do.
Sail fast,

Dean Brenner, Team Leader”

Final results:

Event: U.S. Entrant (final ranking), first-place country

Men's RS-X: Robert Willis (22nd), Netherlands
Women's RS-X: Farrah Hall (20th), Spain
Men's Laser: Rob Crane (29th), Australia
Women's Laser Radial: Paige Railey (8th), China
Men's Finn: Zach Railey (12th), Great Britain
Men's 470: McNay/Biehl (14th), Australia
Women's 470: Clark/Lihan (9th), New Zealand
Men's 49er: Storck/Moore (15th), Australia
Men's Star: Mendelblatt/Fatih (7th), Sweden
Women's Elliott 6m: USA skippered by Anne Tunnicliffe (5th-- knocked out in quarterfinal), Spain

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They may be the best athletes in the world, but that doesn't mean they're flawless. Even Olympic athletes have their faults, and they are not lost on the television commentators.

The humor website Jest.com compiled a video of some of the best negative reactions by announcers during the Olympics, and it's absolutely hilarious.

Some of the highlights include:

"He just looks like a defeated man. He looks like someone kicked his dog."

"If you want to be in this race, you're going to have to go harder."

"Brazil has been consistent in their serving. Consistently bad."

The bottom line here is that nobody's perfect at what they do. But, for the most part, Olympic athletes are closer than most.

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A gold medal moment can shine long after the last notes of an athlete's national anthem are sung. From Wheaties boxes and Subway commercials to speaking engagements and magazine photo spreads, some Olympians can cash in their gold medal for some actual green.

"A gold medal stays with you for life," says Ben Sturner, CEO and founder of the Leverage Agency in New York. "The other medals are often forgotten."

Think about Olympians like Michael Phelps and Apolo Ohno, who are as recognizable as Tom Brady or LeBron James. Throughout his career, Phelps has landed top brands like Kelloggs, Subway, Omega, Speedo, Visa, Nike and AT&T. Ohno made speed-skating cool, and has enjoyed the sponsorships of McDonald's, General Electric, Vicks and Coca-Cola, and lest we forget his winning appearance on "Dancing With The Stars."

But, as Sturner warns, there's a very small window of opportunity for these endorsements. With the closing ceremonies behind us, football is ready to kick off, and by October, most of us won't be thinking about the Olympics. As anyone who watched TV in the weeks leading up to the 2012 London Games knows, Ryan Lochte totally swam across the Atlantic, and the bulk of the advertising campaigns happen before the games.

"Any Olympic athlete who has an opportunity for an endorsement or speaking engagement once the games are over would be wise to do them," Sturner says. "There's a short shelf-life for the Olympics."

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It was a banner Olympics for Great Britain.

And what better way to celebrate than with a little lip-syncing? Some of the stars of Great Britain's Olympic team got together to shoot a fantastic music video to the Queen classic "Don't Stop Me Now."

And, of course, it's "directed" by none other than David Beckham.

Of all the music videos starring Olympians, this is definitely near the top. The question is whether it's the best. The USA swimming team, as well as the American women's soccer team, might have something to say about that.

-- Follow Robbie Levin on Twitter @RobbieLevin.

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The Game:
Whistle-happy FIBA refs were the primary culprit behind a rather disjointed flow early on, nearly making a highly anticipated game unwatchable. Forty of the 63 free throws shot in the game came in the first 20 minutes alone. Yet in a half foul-filled half, there was one call that stood out from all the rest.

Team USA led 46-44 with 5:29 left in the second quarter when Spanish big man Marc Gasol was called for his fourth while attempting to grab an offensive rebound over Kevin Love. It was a huge blow for Spain and gave the Americans the opportunity to blow the game wide open. But Juan Carlos Navarro, struggling all tournament due to a nagging foot injury, exploded in the first half, scoring 14 points. So despite one of Spain's key pieces confined to the bench due to foul trouble, the U.S. entered halftime only up one.

With the younger Gasol on the bench to open the third quarter, the Americans were still unable to pull away from a spirited Spanish squad. This time, it was the elder Gasol singlehandedly keeping Spain's upset hopes alive. Dueling with Laker teammate Kobe Bryant (7 third quarter points) and Kevin Durant (10 of his game-high 30 points), Pau Gasol scored 15 of his 24 points in the period.

The Americans were clinging to an 83-82 entering the final quarter when Marc Gasol's absence finally came back to haunt the underdogs. With Spanish head coach Sergio Scariolo forced to pair Serge Ibaka (Oklahoma City Thunder) and little-used reserve Felipe Reyes in his frontcourt, Team USA went on a quick 7-2 run to open the quarter. Spain never got closer than six the rest of the way and Chris Paul's driving layup with just under a minute left put the U.S. up 11, all but sealing the gold for Team USA.

The Good:
Head coach Mike Krzyzewski has been upset a time or two during his lengthy and distinguished NCAA career, experiences he no doubt leaned on coming up with a gameplan for Spain. The key to most of those shocking defeats was likely the underdog's success with the 3-point shot -- the great equalizer for the basketball David when attempting to slay Goliath.

With that in mind, Coach K chose to press tight to the perimeter players on Spain in hopes of eliminating a hot-shooting night from behind the arc. The flip side to this strategy is that the Gasols could then attack his undersized squad in a series of 1-on-1 post-ups with ample room to operate.

In the third, we saw Pau rip apart the American defense for those 15 points. What we didn't see, however, was a barrage of 3-point shots from Spain. The Spaniards only attempted four the entire quarter (including a desperation halfcourt have by Sergio Rodriquez at the buzzer) and just six the whole second half. Had Coach K hit the panic button during that stretch -- calling for aggressive double teams on Gasol or having help defenders collapse the paint on post catches -- it would have led to a lot more attempts from 3-point territory.

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The Game:
As the clock ticked down toward halftime, Facundo Campazzo, infamous for his cheap shot to Carmelo Anthony’s groin area in group play, weaved his way through American defenders. He managed to sneak a pass to teammate Manu Ginobilli, left unguarded, who made a leaning 3-point shot to pull Argentina within seven as the buzzer sounded. It seemed to be the type of play that would have inspired the country’s most hallowed basketball quintet to push the U.S. to the brink.

The problem, however, is that no amount of inspiration can overcome Team USA's overwhelming collection of talent. Led once again by the brilliance of LeBron James, the Americans kept the Argentinians at arm's length for two and a half quarters before an effortless run turned a semi-competitive game into a total blowout. Anthony led the surge with yet another incredible scoring burst (18 points in 22 minutes), highlighted by three consecutive 3-pointers early in the fourth quarter.

At that point the rout was on and the Golden Generation's attempt to build on their incredible legacy was left in ruins by the unstoppable force that is Team USA.

The Good:
In a word - everything. The U.S. controlled every facet of this game. They shot well (53.1 percent from the field, including 42.9 percent from 3), they moved the ball (25 assists) and completely crushed Argentina on the glass (40-23 rebounding edge).

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From an individual standpoint, James was again outstanding. Anthony and Kevin Durant put on a shooting clinic while Kevin Love wrecked the Argentina front line with his insatiable desire to gobble up missed shots. With efforts like that, there was simply no way the U.S. was going to be beaten.

The Bad:
If forced to pick something, the pick-and-roll coverage was again slightly problematic. Team USA had their issues primarily when the crafty duo of Ginobili and Luis Scola ran this action in the middle of the floor. Outside of that, it’s extreme nit-picking to find flaws in Friday’s performance.

Looking Ahead:
The gold medal game is finally upon us. On Sunday morning (10 A.M. ET), Spain gets another crack at Team USA in a rematch of the exciting 2008 final in Beijing. If they can follow up on a dominant second half against Russia, Spain has a chance to make this one interesting.

Marc and Pau Gasol have been great all tournament (as has the Spanish defense), but they won’t be able to carry the load alone. The Spaniards will need their guard quintet of Jose Calderon, Juan Carlos Navarro, Sergio Llull and Rudy Fernandez to come through with clutch efforts and lights-out shooting if they hope to pull off an upset. However, with the way Team USA is playing, Spain keeping this game within 20 points will be an impressive feat in its own right.

-- Brett Koremenos is the editor at NBA Playbook and a contributor to Hoopspeak. Follow him on Twitter @BKoremenos.




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The BT London Live site at Hyde Park is packed with Olympic fans.

It might have had the longest line at the Olympics with a minimum wait of 30 minutes:

-- LISA DELPY NEIROTTI




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Australian swimmer Stephanie Rice ended any speculation that she had a budding romance with Kobe Bryant, by tweeting Thursday that she and Bryant are just friends. And now, the man who started the speculation has publicly apologized.

Craig Stevens, a former Olympic swimmer for Australia, had said that there was "definitely something going on" between the pair. According to Stevens, Bryant hung around the Australian swim team at parties during the Beijing Olympics and had been flirting with Rice.

In London, Bryant was spotted watching cycling at the velodrome with Rice and her Australian teammates.

But after finding out Bryant was still married, Stevens said he regrets speaking out.

"I have honestly felt sick after what I said, I had no right to make comments with second hand information," Stevens said. "I did not realize [Bryant] was still married. I thought he had been separated, hence why I thought something could be happening. If I could take back what I said I definitely would."

Bryant's wife filed for divorce in December but it has not been finalized, and there is talk of getting back together, as she and the couple's children are in London to watch the Olympics.

If Bryant and Rice had been seeing each other, it would not have been the first presumed romance between an American Olympian and an Australian swimmer. Before the London Games started, Ryan Lochte was seen cozying up to Blair Evans of Australia. In 2008, Rice was linked to Michael Phelps after the two were spotted kissing.

-- Follow Robbie Levin on Twitter @RobbieLevin.

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By Tom Rotunno
CNBC.com

Sometimes the sports marketing universe aligns in perfect ways. For Skechers and Meb Keflezighi, August 2011 was one of those times.

Skechers, a company known for its lifestyle footwear brand, was launching its first performance running shoe and needed a boost of credibility to capture the attention of the running marketplace.

Keflezighi, a legend in the running community, was an aging athlete in need of a sponsor. The pair announced their partnership in August 2011 and one year later, Keflezighi will be wearing Skechers when he competes as the top American runner in the 2012 London Olympics men's marathon.

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Slideshow: Part-Time Athletes

While Keflezighi and Skechers bask in the Olympic moment, their union wasn't without risk. In early 2011, Keflezighi, a silver medallist in the 2004 Olympic Games, was cut by his longtime sponsor, Nike, just two years removed from winning the New York City marathon.

After suffering a potentially career-ending injury during the 2008 Olympic Trials, many thought the runner's best days might be behind him. Despite his past success, Keflezighi was reaching an age when the rigors of competitive running typically catch up to an athlete.

But while the level of his future performance was uncertain, his status as an ambassador of the running community was unquestioned.

For his part, Keflezighi would be trusting his most essential piece of equipment to a brand more famous for leisure than performance. Skechers had developed a well-earned reputation for being masters at spotting retail fads, exploiting them and moving on to the next big thing.

Now it was entering another booming area: The minimalist/lightweight running shoe market. While accounting for just $500 million of the overall $7 billion running shoe market, the minimalist trend is one of the hottest in sports retail. So while Keflezighi wanted a sponsor, he also wanted to alleviate his concerns.

"There are always risks when you make changes, you have to do your due diligence," Keflezighi told CNBC. "After training in the Skechers running shoes, I met with the company executives and the product team. I really got excited about Skechers' future in running and if I didn't feel I could train with Skechers GOrun and win races and run personal bests, I would not have signed with (them)."

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In his first race in the Skechers GOrun shoe, Keflezighi ran the New York City marathon in 2:09:13, a personal best. A few months later, his second race in the brand, he would win the U.S. Olympic Trials with another personal best (2:09:08). Nearly one year after losing his longtime sponsor, the aging icon was on his way to the Olympics and bringing his upstart performance shoe maker along for the run.

"For Skechers, really only being in the running business for 15-18 months, it's monumental to say here is a guy that's going to be in the Olympics wearing our brand," says Rick Higgins, Vice-President of Skechers Performance Division.

While Keflezighi's winning the Olympic trials grabbed headlines, putting his name behind the product got running retailers and consumers to take notice even before he first hit the roads in them.

“The day we signed Meb the core running community picked up their head and it was almost as if we got instant credibility," Higgins continued. "It opened up a lot of doors for us and some different distribution channels. They actually would make appointments with because they knew Meb was a guy that wouldn’t get behind something that he wasn't a believer in."

Getting into core running stores is a key step for the brand says Matt Powell, an analyst for SportsOneSource, a sports market retail tracking firm that monitors sales in sporting goods stores.

"As a fashion casual brand, the typical sales outlet are the family shoe outlets. But the family stores don’t have the service level that a typical running store has," says Powell. "They're not well versed in the technical aspects of the shoes they sell."

While the casual shopping outlets may not be up to speed on the technical aspects of Skechers GOrun shoe, the running community has taken notice. The April 2012 issue of Competitor magazine named GOrun the "Editor's Pick for Most Innovative New Running Shoe" while the May/June 2012 issue of Women's Running declared Skechers GOrun a "Most Innovative Award Winner."

Skechers' Higgins says the early positive reviews have been crucial to gaining acceptance as a legitimate player in the performance shoe market.

"There really was a wall up against us," says Higgins. "The core runner is very loyal to their brands but we've just been chipping away."

There is still a lot of work to be done, with Skechers accounting for one percent of overall running shoe market according to SportsOneSource’s Powell. But no matter the result in London, Keflezighi says it's important to know his sponsor is invested in him off the course too.

Keflezighi feels he's not just carrying the torch for Skechers, but for the entire running community.

"I have made it a point to be a leader in the resurgence of American distance running. I work very hard every single day to get the best out of myself," he says. "It means a lot to me that Skechers not only appreciates what I have done in the sport, but also believes that I can still do great things."

When he toes the line for the start of the 2012 men's Olympic marathon, it will be vindication for Keflezighi from those who thought he had nothing left in the tank. As for what it means for the Skechers brand, he isn’t saying, preferring to let his performance in the last year do the talking for him.

"I let my running speak for itself," Keflezighi told CNBC. "I think (those) facts give more credibility to Skechers than anything I can say."

-- Follow Tom Rotunno on Twitter @tomrotunno.

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Tags:
CNBC, Running

Japanese fans chant in front of Wembley psyching up for the rematch of the World Cup
between the U.S. and Japan.

Fans make the march to madness en route to Wembley.

Fans boo FIFA president Sepp Blatter during the medal ceremony

-- LISA DELPY NEIROTTI




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