Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Phelps, Berens and funny press conferences

The Wednesday press conferences for Michael Phelps (by himself) and Ricky Berens (with two other 4x200 relay teammates) both had a funny moment following the U.S.'s gold-medal performance in the event.

Charlotte's Berens handled himself well in a room full of about 500 journalists. He said the last time he had been taken into a press conference, there were "maybe 2-3 reporters." But he did make a mistake in one answer. While trying to tell a story about Phelps and how he kept pushing his teammates to break the elusive seven-minute mark in the relay, Berens slipped and said Phelps had wanted them to break the "eight-minute mark." A teammate gently corrected him.

Breaking eight minutes, of course, wouldn't even get you to the final 16 at the Olympics. Afterward, Berens told me: "Darn! I can't believe I screwed that up!"

Phelps' press conference was moderated by a stern Chinese man who kept reminding everyone that Phelps couldn't be there very long. Once, Phelps told the journalists he was going to read them a text message from a high school friend. He pulled out his phone and started scrolling through the messages.

"You have one minute!" the stern Chinese man told Phelps. The moderator then looked surprised when the room broke up in laughter about a moderator telling an 11-time gold medalist to hurry up.

Phelps finally found it. An old high-school friend, referring to how many times Phelps has been on NBC in these Olympics, had written him sarcastically asking: "How many times do I have to see your ugly face?"


Lynne said...

Don't let a silly mistake at a press conference bother you -- I'm sure you are going to get lots of practice in the future, with the way you are swimming. Great Job!! (The Brantleys)

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