American gymnast Aly Raisman earned a gold medal for her athletic prowess in London. It's her mom who's gone viral.
NBC's video of Lynn Raisman watching her daughter perform on the uneven bars Sunday, with her nervous murmurs and face and body contortions, was the single most replayed moment on Tivo digital video recorders that night. It has even inspired a YouTube spoof.
The network doesn't have "parent cams" trained on the stands during every Olympic event. Moms and dads are featured only when they are relevant to the story lines, veteran NBC producer Molly Solomon said Thursday. But they've already been indelible parts of the network's coverage in the first few days of the London Games.
The parents of American gymnasts John Orozco and Dannel Leyva were palpable presences during that sport's coverage. The bronze medal-winning Leyva's dad was his coach and a bundle of energy. NBC introduced Orozco's parents in a segment that talked about the sacrifices they made in helping the Bronx athlete reach a high level of competition. When Orozco's dreams were shattered by some subpar performances, he was near tears, and his mother's face reflected similar agony.
"Can you imagine the emotions of watching your kid compete?" Solomon said. "To me it's part of the fabric of the story."
One of NBC's best moments came after South African Chad Le Clos unexpectedly beat American Michael Phelps in the butterfly. Americans by now are used to seeing Phelps' mom, Debbie, cheer her son's many medal-winning performances. This time the camera caught her in a double-take, first thinking it was another gold medal before learning her son had been beaten in the end.
NBC producer Dan Beard was in the stands and heard a man shouting, "That's my son! That's my son!" He quickly ordered cameras to catch video of Le Clos' sobbing father, his head wrapped in a South African flag. The parents with their contrasting emotions made for arresting images.
For many American athletes, NBC producers know the parents already through the research-gathering process leading up to the Olympics. Seemingly more athletes these days are teenagers, and their parents are the emotional and financial support system through years of training. A Procter & Gamble ad campaign for the Olympics focuses on just these sacrifices that moms make.
Not all parents are comfortable being a part of their child's moments. Solomon recalled a recent Winter Olympics where the parents of an ice dancing team asked that the cameras stay focused on their children. The mother of American ice skater Evan Lysacek is usually out of the arena, unable to watch her son perform live.
"If they don't want to be on camera, we are respectful of that," Solomon said.
NBC learns from Olympics officials where an athlete's family has seats before the competition takes place. There's always a double-check, with a researcher going up in the stands to make sure that information is correct.
Imagine the embarrassment of getting it wrong. Judging by many of the expressions, however, it's usually pretty easy to tell when they've got it right.
TAPE DELAY: NBC says its researchers have found that people who learn the results from major competitions before NBC shows them on its tape-delayed prime-time coverage are more likely to watch them later. The fear that people would find out early and not bother to tune in has been the major assumption behind holding back live coverage during Olympics where time zones present a serious issue. Nielsen said that 30.8 million people watched Wednesday night's NBC show, as the games continue to do better on U.S. TV than the Beijing Olympics of 2008. NBC said all of its cable telecasts are seeing ratings increases from four years ago, too.
READY, AIM...: Archery is the hot Olympic sport. NBC said archery is the top-rated sport of all the ones it shows on its cable networks, higher even than basketball.
JUDO CHAMP: Heart-melting moment watching Ohio's Kayla Harrison win the first American gold medal in judo ever. As a sensitive report by NBC's Stephanie Gosk pointed out, Harrison kept with the sport despite being sexually abused for three years as a teenager by a former coach. Her last hurdle Thursday was facing British underdog Gemma Gibbons before a boisterous hometown crowd. The 22-year-old Harrison leaped into the stands after winning to hug her fiance, who draped her with an American flag as David Bowie's "Heroes" played in the background.
UPCOMING: As swimming and gymnastics wind down, the track and field events begin. NBC will cover the men's shot put gold medal finals.
Danell Leyva - 2012
Stepfather and coach Yin Alvarez, right, hugs U.S. gymnast Danell Leyva after he won the bronze medal during the artistic gymnastics men's individual all-around competition at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Matt Grevers - 2012
Matt Grevers celebrates with his dad Ed and mom Anja after he won the championship final of the Men's 100 m Backstroke during Day Three of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Swimming Team Trials at CenturyLink Center on June 27, 2012 in Omaha, Nebraska. Credit: Al Bello, Getty Images
Allison Schmitt - 2012
Allison Schmitt celebrates with her parents during the medal ceremony for the Women's 400 m Freestyle during Day Two of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Swimming Team Trials at CenturyLink Center on June 26, 2012 in Omaha, Nebraska. Credit: Jamie Squire, Getty Images
Maria Riesch - 2010
Germany's gold winner Maria Riesch (R) hugs her mother Monika Riesch as her father Siggi Riesch (L) looks on after the flowers ceremony of the women's Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics Slalom event at Whistler Creek side Alpine skiing venue on February 26, 2010. Credit: Michael Kappeler, AFP / Getty Images
Evan Lysacek - 2010
Evan Lysacek of the United States is greeted by his mother Tanya at the USA House after winning the men's figure skating Olympic gold medal on February 18, 2010 in Vancouver, Canada. Credit: Christopher Polk, Getty Images
Shaun White - 2010
USA's gold medalist Shaun White (L) celebrates with his mother Cathy White after the men's Snowboard Halfpipe final on February 17, 2010 at Cypress Mountain, north of Vancouver during the Vancouver Winter Olympics. Credit: Adrian Dennis, AFP / Getty Images
Seth Wescott - 2010
Seth Wescott of the US embraces his mother Margaret after winning the Men's Snowboard SBX final at Cypress Mountain during the Vancouver Winter Olympics, north of Vancouver on February 15, 2010. Credit: Adrian Dennis, AFP / Getty Images
Felix Loch - 2010
Felix Loch of Germany is congratulated by his father Norbert Loch after winning the gold medal after the final run of the men's luge singles final on day 3 of the 2010 Winter Olympics at Whistler Sliding Centre on February 14, 2010 in Whistler, Canada. Credit: Alexander Hassenstein, Bongarts / Getty Images
Zhang Yining - 2008
China's Zhang Yining (L) celebrates with her mother (C) while her father (R) looks on after defeating her compatriot Wang Nan in the women's singles table tennis final gold medal match at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games on August 22, 2008. Zhang defeated her compatriot Wang 4-1 to win the gold medal. Credit: Teh Eng Koon, AFP / Getty Images
Michael Phelps - 2008
US swimmer Michael Phelps kisses his mother Debbie after the medal ceremony for the men's 4 x 200m freestyle relay swimming final at the National Aquatics Center during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games in Beijing on August 13, 2008. A US team led by superstar Michael Phelps broke the men's 4x200m freestyle relay world record with a time of 6min 58.56sec. The victory gave Phelps his fifth gold medal of the Beijing Games and the 11th Olympic gold of his career. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
Kimberly Glass - 2008
Kimberly Glass of the United States hugs her mother Kathryn Storms after their win over Cuba in Women's Semifinals volleyball game held at the Capital Indoor Stadium during Day 13 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 21, 2008 in Beijing, China. Credit: Jeff Gross, Getty Images
Maria Valentina Vezzali - 2008
Maria Valentina Vezzali of Italy kisses her mother Enrica after winning the women's fencing individual foil gold medal match over Nam Hyunhee of South Korea (not pictured) at the Fencing Hall on Day 3 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 11, 2008 in Beijing, China. Credit: Alexander Hassenstein, Bongarts / Getty Images
Rebeka Harmon - 2008
Russia basketball player Rebeka Hammon (R) is kissed by her mother Bev Marty at the end of the women's quarter-final basketball match Russian Federation vs. Spain at the Olympic basketball gymnasium on August 19, 2008 in Beijing, as part of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Russia won 84 to 65. Credit: Antonio Scorza, AFP / Getty Images
Nastia Liukin - 2008
United States' Nastia Liukin (R) celebrates with her father and coach, Valeri Liukin after winning the gold in the women's individual all-around final of the artistic gymnastics event of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing on August 15, 2008. United States' Nastia Liukin won the gold, her compatriot Shawn Johnson the silver and China's Yilin Yang the bronze. Credit: Lluis Gene, AFP / Getty Images
Chellsie Memmel - 2008
Chellsie Memmel gets a hug from her coach and father Andy Memmel after competing on the balance beam during day four of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for gymnastics at the Wachovia Center on June 22, 2008 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Credit: Al Bello, Getty Images
Leisel Jones - 2008
Leisel Jones of Australia is congratulated by her mother Rosemary after winning the gold medal in the Women's 100m Breaststroke held at the National Aquatics Center on Day 4 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 12, 2008 in Beijing, China. Credit: Jed Jacobsohn, Getty Images
Kati Wilhelm - 2006
Press photographers take pictures as Women's biathlon 10km pursuit gold winner Kati Wilhelm of Germany hugs her mother at the Turin 2006 Winter Olympic Games, 18 February 2006 in Cesana San Sicario. Wilhelm won the gold while compatriot Martina Glagow took her second biathlon silver and Russia Albina Akhatova took a second biathlon bronze. Credit: Eric Feferberg, AFP / Getty Images
Tanja Frieden - 2006
Switzerland's Tanja Frieden is congratulated by her father Peter after winning the Ladies' Snowboard Cross final at the Turin 2006 Winter Olympics Feb. 17, 2006 in Bardonecchia, Italy. Frieden won ahead of US Lindsey Jacobellis and Canada's Dominique Maltais. The Turin Winter Olympics officially opened 10 February setting the ball rolling on a 17-day festival of snow and ice sports. Credit: Fabrice Coffrini, AFP / Getty Images
Kimberley Rhode - 2004
Kimberley Rhode of the USA hugs her father Richard after winning the Gold medal in the women's double trap finals on August 18, 2004 during the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games at the Markopoulo Olympic Shooting Centre in Athens, Greece. Credit: Robert Laberge, Getty Images
Ning Zhang - 2004
Ning Zhang of China gets a hug from her mother after winning the gold medal for the women's singles badminton event on August 19, 2004 during the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games at Olympic Hall in the Goudi Olympic Complex in Athens, Greece. Credit: Stuart Franklin, Getty Images
Tim Cuddihy - 2004
Tim Cuddihy of Australia is congratulated by his mother after winning the Bronze in the men's individual bronze medal match on August 19, 2004 during the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games at Panathinaiko Stadium in Athens, Greece. Credit: Nick Laham , Getty Images
Imke Duplitzer - 2004
Germany's Imke Duplitzer hugs her father 20 August 2004 after winning the last assault against France's Laura Flessel-Colovic during the semi-finals of the women's team epee in Athens 20 August 2004, during the Olympic Games. Credit: Marco Longari, Getty Images
Georgina Harland - 2004
Georgina Harland of Great Britain is hugged and congratulated by her parents after winning the Bronze medal in the women's modern pentathlon on August 27, 2004 during the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games at the Olympic Modern Pentathlon Centre in the Goudi Olympic Complex in Athens, Greece. Credit: Stu Forster, Getty Images
Hicham El Guerrouj - 2004
Morocco's Hicham El Guerrouj (R)celebrates with his father and daughter after winning the men's 1,500m final at the Olympic Stadium 24 August 2004 during the Olympic Games athletics competitions in Athens. Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco ended eight years of agony here on Tuesday as he won the Olympic Games men's 1500 metres gold medal. Credit: Eric Feferberg, AFP / Getty Images
Sarah Ulmer - 2004
New Zealand's Sarah Ulmer is kissed by her mother Nuala as her father Gary (L) watches on after winning the final of the Womens Individual Pursuit against Australia's Katie Mactier in the Olympic Velodrome at the Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, Sunday August 22nd, 2004. Credit: Getty Images
Beckie Scott -2002
Beckie Scott of Canada is congratulated by her parents after winning bronze in the Women's 5km Free Pursuit Cross Country at Soldier Hollow in Heber City during the Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games in Utah. Credit: Jed Jacobson, Getty Images
Sasha Cohen - 2002
Sasha Cohen of the USA hugs her father after competing in the ladies free program during the Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games on the February 21, 2002 at the Salt Lake Ice Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. Credit: Jamie Squire, Getty Images
Chris Witty - 2002
Chris Witty of the US is congratulated by her father and her brother (L) after winning the gold medal of the women's 1000m speed skating race at the Utah Olympic Oval, 17 February 2002 during the XIXth Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Credit: John Macdougall, AFP / Getty Images
Stephanie Cook - 2000
Stephanie Cook of Great Britain is hugged by her father after winning Gold in the Womens Modern Pentathlon on the Day 16 of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. Credit: Mike Hewitt, Allsport / Getty Images
Sebastian Coe - 1984
Sebastian Coe of Great Britain hugs his father Peter after winning the 1500m event final during the 1984 Olympics held in Los Angeles, California, USA on the 12th August 1984.(Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images) Sebastian Coe won the 1500m final in 3.32,53.
Peggy Fleming - 1968
Olympic gold medal winner Peggy Fleming, center, has tears in her eyes as she is embraced by her mother, Doris, after winning the Women's Figure Skating competition in Grenoble, France, on Feb. 10, 1968. It is the first gold medal for the United States at the X Winter Olympic Games. Credit: AP
Bob Mathias - 1948
American athlete Bob Mathias (1930 - 2006) is hugged by his mother, Lillian, after winning the gold medal in the decathlon at the Olympic Games, Wembley Stadium, London, 7th August 1948. At seventeen years old he was the youngest male ever to win an Olympic gold. Mathias went on to win a second decathlon gold at the Helsinki games in 1952, and later embarked on a political career as a US Representative. Credit: Keyston / Hulton Archive / Getty Images