"The most dominant swimmer in the world," Dan Hicks on Ledecky
"She hasn't been swimming like a first time Olympian. She's been unflappable and attacked every race," Rowdy Gaines on Maya DiRado
NBC Olympics' primetime coverage of the Games of the XXXI Olympiad from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, continued Friday night on the networks of NBCUniversal.
Primetime host Bob Costas opened up Friday night's coverage on NBC from NBC Olympics' studio located inside the International Broadcast Center in Rio. Primetime coverage on Day 7 of the Rio Games on NBC was highlighted by Michael Phelps collecting his 27th career medal in the 100m butterfly, a silver; Katie Ledecky capturing gold in the 800m freestyle and breaking her own world record - her fifth career gold medal; Maya DiRado winning gold in the 200m backstroke, her fourth medal of the Rio Games - topping the seemingly unbeatable Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszú; Anthony Ervin winning gold in the 50m freestyle - 16 years after first winning the event at the 2000 Sydney Olympics; and Simone Manuel qualifying for the 50m freestyle final after capturing gold in the 100m freestyle Thursday night.
Coverage on NBC also included women's beach volleyball, as featured Americans Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross defeated Italy; American Michelle Carter's gold medal win in women's shot put; and qualifying heats in track and field. American LaShawn Merritt, reigning world champion Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa, and reigning Olympic champion Kirani James of Granada qualified for a stacked men's 400m semifinals.
The Olympic action also featured the U.S. women's basketball team's win over Canada and U.S. men's basketball team's win over Serbia on NBCSN; Rafael Nadal and Marc Lopez's gold medal win for Spain in men's doubles, and Angelique Kerber of Germany's semifinal-round win over American Madison Keys on Bravo; and American Laura Graves' bronze medal win in dressage on CNBC.
At the conclusion of Friday's competition, the United States had won a total of 997 gold medals throughout its Olympic history, and could get to 1,000 gold medals during Saturday's competition.
Following are highlights from the evening and primetime coverage of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games on the networks of NBCUniversal:
SWIMMING - NBC
Analyst Rowdy Gaines on the dominance of Ledecky: "She finds that early speed and then just settles into a pace that no other human on the planet - male or female - can contain. That forces everyone else out of their race plan. The strategy for them is to really pretend she doesn't exist."
Gaines on Ledecky swimming long distances: "She continues to pick up the pace - it's just ridiculous. It's crazy when you think that she's getting even faster. ... She likes this; she's embraced the monotony; she's made distance swimming cool again."
Play-by-play commentator Dan Hicks on Ledecky: "No one else even in the picture - that gives you the perspective of how amazing a swimmer Katie Ledecky is - the most dominant swimmer in the world."
Ledecky to Michele Tafoya on her 800m win: "It was my last swim here, and I can leave it all in the pool. Just wanted to have a lot of fun soaking up my last Olympic race here."
Gaines on Phelps tying for silver behind Singapore's Joseph Schooling: "He got off of the blocks just fine. ... But Schooling just put together two tremendous 50s. Phelps nailed the turn, nothing was wrong. ... It's just he matched up with a guy that had the hot hand in this race."
Phelps to Tafoya on whether he's disappointed with a silver in the 200m butterfly: "Obviously, I always want to be faster, and I always want to be at the top of the medal podium. That's what I could do today. It's OK; I have another race tomorrow and we'll get ready for that. Watching Joe (Schooling) and what he's done over the last two years ... my hat is definitely off to him."
Gaines on DiRado: "She hasn't been swimming like a first-time Olympian. She's been unflappable and attacked every race."
Gaines on DiRado's 200m backstroke win: "Just when you think you've seen it all at these Olympics Games. Just when you say there can never be another upset! What a moment for Maya DiRado, what an Olympic Games."
Hicks on DiRado: "She's as likeable as they get. It's been a pleasure getting to know her, and you really did have a sense that the confidence she talked about is so real. ... She's so calm and collected."
Hicks on Ervin's gold medal win in the 50m freestyle: "Sixteen years removed from tying for gold in Australia. ... He told us that he still had better swims left in him. But this is crazy at his age to win gold. He was 19 years old when he won the first one."
Gaines on Ervin's win: "He went back to the basics. ... It paid off for him. What a beautiful start by the old man - 35 years old now. You just don't see this - he doesn't take a breath all the way down the pool. Reaction, entry, everything was perfect for him."
Hicks on Ervin's unusual journey to winning gold at 35 years old: "This really is a unique Olympic journey for Anthony Ervin. He got gold 16 years ago and then left the sport for some eight years."
Gaines: "I know, he was on my couch for a while."
Hicks: "He was a vagabond basically. He traveled all over the place and didn't know what he wanted to do with his life. Then returned to swimming and made another Olympic team four years ago and wins gold again."
TRACK & FIELD - NBC
Analyst Ato Boldon on Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica: "We have these two fantastic champions who have both made their case for being the best ever. Both of them said things this year that stayed with me. The first was Usain Bolt, he said 'I surprise myself sometimes at how much I get ready for big races, and that's why I have done so well while everybody is watching.' Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce said, 'Listen, there's a reason why I've been a champ for this long. I am coming to Rio out to hunt. I will be hunting for another title."
Analyst Sanya Richards Ross on preparation for the 400m: "(The athletes) are excited, anxious and eager to get on the track. That can be a good and a bad thing. The purpose of these preliminary rounds is to make the semifinals, but also to conserve energy. You don't want to run your best race tonight."
Boldon on American LaShawn Merritt winning his opening round heat in the 400m: "With all the speed that he has found this year running 19.7 in the 200m twice, this is no surprise. ... This is as easy as you can run your very first round."
Richards-Ross on Merritt competing in both the 400m and 200m: "If LaShawn is going to attempt to do this double, we know the most important thing is going to be energy management for him. It's going to be crucial over these next six races. He looks really good here. ... He's doing exactly what he needs to do to attempt this audacious double."
Play-by-play commentator Todd Harris on shot put gold medalist Michelle Carter, who is coached by her father Michael Carter - a 1984 Olympic silver medalist and three-time Super Bowl champ: "There is a new queen of the shot put! American Michelle Carter reigns supreme in Rio as her father watches on. ... He is the proudest dad in Brazil tonight."
Hardee on Carter and her father: "I know how that conversation is going to go - 'Hey dad what color is your medal? Silver? I think I just got a gold!' "
BEACH VOLLEYBALL - NBC & NBCSN
Analyst Kevin Wong on Walsh Jennings and Ross' win over Italy: "Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings had such a good balance. We talk about the yin and the yang. We had questions about April Ross, because she's also very 'A' type, but they've just pressed the gas pedal from the beginning to the end."
BASKETBALL - NBCSN
Play-by-play commentator Marc Zumoff on the U.S. women's basketball teams' Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi: "Has there been a better back court in women's history than those two?"
Analyst Ann Meyers Drysdale in response: "Not in the women's game. Absolutely not."
Analyst Doug Collins on the close margin of victory for the U.S. men's basketball team (94-91) over Serbia: "Serbia gained a lot of respect tonight. I thought they were on the ropes early and the United States did not finish them off. The U.S. will have to get together right now, and if they are going to win the gold, they will need to be more disciplined."
TENNIS - BRAVO
Analyst James Blake on Lopez and Nadal's gold medal win, Spain's first-ever gold medal in men's doubles: "You can see how much it means to Marc Lopez and Rafael Nadal. Rafa has accomplished almost everything a player can in his career and still the jubilation. That's Olympic tennis at its best."
Analyst Rennae Stubbs on Keys making it to the semifinal round: "Madison Keys grew a lot as a tennis player this week, and she will be overly disappointed to not get into that gold medal match. But, she played a player that is so good, and this year in particular, the Australian Open champion who now (has) an opportunity to win a gold medal for Germany."
EQUESTRIAN - CNBC
Play-by-play commentator Randy Moss on the U.S.' Laura Graves: "You knew Laura felt the pressure walking into this ring with the weight of the U.S. equestrian dressage team on her shoulders. Fortunately, Verdades (her horse) knows what he's doing."