With her steely gaze, razor-sharp cheekbones and preternatural vaulting abilities, 16-year-old American gymnast McKayla Maroney is an early contender for breakout star of the 2012 London Olympics. On Wednesday, Stephen Colbert joined President Obama and Lady Gaga in praising the tiny powerhouse and her "Fierce Five" teammates.
Like millions of viewers, Colbert was blown away by Maroney’s near-perfect execution of the Amanar vault, one of the most difficult feats in gymnastics. However, without permission to use NBC’s footage of the games, Colbert was forced to improvise: Using a Barbie doll mounted to a power drill and a Twinkie on two sticks, the host re-created the dazzling performance.
“It was something like that,” he said. “Except of course the actual gymnasts are smaller than this doll.”
While Colbert was thrilled by the triumph of the American women in gymnastics, he took exception to CNN commentator Zane Vergie, who seemed particularly delighted that “the U.S. team left the Russians and the Chinese on the sidelines there in tears.”
Pointing out the obvious – that most female Olympic gymnasts are teenagers, and young ones at that -- Colbert joked, “This is what the Olympic Games are all about: Making little foreign girls cry. “
He also pushed back against critics of another gold-medal-winning 16-year-old, the “suspiciously not American” Chinese swimmer Yi Shiwen, whose stunning performance in the Games has prompted allegations of doping. “You see, Shiwen, she won,” Colbert explained, wondering, “How did she even finish the race? She’s 16. Halfway through, you know she checked her Facebook page.”
The unfounded allegations have prompted similar recriminations from the Chinesee about superstar Michael Phelps. “Well China, you got us. Phelps was doping,” Colbert conceded, as the infamous photo of the swimmer taking a bong hit flashed on the screen. “And he still beat you. He smoked the sticky icky, and then he smoked" the Chinese.
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