Freestyle wrestler Jake Herbert, easily one of the most colorful U.S. Olympians, won’t compete until the final weekend here in London. And though you didn’t see it if you were watching NBC’s coverage of last night’s opening ceremony, Herbert, who spent the last year living and training in Ann Arbor, created a bit of a stir.
Having a little fun mugging for the TV cameras as the Americans marched into the stadium, he dropped a “Howard Stern! Baba Booey!” that was shown on the BBC feed here in London. NBC apparently cut that out of its tape-delayed presentation later Friday, despite the fact Herbert’s stunt had already made the rounds on Twitter and other social-media outlets.
Herbert, who was in for a USA Wrestling press conference today before heading for a week of training in Belarus, promised he’s “got more up my sleeve” before he’s done in London. He also described Friday night’s ceremony as “amazing” and “awesome.”
“It was pretty surreal,” said Herbert, a Pittsburgh native and Northwestern grad. “To be in that place, in that moment, it makes all that pain and all that suffering worth it. The only thing I need now is a gold medal to cap it all off.”
Among the highlights Friday night?
“I walked in and looked to my right and there’s Kobe,” . “I said, ‘Hey, people have been talking about you!’ And he said, ‘People have been talking about you!’ So that was pretty cool.”
Of course, Saturday he also was promising the seven-man U.S. freestyle team would mop the floor Kobe & Co. in a fight.
“We’re the toughest sport there is,” said Herbert, who wrestles at 84kg (185 lbs). “I mean, bring out the seven basketball players. They’re bigger than us. But Tervel (Dlagnev, 120kg) will take down five of them. Sam (Hazewinkel, 55kg) will get another. The rest of these guys … it’s perfect. I won’t even have to do anything.”