Original Air Date:
23rd Season Premiere - Monday, September 8, 2008
Season Premiere - Welcome Olympians:
The season premiere of The Oprah Winfrey Show welcomed thousands of fans - the largest audience in show history - to Chicago's Millennium Park to celebrate the 2008 US Olympic team returning home from Beijing.
The grand entrance for the Olympic athletes had Oprah calling them by sport to enter the outdoor arena including: swimming, gymnastics, volleyball, beach volleyball, basketball, wrestling, judo, water polo, fencing, shooting, track & field, softball, soccer, boxing, equestrian, sailing, rowing, tai quan do, baseball and finally the cyclists.
Welcome Olympians - Michael Phelps:
Oprah sat down with Michael Phelps for her first interview with the group. Phelps is the first Olympic athlete to ever win 8 gold medals in the games and holds the record for the most gold medals ever by a single athlete.
When the 2 sat down, Phelps described how good it felt to be back in the US, though he has not been back to Baltimore since the games ended. He explained that the swimming team had a great experience in Beijing spending plenty of time playing cards.
Oprah said of all the athletes she most wanted to meet Michael Phelps' mother because her expression to his wins made it so real for everyone watching.
Welcome Olympians - Swimming Relay Team:
Along with Michael Phelps, Jason Lezak, Cullen Jones and Garrett Weber-Gale finished out the men's 4x100 relay team that came back to win gold from behind. Jones and Weber-Gale were competing in their first Olympics while Phelps and Lezak were vets to the games. They were all amazed at their victory and so proud to take home the gold medal for the US.
Welcome Olympians - Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin:
Shawn Johnson, the 16 year old from Iowa was the next to take the stage with Oprah. Johnson started gymnastics when she was 3 and her first coach didn't think she had what it takes to go far, but her second coach knew that she had a special talent. Johnson won 4 medals at the games - 1 gold and 3 silver.
Nastia Liukin, born to a world champion and an Olympic gymnast as parents, made a huge impact at the games winning 1 gold, 3 silver and 1 bronze medal. Liukin commented about reading The Secret after seeing it on Oprah and making a vision board before the games.
Welcome Olympians - Men's Basketball:
Men's Basketball was the next to sit down with Oprah. The team won a gold medal for the US after many thought that they couldn't make it happen. The team expressed wanting to change how the world looked at US men's basketball players and how they wanted to lose the ego and work hard to win the gold.
The women's basketball team also stood to get recognition for winning gold in the last 4 Olympic games.
Welcome Olympians - US Men's Volleyball:
The men's volleyball team experienced both tragedy and success while in Beijing when the head coach's father-in-law was attacked and killed while sightseeing and his mother-in-law was also critically injured. Hugh McCutcheon had to leave his team to fend for themselves while he supported his wife who witnessed the attack. The team fought harder with every match they won to bring home the gold medal in honor of their coach.
Welcome Olympians - Dara Torres:
As the oldest person on the US Olympic team, Dara Torres amazed viewers as she went on to win a silver medal for the women's swimming team at the age of 41. Torres is a 5x Olympic athlete and says that she may continue competing until she feels ready to end her very successful career. Torres is also a mother and says that she is inspired by all the working mothers who also have to balance their career and raising their children.
Welcome Olympians - Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh:
The gold winning women's beach volleyball team Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh were next to step up and talk to Oprah about their experience in Beijing. The pair won their second gold medal playing together and shared that they do it because they love the game and their fans. Misty May-Treanor's next move is to dance on the next season of Dancing with the Stars as she says, trading her bikini for dancing shoes.
Welcome Olympians - Track & Field:
The women's track and field relay team was next to talk to Oprah. The 4 women who competed in the 4x400 relay: Allyson Felix, Monique Henderson, Mary Wineberg and anchor Sanya Richards shared with Oprah how great it felt to bring home the gold for the US. The women shared that they were running for each other but also to represent their talent for the US team.
Welcome Olympians - Medal Mentions and David Cook
Also mentioned during the show were siblings Keeth and Erinn Smart, both fencers who each took home a silver medal from the games. The siblings lost their parents within the last 4 years to heart disease and cancer, but represented strength at the games for team USA.
Bryan Clay was also highlighted in a clip as the Beijing Games decathlon winner - Bryan ran, threw and jumped his way to win such a coveted medal.
To end the show, American Idol winner David Cook sang his song that was a signature for the Olympic games - Time of My Life.