12 final thoughts from the Games
Some back-in-the-U.S, jet-legged final thoughts after the Olympic track meet in Beijing:
I made no notation of any outrage. Trying to recall here how I felt in the aftermath of the race: I was excited to write about a world record, but I expected Bolt to eventually get it somewhere. His slowdown at the finish injected the moment with intrigue that, for instance, the 200 meters didn't have, because Bolt clearly left nothing on the table. The 100 had this element of "He could have run faster'' that made it surreal.
Not once that night, from the minute the race ended to when I was standing alone with Bolt in a parking lot two hours later, did I think that his reaction had been disrespectful in any way. I had met him in May; he comes off as loose and cool and younger than his chronological age (22 on the day after the 200).
Bolt likes to run and he never rips his opponents. I remember asking him in the spring what he thought of the news that
Bolt's eyes widened: "Maurice Greene used drugs?'' He looked genuinely hurt. Maybe he was messing with me, but I didn't get that impression. On race night, he was having fun.
On the day after the race,
Two days later,
Nobody in the race complained. The stadium went nuts in support. And think about this: On football fields across the U.S. throughout the autumn, outside linebackers make tackles for no gain in the first quarter and rise, pounding their chest as if they have just stopped
• Usain Bolt II: He had better be clean. Few in the track community are entirely comfortable with the fact that Jamaica announced the formation of a national drug-testing agency (similar to USADA) only after the Olympics had begun. After Bolt first broke the world record on July 31 in New York, his Jamaican manager,
At the same time, Bolt ran fast when he was very young (52-flat for the 400 at age 12), and presumably he wasn't using anything then. (Of course that's what we said about
This is sprinting. If you love track, you cross your fingers and hope for the best.
• Usain Bolt III: On Friday night, after the conclusion of the decathlon, I approached
I'm thinking, wow, that was fast.
• Usain Bolt IV: Whatever the level of criticism for his display in the 100 meters, it would have been exponentially worse if he had been wearing a USA uniform.
• Usain Bolt V: One year ago at the worlds in Osaka, Japan, Bolt was the guy we chased down after the 200 meters to give us quotes on how good
Felix's 2008 season measures how difficult it is to win a gold medal. After taking silver behind
In the end, she still ran a very respectable 21.93 seconds in the final, well behind Campbell-Brown's PR of 21.74, which was .07 under Felix's best.
• Felix's presumptive rival,
That said, Richards and Felix were both brilliant and tough in the U.S.' 4x400-meter victory. Felix ran 48.55, the fastest split in the event, and Richards ran the second-fastest, 48.92, and bravely ran down Russia's
• Ethiopian double gold medalists
Bekele is a terrific finisher, but first and foremost the world record holder in both the 5,000 and 10,000 meters. Four years ago in Athens, he let the 5K go down to the last 100 meters against
Dibaba, meanwhile, ran comfortably in the middle of the women's 5K, secure in the knowledge that she, apparently, can out-kick anybody off any pace. And unless
• Apparently NBC didn't present enough full-form track coverage in prime time to satisfy true track fans. I figured this would happen as soon as I heard, months ago, that unlike swimming and gymnastics, track finals had not been moved to the morning in China for live primetime presentation in the U.S.
I would watch a track meet, start to finish any time, but I get a little sleepy during the hammer throw and 10 heats in the first round of the 100 meters. Shoot me. And if I get sleepy, my neighbors are going to pass out.
NBC delivered record ratings by emphasizing
I would like to see the entire 5,000 meters for both genders. I would like to see a bunch of pole vaults. But NBC is trying to appeal to the widest audience possible and track, with its Jamaicans and Ethiopians and Russians, might not be the sport that delivers mom, dad, and two kids to the television set in the U.S.
I do wish that NBC had shown full track events live in the morning on one of its obscure networks or streamed them live on its Web site. Track fans can decide to watch live or wait for prime time. (Or DVR live and watch in prime time). Maybe in London.
• What if
• Behind Bolt, the men's 200 was one bizarre race. Both
Three days after the race,
The U.S. bullying poor little Netherlands Antilles was a hot-button story for a day in China. I had no problem with that. Would it have been more acceptable to protest a sprinter from Russia? Should protests be made based on the population of the country? It all seemed contrived. But I agree with Johnson; you've got to toss Spearmon (very regrettable, because he's a solid guy), but some common sense should have been applied to Martina's case.
• At the end of every Olympics (and some world championships), I run a lap on the track. This looked like a challenge in Beijing, where dozens of uniformed law enforcement officers walked onto the track, and stoically shooed trespassers away. Taking a shot, colleague
I went up to the media work room and grabbed another colleague,
I can only guess that nowhere in their crowd control manual was there a chapter on what to do with crazy Americans running the track, sweating profusely in the humidity, laughing giddily and moving out to Lane Five to commemorate Bolt's 200.