Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Are you Insane Usain?

So the Olympics are killing me slowly. Do I really need to stay up late watching all 30 heats of BMX biking and white water kayaking? Apparently. Speaking of exciting Olympic events, did you know the 200 meter final will be on tv tonight**? So we get to see him run again.

With a name like Usain Bolt, it was like he was destined to be an insane bolt of speed.

I will admit, I didn't know much about him before this Olympics. In fact no one did until about a year ago when he broke the world record out of the blue. But then I watched the 100 meter quarterfinals, and thought, woah this guy is good. Then the semi's rolled around and he destroyed the field while getting the number from the cute girl in the third row, stopping to tie his shoe and of course, a little celebration all before crossing the line.

I had no doubt this tall young phenom from Jamaica was going to cross the line in first place during the finals, but I was still pretty excited to watch it. As a former sprinter who made track and field my life for 7 years year round, I know enough about the sport to appreciate pure unadulterated talent. I grew idolizing the American Olympic athletes like Jackie Joyner-Kersee who represented a talent I couldn't even dream about.

Then Bolt did it. He did the unthinkable. He took the biggest stage in the world for the most popular running event in the world and he made a mockery of it. He stopped running at 80 meters and coasted across the line hitting his chest in celebration. My first way, there is no way he blew away the field that easily. That thought was fleeting though, followed quickly by disbelief, disappointment and most definitely anger.

Usain Bolt cheated me. He cheated the world. In order to show the world that he is so fast he doesn't need to try to beat the world's best sprinters, he gave up what was sure to be one of the most amazing times ever recorded in the history of time by a margin that may have been a record of it's own. So what that he still got a world record. He beat it by a slim margin when he could have crushed it. That time is not safe, and will be beaten, probably within the next couple of years.

You may say, well he will surely beat it himself in the next two years and that may be true, but you can never guarantee it plus who cares if a billion people aren't watching it occur. Look at Tyson Gay. During the Olympic Trials two months ago, he that same time (albeit with wind so it didn't count). Two days later, he ripped a hamstring and just like that his speed was gone, his chance was gone, and his dream for four years was gone. He talks about it here. It's fleeting folks. It can happen to anyone, and historically, it is very difficult for anyone to remain the "fastest in the world" much over two years. That is why you take every opportunity you get when you get it and you put your best effort on the track.

A true champion, someone like say, oh Michael Phelps, doesn't take his gigantic lead in the 200 meter fly and cheer before hitting the wall, mocking his opponents. He takes the opportunity to put a time in the record book that may last for 20 years. Then he turns to his components and congratulates them. Always respect your opponents and what struggles they overcame to get there, even if you crush them.

Now I realize that the 100 meter race is different and its competitors have and need to have a certain arrogance to them. Showboating in the preliminary races is expected and really no one should push across the line harder than they need to qualify. But that is what those early races are for. Not the final. Never the final.

I have argued with a number of people about whether what Usain did was amazing or awful and I am sure it was a little of both, but I will leave you with one final question.

If you could see Bolt run one more 100 meter race, all 100 meters of it, with 100% effort, would you be interested in that? We all want to know what he is actually capable of. And that, ladies and gentlemen of the Internet was what the Olympic Gold Medal 100 Meter Finals race was created for. Like I said, he blew it.

Now, Usain Bolt has a chance for redemption, at least in my eyes tonight. He needs to blow me away, not with how easily he crushed the field, but with his total dominance that continues through the line. A world record would be nice also. And maybe breathing hard at the end, like he is tired from trying.

**Pretend there is no such thing as time changes, previously taped events which pretend to be LIVE in the west coast but really aren't and just pretend it hasn't happened yet.


Martin Dimitrov said...

Haha - I bet, he redeemed himself in front of you on the 200 !!!

la chaser said...

It was awesome. He is the most amazing runner to watch that I have ever seen. He is growing on me, with this ridiculous pointing antics. But I still stand by my statement that you always always run across the line in the finals at the Olympics.

Keith said...

He was obviously saving himself for the 200--and he needed every bit for that to break the record (discounting the effect of the headwind). It did look like his stride was a bit off at the end--or at least less fluid.

Besides, his job is to win the race. He won the race. He did his job. Let's not pretend it's more than that. Whose to say his hammy wouldn't have snapped at 95 meters and then we don't get to see his 200?

megan said...

i agree hannah. i thought to myself what a talented little pompous ass.

Susana said...

...And lets pretend for a moment that I have a t.v. ...or even access to a t.v. that puts on anything besides "Bailando por un sueño" or telenovelas...and since Jefferson Perez got cheated out of the gold in racewalking NO one even wants to talk olympics here. I am totally deprived of any live or even taped coverage of the games and must instead get my olympic color commentary from you and Chris' blogs. Bitter? Sí, un poquito.

Goldian said...

He's only run it like 5 times. With more training, he'll shatter it easily. Plus knowing you'll win an olympic gold is enough reason for me to prematurely celebrate.