Friday, August 22, 2008

SPORTS: Bolt of Controversy

I hate showboating. Joe Paterno, the learned head coach of Penn State's football team, once told a touchdown-scoring player who was hot dogging it a bit, "Act like you've done it before." Wise words.

Usain Bolt showboated before, during and after setting two world records (I haven't seen this morning's relay race, but I know the result, so I guess I should or will be saying three world records). The mind-boggling JOG through the 100 metres was followed up by possibly, just possibly, an even more incredible run past Michael Johnson's 200-metre record ... INTO a head wind.

After these two gold-medal performances, the gold-shod Jamaican danced, pranced and preened his way onto TV screens all over the world. Didn't do a lot of mingling with the minions who'd ran distant seconds and thirds (if that well). It was his moment in the sun. He acknowledged he might have overdone the mugging for the fans in the 100 metres. But for him, the important thing was winning that race and his beloved 200 metres. That was what he was there for. And looking around, he realized HE DIDN'T HAVE TO RACE HARD at the end of the 100 metres. That's right, in a ten second race, he was feeling lonely up front!

Would I have preferred Bolt do as he did in the 200 metres, run hard and see just what time he could really post? Hell, ya! I think 9.69 is otherwordly as it is. Knowing he could have clocked sub 9.60 just boggles my mind. It's the MISSED opportunity that makes me mad at Bolt, not the post-race jubilation by one of Jamaica's Runnin' Reggae Boyz.

Cuz, here's the difference between him and a jerk like Rickey Henderson. He HADN'T done it before. Nobody had. For a 21-year old, turned 22 on the night of his 200-metre victory, Bolt had NO COMPANY EVER! How do you act beyond your years to satisfy a Paterno (and an old coot like me), when you've not just made history, you've shattered it all to pieces? Not once in all the Olympiads had a man won both sprints in world record time. There had been doubles, but no double world records.

As Donovan Bailey put it, Bolt did what it took two men to do in Atlanta. Bailey's mark had been bettered since then, once this year by Bolt himself. But Johnson's mark had the faint aura of a long-lasting record.

So, when Jacques Rogge and the rest of the Lords of the Rings sniff about his behaviour while validating cheating by the Chinese in gymnastics (and, I'm betting in Taekwondo), there is only one thing to say to these old corrupt stuffed shirts.


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