Friday, August 22, 2008
in front of the bird's nest
It's been a frustrating Olympics for our sprint team. Americans have dominated the sprints throughout Olympic history. We’re not exactly fading, either, but these Games have seen a rash of bad luck following our athletes around the Bird’s Nest—the incredible Chinese athletics venue—like some Haitian voodoo is at work—or at least Jamaican voodoo.
Voodoo aside, the Jamaicans have announced that there’s a new sheriff in town. The small island, know more for its music than anything else, has historically cranked out fast people. But these Olympics it’s reached ridiculous proportions. Beginning with Usain Bolt, the first man to set the world record in both the 100 and 200 at the same Games, the Jamaicans are cleaning up in the sprints. In fact, if the entire Caribbean was a country there’d be little left for the rest of the world do in these events. Each sprint final is filled up with representatives from these islands. From Cuba to the Bahamas to Trinidad to St. Kitts, it makes one wonder what’s in the water down there. Maybe the islands are so small that all you can do is run short distances. Whatever the reason, this must be the most concentrated region of fast twitch muscle fiber on the planet.
flag-clad 400 runners looking up at the new sprint Gods, or are they saying "is the Jamaican anthem really not a reggae tune?"
Thankfully, some of it is in the US. And even though our sprinters are being pushed aside, we’re still finding ourselves dominant at a single lap. It’s not an all out sprint, but not a distance event either; the 400 is often called the most painful event in the Olympics because it requires the ability to suffer along with a lot of white muscle fiber. And we’re good at it. Real good. The American men swept both the 400 and the 400 intermediate hurdles, which has basically saved face for our sprint team at these Games.
one lap too many: no Americans made the 800 semis
Our one lap dominance only seems to hold if ONE person is running, however. Last night we set an unprecedented record—that I doubt will ever be broken—of dropping the baton while LEADING both the men’s and women’s 4 X 100 relays. Both muffed exchanges came at exactly the same spot in each race, the final hand off. It was, truly, as if some voodoo was at work.
looking at the water cube where, obviously, michael phelps was the only one privy to any voodoo.