Friday, August 22, 2008

"Lightning" Bolt

In spite of my love affair with most team and individual sports, I was never one to follow track and field with anything more than a passing interest in the latest world record. I must admit that the advent of the olympics didn't really strike much of a chord with me, especially after one of the best football tournaments ever in Euro 2008. How could you follow up all the drama of the beautiful game and hope to fill the void that exists after a major international tournament?

To me, the olympics has always been too many sports on at the same time, which is quite confusing and distracting. Things like swimming, sailing, shooting, gymnastics, tae kwon do, amateur boxing, fencing, track cycling, 20km walkathon, water polo, etc etc.. they just don't really resonate for some reason. Lack of globally identifiable athletes? Difficulty to "watch-in-passing" for people are not intimately familiar with the sport?

The first thing that captured my imagination was Micheal Phelps' 8 gold medals. I didn't really watch any of his events, aside from a replay of one of them, but to have lived in a time where such a record is broken was exciting stuff. The real kicker was the track and field, however. If you conjure up an image of the olympics, the first thing you'd think of besides the hoops logo and the flame would be an olympic stadium with a big track and large patch of grass (which would be awesome to play football on) in the middle. Athletics have always been the heart and soul of the games, and this year has been a special one.

Usain Bolt, fastest man in the world. His antics and showboating as infuriatingly endearing as anything you've ever seen. His run in the 100m was something else. To be so blase about it all and still manage to shred his own world record is something I will remember watching for the rest of my life. I've never set a reminder to watch a track and field event in the past, but after that race I had to see if he can do it in the 200m. The fact that he did was almost expected but just as exciting. The cool thing was that he busted a nut this time around. Micheal Johnson is known as Superman, and its for good reason that his record stood for 12 years. Bolt really pushed himself for that one, and its going to be interesting to see how much further he can take it, being so young and all. The theory goes that he'll try to incrimentally better his world record to keep the money and the interest rolling (a la Sergey Bubka), but I don't know if its humanly possible to do better with the 200m. Although there had been some headwind that night, so you never know.

I've now developed a routine of watching the olympics coverage at lunch and after work (government working hours, 7-2), and I must say that its really introduced me to something new. I can't say that I'll now start following all the other events like the world championships and the commonwealth games, because only the olympics can give you this feeling. I am, however, much more interested in London 2012 than I was two weeks ago!