Thursday, September 1, 2011
Behind The Scoreboard
Little hype for world event
During a weekend when a goodly portion of the United States was preparing for the buffeting from Hurricane Irene and the area not expected to feel the fury, or suffer the aftermath, was engaged in other pursuits (mainly football at any level), 202 countries were doing battle in the IAAF World Track and Field Championships in South Korea in the breezy city of Daegu.
There was not a lot of hype surrounding this event, albeit when the championships are held preceding an Olympics, they tend to draw a lot of attention.
I turned away from football to try and take in as much of the games as possible and the main reason was to see how the Jamaican phenom would fare in this year’s trials. Hardly anyone has not heard of the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt (whose first name could easily be changed to “Lightning”), who has blazed new records across the 100 M’s contest everywhere. Everyone remembers how he burst on the scene at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, astounding all with his lightning speed. Bolt was beaten once in 2010 and there were five runners who had recorded a better time than his last year. He has not been bested in 2011 yet.
Watching the games brought back a flood of memories of my pair of forays to the Republic of South Korea, first to Kunsun and then to Osan. The former was the colder of the two even though it was late May when I led a contingent of Air Force Security Forces there on a typhoon evacuation from Kadena, Okinawa, protecting B-52s during the Vietnam Conflict. I can relate to the athletes being slapped by chilling winds. I can also remember that Osan was the more sophisticated of the two (in my estimation).
There is not going to be a lot of justice done to America’s participation in these summer games in Korea because they won’t end until later this week. However, the U.S. finished 1-2 in the Decathlon on Sunday when Trey Hardee and Ashton Eaton went Gold and Silver, respectively. There were others who carried high hopes, especially in the Women’s 400 M’s. Three Americans qualified 1-2-3 for the finals; Francena McCoroy, Allyson Felix and highly touted Sanya Richards Ross. One of the most prolific runners in the 400M’s of years past resides and works in Memphis. Rochelle Stevens has a huge resume which includes Olympic gold and a bag full of other titles. She also holds an annual invitational track meet in May which attracts participants from almost a dozen states.
It came down to the signature event on Sunday when the world waited for Usain Bolt to take the blocks. The premise was that he would set another world’s record. There has been a rules change. Anyone who false “false starts”, is automatically disqualified. And that is exactly what Bolt did to the absolute astonishment of everyone including himself. If there is to be redemption it will have to come in next year’s Olympics in London. Bolt’s DQ paved the way for his team mate, Yohan Blake to take the gold, give Jamaicia it second 100m’s gold ever and become the youngest runner in history to win the 100 at the World’s Championshps.
American Walter Dix also benefitted from the DQ. He won silver.
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