Tag Archives: Usain Bolt

Days 12 & 13 in London: Is Usain Bolt the Greatest Ever?

“If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” – Sir Isaac Newton

Usain Bolt believes he’s the greatest. (Photo from skysports.com)

Although the Olympics have almost concluded, it wasn’t until we were over halfway through these games that we were treated to the appearance of Usain Bolt.  The Jamaican sprinter began the quest to repeat his performance from four years ago in Beijing, winning gold in both the 100 and 200 meters.  Mission was accomplished; and in addition to these two gold, he also helped his team win a gold medal in the 4×100 meters relay.   Once Bolt’s first race concluded, I had resigned myself to believing that yes, Usain Bolt is the real deal, and it’s just not possible that his lightning fast speed is anything but real.  I could finally relax and like this guy.  Along with millions of others, I needed to just sit back and enjoy watching him.  This merely lasted for a few days before I was turned off following his win in the 200 meters.  As he crossed the finish line, he did a few push-ups as if to say, “I’m not even tired.”  He then told the media that he was “now a legend” and “the greatest athlete to live.”

Yams may be part of the Jamaican diet, but apparently humble pie is not.

Bolt’s statement had me thinking:  Is he the greatest athlete ever?  Is he the greatest Olympian?

No.

We can say without question that Usain Bolt is the greatest sprinter in our time.  He has beaten all of his competition and set new world and Olympic records.  Many consider Michael Phelps to be another contender for this

Jim Thorpe (Photo from http://www.cmgwordwide.com)

title.  While I believe that Phelps is more deserving of the title than Bolt, he is not my choice either.  The title of world’s greatest athlete has, and still does, belong to Jim Thorpe.

When I think of who can be called the greatest Olympian ever or who we can say is the greatest athlete ever to live, I’m looking for someone who proved themselves over many years in various disciplines, events, or sports.    At the 1912 Olympics, American Jim Thorpe competed–and won gold–in not just one event, but two:  pentathlon and decathlon.  And because pentathlon and decathlon are both combined events combining multiple track and field events, Jim Thorpe wasn’t just proficient at sprinting and middle distance running.  He also excelled at the shot put, javelin, discus, long jump, high jump, pole vault, and hurdles.  Think about this.  How can we compare one race by Usain Bolt (two if we count both the 100 and 200 meters) to a grueling schedule of multiple disciplines over several days?

We must also take into account that 100 years ago, when  Jim Thorpe won his two Olympic gold medals, his conditions for training and competing were quite different from those of Bolt’s.  There was no aerodynamic clothing, or non-slip track surface.  Athletes like Thorpe competed on grass, dirt, and cinder ash, wearing heavy cotton clothing; leather cleats with metal spikes!  There were no juicer machines, sports nutritionists, or corporate sponsors.  Nor were there state-of-the art gyms with special weights and resistance training.  What could Jim Thorpe have done with training conditions of today as well as modern technology?

Thorpe wasn’t just a multi-event Olympic gold medalist.  He also excelled at baseball, football, and basketball, and he was good enough to play professionally in all three of these sports.

While it might not technically be a qualification for the title of either greatest Olympian or athlete, Thorpe possessed one other quality which makes him all the more deserving in my book:  humility.  It is giants like Jim Thorpe whose shoulders Usain Bolt has stood on to reach his achievements.  And most of those predecessors, like Thorpe, did so humbly.

Faster, Higher, Stronger.

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Days 9 & 10 in London: Best Olympics of 21st Century?

As each day passes, I’m starting to believe that these Olympics in London are the best we’ve seen thus far in the 21st Century.  Now granted, we’ve only had four Olympic Games since the new century began, but I believe without question that the 2012 Games are the best, ranking above Athens, Sydney, and Beijing.

Day 9

What wasn’t the best was how McKayla Maroney handled her silver medal win on the women’s vault.  While I haven’t been able to find any good video, I can tell those of you who didn’t see it live that Maroney’s reaction and lack of good sportsmanship was embarrassing.   She not only was pouting  worse than Suri Cruise, but stared daggers at Romania’s Sandra Izbasa, who beat her out for gold.  Izbasa had to reach out to Maroney to offer the traditional “good sport hug” following the competition.  Maroney was not keen to return the embrace.   Listen, McKayla.  I understand you were disappointed.  But you screwed up.  You fell on your bottom.  It’s not like you didn’t medal at all.  You got a silver!  How many people (me included), would give anything to have had a chance to be an Olympian?  Show a little more appreciation and class.  Here’s a small slide show of McKayla’s reaction to her silver medal:

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I spent the remainder of Sunday enjoying more track and field.  Thank God for the live feed online, because NBC only showed about 1/4 of the actual competition.  They say that lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice.  Maybe  Jamaica’s Usain Bolt wasn’t racing in Beijing again, but he was running in the 100 meters again.  And just as he did four years ago,  he blew away the rest of the field, making the race appear effortless, leaving me wondering how much faster he could actually go if pressed to do so.  In the past I’ve doubted Usain Bolt’s world records and Olympic medals.  Perhaps though, he really is just that darn good and that darn fast, a freak of nature, if I can say so, in the most complimentary way.

Andy Murray is, quite possibly, the poster child for the saying “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”  With the weight of Great Britain on him, after so many years of trying to win at home on the grass, of trying to win a major tournament, Murray did it!  He did it!  How fantastic is it for Great Britain to not only have won four gold medals on Saturday, but to have won at Wimbledon for another gold medal?  Fantastic doesn’t even begin to describe it.

Day 10

No matter what your opinion is of synchronized swimming, I highly encourage you to watch this routine by Russia’s Natalia Ishchenko and Svetlana Romashina.  No wonder they are the world’s best!

Growing up, I only associated violence and conflict with Grenada.  It’s nice to now be able to associate something more positive with this tiny island nation:  A gold medal from Kirani James.  James’ sportsmanship impressed me when during the semi-final heat he exchanged bibs with South Africa’s Oscar Pistorius.  How proud the “Island of Spice” must be!

Finally, if you didn’t see Felix Sanchez’s gold medal ceremony, then you must.  The runner was overcome with emotion as his national anthem played following his win in the 400 meters.  Yet again, I love seeing the  impact that such an experience has on some of these athletes.  This is what it’s all about.

Faster, Higher, Stronger.

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Usain Bolt and My Uncomfortable Doubt

When I was  younger, I believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy.  I even believed that some people might have super powers (Hello, Incredible Hulk!).  And when athletes like McEnroe and Jordan emerged on to  the scene, I celebrated their (almost) superhuman achievements.  Not anymore, though.  Maybe it’s because I’m getting older and I’m not as doe-eyed and naive.  And nowadays, something in me refuses to shake the skepticism about Jamaica’s Usain Bolt and his record-smashing speed.

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