FRONT ON THIS OLYMPIC COVERAGE: UNSUNG HEROES
Zhang beat another Chinese dude whose name I don’t feel like looking up right now to cut and paste, so just take my word for it. Zhang is a Ping Pong Warrior and is regarded as a “true free spirit” because he sings songs of love, speaks words of peace, and uses the Ping and the Pong like Yin and the Yang.
Don’t front on Kayla Harrison.
Because she will Judo the shit out of you.
Meet Niger’s “Sculling Sloth” Hamadou Djibo.
He can row 2000 meters in 9 minutes and 8 seconds. Which isn’t actually very good, as it turns out.
He only just started rowing three months ago, he’s probably better at it than you, and by virtue of his good nature, I think he’s every bit as much of a hero as Michael Phelps.
Special nod to Katie Ledecky. 15 years old, just beat an American record and won Gold in the 800 meter freestyle. No one saw it coming.
Here comes the future.
Marathon Gold Medal Winner Mo Farah
As Michael Phelps ends his career as the single greatest athlete in recorded history with one last, 17th Gold and 22nd Medal overall alongside his team, and as Missy Franlin wraps up her first Olympics in a similarly stunning manner, our attention shifts from the pool to track and field.
I’m asked sometimes why it is that I’m so interested in the Olympics when I’ve got little to no interest in any other sports. The answer to the question is personified by our Swim Team, who conclusively prove that Americans aren’t all fat and lazy. But the spirit of the Olympics is Usain Bolt.
The Olympics is about the world coming together in the name of friendship and sportsmanship, it’s about testing the limits of what humankind as a whole is capable of, pressing the evolution of our species further. It’s not hard to imagine that humankind is devolving when you witness the increasing vapidity of our popular culture, the crassness that surrounds us. A lot of conventional wisdom tells us that the world is a worse place to live with each passing day.
FOT Olympics Coverage is brought to you by Five Alive Citrus Drink! Made from the juice of oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes, and something else I don’t remember, Five Alive will make you happy. Your meals will taste better, people will like you more if you share your Five Alive with them. It tastes good. You will probably have a hard time finding it at your grocery, you have to go to weird independently owned ones. If you live where I live, you can go to Valu. If you don’t, good luck to you finding Five Alive. You might call around, don’t go driving looking for it. Gas is expensive right now.
When Serena Williams was on the podium to accept her Gold, a huge gust of wind blew through and swept Old Glory off it’s place above, it went fluttering to the ground. There was a clattering through the crowd. Did someone intentionally fasten it poorly?Would this be regarded as some kind of insult? Serena just laughed.
“It was probably flying to come hug me, because the flag was so happy. It was fluttering toward me, trying to wrap its fabric around me.”
Erik Barrondo won the first Medal ever for Guatemala, with a Silver in the racewalk (I’ll reserve making jokes about racewalk in honor of the situation). “It is well known that Guatemala has problems with guns and knives. I hope that this medal inspires the kids at home to put down guns and knives and pick up a pair of trainers instead. If they do that, I will be the happiest guy in the world.”
When Britain’s resident superhero Jessica Ennis busted through her final feat to win Gold in the heptathlon, the crowd absolutely erupted. 80,000 strong, they broke out into an impromptu rendition of All You Need Is Love.
Paul McCartney joined in.
FOT Olympics Coverage is brought to you by Ronald Mcdonald being escorted out of a park by police after a night of heavy drinking. Every cheeseburger you buy from McDonalds’s contributes to a special fund. It’s called “The Bail Ronald Out Of Jail Fund.” You might ask yourself “Why does he need to be bailed out? They don’t keep people locked up any more than overnight for public intoxication.” To which Ronald would reply Shut your mouth, idiot.”
Usain Bolt is the World’s Fastest Man. Or at least he was, four years ago. In the time since, it’s been said that he’s gotten out of shape and has been squandering his potential, or might just be past his prime. The whispers grew to shouts when he was defeated in Jamaica’s qualifying rounds by Usain’s own training partner- Yohan Blake.
America’s Justin Gatlin is referred to as, fittingly enough, “The Gatlin Gun.” When the shot rings out he’s like a bullet. He starts out fast and only gets faster. He missed out in 2008 as a doping charge loomed over his head. He tested positive, swore he didn’t know why. One has to consider that with a regiment of vitamins and the like, it wouldn’t be hard to sneak something in by accident.
Either way, Gatlin Gun has plenty to prove.
Tyson Gay comes from my own state of Kentucky. He’s the fastest American of this time, and in fact all time. However, he’s been plagues with a number of injuries. he can be no less than perfect to beat The Bolt.
8/6/2012 Update- Turns out NOBODY can beat the Bolt. Never mind.
FRONT ON THIS OLYMPICS COVERAGE: Character- The True Measure Of Usain Bolt, Oscar Pistorious, Kirani James
So as it turns out, Usain Bolt is still the Fastest Man Alive. But not as fast as he used to be, just like Phelps. This Olympics is all about The rise and decline of Titans. It happens at a lightning pace. What’s four years in the life of a person? It goes by so fast, but it’s the difference between an athlete’s prime and descent. But all you have to do is look at Usain to know that he’s fully embracing and relishing every second. When he speaks, he speaks of honoring his gift and making his country proud.
As he stood on the podium with his Gold Medal, Yohan with Silver, Gatlin with Bronze, as the flag of Jamaica hung highest, even as it just happens that today is the 50th anniversary of Jamaica’s independence, you know that you are looking at a man living an absolutely perfect moment. How many of those do you get? I’ve had a few, and I know each one is one less I’ll see. Usain is always present, always enjoying himself, with an infectious joy. That’s truly admirable, beyond any physical feat.
There’s been no shortage of editorializing about Oscar Pistorious. People have asked how I feel about him competing. The fact is, I can’t tell you. I have legs and feet. I can’t say what it’s like to be him. I won’t pretend to know. All I know for sure is, he’s got serious cojones.
Kirani James knows exactly who Oscar Pistorious is- he’s another runner. They’re both part of something larger than themselves. And to prove it, after the heat Kirani won on his way to a glorious Gold Medal run, he went right up to Oscar and traded name tags. I am you, you are me. Despite geography, culture, handicaps real and imagined, they are in this together. Two of a kind.
This is the Olympics:
Jen Kessy and April Ross
Life is good.
It’s not quite over yet, unless you don’t count rhythmic gymnastics. But barring natural disaster, human error, or a terrorist attack, the closing ceremonies are probably going on without a hitch as I type this, to be aired in prime time here in the US in a few hours. In the end, It would be hard to think of the 30th Olympiad as anything but a fantastic success.
There’s a heartening thing about this year’s version of Michael Phelps at the end of the games vs. 4 years ago. Now he seems to have a direction to take his life. In interviews after Beijing, he as much as said “I have no idea what to do now.” Depression and bad choices would ensue, as they do. This time around he’s beaming with pride- but not at his own accomplishments. It’s about the effect he’s had, the impact he’s made on the sport he loves, best exemplified by the Michael Phelps Foundation, designed to get kids into the exercise of swimming.
Although the script going in had us expecting Ryan Lochte to take the torch, reality gave us Chad Le Clos instead. He surprised even himself by beating Phelps for Gold in one race, then come in behind him in the next, which just happened to be the champion’s final solo race. Chad was just a kid when he first saw Phelps, and became inspired to follow in his footsteps. The two became fast friends and now intend to hang out, travel together. First on the list? Go swimming with sharks in the Pacific Ocean.
In a week or two, Missy Franklin is going back to school. She’s a senior at Regis Jesuit High in Aurora, Colorado. A town in mourning that found a reason to celebrate, perhaps allow their brightest hour to directly follow their darkest one.
She hasn’t yet decided to go pro, go to college, a combination of the two, or neither. She’ll make the correct choice.
Lolo Jones placed 4th in her race. Two other Americans who received not a tenth of the attention she received won Medals. Lolo seems to have found herself the victim of cultural backlash. Her story arc didn’t turn out like the movie, as expected. The turnabout has hurt her feelings and bent her head, but she’s no stranger to adversity. She’s been through worse.
Here’s to hoping for a modeling career.
Jessica Ennis is the hero of the United Kingdom, the face of the London Games, and the hope for a future run in Rio four years from now. Her success has brought a unifying influence to Britain not seen in many years. It’s a hope that her example will help create a greater sense of racial tolerance and acceptance, following a year after riots swept London.
The same can be said for Mo Farah. A man who exudes character, he’s decided to channel his high profile towards helping the people of his native Somalia out of their squalor. “I’m lucky to have set up a new life here, and growing up here after being in Somalia as a little boy. But there are kids out there facing hunger and starvation and we’ve got to do something about it. There are kids out there who need our help. It really touches my heart.”
Speaking of character, a woman asked Kirani James to sign an autograph for her daughter. He did, and also added an inscription. “Your mother is very proud of you.”
He’ll return to Grenada as their Greatest Hero.
For many, it will be remembered as the year of Osacar Pistorious. Although he took home no physical medals, his very existance is a symbol of victory for all citizens of the world.
The Olympics is a truly imminse saga. I didn’t touch on every amazing story I saw or heard, or even most of them. Any omissions are not due to lack of merit. If there’s someone that inspired you that I might have missed, know that there was no slight intended.
And me? Well, I’ll be back to Championing of the Forgotten, Unknown, and Underestimated for your Entertainment, Information, and Education. I sure didn’t mind the extra few thousand hits I’ve gotten these last couple weeks from “lolo jones hot” keyword searches. I hope if you stumbled across this site by accident, you might find a reason or two to looks around here a bit more. Say, did you ever hear of a guy called Jim Steranko..?
FRONT ON THIS OLYMPICS COVERAGE WAS BROUGHT TO YOU BY HEROES.