No celebrating allowed

September 10, 2008

Let me first say again, that it’s good to “be back” and hopefully I’ll be back on a more consistent basis.

That said, like many I thoroughly enjoyed the Olympics this year. Not since the 96 games in Atlanta, have I been that excited to catch the competition each day and night and keep up with how the US was doing.

It’s undeniable that the face of these Olympics was Michael Phelps. The Baltimore native transcended the games and captured the attention and imagination of even the casual fan. From the world records to the wins by the closest of margins, Phelps’ record-breaking eight gold medal performance was to me, one of the greatest individual sport performances of all time. While he says he’ll swim in 2012 in London, he is set for life and through endorsements and speaking engagements, will never have to step foot in a pool if he doesn’t want to.

But coming in a close second to Phelps for the story of the Olympics was Usain Bolt, the dynamic, charismatic sprinter from Jamaica. Maybe it was just me, but I’d never heard of this guy prior to this summer. Immediately, if nothing else, the guy won the award for greatest name in sports. But Bolt did more than that. In an instant, actually 9.69 seconds, Bolts made everyone take notice. Who was this guy and where did he come from.

Asafa Powell? Whatever. Tyson Gay? Please. He dusted them.

…and then rejoiced.

Bolt let up with about 20 yards to go and was in utter joy because of his win. But, for whatever reason, critics blasted him. Why? I don’t recall the chairman of the IOC giving his opinion when Phelps was screaming and splashing the water after a couple of his wins.

When athletes, particularly minorities,┬ácelebrate, it’s often perceived in the media as being cocky, brash and disrespectful to the game and their opponents. And while in many cases that’s true, more often than not, the accusations are completely off base.

We need more Bolt. I just hope he’s clear of steriods. He’s a star in the making and is fun to watch.

The amazing athleticism…and the showmanship

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