Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Rules don't apply

I was looking forward to watching the Olympics for many reasons. One of it was the rather malicious and spiteful reason of wanting to see how badly Beijing would screw up. As much as the rest of the world is pro- Beijing, I am pretty much against everything the Chinese stand for. Call me racist against my own kind. Maybe it's me taking anti-hype to a new level. Whatever. I make no apologies for it. Another reason I looked forward to it was more in line with the whole Olympic spirit thing. I wanted to watch the swimming, the gymnastics and of course the Track and Field.

Even though it's been a good 12 years since I've run competitively, it's times like that that I know that running and all things about it are in my blood. And even though I am tiny plankton fry compared to these athletes, I can sense how they feel. The excitement, the anxiety, the frustration at false starts and I'm able to appreciate how even though 100m is a short race to run, it can take the wind out of you.

But watching the 100m finals and watching Usain Bolt win the 100m and break the record, all conventional wisdom of racing was thrown out the window. As a young student athlete, it was relentlessly hammered into our consciousness that under no circumstance were we to actually look to our sides as we raced down the track. It was distracting and it was likely to cause you to lose your race. As a young athlete, we were strung out to dry if we even thought of throwing in the race before the finish line. You powered through, you lunged forward even if it meant tumbling forward, we joked about wearing padded bras so that it'd be easier for you to breast the tape and you never never slowed before that even if the fumes you were running on had evaporated.

Watch Bolt's 100m and none of those rules applied. It left the uninitiated overawed at his ability and us who had some inkling of how a race like that was supposed to be run dumbfounded. Everything our Nazi coaches threatened would make us lose our races, Bolt did it and not only that, he did it in style and still managed to win. Not only managed to win but win in record breaking time. Not just break the world record but make a mockery of everyone else's efforts by slowing down three quarters through the race and clowning around while still being able to maintain a 2 m lead over everyone else in a 100 m sprint where people lose races by half a shoe size.

It makes the mind boggled and the eyes bug but it sure was good Saturday night tv and I sure miss being on the track now.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 06:20

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