Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Olympic Quick Hits - Agent Easy

- Phelps
Ok, most everything has been said. The enduring images of Phelps will be his Lezak primal scream, out-touching Cavic, and maybe even the goggle toss, when he won the 200 Butterfly without being able to see.

Just as revealing were Phelps' reactions to his other wins. For example, check out how he reacted to winning the 200 IM, in WR time no less. No excitement, barely any joy, only a controlled and almost perfunctory salute to the crowd. It was matter-of-fact. His lack of enthusiasm after the 200 Butterfly win was just as telling as his head shakes and deep breaths of elation and relief once on the medal stand for the 100 Butterfly (The Cavic race). Phelps had said from day one that 8 golds was his goal and this accounted for the most striking aspect of his time in Beijing, that for him the individual races were subjugated to that larger goal. And thus we saw that startling image of an athlete not celebrating a gold medal.

- Women's Gymnastics
Despite it's name, considering that the senior members of the teams are still teens, Girls Gymnastic seems more appropriate. With this in mind, it was somewhat discomfiting to see the steely looks of determination and focus on faces that you're used to seeing exclaim "We're BFFs!"

They would refuse to even look at each other when standing feet apart awaiting they're respective turns. Sure, it's what's expected from a high class athlete, but not from a high school girl, and it was difficult to reconcile the two.

To confuse me further, the formality of the presentation was peculiar itself: between events they were marched single-file, all the while looking straight ahead, as if they weren't permitted to acknowledge the crowd except for the specified times when they should curtsy after completing a routine.

Sticking with the age theme, was anyone else struck by the particularly high cut of their uniforms? Ok, obviously people were noticing, but if we're speculating that some of these girls aren't even 14, isn't anyone at all perturbed by this? Then again, I suppose the times, they are a changin...

- Usain Bolt's 100M
Thankfully only a few people have complained or bothered to characterize Bolt's jubilation as "antics." That celebration was full of joy and positivity and was so completely in the moment; it lacked the sometimes stale feel of premeditated endzone celebrations.

I don't buy the idea that it was showboating. The kid has been racing the 100M for only a year, and though yes, he did break the WR a few months ago, he didn't strike me as someone so full of himself that he slowed up to taunt the other racers. Rather, he looked to the right at the end of the race because the man to beat, Asafa Powell, was to his right, and when he saw no one, the chest pounding that followed came from exuberance, not from gloating.

While the analysts speculated that he could have made up as much as another full tenth of a second had he run the race in full, and thus completely obliterated the previous record, the image of him pumping his arms and pounding his chest, winning the race with such flare and still breaking the record at 9.69 - the visual of it all - will be just as, if not more memorable than a lower time. Without that memorable finish to go with it, the record would be just like any other as it would eventually be lowered over the years and at some point Bolt's name would be relegated to the level of nostalgia currently afforded LeRoy Burrell. Instead, the image of Bolt crossing the finish line will have Beamon-like staying power.

Of course Bolt made all of this moot when he broke Michael Johnson's already ridiculous 200M record, and thus cemented his legacy irrespective of his boyish joy.

-Agent Easy

1 comment:

  1. It's always the most fun to see athletes from low-profile countries (like jamaica) win competitions---their naive giddiness at succeeding on a global stage is always evident.

    by the way, i hooked up with a girl that competed in these olympics.