Olympic Rant #12 Fast men are gone in well under 10
THE power of words is more than a casual contribution to the living mythology that is Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt. He might not go Gaga on Twitter but he is the biggest name in Ol’ London Town as he defends his 100m Olympic title.
Usain Bolt sets the fastest 100m time ever
in Berlin on August 16 , 2009
Bolt is no good thing to win. It is three years since he set the extant world record of 9.58s. The field includes the second, third, fourth and seventh fastest men alive – Tyson Gay, U.S. 9.69s; Asafa Powell, Jamaica, 9.72s; Yohan Blake, Jamaica, 9.75s and Justin Gatlin, U.S, 9.80s.
Gatlin is a remarkable athlete who recovered from a four-year doping ban (2006-10) – innocent he says – to run his 9.80s on June 24 this year. Jamaican Blake also set his best time in June, while Gay ran his in 2009 and Powell set his PB in 2008.
Asafa Powell is a mellifluous name befitting the world’s fastest man from 2005-2008.
Asafa Powell: 3rd fastest time and 2nd best name
Then along came Usain St Leo Bolt. On May 31, 2008, fellow Jamaican Usain Boly ran a time of 9.72s at the Reebok Grand Prix in New York City. Bolt not only had a better time but also a better name.
Usain Bolt sounds like it burst from the pages of a private-detective thriller, but it is his real moniker. I believe the name has added zest to his performance in the track. Coupled with his playful warm-up antics, the name Usain Bolt, the Thor of our times, is revered around the world.
The concept of the fastest man alive helps, as well. It is something of a misnomer in that Bolt would have to be faster than all the dead man, too.
I achieved my only gold medal at the final Goodwill Games in Brisbane in 2001. It was through the then Fastest Man Alive, Maurice Greene. Injury prevented star attraction Greene from competing but he was an ambassador.
He gave a media conference and I asked a question which led to my gold medal. I maintain to this day it was a good question. Before me was the fastest man alive, a man with an English surname and a French first name.
I knew Kansas had French settlers before and after the United States acquired most of the territory through the Louisiana Purchase. One Frenchman Ernest Valeton de Boissière was a fascinating homme who came to the U. S. in 1852.
Although he was a former French army engineer, he was of an idealistic bent and, in 1870, set up what he hoped would be a utopian commune in Kansas. He called it Silkville, planted mulberry trees and produced high quality silk. The enterprise hummed along sweetly and Silkville soon had a school, winery, silk factory and a three-story 60-room housing complex.
Cheap overseas silk imports and community members re-joining the rat-race took its toll financially Sticking resolutely to his dream, de Boissiere and his communards diversified into dairy cattle and livestock , but with little success. In 1892, de Boissiere, gave the property to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and he sailed back to France, where he died in 1894.
Some might say he wasted the last had 25 years of his life but the utopian commune survived for 22 years. By most comparisons with similar ventures, the Frenchman did well.
Why Maurice Greene was given a French name might not be as fascinating as the saga of Silkville. But we would never know unless someone asked. So, at an international media conference, I asked the fastest man alive how he got the name Maurice. ‘My mother gave me that name,’ Maurice Greene replied. It was not the answer I was looking for, though it seemed to please my media colleagues who laughed heartily.
Six months later, an anniversary of the Games was held in the swank Brisbane Polo Club, a place no one had thought to invite me to, before.
I was presented with a gold medal. I do not remember what the event I won was officially called but it was little doubt it was meant to be for the dumbest question of the final Goodwill Games anywhere in the world. I still maintain it was a good question and a lot better than Greene’s answer which sank my credibility.
After all my years in journalism I have only two small pieces of advice for novices: it is not a popularity contest and never be afraid to ask what you think could be a dumb question; you might win a gold medal from it.
So who will win the gold in the 100m.? Like most of the world, I would like to see Usain Bolt win. But I think the gold will go to Yohan Blake. As soon as I post this rant, I will contact my internet bookie to have a modest wager on Blake.
Yohan Blakei looks for gold
If I am wrong, that’s alright. You have to back your judgement in life, or wait for others to tell you what you think.
Bernie Dowling, August 5, 2012