By Kazim Ibn Sadique
The Olympics have traditionally been the place for an athlete to achieve immortality. Of course, traditions count for little nowadays and the Games are not a big deal anymore, except perhaps for the opening ceremony. But there are some Olympians who sometimes rise to extraordinary heights and force us cricket and football crazed bigots to take notice. Here are some of them.
Anyone who reads the papers [or browses the internet] has already heard Michael Phelps' name. If you haven't, where have you been, kid? Some hail him as the greatest Olympian ever. With 14 gold medals in three Games, Phelps now holds the record for the most number of Gold medals won by an individual in The Olympics. He also holds the record for most Gold medals won in a single Olympic [8 medals], by breaking Mark Spitz's 36 year old record of 7 Gold. It is this, more than anything else, that has awed athletes worldwide, not to mention us common folk. How does a person hold himself together for 8 events? It's not just finals you know. It is probably going to be a while before we see another Phelps. And let's not forget 32-year-old Jason Lezak, without whose phenomenal anchor run in the 4x100 meter freestyle relay, Phelps wouldn't have made it to 8 Golds.
Wonder what Ian Thorpe is doing.
Bolt, Lightning Bolt
The 100 meter sprint was one of the most hyped up event of the year, right up there with the Man U vs Chelsea final. With three world-class sprinters all with best timings between 9.72-9.77s [my record is 11.5s…for 60m], the stage was set for the shortest and most exciting final of the Olympics. Of course, as is the nature of such things [Man U vs Chelsea being an exception], the rivalry fell flat. But not for lack of trying on one man's part.
Although Tyson Gay [now you feel better about your own high school life, don't you?] failed to make it to the finals and Asafa Powell made a disappointing run to finish fifth, Usain Bolt, the Jamaican sprinter awed the world and broke his own world record of 9.72s by finishing at 9.69s, that too with style. He slowed down in the last 20m or so, slapping his chest and working the crowd while his competitors were running to their limits. And why shouldn't he? He was miles ahead of them. Bolt also won the 200m sprint [no prizes for guessing that that was a world record as well] becoming the first sprint double winner in 12 years.
No mountain high enough
For the last few years, every time the pole vaulting is mentioned, a Russian athlete pops up in our heads. Yelena Isinbaeva has made it her business to make and break world records, the current one being her 24th one. Despite US competition's “hope” to “kick some Russian butt”, she outclassed them all by topping 5.05m. The silver medal was served for 4.80m.
In a surprise punch, Indian shooter Abhinab Bindra clinched the 10m Air Rifle Gold, beating Chinese hopeful Zhu Qinan. It's the first ever personal Gold won by India, a hockey powerhouse which, ironically, failed to qualify for this year's hockey event. I don't think the Indian's mind much now.
This very Abhinab Bindra was beaten at the 2002 Commonwealth Games by our very own Asif Hossain. Asif didn't make it to the Olympics due to bad performance. He said he's happy Bindra won Gold, and cited our bad athletic infrastructure, lack of sponsorships, police brutality, etc. as causes for his failure. I suppose we are meant only to applaud others.
References: The Internet, personal viewing and quite a lot of newspapers