Saturday, August 20, 2016

Keeping (and Losing) Track

As exciting as it was to see Ashton Eaton win the decathlon at the Olympics for the second time in a row, Usain Bolt's follow-up victories in the men's 200-meter race and the 4x100-meter relay, winning three gold medals in the Rio Olympics and nine overall, were amazing.  The man from D'yer Mak'er is now one of the most successful Olympic track  stars of all time.  He's retiring after this.  Pity.
Meanwhile, in the women's 4x100-meter relay, the U.S. team won a stunning gold-medal victory in the outer lane after having to do a do-over to qualify when a Brazilian runner interfered with Allyson Felix (the U.S. women had to run by themselves against the clock in the do-over).  The team - Felix, Tianna Bartoletta (who, before she got married, was Tianna Madison, the name you might remember her by), English Gardner (speaking of names, the most memorable name since Krystal Ball), and  Tori Bowie - poured it on in the final and won in stunning fashion.
Their male counterparts, incidentally, lost just as stunningly.  They were never going to win over a Jamaican (a D'yer Mak'in?) team anchored by Usian Bolt, but they were able to do well enough to settle for bronze.  Then the roof caved in; it turned out that leadoff runner Mike Rodgers handed the baton off to Justin Gatlin outside the space allotted on the track, causing them to be disqualified.  This is the second consecutive Olympiad in which the American men's 4x100-meter relay team has been disqualified from the event final and the ninth time overall it's had a disqualification or baton screw-up in World Championships or Olympic competition since 1995. (The team didn't make the final at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing because they dropped the baton in . . . a qualifier.)
Girls rule, boys drool?  In the 4x100-meter track relay race, the boys don't just drool, they slobber like St. Bernards.  Last night on the PBS Newshour, Christine Brennan, noting that the American women win a sizable majority of gold medals - 61 percent - for Team USA, said that, because of Title IX (you know what that is, I won't repeat it), we should get used to that.  But that 61-39 ratio is not just the result of more American women winning.  It's also the result of more American men . . . losing.  Because American men aren't losing to women in the Olympics, of course.  Indeed, some of these guys are defeating themselves.  
While I'm here, I need to drool a bit about my typos from my previous post about Allyson Felix and other track competitors.  I referred to 40-meter and 300-meter races;  they were, respectively, 400-meter and 3000-meter races, the 90 percent reductions the results of missing zeroes.  The original errors were corrected. 

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