Tag Archives: Tim Layden

The great Usain Bolt retires, but man what a show he put on. A beautiful new commercial from Proctor & Gamble. And a quick-thinking teacher on a plane foils child molesters

Even when you’ve watched as many sporting events as I have in 41 years of life, there are some things you absolutely will never, ever forget.

The first time I saw Bo Jackson hit a baseball (it went really really far). The first time I saw Roger Federer strike a tennis ball.

And without a doubt, the first time I ever saw Usain Bolt run. Usain Bolt may be the most incredible athlete I’ve ever seen, and I know that’s saying a lot.

At 6-foot-5, with impossibly long legs and the easiest stride in his sport,  Bolt was an absolute superstar the moment he stepped onto the world stage.

I distinctly remember watching the 2008 100-meter finals, hearing that this incredible physical specimen from Jamaica with a perfect last name for a sprinter was taking the sport forward.

Track and field in 2008, remember, was coming off some horrible doping scandals, as former “heroes” like Tyson Gay, Marion Jones and Justin Gatlin had all been exposed as cheaters.

And here was this clean, joyful man running faster than anybody has ever run. Watch this 100 meter final again, it’s still astonishing how much faster than everyone else Bolt was…

He went to win gold in the 200 meters and the 4×100 relay, and then did the same in 2012 in London, and last year in Brazil. He carried a sport to new heights and was as beloved worldwide as any track athlete ever has been.

But the show has finally ended. Saturday in what he says is his last competition, Bolt finished third in an incredible photo finish (that amazing picture above was taken by the Associated Press’ Matthias Schrader), not exactly going out in a blaze of glory.

But Saturday’s loss is hardly relevant. Bolt will go down in history as the greatest sprinter ever, and more importantly, he’s never failed a drug test.

I will miss watching him run. Because man oh man, could he run . Tim Layden of SI has a fabulous tribute to Bolt here.

**Next up, a beautiful and powerful new commercial from Proctor & Gamble, as part of their “Let’s Talk” series discussing racism in America.

In this ad, generations of African-American parents from decades gone by up to the present, discuss with their children how they should deal with the “N” word and other bias they will feel.

This ad, predictably, has caused controversy from neanderthals who claim P & G are “attacking whites” and other nonsense. God forbid we acknowledge that racism is alive and well in 2017, and that African-American parents like the mom at the 1:05 mark have every right and responsibility to worry about their child coming home safely.

It’s a fantastic commercial. I hope it airs on the Super Bowl and everywhere else people are watching.

**Finally today, a rare instance of something positive and even heroic coming out of an airplane flight delay. A preschool teacher on a recent flight from Seattle to San Jose buckled her seat belt and noticed that the man sitting in front of her had some strange, unsettling words on his iPhone. (The man had an oversized iPhone and was using large print text to type, making the phone easier to read.)

At first, the passenger saw the man texting explicit and illicit sexual messages to the individual he was texting with. But then she saw the man, identified as 56-year-old Michael Kellar, discussing children, a 7-year-old and 5-year-old, in sexually explicit language.

As the flight took off the texting continued, and the unidentified woman took photos of the man’s screen, and alerted the flight crew to notify authorities on the ground.

They contacted San Jose police and its airport division stationed at Mineta San Jose International Airport, the destination for the flight, and Kellar and the woman he was texting were both arrested.

The Seattle detectives, and FBI agents from that area, used the smartphone evidence to pinpoint a home in Tacoma where the woman exchanging texts with Kellar lived. That’s when they confirmed that the case was more than outlandish texts, and that two children ages 5 and 7 who lived at the home were being sexually abused.

“It’s kind of mind-blowing,” said San Jose sex-crimes Detective Nick Jourdenais. “She gets on a plane, a normal citizen minding her business. A couple of hours later, she’s intervening on quite possibly the most traumatic thing children can go through. This was life-altering for them.”

What a wonderful and heroic series of actions from this airplane passenger. I can’t imagine what those poor children went through before, but hopefully they’ll never have to deal with it again.

What a crazy story.

 

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At the Olympics, every story’s a great story. The brilliance of Bolt. And a beautiful story of a small auction hoping to go big

NBC gets mocked a lot at the Olympics for showing us “touchy-feely” features on athletes, usually American ones.
But for all the heroes that are thrust at us, what I love most about the Olympics are the smaller stories we don’t always hear about in America. I stumbled across two beautiful tales of Olympians Thursday, guaranteed to put a smile on your face (or your money back; hey, it is Good News Friday.)
The first is from Dan Wetzel, the immensely talented writer for Yahoo! Sports. He wrote about the Irish female boxer Katie Taylor, who won a gold medal Thursday and had already created a frenzy back home. We in the U.S., I think, forget about how important some of these Olympians are to their home nations; we have so many superstars that we take them for granted.
Right now, in Ireland, Katie Taylor is a forever legend.

The second story I loved was more whimsical. Joe Posnanski, who as you know I think is a writing Zeus, stumbled upon a fascinating team handball player from Iceland. I know, you’re thinking, why should I care?

Because the Olympics are made up of all kinds, and this is the story of Ólafur Stefánsson, and he is strange and wonderful and just one of the millions of reasons I love the Olympics and he says thinks like “You want to play well for long enough that you leave with a medal around your neck. “That is great. But in the end, it is not about medals. … It is the journey that stirs us.”

**Here’s a terrific story that should get more publicity. A man named Samuel Annable works for a minor-league baseball team in Peoria, Ill.  After hearing the famous “Red Paper Clip” story (a man trades a paper clip for greater and greater value until he turns it into a house), Annable has decided he wants to trade two blue dice in to eventually get a sick child to a Super Bowl.

It’s a beautiful and noble goal, and I salute him. To read more about Annable and his quest, check out his blog here.

**Finally, Usain Bolt. I don’t know if we’ve ever seen another athlete quite like him. Thursday he won again, his fourth consecutive Olympic win in either the 100 or 200 meters, the first person ever to win both events at back-to-back Olympics.
He is a force of nature, he is so much better than everyone else. For the second straight Olympics, he actually slowed up in the last few meters while winning a gold medal. His time Thursday of 19.32 could’ve been even faster; that’s what’s so scary.

I know track and field gets little attention except for two weeks every four years. But it’s such a joy to be alive when a transcendent performer like Bolt is running among us.

I can’t wait to see what he does next.