Tag Archives: Tyson Gay

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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A man called Bolt

bolt

Lots of things have happened in this sporting summer. Roger Federer won Wimbledon, which thrilled me. The Yankees pulled away in the American League East. Also good.

But I think the greatest phenomenon of the last few months is a 23-year-old Jamaican guy who right now is miles beyond everyone else in his sport.

We’ve become so immune to numbers in athletics. Some guy hits 65 home runs, and we yawn. A running back rushes for 200 yards and four touchdowns. Meh. A basketball player scores 50 points in a game? Pretty good, but … next.

What Usain Bolt is doing right now at the World Championships of track and field in Berlin is a rare and beautiful thing. Every generation, we get an athlete who takes his sport to the next level. Babe Ruth did it in the 1920s.

Muhammad Ali had the 1960s and ’70s. Jack Nicklaus was right there with him in his sport. Some kid from North Carolina named Michael Jordan brought his game into another stratosphere in the 1980s and ’90s, while Michael Phelps brought those in the water up on his shoulders into a glorious place.

What Bolt is doing, in smashing his own world records in the 100 and 200 meter dashes, is something remarkable. He’s destroying the idea that track records are broken in increments, hundredths of a second at a time.

He beat his own 100-meter record by .11, then broke his 200-meter by the same mark. Do you know how ridiculous that is? It’s like a halfback running for 350 yards in a game, or a baseball player hitting 81 home runs in a season.

It’s laughable, how much of a mockery Bolt is making the competition. Poor Tyson Gay ran the 100 this week faster than any American ever had, posting a 9.71. And he wasn’t even close to winning, as Bolt’s 9.58 blew him away.

His margin of victory – 0.62sec – in the 200 is greater than the sum total of winning margins of the five previous winners of the world 200 title.

As many have said this week, Bolt is simply redefining what the human body can do. Consider:

— His 19.19 in the 200, when broken down by 100-meter increments, were a 9.58 and a 9.61. So he equaled his own world record, and then missed it on the second 100 by .03 seconds. Nobody ever runs the second 200 that fast.

— We’ve always been told sprinters have to short and stride quickly. Bolt is 6-foot-5 and takes long strides. When he runs, he’s like a gazelle, attacking the pavement and the air around him like it owes him money.

— He can still get better. In both the Beijing Olympics and in the 200 this week, Bolt slowed a little in the last five meters. He can go faster. He can run a 19.05 200, and maybe a unbelievable 9.4 in the 100.

Listen to veteran track and field people talk about Bolt, and it’s like they used to talk about M.J. when he first started with the Bulls.

TV announcer Ato Boldon just keeps screaming “Oh my God!” when talking about Bolt. Michael Johnson, never known for humility, can’t get over how “ridiculous” Bolt is.

Is the kid a little cocky? Absolutely.  He says things like “I’m on my way to becoming a legend,” and talks about being up for knightood.

But wouldn’t you be a little in love with yourself if you broke the a world record in the last FIVE major meets you’ve competed at?

Now … the big elephant in the room here is this: Is he clean? So far, he’s tested positive for nothing more than excitement. Track and field has been plagued with so many superstars who flash on the scene, then are disgraced by drug testing results.

Ben Johnson. Marion Jones. Justin Gatlin. Just to name a few.

I don’t know if Bolt is clean or dirty. I pray that he’s doing all this legitimately, because it’s such a good story. But a fellow scribe of mine, Jerome Solomon of the Houston Chronicle, wrote a great piece saying that Bolt is providing so much joy, we shouldn’t race to assume he’s guilty.

“You can’t rob me of my joy,” Solomon writes. “He is the most amazing, entertaining athlete on the planet.”

I couldn’t agree more. If it turns out he’s cheating, well, I’ll be sad because he’s such a remarkable runner.

For now, I’m just going to enjoy this Jamaican kid lift everyone higher, higher and higher.