In case nobody else has noticed, the summer Olympics are over. You know, I kind of got tired of hearing the theme music from “Chariots of Fire” every time there was a medal ceremony. (I heard the music but didn’t watch the medal ceremony much because it got incessant and you knew who was getting what).
If anybody had bothered to ask me I would have suggested the following piece of music which, while it might not be as motivational, is a catchier tune which would have gotten people whistling as they left the stadium and singing along after the first verse:
Don’t worry though; I really doubt that the British would have wanted a song by a now deceased American honky-tonk country-western singer.
That’s really not where I’m heading with this anyway. I wanted to point out just a couple of “performances” from U.S. athletes that I thought were noteworthy in this XXXth Olympiad and compare them with a couple of comparable performances from Olympics past.
The first is Manteo Mitchell. This 25 year old from North Carolina runs the 400. He was the lead-off runner for the U.S. 4x400 relay team in the semi-finals. He wasn’t going that fast and it was noticed by the announcers. He looked pretty fast to me but his time was about 2 seconds slower than usual and than his teammates.
Seems like young Mr. Mitchell broke his lower leg halfway through his lead-off leg of the race. What did he do? He kept going. He ran on guts. Here’s what he said about it to the NY Daily News:
“I heard it and I felt it. But I figured it’s what almost any person would’ve done in that situation…I didn’t want to let those three guys down, or the team down, so I just ran on it.”
Manteo Williams handing off
Damn. That had to be a tremendously painful thing in the race that is arguably the most painful to run. So he was a bit slow. It would have been great had the U.S. 4x400 men’s relay team won gold but they got overhauled at the tape and won silver. They would have won nothing except for Manteo Mitchell “gutting it out”.
In a way, he kind of reminds me of Derek Redmond from the Barcelona games. He’s the young man who in the 400 blew out his hamstring coming into the 3rd turn. He grimaced, grabbed his leg and pulled up but kept hobbling along, finally slowing to a walk as the other competitors completed their heat.
What happened makes me tear up every time I see it—just like when Kevin Costner says, “Hey, Dad. Would you like to have a catch” in Field of Dreams.
Derek Redmond with Dad
Redmond’s father jumped from the stands to the track, came up to his son, put his arm around his shoulder and together they finished the race. (Awwwww man, I’m getting misty just trying to type that!)
In retrospect what Mitchell accomplished is pretty close to Derek Redmond and his father. It’s what the Olympics are supposed to be all about.
But sometimes the Olympics shows a side that’s a little weaker and a little more selfish, like the scene of a young woman pounding the track in frustration after taking a tumble in the 1500 meters like what happened to Morgan Uceny.
Yep, 15 meters into the final lap she got tangled up with another runner and took a tumble. On hands and knees she weeped and wailed and slapped her hands on the track surface while the other runners kept running eventually crossing the finish line nearly a minute later and running by Uceny as they slowed down.
Remember what "Jennie" said in "Forest Gump"? Run Forest run! Run Morgan run! RUN--and there's no way you can lose.
She was quoted in an article by the Associated Press as saying: “I couldn’t believe that this was happening to me again. It seemed impossible and unreal. My emotions just took control and I couldn’t do anything but sit there and cry. It feels unfair.”
She continued: “I was thinking of all the sacrifices I have made and the commitments I made to get to the Olympics, and to have such an opportunity taken away from me felt cruel.”
Well, then why didn’t you get up and complete the race? Sure you may have finished dead last, and you may have been able to catch a few runners—you were only about 10-20 yards behind--if you had popped up and worked to get back in stride. You could have gotten a bit mad and showed the world your intestinal fortitude. As it is, you showed the world your petulance and, from your quotes at AP, your sense of entitlement (or maybe it was a sense of loss--loss of endorsements).
It kind of reminded me of another blonde Olympian from 1994 who got a big boo-boo face and weeped and wailed at the officials because the lace on her ice skate broke. Tonya Harding made a big enough scene that they let her fix it and start over.
Ms. Uceny, there aren’t any mulligans in track. If you fall down, you get up and keep going. Manteo Mitchell kept going. He’s my “class act” of these Olympics. He won even though he didn't come in first.
One last thing. I came across a goofy Facebook page last week that really captured my attitude towards NBC’s coverage of the Olympics in London. It’s name? “NBC’s Olympic Coverage Sucks Butt”.
“I’m just sayin’.”