Saturday, 16 August 2008

Day 8.2: Super Saturday point 2

Oh, to be British! Foreigners must be as sick as pigs! etc etc

As predicted by any number of wise owls, Britain had a fill yer boots sort of day at the Olympics, including 4 more gold medals. The UK team has now won as many golds in Beijing as... Michael Phelps. It all rather pales, of course, next to the really big story of the day, the 100 metres sprint final.

On a scrap of paper, I'd been writing down ideas for things to write here in case nothing on earth happened. One of them says "why does no-one break world records any more?". It's now pretty redundant, as you can barely move for new marks being set all over the place. Usain Bolt's new time for 100 metres - 9.69s - is the first time under 9.7s and doubly impressive considering he spent the last 5 metres of the race jumping up and down like an excited bunny. As spectacles go, it was unmissable.

It reminded me of something, but it may well be difficult to raise this issue without being taken the wrong way. However, I'll just spit it out: it reminded me of the 1988 Olympic final. 20 years ago, Ben Johnson went into the final as the most talked-about athlete in the world. He then became the first man to ever run under 9.8s, despite backing off towards the end. In a retrospective piece for the BBC, Jonathan Edwards said that, despite what happened after that, watching Ben Johnson that day remained the single most impressive thing he'd ever seen in sport. Whether or not this piece was recorded before or after the day he saw Sue Barker's tits, I do not know. Regardless, this dichotomy is something which I can relate to now. The world still feels the shockwaves from Ben Johnson: thanks to him my first reaction to Bolt's outstanding performance is flamboyant cynicism and a touch of emptiness. Usain Bolt is the fastest man ever seen in the world, and yet all I want him to do is wee on a stick.

Thanks for that, Ben, you fuck.

Due to the rigour of the measures in place following the aftermath of the Seoul games, I am confident that there is nothing suspect at all in Usain Bolt's brilliant success today. How could there be? As soon as you run under 10 seconds these days, every second piddle is straight into a test tube. So, in 20 years from now I will be able to look back to this race and this day, reflecting on Usain Bolt running 9.69 powered solely by chicken, spuds, Reggae-Reggae sauce and lager.

I just needed to quickly offer my congratulations to all the cheating bastards who went before, who have all spoilt my enjoyment - of what is a major milestone in the human world - somewhat.

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