Once the 2012 London Olympics came to a close, I thought about how refreshing it was to see U.S. distance athletes be in the mix, and in some cases, medal, at the world level. And then I thought about how inspiring those races must have been for a high school or college runner hoping to one day compete on an elite level. And then I thought about how when I was in high school, elite running at the U.S. level and elite running at the world level were two separate entities, and how 2012 has proved that those entities are no longer separate, but the same, which is a good thing, because now high school and college runners can look within their sport for inspiration, and not have to look outwards, like I once did. When I was a teenager, Lance Armstrong served a much greater inspiration for me than any professional U.S. distance runner ever could. Lance not only competed in endurance races on the world level, but he won them. He was my hero, and I had initially planned to write a blog post about how Lance’s P.E.D. allegations tainted what little innocence I had left from my youth, but then Frank Deford of Sports Illustrated beat me to the punch by writing this amazing article on how drugs destroy our fascination with physically superior athletes. Deford was able to sum up a thought I have been struggling to articulate in three succinct sentences: “At base, we attend games and we become sports fans because we are enthralled that these young men and women are capable, with their bodies, of what we could never manage with ours. We envy and cheer their graceful superiority. When athletes take performance-enhancing drugs they destroy that basic truth.” Think about that for a moment.
Thank you, Andrew, for writing yet another positive review for “She Was Once a Runner!”
If you’ve read “She Was Once a Runner”, you’ll know that I have experienced my fair share of cattiness and unsportsmanlike behavior amongst teammates. Yet, its several days later, and I still can’t get over the fact that none of Morgan Uceny’s competitors helped her off the track after her fall during the Women’s Olympic 1500 on Friday. My sentiments were echoed by Pat Forde, whose article, “Game’s Saddest Sight: Morgan Uceny’s Anguish,” refers to the post-race scene as “something out of “Mean Girls.”‘ In the article, Forde compared the stark differences in reaction between Liu Xiang’s fall in the 110 hurdles and Uceny’s in the 1500. In Xiang’s case, his fall was a highlight of the Olympic games, thanks to his competitors helping him off the track; their sportsmanlike behavior reminding the audience that this moment is what the Olympics Games are about. Uceny, on the other hand, was deemed “the saddest sight of the Olympic Games,” thanks to her competitors leaving her to cry on the track, alone, until an official thought to escort her off to the medical tent.
Admittedly, I wish I refrained from writing this, especially since the media has been overdosing us with their criticism of female athletes since the start of the Games. So, on a positive note, I will end with this picture.
Lolo Jones spoke to NBC today regarding the Time’s article, and her 4th place finish in the Olympic 110 hurdles. She’s obviously upset over being unfairly targeted by the NY Times, saying, “I think it was crazy just because it was two days before I competed, and then the fact that it was from a U.S. media. They should be supporting our U.S. Olympic athletes and instead they just ripped me to shreds. I just thought that that was crazy because I worked six days a week, every day, for four years for a 12-second race and the fact that they just tore me apart, which is heartbreaking.” She also claims to be “heartbroken” over missing out on a medal by 1/10th of a second, which is totally understood. Leaving London without hardware not only satisfies her naysayers, but also limits her marketing opportunities. Speaking of naysayers, watch this video if you want to get a sense of the tension that lies between her and her teammates. In this interview, her teammates more or less say, “Our medals speak louder than her words.” Ouch.
Congratulations to Leo Manzano for earning silver in the Men’s 1500 at the London Olympics.
Jere Longman wrote an excellent piece for the NY Times on the marketing pressures that professional female athletes face. The article refers specifically to Lolo Jones, whose revealing interviews (and photos) have put her in a position where her looks receive far more attention from the media than her actual hurdling skills. Janice Forsyth, the director of the International Centre for Olympic Studies at the University of Western Ontario, was quoted as saying, “It’s really a sad commentary on the industry Lolo is in. Limited opportunities are there for women to gain a foothold unless they sell themselves as sex kittens or virgins for sale. I don’t know if this is Lolo being Lolo or part of a marketing scheme to remain relevant in an Olympic industry where if you are not the Olympic champion, you are nothing.” My bet is on the latter. My only complaint about the article is that it focuses solely on Lolo, which seems a bit targeted, and ultimately unfair. Still, the overall issues addressed within the piece are worth pondering.
I was saddened to hear the news that Paula Radcliffe officially dropped out of the Olympic marathon. In honor of her greatness, I am posting a link to race footage from the Sydney Olympics Women’s 10k. Never have I seen a more valiant, albeit tragic, attempt at Olympic glory from a female athlete than this (see below).
Womens 10k Final Sydney Olympics 2000
Thank you, Michael, for writing a positive review for “She Was Once a Runner.” I, too, wish I could go by something more than anonymous, but I have chosen this route out of respect for my former teammates and family. I will have to save that confession for my death bed!
I feel like I’ve made it pretty clear on this blog that I’m a fan of Julia Lucas. I admire her resiliency, and for the few of you that follow me, you are probably aware that I had made the assumption back in May that she has a strong support network. My assumption proved correct, after reading this article , by her dad, which details his take on her recent 4th place finish at the Olympic Trials. Her father makes it very clear that he has been a positive influence in her life, and has supported her throughout her ups and (many) downs, in the sport. I foresee her getting it right in 2016!
Portraits of former Olympians
A NY Times photographer shot some beautiful portraits of former Olympians in yesterday’s Sports section. The feature serves as a reminder that once you are an Olympian, you will always be an Olympian. No one in the world can take that title away from you.
Unless you’re a drug cheat.