Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Olympic Trials - Intermission

Don't know about you, but after the insanity of the Olympic Trials' first four days, I needed some time off.

Instead of driving 130 miles in the driving rain after a 14-hour day, I spent the night in Eugene and woke at 0345 to get home. Fortunately, the Tuesday papers were already available at that early hour; at every Trials, I get each day's sports section for personal archiving.

Upon my arrival home, I see a another stack of local papers as well. Kristen saved each one for me, including the Sunday NY Times, which had a wonderful article on the US decathletes and their potential sweep in London.

The paper was dated 24 June, Sunday, and it talked about a potential 1-2-3 US finish in the Olympics. Eaton, Clay, Hardee, in no particular order.

One more glance at the date, then I just shake my head. The US team was decided the day before, with Bryan Clay NOT making the team. And yet, the day after, here's this glowing article.

I understand the need to occasionally (ok, most of the time) pre-write articles in order to meet production timelines. But couldn't someone have held the article and maybe confirmed the content BEFORE printing it?

The NY Times looks awfully stupid right now.

Then I turn a few pages, and they redeem themselves with a fanstastic article by George Hirsch, who I believe was a big-shot at Runner's World Magazine. He penned an article describing his first spectating gig, at the tremendous Helsinki Olympics of 1952.

Specifically, he talks about Emil Zatopek, the otherworldly Czech runner who had a fairly good Olympics in winning the 5000m, 10,000m, AND the marathon. That's a trifecta that has never been duplicated.

The marathon was his first ever, and he ran it as a lark. Then he ran everyone into the ground while saying, "The marathon is a very boring race."

Yes, this is another guy I've been reading about since age 10. Emil had this horrendous running style, described by many as a man running as if a javelin had pierced his ribs. Head rolling, eyes squinting, arms protecting his midsection. It made you wince just watching him. Oddly enough, his form in the marathon was quiet and efficient, as if he was a different runner on the road than on the track.

Regardless, he simply destroyed his opponents. His 5000m Helsinki win is considered to be one of the alltime best Olympic races.  And here's a fabulous Addidas commercial featuring Emil.

I'd love to see a side by side comparision of Emil and, say, Bernard Lagat. Night and day in terms of stride economy. But when asked why he doesn't run more glamorously, Zapotek shrugged and said, "I thought the only goal was to win the race."

Classic words from a former soldier who used to train in combat boots. And when the communists took over his homeland, he had a choice of supporting the new government or cleaning toilets as an outcast.

He took the janitor's job.

Great man.

No comments:

Post a Comment