U.S. Track Sprinters: Olympic Sad Sacks


Good grief. In an Olympics where some things have gone so right for the United States (Michael Phelps’ unprecedented EIGHT GOLD MEDALS; Nastia Liukin’s and Shawn Johnson’s back and forth winning performances; Beach Volleyball SWEEP) it’s inevitable that some things would go, well, so wrong. The track team – specifically the sprinters – has borne the brunt of this shitty luck, best exemplified by tonight’s semis disqualification of both the men’s and women’s 4x100m relays. Each team was on to pace to advance to the finals until the last leg, when shoddy fundamentals sent their batons falling to the ground. Said women’s anchor Lauryn Williams, “maybe somebody somewhere has a voodoo doll on the United States.” I’m no astute judge of Track & Field, but everything I’ve read suggests their disqualifications were entirely avoidable; caused by mistakes you correct in high school. Still, you can’t help but feel sorry for a team just having a series of bad days.

Sometimes things just sort of fall apart. It could be a backyard race; it could be at the Bird’s Nest in Beijing. Misfortune knows no boundaries. I’ve screwed up plenty of times in the pool, whether because of bad luck, inadequate training, or a combination of the two. Beyond sport, anyone can recall a time Christmas was ruined by the flu or a piano recital forgone because of a broken hand. Shit happens. I’ll never forget the time we went to Morey’s Pier in Wildwood, August 1994. All summer I had begged and pleaded for my parents to take us. Through subtle hints at dinner (“You know what we could all enjoy?”) to a not-so-subtle contract outlining the services I’d offer in exchange for the trip, I stopped at nothing to see my dream realized. And finally, in the last weeks of beach season, my parents relented. I was as excited as if I had just won a stack of sweet pogs. Which means really excited.

Maybe too excited. I started feeling sick during the car ride. Noticing my queasy look in the rearview mirror, my mom pulled into the K-Mart parking lot in Rio Grande. Three miles from my oasis of chlorinated awesomeness, I was throwing up in the back seat of the car. My life was clearly over.

I’m sure Tyson Gay felt the same way multiple times this past week. His gold medal plan just didn’t work out. In those moments of doubt, though, or categorical failure, I find it’s always best to turn to those pockets of inspiration buried deep in your memory – to those moments that remind you of all you once achieved and might still achieve. None of these sprinters are dead yet, and 2012 is just four years away – I’ve no doubt they could reclaim their stride in time. They’ll be racing for second, of course, with first conceded to Usain Bolt. Holy shit. To get themselves motivated (while remembering which country is on top), I suggest the U.S. team take a gander at this video:

What sports-related movies that aren’t Miracle, Hoosiers, Rocky, Rudy, The Natural, or Bull Durham do you watch to get pumped for… things that need appropriate pumping? I’m a Mighty Ducks 2 man, myself.

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5 Responses to “U.S. Track Sprinters: Olympic Sad Sacks”

  1. Unanimous Says:

    Maybe these athletes are blinded by self glorification and are reluctant to accept the fundamentals which a required to be make a legal transition. Instead of thinking about the TEAM and the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, these athletes were too focused on beating their other competiters (i.e. Usian fucking Bolt) and going their _9.3. At least the 4x400m (the newest redeem teams) did their job and won the golds. Theory- team china cheated in many of the events but the IOC was to scared to upset the host country. Proof-the SEAS students during orgo finals. In closing, I would like to congratulate several countries: Mongolia for winnng its first gold medal!, Togo for winning its first medal! and Afganistan for its first medal! (sorry to those countries i left out, you did well too)

  2. Henning Says:

    I definitely agree that their troubles were avoidable (and so did every commentary I read following the relays), that the trade-off should be something you nail down in high school, not something you should have to think about at the OLYMPICS. Tres lame.

    I too was really excited for Mongolia – about damn time. What did China cheat in besides gymnastics? The thought of SEAS style finals craziness seeping into the Bird’s Nest makes me want to cry.

  3. Hailey Says:

    And don’t forget the hurtles faux-pas of Lolo Jones – all ready to win and she trips her foot on a hurdle. Ouch. And then the steeplechase pileup (!) which only makes you question the point of steeplechase to begin with.

    I just wish more people understood how much our athletes care and let us just win with some nice ska music in the background, out à la Stick-it. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76xUZZrEgjA&feature=related)

    (I just wanted to take your classic sports moment and underline it with the worst sports-movie clip possible. Watch that gag reflex.)

  4. Henning Says:

    But Jeff Bridges is in “Stick It”! And they’re using Blink-182 to underscore a moment of athletic rebellion! And it’s all about bra straps! How can it be bad? Gold medal in the sports movie clip Olympics.

  5. zim's crack cream Says:

    Anything from Burt’s Bees will help. Also try putting either neosporin or petroleum jelly on at night, stuff your hands in some tube socks so it doesn’t get all over the place

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