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.