Pages

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

some random Olympic thoughts...

Kim Collins carrying the flag for St Kitts and Nevis in the 2012 Opening Ceremonies


The picture below is of me at the Olympic Track just before the 100m semi-finals.  We had three sprinters in the semis - all performing really well, but not quite having enough to make it through to the final.  So I left.  And went home.  Skipped the final.  Which I thought would be the fastest race in history.  Which - on average of placings - it was.  So - in 50 years time - when a million people will claim to have been there - at the fastest race in history - I won't be one of them.  I was on the Tube.  On the Piccadilly Line.  Somewhere between Finsbury Park and Wood Green.  I must be crazy, you say?  No - not crazy.  Just find it difficult to get real excited about a field of guys that make the likes of Carl Lewis, Frankie Fredericks, Donovan Bailey, Linford Christie, et. al., look like jokers.  Lewis - arguably the most gifted athlete of all-time - spent a decade dropping his PB down to 9.86 from 10 flat.  Sub10 runs were a rarity.  If a guy broke through a few times in his career, he could be considered a legend.  Not any more...



___

I signed my first autograph at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Winter Games.  Most probably it was a young boy who had mistaken me for an athlete, so I tried to explain to him that he didn’t want my signature.  That I was ONLY a coach.  But he didn’t understand, and insisted I sign, so I did.  After going through a similar sequence of events a few more times, I learned that it’s easier to just sign it ('Stuart McMillan - coach') than to try to explain why they shouldn’t want it, so thereafter I have just signed. This is now my fourth Olympic Games.  I have signed more autographs, and posed for more pictures for this one than all of the others combined.  By far. The excitement began to grow as we arrived at the Faro airport from our Holding Camp in Portugal.  And just grew from there, until our police escort through customs and baggage handling in London.  And squeezing a bunch of venues together like LOCOG have done at the Olympic Park has proved to heighten the intensity of the excitement even more. Who knew the Brits were so positive?  So energetic? So patriotic?  I almost feel like I'm in the States. But with more knowledeable supporters. 

___

Kim Collins flew home today.  This really saddens me.  I met Kim in 1999 at Texas Relays in Austin.  Class guy then.  Class guy now.  You won't find a single person in the track and field world who has a bad thing to say about Kim. But his Federation decided to kick him off the Olympic Team, with their NOC General Secretary, Alphonso Bridgewater, stating "we are unaware of his whereabouts".  The greatest athlete in the history of their country. Probably the only reason why you have even heard of St Kitts. Their flag bearer. Three times. Instead of giving coaching accreditation to his wife/coach - who is also personal coach to two of the other other four athletes on the team - the St Kitts' Federation accredit 9 officials. For the five athletes. Unfortunately, this crap happens all the time. My good friend, Donovan Bailey, asks how many of the people in the stadium come to watch the officials? How many come to watch the coaches?  The therapists?  Etc... But the St Kitts Federation have forgotten that. If Kim was an arrogant guy. A difficult guy to work with. Then these idiots STILL should be bending over backwards to do everything they can to make him happy. But he's not. He's a great guy. A guy who left the Olympic Village to spend a couple of days with his family. And he didn't tell his Olympic Committee.  And so - because the fans just can't wait to see Alphonso and his 8 buddies march in the Closing Ceremonies. They give him the boot. Send one of the most respected athletes in the sport home. From his fifth Olympic Games. One he does not get to compete in. Idiots

___

Besides the St Kitts' Federation, know who else forgets that these venues are full because of the athletes? The IAAF.  In their infinite wisdom, they decided to throw Algerian middle distance runner Taoufik Makhloufi out of the Games for not providing 'a bona fide effort' in the 800m heat. Makhloufi, who won his 1500m semi-final on Sunday, had been forced to run in the two lap race after his team failed to withdraw him from it by the deadline.  This was a big mistake by his Federation, as the schedule wouldn’t have allowed him to compete in both distances.  Unlike the Badminton World Federation, who disqualified 8 players for reportedly “not using one's best efforts to win a match” though, at least the IAAF realized their folly, and eventually reinstated him (don’t ask me HOW that happened, by the way - apparently, an IAAF doctor checked him out, and ruled that he was unfit to run the 800m heat.   A day later (about an hour ago), he blew the field away in what I thought was a very strange race). 

___

British sprinter, James Ellington was knocked out in the heats this morning of the 200m. James is a gifted sprinter, trains super-hard, has a great attitude, and a good coach and group to train with. I have no doubt he will be back. It's just hard to imagine the type of pressures that you feel when 80,000 people are screaming for you. And millions are rooting for you on TV. After 4 years of struggle. And it comes down to ONE race. In the biggest race of my one and a half year sprinting career - an indoor 300m University Meet in Saskatoon, Canada in the early 90s against a bunch of nobodies - I choked big-time. There were a few hundred people in the stands (they had not come to see me - they were actually there to watch a pretty decent Invitational portion of the meet which started a little later), including a few of my friends. After a pretty strong first 80m, I spent the next 220m trying to figure out who had surgically removed my legs.  And replaced them with small tree branches. Not that I was very fast anyway. In fact I was pretty terrible. And I'm glad I choked. It was the race that convinced me that my talents lay elsewhere (well - actually, that was probably due more to my friends Donovan and Ken telling me to never embarrass them like that ever again, and if I did, they would no longer be my friends; and since these were my only two friends - still are my only two friends, come to think of it - and I didn't want to go through the rest of my life totally friend-less, I listened. And quit.  And began to coach full-time). 

James will be back. No doubt. I spoke with Donovan Bailey after the race, and he asked me who that 'Ellington guy' was. Because even in these circumstances, he identified that here was a truly talented dude.  Whether or not we see him running 19.2 in a couple of years, though....

___


Possibly bad taste, but the tweet of the week has go to go to Welsh discus thrower, Brett Morse.  After failing to qualify for the discus final, Morse tweeted (since removed): "I've had a bad day, but at least I don't look like Ostapchuk" (google her, if you don't know).

The Olympic Stadium this evening.  That's VCB cooling down after her 200m semi.


4 comments:

  1. How come so few false starts this year? I saw a hurdler get a red card and off she went. Is it now only once and you're done so that's causing it?

    ReplyDelete
  2. false starts have been down for a few years since the IAAF brought in the new controversial ruling of 'one and done'. Last year at Deagu was a bit of an anomaly, with three high profile exits. There have been a few this year, but none with the profiles of Chambers, Ohurogu, and Bolt, so the public just doesn't hear much about them...

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm not sure why it publishes like it does but maybe it's a good thing as I think the answer may have been different had you known it was me. :-). Enjoying the Olympics a lot, hope you are too! Sara

    ReplyDelete