Athletes save the Olympics from their leaders' big lies

Athletes save the Olympics from their leaders' big lies

Oh, how the International Olympic Committee must yearn for the good old days of 1999, when revelations of bribes for bid city votes led to the worst scandal in the hoary (or should that be whorey?) history of the IOC.

Because as bad as that was, 2016 was even worse.

That is a painful irony given that years with an Olympics usually leave enough good recollections to wipe the seamier ones from the public memory bank.

Not so in 2016, even if the underlying point of this column, as it has been in each of the 30 years for which I have given international sports awards, still is to celebrate the best athletes in sports for whom an Olympic gold medal is the ultimate prize.

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Why Two Runners, One From The U.S., One from New Zealand, Deserve A Gold Medal For Their Humanity


“In the Olympic preoccupation with winners and losers, in the mania for counting medals, it is easy to forget what really constitutes triumph.”

I wrote that in 1992, as the first sentence in my story about British runner Derek Redmond’s “excruciating and exhilarating” demonstration of the human spirit as he staggered to a last-place finish with a torn hamstring in the Olympic 400-meter final.

Those words came back to me immediately as I saw and heard and read about what befell U.S. runner Abbey D’Agostino and New Zealand runner Nikki Hamblin – and, more importantly, how they reacted to it – in a Tuesday morning heat of the 5,000-meter in Rio.

D’Agostino, like Redmond, will win no medal. USA Track & Field announced Wednesday that the serious knee injuries she sustained after a tangle with Hamblin will keep D’Agostino from running Friday’s final.

What D’Agostino has won is more important. She has gained the respect of the whole world because, at likely the saddest moment of her athletic career, she looked beyond herself.

And so did Hamblin.

Each deserves a gold medal for her humanity – and selfnessness that put a golden glow on humanity at large.

FOR MY WHOLE STORY ON TEAMUSA.ORG, CLICK HERE

‘Hurdle Nerd’ Harrison Defies The Clock In Night-And-Day Effort To Make This Her Time

  Keni Harrison competing at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing.  (Getty Images)

Keni Harrison competing at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing.  (Getty Images)

It’s 2 a.m. A text message pops into Edrick Floreal’s phone. Whether Floreal is still awake when it arrives or sees it a few hours later, he doesn’t have to look at the message to know who sent it.

Who else would be seeking answers in the wee hours to questions about biomechanics and physics?

  The Harrison family, which includes nine adoptees (including Keni, front row, 2d from left) among their 11 children, at Christmas 2015.  (Photo courtesy Harrison family.)

The Harrison family, which includes nine adoptees (including Keni, front row, 2d from left) among their 11 children, at Christmas 2015.  (Photo courtesy Harrison family.)

Who else would have just finished watching video of her latest workout and wondering what her coach has to say about takeoff angle and velocity?

Who else but Keni Harrison, the woman whom Floreal calls the “hurdle nerd,” no matter that attention deficit disorder has always made written instruction, especially in math, a struggle for her?

“When it comes time to talk hurdling, she turns into some kind of Einstein,” Floreal said.

It doesn’t seem to make any difference that Floreal has told her she should be sleeping rather than thinking and talking (in the virtual sense) about hurdles at 2 a.m. He tried pointing out to her that if Harrison were going to stay up worrying, he was going to go to sleep, so the responses still would have to wait until the next morning.

“When I’m up at night, I like to go through what I did that day,” Harrison said. “When I have a question, I don’t look at the time, I just text him. I love asking questions.”

Floreal can laugh about occasionally losing this argument. He knows that the way Harrison processes the answers about the best way to run 100 meters while hurdling ten 33-inch-high barriers has helped make her a global sensation this Olympic track and field season.

FOR FULL STORY, CLICK HERE

The Time Has Come To Make Allyson Felix The Toast Of The Sports World

 Allyson Felix after winning the 400 meters at the 2015 World Championships

Allyson Felix after winning the 400 meters at the 2015 World Championships

Bob Kersee does what he calls the bar test to assess name recognition.

Walk into a moderately crowded bar, the celebrated track and field coach says, and toss out the names Mickey Mantle, Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky and Carl Lewis. Someone in the crowd will be able to fill you in on each of those sports superstars.

“Even if it’s only one person who knows,” Kersee said.

Now put Allyson Felix into that mix.

Kersee knows the result almost certainly will be blank stares, and that is enough to drive a man to drink.

“It’s time for Allyson to be recognized in the same way as some of the great American athletes, if not world athletes, of all time,” Kersee said.

Why should she be?

Since winning a senior national indoor title three months before her graduation from Los Angeles Baptist High School in 2003, Felix has been one of the world’s top sprinters. No woman in history has won as many world outdoor championship gold medals as her nine. No track and field athlete in the last three Olympics has won more medals than her six – four golds, two silvers.

Read the whole story at TeamUSA.org

News of Allyson Felix' misstep sends coach into brief (thankfully) despair

News of Allyson Felix' misstep sends coach into brief (thankfully) despair

When Bobby Kersee got a phone call last Thursday from Allyson Felix’s dad, among the coach’s first reactions was anguish.

"This cannot be happening,”  Kersee said to himself.   “This is her legacy year."  

Paul Felix had passed on the information that his daughter thought she had broken her leg on a misstep during weight training at a fitness center in west Los Angeles.

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