“An Olympic medal is a happy by-product of a purposefully designed programme that begins in school. Starting, therefore, with an objective of winning medals is holding the wrong end of the stick. By thinking about winning medals first, we will never build a system that naturally and continually throws up great athletes.”
The Court for Arbitration in Sports (CAS) has pronounced its verdict.
The IAAF-imposed ban on the Russian Athletics Federation stays.
No Russian track-and-field athlete will be competing in Rio—at least, not under their national flag.
The International Olympic Committee will decide the fate of the Russian contingent when it meets today.
The CAS judgment is non-binding on the Committee.
WADA and predominantly western nations’ Olympic Committees are vocally in favour of a blanket ban on the rogue nation given clear and damning evidence of state-sponsored collusion in doping. They feel that the IOC must exhibit ‘zero–tolerance‘ towards systematic doping by any state.
National Olympic Committees have been banned before—simply not for drug-related scandals.
Collective responsibility should not come at the cost of individual justice—the IOC is seeking a balance.
The Russian public believes that their country is being discriminated against by the Western world. They cannot accept that all their athletes are drugged.
A sanction against all Russian competitors would be unfair to those abiding by the rule book.
While the IOC has several options before arriving at a final decision, a simple solution would be to allow the Russians to participate—both under their national banner and the Olympic one but have each one of their athletes subjected to both in-competition and out-of-competition testing.
This would allow clean athletes to breathe freely and hopefully deter sportspersons who are doping.
This would also send a strong message to errant national sports federations everywhere that unless they clean up their act, their athletes and their fellow countrymen will be treated like Caesar’s wife—not above suspicion.
Simply leaving the decision to international sports federations burdens them further and not all of them are fully equipped to make an informed decision on the matter.
Whatever the IOC’s decision, there will be no pleasing everyone.
That’s a given.
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra
Madhav Roy Kapur
P. S. Bharathi
The Race of My Life by Milkha Singh and Sonia Sanwalka
The movie begins with the Flying Sikh’s heart-breaking loss at the Rome Olympics in the 400 metres. Milkha Singh is far ahead of the field but turns his head to see where his rivals are and loses vital seconds. The result is a fourth place finish; yet, he too breaks the Olympic record along with the medallists.
Milkha is haunted by ghosts of his childhood past from Govindpura, in the then Punjab Province, British India—now Muzaffargarh District, Pakistan.
Milkha’s parents, a brother and two sisters were slaughtered before his eyes in the violence that ensued following the partition of British India.
The film takes off with Milkha’s return to India and his refusal to lead a contingent of Indian athletes to Pakistan to race against Abdul Khaliq—-the fastest man in Asia.
Milkha’s back story is narrated by Pavan Malhotra as Hawaldar Gurudev Singh, Milkha’s initial coach, and how he made the journey from a refugee camp to becoming the foremost Indian sportsperson of his generation and arguably of all time.
The movie is gripping while depicting life in a refugee camp, Milkha’s initiation into a life of petty crime but meanders in the scenes portraying his first love Biro and his moments with her.
To prove himself worthy of Biro, Milkha quits his criminal ways and joins the army.
The young Sardar starts running to gain an extra glass of milk, two eggs and to be excused from regular drill.
Milkha is soon on his way to becoming one of India’s top athletes and makes the cut for the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.
There he meets and falls for Stella, played by Rebecca Breeds, the grand-daughter of his Australian technical coach. Breeds is charming, delightful and lights up the screen with her cameo.
The Games, however, are a disaster for Milkha on the field. He loses his race and vows to make good by breaking the existing world record of 45.90 seconds.
He trains hard over the next four years with unyielding determination and even rejects a romantic overture from Indian Olympic swimmer Perizaad.
Milkha takes the world by storm in the run-up to the Rome Olympics and is one the pre-Games favourites for the 400 metres.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Milkha makes the journey across the border for the Friendly Games against Pakistan after being persuaded by Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
The highlight of the movie is his visit back to his village Govindpura where he exorcises demons of the past and is reunited with his boyhood friend Sampreet.
The Friendly Games race against Abdul Khaliq is a formality with Singh much too strong and powerful for his opponents.
The film ends with an adult Milkha Singh completing a victory lap visualizing his boyish self running alongside him.
Overall, an enjoyable movie especially for sports fans and a ‘Don’t miss’ if you’re a follower of Indian athletics.
The first part of the interview can be read here.
As in one of the TEDx videos’s, this is a journey of passion and that has fewer business plans but is more about like minded people connecting – whether as customers, or as partners. We constantly seek out people with passion, and that’s what drives us.
If you think of it as ‘uprooting‘ anything is tough, if you think of it as a transition of fusing 25 years of marketing experience with 7 years of running experience, it is not. Any transition has its challenges and entrepreneurship provides its thrills, tests and rewards. And I thrive on challenge and adventure.
You studied at IIM Ahmedabad from 1980 to 1982. The IIMs are facing competition from several management schools both private and foreign. What are your thoughts on this phenomenon?
I think the IIM’s are poor marketing and business organisations, and the huge governmental control does not help their case. They need to shake out and do case studies on themselves and get their students – freshers, mid managers and senior managers to ideate on different strategies and get their management teams to go out and build an exciting vision and move forward.
How would you define yourself now?
Final word for the readers-
The most critical thing about running for you is to enjoy it rather than it being a chore, or being stressed out about some aspect of it, or being too caught up with distance or speed or form etc. There is a time and place for each one of them, but the backbone has to be enjoyment. Have fun.
Rahul Verghese is the founder of Running and Living.
Disclosure: The interview was facilitated via email. Answers are published after running spell-check.
A fun loving , Positive, full of energy person who believes that Life is very short and we have to make the most of it.
When did you start running? What was your first race? How many races have you completed so far? Can you break it down by distances?
I used to run during school days in races however lost touch after that when life’s hectic schedule took over . The Weighing scale touched 100 kgs in 2007 and that’s when I realised, I need to start running again.
The SCMM Dream Run in Jan 2008 followed by the HM in 2009
1 full marathon, 12 Half marathons, one 25K run ( BNP endurathon) and approx.. 17 nos 10K runs
Which race in your opinion is the toughest course?
Amongst the ones I have run.. It is BNP Endurathon because of the Steep climbs it has.
Have you ever not completed a race? When and why?
Never… Crammed once but completed within qualifying time
Have you run races injured or sick? What’s your advice to runners concerning it?
Ran one race in 2011 where I had just recovered 2 weeks prior to the race from having water deposited in my lungs and mild fever .
My advice, is know your body really well and then take a decision. Run that race for Fun and ignore the timing part if injured or sick.
Have you ever been a pacer? When, where? Would you like to do it more often?
Yes.. At Aarey Half Marathon in 2010. Was a 2hr 30 mins pacer. Yes , would love to as its an amazing experience…
What, in your opinion, is an accessory every runner must have?
A Simple Stop Watch
You’ve always been a sportsperson from a young age. What sports were you into when you were much younger? Could you list your medals and/or awards?
Football , Hockey, Cricket, Athletics &, Langdi (Guess this game developed my strong legs for running).. on a lighter note.
It’s all during school Days ( 100 M , 200 M , 400M , 800 M ( won 3rd place at State level in junior category) )
Is it true that even if you’ve not been active physically for a time, the base you’ve built when active stands you in good stead when you resume? I’ve read articles that say so. What’s been your personal experience?
Yes its true and I am a prime example. From being an active sports person during younger days to a fat obese man in the thirties to a Sub 2 hrs half marathon runner in the 40’s)
At one time, you were considering doing the triathlon. What prevented you?
Still not confident about completing the swimming part of it as well as .. don’t have the time to practise for it.
Do you draw any lessons from running that you incorporate into your personal and professional life? What are they?
Yes.. Personal life is nothing but a marathon race. You do not have to win the race or be a top category runner to be a marathoner… Which many strive for and get disappointed with life because they hav’nt achieved it. You have to only complete the race and enjoy it and keep striving to getting your personal timing/ Life better.
You travel quite often for work. How do you fit in running into your busy schedule?
Yes I Do.. Somehow try to manage it when ever I have the time. To be honest, I haven’t been practising much for the last 2 years due to travel and work.
Where do you train? How often?
Mostly at the Air India ground in kalina and at times on Juhu beach or Bandra Mount Marys ( for hill runs)
On an average .. twice a week
Any last words for the readers?
Birds were meant to fly, Fish were meant to swim and Human’s were to Run. It comes Naturally.
Newton D’souza is a friend first. He’s also Senior Management level at Tech Mahindra Business Service Group a Reputed ITes & BPO company. His running motto is: I don’t have a Runners Body but this Body can and will always Run.
Disclosure: The interview was conducted via email. The answers are published as-is.
Rating: 3 stars out of 5.
Directed by Stephen Hopkins
Cast: Stephan James as Jesse Owens, Jason Sudeikis as Larry Snyder, Shanice Banton as Ruth Solomon-Owens, Jeremy Irons as Avery Brundage, William Hurt as Jeremiah Mahoney, Carice van Houten as Leni Riefenstahl, Amanda Crew as Peggy, Jeremy Ferdman as Marty Glickman, Barnaby Metschurat as Joseph Goebbels, David Kross as Carl “Luz” Long, Glynn Turman as Harry Davis, Jonathan Aris as Arthur Lill, Shamier Anderson as Eulace Peacock, Tony Curran as Lawson Robertson, Nicholas Woodeson as Fred Rubien, Giacomo Gianniotti as Sam Stoller, Eli Goree as Dave Albritton, Anthony Sherwood as Rev. Ernest Hall, Jon McLaren as Trent, Tim McInnerny as General Charles, Vlasta Vrána as St. John, Adrian Zwicker as Adolf Hitler.
Race is a movie about Olympic races and racism. Set in the 1930s when segregation existed in the United States, it recounts Jesse Owens’ journey towards becoming arguably the greatest athlete of the 20th century.
The biopic begins with young Jesse being accepted to Ohio State University. Coach Larry Snyder’s goal is to ensure his qualification to the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
Snyder initially comes across as someone who sees Jesse as an ends to relive his own shattered dreams of Olympic glory. His character warms up helping Jesse with a stipend to send home to his girlfriend Ruth and baby daughter. Snyder advises Jesse when he suffers heartbreak at his dilemma about whether he should continue with his new love interest—city girl Peggy— or try and win back his childhood sweetheart, Ruth.
Snyder is the unwitting witness to the continuation of the cleansing policy against Jews instituted by the German dictator when he visits Berlin downtown to pick up shoes made by Adi Dasler, the founder of Adidas. Owens thus becomes the first African-American endorser for a shoe company.
Training at the Ohio State University, Jesse learns to stay crouched and bent into an explosive start to reduce wind resistance. This is enforced by the use of hurdles that he would dash into if he were upright too soon into his stride. Jesse and his fellow runners are taught how smaller strides don’t necessarily mean that they’re moving slow as long as their leg turnover is substantially higher than normal.
Jesse (actually pronounced Jay Cee) is no paragon of virtue, although a speed demon on the track. He is a young man who succumbs to temptation and bright lights when away from his girlfriend Ruth. He realizes his folly and asks Ruth to marry him which she does. Ruth, however, is no shrinking violet, sending her beau a breach of promise notice on learning of his dalliance with Peggy.
Avery Brundage makes the case for American athletes participating at the Berlin Games. His proposition is passed by a narrow margin by the US Olympic Committee. The reigning president of the Amateur Athletic Union, Jeremiah T Mahoney, resigns in protest. His conscience wouldn’t allow him to support American participation in the Games.
Jesse is forced to make a choice. Should he run at the Berlin Games and be perceived as supporting Hitler’s policies towards Jews and Negroes or stay home and forgo his chance for glory?
There follows a telling scene where Jesse has a showdown with Snyder about the issue. Snyder snaps at Jesse saying that he doesn’t care what the African – Americans have to say about his participation in the Games; both Jesse and he have worked too hard to just throw it away. Jesse responds that he doesn’t have to because African-Americans aren’t his people.
Jesse finally decides to take part; his teammate Eulace Peacock who suffers a hamstring pull before the Games convinces him that participating is the best way to prove that Hitler is wrong— no one would remember him as the athlete who walked away. He’d certainly be recalled as the Olympian who won gold at Hitler’s games.
On arriving in Berlin, Germany, Jesse and his African-American teammates are surprised that the athletes’ mess and rooms at the Games are not segregated.
Owens—wearing a jersey numbered 733—wins the 100 metres quite easily. He is, however, snubbed by Adolf Hitler who leaves the stadium without shaking his hand. Olympic Committee officials had insisted that the Fuhrer personally greet every victor. The dictator chooses instead to wish German athletes only.
(Though not depicted in the biopic, Owens said at the time:
“Hitler had a certain time to come to the stadium and a certain time to leave. It happened he had to leave before the victory ceremony after the 100 meters. But before he left I was on my way to a broadcast and passed near his box. He waved at me and I waved back. I think it was bad taste to criticize the ‘man of the hour’ in another country.”
Owens would later say:
“Some people say Hitler snubbed me. But I tell you, Hitler did not snub me. I am not knocking the President. Remember, I am not a politician, but remember that the President did not send me a message of congratulations because people said, he was too busy.”
“Hitler didn’t snub me – it was our president who snubbed me. The president didn’t even send me a telegram.”
Luz Long, Jesse’s rival in the broad jump, is an epitome of sportsmanship. He helps Jesse qualify by placing a towel before the takeoff line. His portrayal reminds us that not all Germans acquiesced to Hitler’s policy against the Jews and his notions of Aryan supremacy. Luz discloses to Owens—post the broad jump event—that he refused the company of a young woman sent to his room to entertain him during the games suspecting that her only wish was to impregnate herself with a specimen of Teutonic manhood. Luz lost his life during the Second World War. (Being sent to the warfront was usually a punishment posting for Germans opposed to the Nazi regime.)
Jesse wins the broad jump final quite handily. He follows suit in the 200 metres.
It’s not entirely a victory for American ideals against Nazi ideology . Jesse’s Jewish teammates, Marty Glickman and Sam Stollerare, are cut from the 4*100 relay, a concession made to Goebbel on behalf of the Fuhrer.
Owens returns home a triumphant American hero only to take the service elevator to his own felicitation dinner.
An interesting sidelight in the movie is the depiction of Leni Riefenstahl, the German film director, producer, screenwriter, editor, photographer, actress, dancer, and propagandist for the Nazis. Riefenstahl is invited by Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Propaganda, to film the Games. Her film Olympia was highly successful and included shots of all competitors. Reifenstahl—in the movie—ignores Goebbels to film the famous montage of Owens.
Carl Lewis would go on to emulate Owens at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics , a games hit by a retaliatory boycott by the Soviets for the 1980 shunning by the Americans.
Owens—-unsuccessfully— tried to convince then President Jimmy Carter against it because he felt that the Olympic ideal was a time-out from war and above politics.
Owens remained married to Ruth until his death in 1980 of lung cancer. He was a chain smoker for 35 years.
From hero to villain, from fame to notoriety, Oscar Pistorius has been in the news for the best part of the last decade.
His website, oscarpistorius.com, has the following statement on the home-page:
“14 February 2014
No words can adequately capture my feelings about the devastating accident that has caused such heartache for everyone who truly loved – and continues to love Reeva.
The pain and sadness – especially for Reeva’s parents, family and friends consumes me with sorrow.
The loss of Reeva and the complete trauma of that day, I will carry with me for the rest of my life.
Following the tragic event and the enormous global interest, the family of Oscar Pistorius has taken the decision to devote his official website to the latest news about developments as well as messages of support.
The website will provide the opportunity for the media to make enquiries or requests but for understandable legal reasons it may not always be possible to respond or comment.
The Pistorius family and Oscar’s management company have been inundated with messages of support and condolences for Oscar and for the family of Reeva Steenkamp from all over the world.
Mr Arnold Pistorius, uncle of Oscar, said on behalf of the family: ‘We believe that this is an appropriate way to deal with the expressions of support we have received as well as keeping the media informed about any key developments in the case.
We have every confidence as a family that when the world has heard the full evidence that this will prove to be a terrible and tragic accident which has changed many lives forever. We are praying for everyone touched by this tragedy.’”
The web-site does not deliver what it promises. At least, not right now.
All the links are broken: a reflection, perhaps, of a broken man.
Oscar Pistorius was born on 22 November, 1986.
His parents were Henke and Sheila Pistorius.
Oscar is a middle child amongst three; he has an elder brother Carl and a younger sister Aimée.
His legs were amputated half-way between his knees and ankles when he was 11 months old after he was diagnosed with fibular hemimelia (congenital absence of the fibula) in both legs.
Pistorius was quite the ‘sport’ while in school participating in rugby, water polo, tennis and wrestling.
When he was 18, he was introduced to running post a serious rugby knee injury.
Pistorius began sprinting in January 2004.
He qualified for the Athens Paralympic Games that year and won bronze in the 100 metres and gold in the 200m.
Pistorius never looked back since.
His sporting motto, “You’re not disabled by the disabilities you have, you are able by the abilities you have,” was a source of inspiration for many.
He reached the pinnacle of his sporting achievements when he was allowed to participate in the 2012 London Olympics representing South Africa in the 400 metres and the 4 X 400 metres relay. He also carried his country’s flag at the closing ceremony.
The sprinter was deemed ineligible to participate in the 2008 Summer Olympics when Cologne Sports University’s Professor of Biomechanics Dr. Peter Brüggemann ruled that Pistorius “has considerable advantages over athletes without prosthetic limbs who were tested by us. It was more than just a few percentage points. I did not expect it to be so clear.”
Pistorius appealed against the adverse decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland. His protest was upheld.
The CAS panel determined Pistorous had no net advantage over able-bodied athletes especially when considering the handicap he suffered in comparison to normal athletes when starting and accelerating.
Pustorius was thus able to participate in the 2012 London Summer Olympics fulfilling his dream of representing his country alongside normal athletes.
Pistorius is the recipient of numerous awards including Order of Ikhamanga in Bronze (OIB) by the President of South Africa for outstanding achievement in sports, BBC Sports Personality of the Year Helen Rollason Award in 2007, Laureus World Sports Award for Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability for 2012 and a honorary doctorate from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow.
He also made the Time 100 twice—in 2008 and 2012.
This could very well have been a ‘and they all lived happily ever after’ fairy-tale ending.
Alas, it was not to be.
Pistorius hit the headlines again the following year when he shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp allegedly mistaking her for a possible intruder.
The disabled athlete—after a six-month trial—was convicted on one charge of culpable homicide, two counts of negligent use of a firearm and one count of possession of illegal ammunition.
Judge Thokosile Masipa did not find Pistorius guilty of murder with direct intent or common murder (dolus eventualis).
The amputee claimed that he believed that he was firing on an intruder who had broken into his house.
The claim is plausible enough given that home robbery or home invasions are a growing problem across all provinces in South Africa.
2012 National Victims of Crime Survey (NVCS) states that half of households surveyed feared this type of crime.
“‘Home robbery’, unlike ‘house breaking’ (burglary), is regarded as a violent crime because people are at home when it takes place. This puts people at risk of personal injury and emotional trauma in the place where they should feel safest. “
The 2012 Survey also states that home robbery increased nationally by 64.4% over the past eight years.
While the fear of this kind of crime is high, it is a relatively rare occurence. Only 4.5% of households experienced a home robbery between January 2007 and December 2011.
The survey further states:
“75% of home robberies occur at night, with the most vulnerable times being in the late evening between 21:00 and 23:59 and very early morning between 00:00 and 02:59. More than half (55%) of home robberies take place at these times, in all likelihood because people’s guards are down when they are relaxing or asleep. Two-thirds (66%) of home robberies are committed by small groups of two to three robbers. Most robbers were said to be males between 15 and 34 years of age.
Weapons were used in almost all cases (99.9%) by those committing home robberies.”
Pistorius’ case has since gone to appeal to the Supreme Court. The State hopes to overturn the verdict of culpable homicide and either force a retrial or a resentencing. The double amputee could face up to 15 years in prison under the new charges.
The Paralympian was sentenced to five years in prison but is now out on bail after serving ten months in prison.
Reeva Steenkamp’s mother June was forgiving and accepting of the reduced sentence on Pistorius.
“I’ve got no feelings of revenge. I don’t want to hurt him; he is already a disabled person. I didn’t want him to be thrown in jail and be suffering because I don’t wish suffering on anyone, and that’s not going to bring Reeva back. But in my heart, I don’t want revenge towards him. I’m past that. Once you have told God that you forgive, you have to forgive. And I don’t want him to suffer …. I would certainly not want to hurt another human being. One has to forgive to move on, otherwise you become ill. For God expects you to forgive, and until you’ve done that, you can’t move forward in any way.”
June added that she still has “nightmares about what happened to her when she was trapped behind that door and how she died”.
“Sometimes I wake up at 3 in the morning and that’s the first thing that comes in my head and I couldn’t be there to protect her from that.She couldn’t move in that toilet, she couldn’t move a centimetre either way to get out of the way of the firing – she was like a trapped animal in that toilet. We didn’t know he had guns, we didn’t know anything about him actually.”
“Maybe if he wasn’t so famous…I think if he would have just been a normal guy in the street he would have maybe had a stiffer sentence”.
Oscar Pistorius was most recently in the news celebrating his 29th birthday at his uncle’s mansion.
The sprinter is now the same age as his deceased girlfriend.
Oscar Pistorius was today found guilty of murder by the South African Appeals Court. The fresh sentence will be pronounced later.
‘Blade Runner’ Oscar Pistorius continues to be in the fight of his life.
The Paralympian and Olympian’s freedom centres around the State’s appeal to the Supreme Court seeking to overturn the previous verdict of culpable homicide.
State advocate Gerrie Nel is arguing that the verdict returned should have been murder instead—in effect, a call for a stiffer sentence for the amputee.
Pistorius was earlier sentenced to a five-year term in prison. He has since been released after serving ten months. He was expected to finish the rest of his sentence at his uncle’s Waterkloof home under strict bail conditions. South African laws permit prisoners to released after serving one-sixth of their sentence if they are deemed not a threat to society.
If Pistorius is convicted of murder, he will face at least 15 years behind bars.
The South African was convicted of killing his then model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day in 2013.
The athlete fired four shots through a toilet door claiming there was an intruder in his luxury Silver Lakes, Pretoria, house.
The bullets killed Steenkamp.
The new judgment hinges on Pistorius’ state of mind when he let loose the volley of shots—whether he believed that they would kill.
The judges have to take into account that the defendant is handicapped and would have been unable to escape easily from his home.
Professor Stephen Tucson, who teaches criminal law and procedure at Wits University, believes that the State has a strong case.
“The consensus of opinion seems to suggest that the SCA has the power to change the verdict. There are two options. If they say there was an error and order a new trial, it will go to any other judge but a re-sentencing… will go back to Judge Masipa.”
(This is part I in a series).
Usain Bolt is a freak of nature.
Usain Bolt is a force of nature.
The Jamaican claimed his 11th World Championship gold in four appearances in the 4 X 100m relay in his trademarked style.
Is there a greater sprinter in the history of the sport? More dominant, bigger, cleaner?
He was expected to be given a run for his money by his resurgent American rival, Justin Gatlin.
Just one-hundredth of a second separated the two in the 100 metres.
But the 200 was all Usain. It’s his favourite event and we all saw why.
The Bird’s Nest had seen the eagle land and his name was Bolt.
“People pretty much counted me out this season. They said, ‘He’s not going to make it. That’s it for him.’ I came out and proved you can never count Usain Bolt out. I’m a champion, and I’ll show up when it matters.”
It took a runaway Segway steered by an errant cameraman to trip this phenomenon.
What will it take to beat Bolt?
You can’t catch up with him, that’s for sure.
“What will it take? It will take staying in front. That’s what it’s going to take.”
And to think that this is his worst year yet.
Gatlin was hoping for redemption for his fall from grace, having been banned for doping.
It was and it wasn’t. The better man won.
It wasn’t for lack of trying.
However, the paying public or the online denizens would not have anything of it. There was no substance behind the portrayal of Gatlin as the ‘villain’ of the showpiece.
The American had paid for his folly. And he was back to prove that he could run—clean—and win.
Bolt spoke of retiring after the Rio Olympics next year.
The newly crowned IAAF chief, Sebastian Coe, was quick to lament the announcement.
“I do sort of feel that I’m in sort of 1960s, 1970s time warp. It’s the kind of conversation that was probably taking place in boxing at that time as to what happens after Muhammad Ali retires. Well, after Muhammad Ali, Marvin Hagler happens. After Muhammad Ali, (Thomas) Hearns happen, Sugar Ray Leonard, (Floyd) Mayweather. It happens.Yes, what we have to concede, and what I believe is that I don’t think any athlete, any sportsman or woman since Muhammad Ali has captured the public imagination and propelled their sport as quickly and as far as Usain Bolt has. The Usain Bolts of this world will not come along on a conveyor belt . We do need to make sure people understand we have extraordinary talent, which we’ve witnessed in Beijing. We shouldn’t be concerned because we have a sport that is adorned by some of the most outrageously superhuman, talented people in any sport. Our challenge is to make sure the public know there are other athletes in out sport.”
Spare a thought for Gatlin, the vilified.
His lack of contrition is held against him as against Bolt’s lack of arrogance.
Gatlin’s agent, Renaldo Nehemiah, says:
“When people say he never apologised, I say: ‘You haven’t done your homework.’ And the IAAF, who know this, have never come out and said anything, which I am very sad about. Justin has apologised. What is he supposed to do, go to every country and say sorry?”
I have always said to Usada and Wada: ‘Come and test us, day or night’. That’s all we can do, make ourselves available and, if that’s not good enough for people, that’s just the world we live in.
In the last few years Justin has focused on getting his weight right and getting his technique on where it needed to be and starting to run more efficiently. We don’t know with certainty anyone, who hasn’t tested positive, is not doing anything. The good thing about our testing is that it does catch people. Justin Gatlin did get caught doping. That is a fact. So we do catch people and I am happy about that.”
Justin is very charming, personable and bright. But at some point you have to back away. He said: ‘I can’t be beat down by this every single day. I came here to run, this is not fun for me.’ So I told him: ‘If anyone is going to continue to talk about the past, let’s not talk to them.’”
Gatlin admits he was a drug cheat but he’s also a human being:
“Obviously I am the most criticised athlete in track and field but at the end of the day I am a runner and that’s all I can be.”
Gatlin has now gone public about his multiple apologies in the past for his mistakes.
In one of his letters addressed to IAAF’s then president, Lamine Diack, and his senior vice-president, Sergey Bubka, he wrote:
“I am sincerely remorseful and it continues to be my mission to be a positive role model mentoring to athletes to avoid the dangers and public and personal humiliation of doping. And the harm it brings to the sport of athletics.”
I have cooperated fully with the United States federal investigation to clean up our sport of track and field working towards it becoming drug free.”
Bolt may be clean but he’s hardly your typical sprinter.
He’s blessed with twitch fibres much like other sprinters but he’s also a huge man. His large strides lend him an advantage that’s hard to overcome once he hits his paces.
He’s no lumbering mountain man; he’s the biggest, fastest man on the planet.
He’s a freak of nature. And it’s more than likely that it will need another anomalous human being to break his existing records.
Is that possible? Or is it possible, even feasible, that gene therapy and its mutations are the way forward in games that require superhuman efforts to be ‘Higher, Faster, Stronger’?
What’s normal, what’s not?
What’s a ‘zero tolerance’ policy?
Can rules and regulations prevent cheating?
These are all questions that the general public who follow athletics must be asking themselves and of the IAAF when shocking revelations of more than 800 athletes recorded one or more “abnormal” results over a period of 12 years.
Are you surprised?
The answer, unsurprisingly, is an emphatic no.
Why would we be? Why should we be?
We’re all aware that athletes, in these modern times, are as likely to be supremely naturally gifted yet equally likely to be products of laboratory concoctions.
The debate is age-old.
Science and its manifestations can be used for both good and bad.
The ethics of sports has undergone several changes over the past 100 years or so.
The term ‘professional‘ can denote both excellence as well as ruthlessness and unscrupulousness.
The numbers cited are bewildering; the conclusions are far-reaching—clean athletes are a minority if not a myth.
Will there be a redistribution of medals, of prizes won and claimed?
Will that be enough?
Maybe it’s time to revert to games at a micro level, say, a village rather than the ‘global village’ that is the Olympics and the World Championships?
Mercifully, the tainting of athletes will not put off the amateur and sports lover from indulging in activities that taught them the benefits of regular exercise and notions of fair play.
Unmercifully, it should get them to tighten their purse strings when it comes to doling out cash to watch or cheer these ‘supercharged’ monstrosities or deviants.