Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Track Attack

This happened and I could not be happier.

I have become a giant fan of all things running since Beijing and more than anything else, I wanted to get to Olympic Stadium to see some track and field. I've only ever been to one track meet - a high school meet in Wauwatosa which featured good buddy Mike Miller, famed coach of the Whitefish Bay track team. He spent that meet doing a series of calf raises on the side of the track while he encouraged his runners. "I'd PREFER that you ran faster." Now, don't get me wrong, anytime that I get to see Miller is a fantastic time. But my enjoyment was limited because there was no shot-put at that meet.

However, for my second ever track meet - I think I did pretty ok.

It was a gorgeous night - although probably a bit chilly for the athletes.  And my dream of seeing shot-put came true. A very beautiful man from Belarus won - oh wait, it was the women's event? Ohhh...never mind.

That's terrible. And unfair. It's hard to focus on grooming when you're constantly covering your neck with chalk and throwing boulders.

The British were out in full force to cheer on their own.  It is FUN to cheer for that team. I find myself pulling for them as much as the Americans. The Brits are so supportive of their athletes, win or lose. They applaud almost as loud for a fourth place finish as they do for a gold. I love it. Warms my heart.

 Belgians were everywhere.

Seriously. Everywhere. There were a LOT of Belgians there. They had two finalists in the men's 400m and would go nuts anytime a Belgian would compete. 

Allyson Felix of the U.S. in the starting blocks for the heats of the women's 200m.

Kirani James easily winning the men's 400m. He's only 19? Unreal.

Michael Tinsley taking his victory lap after the 400m hurdles.

Medal ceremony for the men's 400m hurdles.

THAT'S what I'm talking about!! Bawling on the medal stand! Yes!!! More, please!

This is Felix Sanchez from the Dominican Republic - he has very unfortunate facial hair habits. When they showed him on the screen before the 400m hurdle final, I thought his vertical mustache would, for sure, be a hinderance. But he overcame and persevered through the unfortunate face situation. Olympic spirit - it's everywhere.

After he won, he let out a huge scream which you couldn't hear but you could feel. The whole place went nuts because of the emotion he showed right after winning and then again on the podium. He started choking up a bit when he received his medal but then completely broke down during his national anthem. When he did, the entire place went crazy - screaming and yelling and cheering for him. At first, I was thinking, 'whoa! whoa! whoa! you can't cheer over the national anthem!.' But you can and, in fact, it's awesome. It was so uplifting, I felt like I was in that scene from the grinch where his heart grew too big but it was like everyone was the grinch and all of our hearts just exploded.

Ok, but Felix. Now that you're an Olympic Champion, shave that off please.

Is anything more fun to watch than steeple? Every lap you get to inch towards the edge of your seat, hold your breath and hope for someone to take a header into the water pit. I mean, hope someone 'doesn't' take a header. Yes. That's what I meant.

American's Bridget Franek and Emma Coburn were in the final - Emma did really well, finishing 6th, I think? But Bridget quickly fell off the pace and was in last place almost from the first lap. And not just last as in, straggling off the end a bit, but last as in a half-lap-behind-them last. I kept watching to see if she was going to surge and try and move up but I'm guessing she was racing with everything she had in her - it just wasn't enough to stay with the pack.

She went to Penn State so I would see her whenever I watched track or cross-country coverage on the Big 10 network. She always came across as so hard-working and likable. It's incredible to think that a few years ago, she was winning the Big 10 cross-country title - and now she's a finalist at the Olympics. A massive achievement which has to such a huge thrill. But still.... Olympics or not, it can't be fun to be running in last place. These athletes are way to competitive to be ok with that.

This is a VERY British Olympics

I think this is British too. It reminds me of their teeth. Just going any which way they feel like.

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