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Soup of This Day #232: Never Could Believe The Way You Are

August 13, 2012

Viking's Martian Face
An image of Usain Bolt’s face (Or is it Yohan Blake’s?) on Mars as captured by the Viking 1 orbiter. The black specks dotting the image are data errors – Image: NASA, 1976. NASA are not affiliated with Longworth72 despite repeated phone calls. Image cropped by Longworth72.

…And breathe sports fans.

The 2012 London Olympics are officially done and dusted. We can now all move on with our lives and Longworth72 will recommence regular programming.

In just a minute.

I do have some housekeeping to do, a sort of tidying up of loose ends that’s more for my own benefit than it is for anybody else. If you’re Olympic’d senseless then feel free to sit this 1 out – I haven’t plotted Soup #233 yet but it won’t be about the London Games. If however you can go 1 more round then feel free to stay around for the all-singing, all-dancing, some-miming closing ceremony to Longworth72’s 2012 Olympic Games…

Starting with a bit of a correction. When I originally published Soup #229 it contained an assertion that Olympic marathon gold had never been won by a Kenyan runner, man or woman.

Yeah, that’s not accurate.

My source for that information hailed from 2006. Kenya’s Samuel Wanjiru won gold in the men’s event at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. I have now correctedly seasoned that Soup to reflect that Samuel is the only Kenyan to have won Olympic marathon gold, a fact that holds true even after London 2012 – Uganda’s Stephen Kiprotich edged out 2 Kenyans in the men’s event, including reigning World Champ Abel Kirui, to bring home Uganda’s 1st Olympic gold in any event since the 1972 Games in Munich. Meanwhile in the women’s race, Ethiopia’s Tiki Gelana won gold, finishing 5s faster than Kenya’s Priscah Jeptoo, and in the process continued a long tradition of Ethiopians playing the bogey-women to Kenyans on the Olympic stage.

Less of a correction and more of a confirmation next – South African middle-distance runner Caster Semenya, who was 1 of the female athletes profiled in Soup #230 a couple of days ago, was not able to win gold in the women’s 800m foot-race. She did run a personal Season’s Best time of 1:57.23 but that was only good enough for silver behind Russian Mariya Savinova who also ran a personal Season’s Best (1:56.19). Given that Savinova is the reigning World Champ the part where her best was just that bit better than Caster’s best is not the greatest shock of the Games. A brilliant effort anyway by the South African and she remains 1 of my heroes.

As does her countryman, Oscar Pistorius, who got a mention in Soup #229 alongside those miraculous marathon runners from Kenya. Pistorius’ 4x400m relay team did not finish their semi-final after the 2nd runner was unceremoniously tripped up by a Kenyan.

Not all of their running is brilliant.

Despite not getting across the line a post-race review adjudged that the South Africans had been unfairly impeded and they were allowed to run in the final out of lane 9. Where they matched up with, amongst others, the powerful US outfit that had qualified easily in spite of 1 runner, Manteo Mitchell, breaking his leg 200m into his leg of the semi’s. On past results the US were favourites, having taken home gold in this event in every Olympics* since the Russians triumphed in the 1980 Moscow Games.

They didn’t get gold in London in 2012 though.

The US team ran their Season’s Best time of 2:57.05, a whisker behind the Bahamas, who ran a National Record 2:56.72. The South Africans, with Pistorius running the anchor leg, came home in 8th with their Season’s Best of 3:03.46. All 3 of those efforts are commendable – In spite of their nation’s history in this event, none of the US runners was good enough to qualify for the individual 400m final so a silver was a decent return, while the South Africans got a run it didn’t look like they’d get and the Bahamas stormed to a a gold they might not have expected.

As an aside Pistorius will now go on to the 2012 London Paralympic Games, where he will be defending his 100m, 200m and 400m titles. God speed that man and all who race with him.

For my next loose end it’s not so much about wishing someone God speed as it is about wishing someone dog speed.

Well before the 2012 London Games and way back in Soup #178 I wrote about Great Britain’s Mhairi Spence. Spence is the reigning World Champ in the women’s modern pentathlon and went into the London Games promising herself that should she win gold she’d acquire a puppy who she planned to name Donald.

The women’s modern pentathlon is an event that is strangely satisfying to me. Mostly I think because the modern pentathlon is the brainchild of the founder of the modern Olympics, Baron Pierre de Coubertin.

As told in Soup #44 the Frenchman envisioned it as a test of the skills required by a soldier caught behind enemy lines. The devil-may-care officer would have to sword fight (fence), swim, ride an unfamiliar horse, run and finally shoot his way out of danger. Along with his militaristic outlook Baron de Coubertin had other views too, 1 of which appeared in Soup #229 – He didn’t like the idea of women in the Olympics.

Given that latter opinion, women now competing in his pet event is amusing on a number of levels.

For Mhairi Spence it might not be correct to call it her pet event – Mostly because if she holds to her pledge there will be no pet for her out of it. Competing on the very last day of the London Games she finished well down in the order at 21st place, hampered by a difficult horse-riding leg.

This blog thinks she should go and get Donald anyway. She’s a champ and Donald is out there somewhere waiting for a home.

Go get him girl and may dog be with you.

For the record the women’s modern pentathlon was won by Lithuania’s Laura Asadauskaite. It was London’s final event.

And that would seem to be a good place to start to wind this up. The 2012 London Games are over and for athlete’s eyeing off Rio in 2016 there will hopefully be a well-deserved break before the hard work begins all over again.

Meanwhile the paper-chasers and bureaucrats will be counting dollars and working out just how much it will cost to claim a higher place on the obscenely ridiculous medal tally in 4 years time. On that nationalistic front, actor, comedian and all-round good guy, Stephen Fry tweeted this morning that John Lennon’s Imagine was a feature of the London closing ceremony. Although, he opined:

@stephenfry: Love Lennon’s “Imagine” but ‘Imagine there’s no countries’ runs rather counter to the point of the Olympics, no?

Actually Stephen, given that, as covered in Soup #221 along with the Olympic movement’s facist links, the athlete’s oath avoids mention of ‘countries’ specifically to remove the overt nationalism, then Lennon’s Imagine is just about the perfect soundtrack for the Olympic Games.

And it would be the perfect ending too but for 1 last end to tie up…

In Soup #225 I suggested that Usain Bolt was such a freak of an athlete that the new Mars rover Curiosity might find evidence that he originates on that red planet. Following the 4x100m relay win by Bolt and his Jamaican team-mates I now have some evidence to back up my wild speculation and it comes direct from the mouth of the world’s 2nd fastest man and the guy who handed Bolt the baton for that relay.

Yohan ‘Beast’ Blake was being interviewed after they had clinched the gold, in the process setting a new World Record. Riffing freestyle he proclaimed:

‘Basically, we are not human, we dropped from space like Mr Bean. Mr Bean is not a normal guy, he makes jokes. We are not normal guys. We are from space, I am from Mars.’

Bolt immediately denied it, craftily laughing off Blake’s frank admission with a dismissive:

‘Yohan is crazy. If he keeps talking like that, someone is going to put him in a straitjacket one day.’

I’m not fooled though. I bloody knew there was something weird going on. I’m on to you Bolt me old china plate – I’ll be watching you in Rio in 2016.

*The US team did take home the men’s 4x400m gold from the 2000 Sydney Games but were stripped of it later following questions regarding the eligibility of 1 of their runners. That decision was overturned and they got the medals back, only for 3 out of 4 of the team that ran in the final to admit that they had used illegal performance enhancing drugs. They gave the medals back and it’s now accepted that they belong to the Nigerian team, which means that the gold medals have changed hands more times than the baton in the actual relay.

Never Could Believe The Way You Are

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