It’s sort of amazing what happens when people who don’t get a lot of attention get a bit of attention. The expressions of emotion at the Olympic games, unlike any other sport, seem genuine and not forced.
Who knows why this is, but perhaps because the day-to-day routine of athletes visiting with a few beat writers or appearing in scrums is all we know of most professional athletes. This makes a sprinter much different than a hockey player. A sprinter walks into a building with 80,000 screaming fans once every four years in front of the world media and world audiences. Of course they’d soak that up a little.
I really enjoyed the 100m dash. There isn’t a practical use to being able to run really fast for a short distance, but it’s become the staple of the games. It’s simple and nearly everybody can do it. I could walk three blocks to a park and calculate my own theoretical time against Usain Bolt or Asafa Powell and it won’t be a blowout by thirty or forty minutes like the 10k run would be, if I could even finish 10k. Anybody has the endurance to sprint 100 metres.
And they’re all showmen. That’s become part of the allure of the sport. As the sprinters were lining up, each had his own few seconds of face-time, and as athletes competing in an amateur event, they need to raise their stock and awareness. They need to smile for the camera and do the things the sponsors love. Richard Thompson danced and, like Bolt did in the semifinals, did some shadow boxing before saluting the crowd. Asafa Powell glared at the camera. Yohan Blake struck a pose before laughing at the reaction of the crowd. Justin Gatlin walked away from the camera and saluted the crowd.