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Rio’s Fun Run

You won’t see this everyday.

  1. Usain Bolt (19.78 seconds)
  2. Andre De Grasse (19.80 seconds)

The finish line of the second 200m semifinal heat captured above features possibly the two fastest sprinters in this event in Usain Bolt from Jamaica and Canadian sprinter Andre De Grasse. “The Lightning Bolt” (29-years-old) has even said the latter (21-years-old) could one day take over the 200m crown, once the world’s fastest man retires, of course.

Running and jumping in Junior Olympics and AAU summer track competitions from the third grade through high school, I can say that track & field is an intense sport. An amazingly fun sport, absolutely, but intense. By intense, I mean that every second, split-second, inch and movement is micro-analyzed. All the training and blood, sweat and tears that drip in the summer heat during practice is meant to achieve the maximum results because every second, split-second, inch and movement matters.

Whether the stakes are qualifying for the next race, meet or making the medal podium, competing loose (yet with acute concentration) is the name of the game.

Keeping this sport’s competitive spirit in mind, that’s what makes the finish of the 200m semifinal heat with Usain Bolt and Andre De Grasse seen above a genuinely special anomaly. The two world-class sprinters were easily 1-2 in their heat to qualify for the final tomorrow night and, surprisingly, chose to showcase their friendly rivalry to the world in an unlikely setting.

Thankfully, this moment of playful sportsmanship was captured.

Usain Bolt said in an interview with NBC’s Lewis Johnson immediately following the race tonight that he was expecting Andre De Grasse to ease up at the finish line to save energy for the final. Makes perfect sense. However, the Canadian had an alternative plan and instead chose to sprint to the 200m finish line as fast as possible to remind “The Lightning Bolt” that he’ll have a serious challenge tomorrow night.

NBC was given a preview to an Olympics version of “Must See TV.”

Track & Field is such an incredible sport and, hopefully, the fun pic between Usain Bolt and Andre De Grasse will increase viewership for the 200m final tomorrow night at 9:30 p.m. ET. and possibly inspire yet another striking moment in the event:

The unthinkable sub-19 second 200m.

We all know that a lightning bolt strikes with authority (and apparently a grin).

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Happy Monday!

Last night, Olympic viewers were treated to one of the most anticipated events by one of the most anticipated nations: The Two-Man Jamaican Bobsled Team. Despite a less than stellar time, that wasn’t the core reason for the excitement and widespread jubilation surrounding their return to the Winter Olympics for the first time in 12 years. It all dates back to the 1993 Disney classic, Cool Runnings, based on events from their improbable bobsled debut at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.

We all know the story and we all love the story.

When the Jamaicans prepared their run last night, everybody was leaning in as close as possible (both in the stands and at home) to try and hear if they would say that magically inspiring phrase…

The following video is fan-made and combines an epic finish with an epic song by Hans Zimmer. 20 some odd years later and people still view this story as unforgettably special and, yes, transcendent (please turn the volume up for the video/song).

This story never needed a gold medal to be seen as a golden Olympic moment.

“Respect!”

Happy Monday Mon!

The Clarity of Randomness

It was one of the clearest blue skies I’ve ever seen. I’ll never forget it. I just remember gazing up at this infinitely blue sky, wondering what the hell had just happened. The sight was so serene and beautiful, but confusingly overwhelmed by a new, sinking feeling. This was the same sky I had flown through on countless trips and vacations with my family. It was familiar, welcoming and exciting.

That was until it happened.

It was September 11, 2001 and I was standing in a park surrounded by a bevy of soccer fields in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio. It was late afternoon and the after-school sports and activities had apparently been cancelled. I was a sophomore in high school at the time. I just looked up, alone, speechless.

I knew the world had changed, but for how long? In that instance, I hadn’t a damn clue, but I knew it had changed in a very, very big way. I could feel it.

This post is not meant to relive the horrific nature of that day. But yes, today is a random day in February almost 13 years later. This all started because of a partially covered drawing on the left side of the glossy cover for Departures Magazine (as part of a cover story in the form of a comic strip) of skyscrapers and the bluest of skies with the text “11:30 A.M.” peaking out from a stack of magazines on my desk at work. This was coupled with the fact I was listening to the Zero Dark Thirty soundtrack on my computer (around the 34 minute-mark). This flashback came to surprising fruition. It forced me to contemplate how a moment that lasted only seconds can have such a profound and lasting impression in my mind that experiences something new every single day.

However, that day changed everything.

Even with resolution in the form of a spectacular Seal Team Six raid that killed Osama Bin Laden nearly a decade after 9/11, New York City has never felt the same. Millions of people (myself included on several occasions) have had great, unforgettable times there for sure! But something still lingers in the air, supported by an eerie permanence.

Strangely enough, this random vision has provided me with clarity. Each thought provided me with a clear focus and reasoning for why I thought what I did and how I should approach things from this point on. For a brief instance, everything seemed uncomplicated. If for nothing else, maybe this post can serve as a gentle reminder that we don’t need to wait for an anniversary or a specific day or occasion to remember and think about something important. It doesn’t need to be sad, but it can be something positive and astonishing. That same illustration has also pushed me to try to look at a clear blue day with only optimism, even while knowing in the back of my mind that it only takes a seconds or a matter of minutes for something drastic to happen.

Perhaps the drastic situation will be something positive the next time that perfect, clear blue sky arrives…

Whatever causes a comparable reaction for you as the illustration and music did for me this Wednesday morning, don’t ignore it, but instead embrace it. Life is lived in long acts and short scenes…just be sure to bring some sort of purpose to each one.

Maybe this is one of the reasons why we love watching the Olympics so much, to witness a performance or moment of pure, marvelous purpose.

For so many athletes and spectators alike, it’s much more than just a single event or game that motivates and inspires them and us…

Sochi’s Red Eye

A relentless eye infection for NBC anchor Bob Costas, a jammed door and elevator door for one very unlucky American bobsledder Johnny Quinn (accident?) and a snowboarding halfpipe that was half-a*@#$!

These are just a few of the behind-the-scenes issues (and one showcased front and center on network television for millions to witness and cringe at) that continue to weigh down some of the natural mysticism of the Winter Olympics. Sochi, the host city, was virtually unknown to much of the world before its grand opening ceremony last Friday that lit up the arena and night sky with unifying excitement and promise in the form of the Olympic flame.

Now, the world knows.

Aside from the thrilling competition thus far in skiing, snowboarding, ice skating and speed skating, problems persist.

An appropriate slogan for these games at this point could be, “From Russia with SOS.”

American snowboarder Hannah Teter, who currently has an Olympic gold medal hanging in her trophy case, has a strong suggestion and an equally strong feeling of the course she is scheduled to compete on in the coming days.

“They should push it back is what they should do, and fix it, and showcase snowboarding the way it needs to be showcased. Not as a junk show, which is what it is looking like right now.”

Fortunately, the Olympic spirit and its inspiring nature will counter some of the poor accommodations and conditions. There are several intriguing and heartwarming stories, like the Dutch sweep in the 500-meter men’s speed skating, American’s Sage Kotsenburg and Jamie Anderson each claiming gold in the inaugural slopestyle snowboarding competition and Canada’s Alex Bilodeau winning gold in mogul skiing. But that was not the real golden moment. Bilodeau, whose brother has cerebral palsy, has said he is constantly inspired by his brother. This kind of love and source of strength is something every fan of every country should celebrate.

(USA TODAY Sports Images)

(USA TODAY Sports Images)

This warm, celebratory embrace captured by a USA Today photographer is just one of the countless moments that makes everyone smile and is living proof as to why people love watching the Olympics.

Truly wonderful!

Sadly though, this Winter Olympics has lacked a palpable energy and adrenaline that endures throughout the build-up and the non-stop competitions of past Olympics. Sochi was not fully prepared (facilities/courses, infrastructure) as problems have given the host city and host nation a black eye (actually, a really, really red eye).

However, today is another day and hopefully amazing performances and inspiring moments will trump some substandard and even terrible conditions and accommodations. But between rewarding Russia the Winter Olympics and World Cup, Brazil the World Cup and Qatar the World Cup in the next several years, perhaps the ruling committees have taken notice that not every country is equipped and/or should host a major, global competition with once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for world-class athletes.

History, current leadership and conditions cannot be ignored. However, that appears to be worthy of only a suggestion made too late as the decisions have already been made. Sochi, though, will likely serve as a general template for what the immediate future will hold for soccer’s biggest stage and the Olympics in some form.

The silver lining, at least for the competitions, will be the competitions. Let’s cheer on our respective athletes and countries!

Still, an impression has been made. Speaking of impressions, after seeing Russian President Putin in the stands for ice skating, perhaps the world should just be happy he was wearing a shirt.

One thing’s for sure: The Cold War seems to have taken on a new (though slightly less intense) meaning in Sochi.