U.S. track: One man, one woman and four bozos

Marcus Charter

Marion Jones collected more hardware than Lowe’s. Michael Johnson exploded with class. Maurice Greene and his 4×100 teammates proved they should have been working the hot-dog stands outside Olympic stadium. All and all just your typical Olympic games. The beautiful, yet slightly snaggletoothed Marion Jones went to Sydney on a mission for five gold medals. Try putting that into perspective for a second. FIVE GOLD MEDALS in the Olympics is not realistic. It is hard enough to be the best in the world in one event, let alone five, but she dared to dream, and she shared that dream with the world. Marion looked great early on as she proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that she can cover 100 and 200 meters faster than any other woman on Earth. She knew, however, that the long jump could be the pit that tripped her up, and indeed it was. Bronze medals are nothing to laugh at, but for someone who wasn’t even favored to win the event, it was definitely not the medal she had hoped for. But Marion accepted it with grace and continued her quest to leave Sydney with five gold medals, even if her color scheme was messed up. Michael Johnson is one of the best ever, no question, without a doubt. He had announced earlier in these games that this Olympics would be his curtain call. He had qualified for the 400 meters as well as being the anchor on the 4×400 meter relay. The victories that awaited him were not in doubt. You don’t beat the best at his best. Michael Johnson won with ease in his style of running that has been called stiff and awkward, but his exit from the Olympic stage was anything but. The fans of Sydney realized what they were seeing for the last time, and they gave their thanks and appreciation to a man who has spent his career allowing people to be amazed. They thanked him not only for his effortless victory in the 400 and his lead- increasing last leg on his relay, but to his contributions to Olympic history four year ago in Hotlanta. In case someone needs a refresher course, Michael Johnson was attempting an unheard of double at those games. He was trying to win the 200 and the 400 and he pulled it off. The 200-meter race was the best race in track and field history. The spirit of the moment, combined with an unbelievable determination and sheer athletic ability, all came together for us to witness the fastest 200 meters ever covered by a human. Michael Johnson has an ego, but that is truly something you need at least a shred of to dominate the world of track and field. He had the ego, but with it he had an inner scale that allowed him to balance the ego with a sense of respect and dignity that made him a great role model. Unfortunately for America, Johnson is gone, and not everyone has followed his lead. Let it be said that credit has been given. Maurice Greene is the world’s fastest human. He may also be its biggest braggart. What exactly is Maurice Greene trying to reach with his tongue? It is constantly flailing out of his mouth. Up to his nose, down to his chin, out to his opponents. He managed to keep it partially restrained after his victory in the 100 meters but all restraint fell away after he anchored the 4×100 team to the Olympic gold. After crossing the line the victorious 4×100 team was interviewed by NBC’s Jim Gray. The entire time, while Gray was talking to Mr. Greene, the idiot 22-year old John Capel, the second leg of the relay team, was making bizarre looks and gestures into the camera. He couldn’t decide if he was Superman or Clark Kent. Well, he was an idiot, but the Superman act was still to come. After being interviewed, the behavior became really strange. The foursome was given American flags out of the stands to wave to the crowd and display proudly their pride in their country. Instead, these dunderbrains put on a fashion show. Superman made his appearance as Old Glory was draped around a neck and worn as a cape. I can’t be sure but I thought I remembered seeing a spur-of-the-moment toga fashioned out of our national symbol. Then to make matters worse the group got their chance to get up on the gold medal stand for our national anthem. Instead of a pose of reverent respect for their country they were b-bopping and skedaddling all over the place. It was as if they were watching MTV Jams instead of listening to the anthem. In short, these men made all of us in America look like morons. While I am on my rant allow me a couple of lines to play Ann Landers. Ladies and gentlemen, the flag is not an item of clothing to be worn on the body. It is something that is to be looked upon with great respect. Many men and women have died for our country representing that flag and what it stands for. When a group of four morons strike poses and embarrass themselves draped in our flag, be upset about it. They didn’t fight in any wars to protect it, and I am sure they upset a lot of great Americans who did. Overall, the American sprinters did an outstanding job. We proved we are still dominant in the shorter races, while the Kenyans and Ethiopians once again shut the door on any hope that we will ever run like them in the distance races. I think it has something to do with their neverending gas tanks and their mile- long legs. Anyway, Marion, to you I say great job. You are the best female athlete in the world. Michael, you are the best, and I thank you for not having to let everybody know it. Your performance does more talking than your tongue. Gentlemen of the 4×100, good job. I hope your medals get lost in customs.