I now have been in two other countries while their athletes have been competing in major sporting events. While I was in Argentina, the country was hosting Copa America, the South American soccer championship. Argentina thinks about its team the way Bostonians thought about the Red Sox before 2004. They’re oh so happy to tell you about how little they win for all the talent they have, how this side never gets it done, how Messi isn’t a true Argentine (okay maybe the last part isn’t Red Sox fan-like). In any case, while there, I got to see Argentines fume when they tied Bolivia, got to watch Argentina then tie Colombia, while hanging out with Colombians (quite the experience) and then saw Argentines breath a sigh of relief when they trounced Costa Rica. Sadly, I wasn’t in the country when they lost in a penalty shootout to Uruguay. The much beloved Carlos Tevez (who I dislike) was the one to cost his team the match, so I would have enjoyed bothering my friends there. Ah well.
This time I got to watch the Olympics in the presence of Kenyans. The Kenyan star Rudisha ran the 800 meters today, and trounced the competition. A large group of Kenyans was nearby, and the whole table first got quiet, then increasingly louder as he left all the other runners in his wake. I don’t know if the feed was better elsewhere, but the South African feed (what they were showing in Kenya) had a terrible camera angle—Rudisha was so far ahead of the competition the camera couldn’t zoom out far enough in time, and we didn’t actually see him cross the finish line, really. However, when it came on the screen that he had set a world record, all the Kenyans in the bar burst into applause.
However, even their beloved Rudisha didn’t draw as much attention as Mr. Usain Bolt. When the cameras showed Bolt posing for the camera (tangent: I absolutely loooove the posing. It’s so out of control. And for someone like the random triple jumper, when it’s your five seconds of being shown to the world, and perhaps your greatest moment of fame, what do you deem the most appropriate over-the-top way of presenting yourself? Love it. Except for when it’s the Italian who looks like he’s 40 and a chain smoker. I was so happy he didn’t pass either of the Americans. Okay, back to Bolt posing) all of the Kenyans stood up, and came over to the bar, to get a better view of the action. As the race was of, there was a lot of loud Kenyan discussion during “Ndiyo, world record!” “oh Blake’s going to catch him. His training partner!” “No, Bolt is just playing with him,” and after “Jamaican sweep!” I heard one of the Kenyans describe Bolt’s ethnicity after the race. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he wasn’t classified as Afro-Carribean or Afro-Jamaican. He was deemed “African.” Howver, I was surprised to discover that even though Kenyans seem to love Rudisha, Bolt still was the headliner for them.
Also, one last thought on Bolt. I think the posing at the end instead of running throuh is really funny (I also heard that allegedly Bolt gets money from the Jamaican government whenever he sets a world record, so he’s trying to chisel time off here and there, and break the record multiple times, rather than chop off all the time at once). However, I’m afraid that in 12 years, there’s gonna be some insanely fast person who breaks Bolt’s record, which will prompt all sorts of discussion of what Bolt could have done if he was going all out, all the time. Maybe that’s what he wants. Speculation about what he’s truly capable of. For now though, props to you Mr. Bolt. You were well worth a trip to the local bar tonight.