Thursday, August 21, 2008


There was something different about my camera setup today. No one was there, at least when I got there at the start of the events. Not to worry, though. A new trusty camera op rolled in just in time, a young Chinese camera op. Her English name was Rae. She was a little nervous at first, but I assured her that she'd be great. I helped keep the excitement level up. It wasn't too hard with the Men's 200m Final, Women's 400m Hurdles Final and Women's Hammer Throw Final on schedule, plus a couple of other first rounders. 

Let's get to the race Usain Bolt is actually known for, shall we? I don't think the swagger has slipped off Bolt since the 100m Final. He walked onto the track acting all cool and showing off for the camera. He just knew he had it. And sure enough he did have it, in record time. Bolt took the 200m Gold in 19.30 seconds. Churandy Martina finshed second and Wallace Spearmon was third. The three of them embraced and danced around each other with their respective flags on their backs. Little did two of them know that they would never receive the medals they thought they earned. 

The 200m turned out to be the most controversial race at National Stadium. The medal ceremony was supposed to happen right after the race, but there were some details to sort out first. Spearmon was immediately disqualified for taking at least three steps outside of his lane. He rushed through the mixed zone right after finding out. Unfortunately for Martina, he went through the entire mixed zone still thinking he had the silver. All the reporters did too, including me. He was so happy when I interviewed him, showing that distinct gold-toothed smile. We just had no idea. That's because his ultimate fate hadn't been determined yet. 

The officials didn't notice anything wrong with Martina's run at first. It took a USA team protest for a review to change the results. The U.S. guys knew what they were doing. Not only did a successful knock out of Martina push Shawn Crawford from initially fourth place to a silver medal, but it also pushed Walter Dix from fifth to a bronze. I interviewed Crawford when he unofficially had third place after Spearmon's DQ. He said he wasn't happy because he wished he simply ran fast enough to get a medal on his own. (Much later after hearing of Martina's DQ, he joked,"I hope Usain stepped out, too. That would mean I'll go home with the gold.")

Finally Bolt came through with his world record performance not needing any medal placement shuffling. I made sure to get more than one stupid question in this time. So I secured my positioning and cleared my throat. When he got to my area of swarming journalists, I got the first question out. I asked him which world record he was more proud of, the 100m or 200m. His response, "I've been saying all season that the 200 means a lot more to me than the 100 meters," said Bolt. "This world record means a lot to me because I've been dreaming of this since I was yea high. Here's where the Boston Globe put it. 

Next I asked him about how he made it look so easy. His response, "Did that look easy?" I said, "Yeah." He asked again, "That looked easy?" I fired right back with a smile, "Yeah, you sure made it look easy." He said, "No, that wasn't easy. I felt like I was swimming, and I just kept telling myself 'don't die, don't die'. That wasn't easy. I left everything on the track." Here's where Reuters India put it. I let another reporter ask the next question and then got one more in before he moved on to the next crowd. (I plan to go back and put links to more published quotes I've gathered when I have time.)
Bolt passing through the mixed zone

As a side note for the Women's Hammer Throw Final, the bronze medalist, Zhang Wenxiu, was Chinese. So when she came through and didn't speak English, I happened to have a Chinese camera woman on hand to translate for me. The one time I get a Chinese medalist, I had Rae right there to help me get the quotes we needed. One of my supervisors afterward looked at me weird because he just heard the Chinese from the video feed. I told him where the credit was due. Good teamwork, Rae. 

No comments: