A recent article on Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight.com site finds that the single favorite event at the Olympics among the public (at least among people reachable through 538’s social media) is track and field’s 100 meter dash. That seems right to me: over the decades, I’ve probably written about the 1988 Ben Johnson vs. Carl Lewis 100m dash more times than any other single sporting event, even Kirk Gibson’s 1988 World Series home run a couple of weeks later. (I turned 30 a couple of months later …)
This Olympic’s race to find the World’s Fastest Man was won for the third time in a row by Jamaica’s giant goofball Usain Bolt.
Most Olympic events are exhausting to contemplate because of all the training that goes into them. But sprinters don’t have to work very hard, so they tend to have time on their hands. It’s basically a test of having God-given talent and not taking too few or too many PEDs, so it’s a fun lifestyle. That’s why they wear so much gold jewelry. The 100m dash is like the Plunge for Distance, except it’s for real.
Carl Lewis only worked out 8 hours per week getting ready to win four gold medals in 1984, so he had time to be a disco music star in Japan. The cheerful two times women’s 100m dash gold medalist Shelley-Ann Fraser-Price has time to dye her hair weave the green and yellow colors of the Jamaican flag.
The New Yorker recently inquired “How Fast Would Usain Bolt Run the Mile?“, only to find out according to his agent that “Usain has never run a mile.”
In his autobiography, Bolt revealed that while setting 3 world records during the 2008 Olympics, he ate about 1,000 Chicken McNuggets.
I wrote in 2015:
The most striking statistic in human biodiversity studies was, to the best of my knowledge, first pointed out by Runner’s World editor Amby Burfoot in an article in the spring of 1992. He noted that in both the 1984 and 1988 Olympics, all eight finalists each time in the men’s 100 meter sprints were black. When you considered that people of substantial sub-Saharan descent only make up a modest fraction of the world’s population, then 16 out of 16 was extraordinary.
But that was before Barcelona in 1992. Rio now represents the 9th consecutive Olympics in which all 8 finalists in the men’s 100 meter dash were black. That’s 72 in a row.
I don’t think 72 out of 72 can be fully explained away as a social construct.