The island of Jamaica is now unquestionably the sprinting center of the world. Some people find the remarkable champion Usain Bolt endearing, while others deem him a braggart and showoff. But no one denies him rare standing in the Olympic world after he blazed to victory in the 100 and 200 meters, becoming only the second man in history to successfully defend his “World’s Fastest Human” title. He also lifted Jamaica’s 4 X 100 men’s relay team to victory with a scorching anchor leg that left American hopes in the dust. His performance was the main reason Jamaica had 12 medals (evenly split at four gold, four silver, and four bronze).
The African nations dominated in the distances as usual. Kenya had 11 medals, Ethiopia seven and South Africa six. But while Uganda only had one, they could savor the sight on Sunday of their lone medal representative winning the gold in the marathon, defeating a pair of close friends from Ethiopia where he regularly trains.
Grenada and the Bahamas also only won one gold medal, but in each case it was a very special triumph. After winning two NCAA championships while a student at the University of Alabama Kirani James became Grenada’s first Olympic gold medal winner. Though he still resides and trains in Alabama, James was a revelation for his nation. Meanwhile, his victory stood in stark contrast to the United States getting no finalists into the 400-meters, something that stung almost as much as having no boxers reach the medal round.
That was followed shortly by another stunning defeat at the hands of a Caribbean team. The Bahamas 4 X 400 meter relay team of Demetrius Pinder, Chris Brown, Ramon Miller and Michael Mathieu set a national record with a winning time of 2:56:72. The Americans took the silver and Trinidad and Tobago the bronze. Trinidad and Tobago’s 2:59:40 time was also a national record for them.
Overall, while the Caribbean and African nations remain prohibitive underdogs in much of the competition, the Jamaican men (and to some extent women) have shown the world that small countries can win and even dominate in certain events. That was clearly the case this time, as the exploits of Bolt and the Jamaican men’s track team earned them record ratings and folk hero status in their homeland.
photo by: AFPpic