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Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012
Bolt's growing legend makes for good reading
By ED ODEVEN
LONDON — My maternal great-grandmother used to wash the linens every Monday. She considered it a good tone-setter for the week.
On a similar note, let me tidy up the loose ends in my reporter's notebook. She would call it a good use of time — getting organized, that is.
I often have too many tidbits written down on scraps of paper all over the place and in multiple notebooks at the same time, even for the same article.
So here's today's housekeeping item: I must admit reading articles about Usain Bolt is my newest hobby.
The Jamaican sprinter is one of the 10 most interesting people on the planet. I have no doubts about that.
I'm also convinced chief sports writer Martin Samuel of the Daily Mail wrote one of the best columns of the 21st century in Monday's edition.
I've probably read close to a million columns since Y2K passed without a major blip, so the previous claim comes with the proper perspective.
Samuel wrote in part: "Having given the field, even the brilliant (silver medalist Yohan) Blake, a head start, he then accelerated. It was as if Batman had flicked the switch on the Batmobile, the one that sends the machine into warp speed. We almost expected to see an ignition of white-hot flame at Bolt's tail.
"And that is what Bolt is, in essence. A latter-day superhero. He draped the Jamaican flag around his shoulders like a Caped Crusader, too, and mimed firing his arrow as if an Olympian of old. He is old, Bolt, yet so very new.
"His talent is one of the purest skills of all: the ability to run faster than any other man. But his manner is modern. He knows his place in sport's galaxy, his status, and what it represents.
"At the pinnacle stands the heavyweight boxing champion and the world's fastest man; except Bolt has more personality in his discarded woolly hat than the Klitschko brothers have in a lifetime of perfect punishing victories. If Bolt were a boxer, even Muhammad Ali's Greatest status might have been under threat."
Samuel captured the radiance of Bolt, who he is and what he means on the sporting landscape in a way that few journalists can. And really, there are no new superlatives or analogies that can be concocted about the man who ran 9.63 seconds at Olympic Park on Sunday night.
* * *
On the walk from Wembley Park Station to Wembley Stadium for Monday's Nadeshiko Japan-France women's soccer semifinal match, a number of non-Japanese fans were seeing holding Japanese flags and/or wearing the team's blue jerseys or T-shirts.
That should be no surprise, of course. In England, rooting against the French is a national hobby whenever and wherever possible. . . .
Speaking of Japan, there was a surprising comparison made between Queen Elizabeth II and Emperor Akihito, looking back on one small aspect of the Opening Ceremony on July 25, according to published reports.
Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt reportedly encountered a Japanese who said, "Your Queen is amazing, the way she parachuted out of that plane. Our Emperor would never do that," it was reported.
LONDON — Olympic officials on Monday sharply criticized a man who was arrested for allegedly throwing a plastic bottle onto the Olympic track before the men's 100-meter final, but officials and competitors said the unpleasant incident did not affect the showcase event.
Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London organizing committee, said there would be "zero tolerance" for anti-social behavior.
"Throwing a bottle on to the field of play is unacceptable, it's not just unacceptable at an Olympics Games but at any sporting event and anybody who does that will be removed," he said.
The man, identified as Ashley Gill-Webb, 34, was charged Monday with a public order offense and was to appear later in custody at Stratford Magistrates Court. He was charged with intentionally causing harassment, alarm or distress, police said.