Thursday, August 21, 2008

Off the record

September 24th was almost turning out to be yet another uneventful day, when all of a sudden a voice from inside the house announced "Dei...race start aaga pogudhu" (the race is going to start). Three kids immediately stopped their hide-and-seek, ran into their neighbour's house and joined their friend sitting in front of the TV to witness the race. The men had taken positions and were ready to go. When the race started, one man picked up amazing speed and left the entire pack running behind him, leaving no chance for the kids to start their guessing game of who would finish first.

The year was 1988, the race was Men's 100m sprint at the Seoul Olympics, the TV was a Solidaire black & white, the channel was Doordarshan (Ok, I know this info is redundant), the man was Ben Johnson, and needless to say I happened to be one of the three kids. Someone's big brother who was also watching the race told us that the race has been run in a world record time of 9.79s - meaning Ben Johnson was now the fastest man on earth. There was also another record that went un-noticed. DD had relayed 10 seconds non-stop, without a 'Sorry for the interruption' notice.

It turned out Ben Johnson was charged with doping and agreed to taking drugs and was subsequently stripped of the gold medal. But since then I have never missed watching an olympic 100m final live. Everytime waiting to see if anyone can pull off a similar feat. (Minus the doping, of course)

It took another 11 years for another athlete to equal 9.79s without drugs, but then this was not in an Olympiad (obviously since 1988+11 is not a multiple of 4 :-) ) and Maurice Greene's margin/lead over the rest wasn't as good as Ben Johnson's either. Atlanta in 1996 offered some consolation when Michael Johnson scorched through the field in the 200m and 400m to lead the race by yards and set a world record in the 200m.

Another 11 years from 1996 saw a slow progression in the 100m from 9.79->9.78->9.77 when all of a sudden a tall Jamaican, little known in the 100m circuit, lowered the time to 9.72 and raised hopes. 2008 olympics proved to be the ultimate in 100 meters, not just for Usain Bolt's shattering world record but for the casual manner in which he ran the last 20 meters, way ahead of others (atleast 2 meters according to official sources), in the process making this far more superior than Ben Johnson's 1988 attempt. I couldn't have asked for a better 100m race, neither do I expect one as spectacular in 2012 or 2016.

Some PJs:
A concerned patient walks into a doctor's office.

Patient: Doctor, people are ignoring me.

Doctor: Next...

A doctor has come to see one of his patients in a hospital. The patient has had major surgery to both of his hands.

"Doctor," says the man excitedly and dramatically holds up his heavily bandaged hands. "Will I be able to play the piano when these bandages come off?"

"I don't see why not," replies the doctor.

"That's funny," says the man. "I wasn't able to play it before."