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Monday, August 15, 2016

Olympics, Part V: Usain and Genzebe

I've written about Usain Bolt in the past, here and here and here and here; none of those opinions have changed.

And neither has Bolt. He's still the fastest man in the world. It's hard to watch him and not be amazed by the seeming ease with which he wins, and now, by his longevity as a sprinter. It's also amazing how loose he is, and how much he seems to be enjoying himself, even right before a pressure-packed final. He is just completely, uninhibitedly, happy and playful. I can't imagine any swimmer ever pulling that kind of act off at the Olympics.

By this point Bold is probably not only the greatest sprinter of all time, but greatest track and field athlete of all time.

The extent to which Bolt's career has paralleled Michael Phelps' is striking. Phelps' gold medal haul started four years before Bolt's did, in Athens in '04. But both were huge stars in Beijing, where Phelps peaked in '08. Bolt peaked a year later, in '09. Neither has set a world record since 2009. But both were so great that, even though no longer in peak form, they could continue to win.

Phelps is now 31, Bolt turns 30 this week, and both men are claiming this is their last Olympiad. I wouldn't necessarily believe either of them.

The women's 1500 semifinals were also run last night. The most striking thing about those, apart from Genzebe Dibaba's final 400 of 57 seconds to win her heat, was her beauty:

It's evidently considered bad form for an announcer to comment on an athlete's looks, but if they had said what many viewers were undoubtedly thinking, one of the commentators would probably have blurted out, "Goddamn is she beautiful!"

At every Olympiad, I'm always struck by how athletes are basically just much better-looking than movie stars. Four years ago I compared the looks of Olympic swimmers to movie stars.

Here's the black version, athletes vs. movie stars:

Who's better-looking, Genzebe Dibaba --

or Angela Bassett --

or Jada Pinkett Smith:

This may not be a fair comparison, since these women are pictured at different ages, but also keep in mind that the two actresses were all dolled up, which Dibaba was in only one of her pictures.

Dibaba manages to look happy, playful, and fiery at the same time, a tough combination to beat. Bassett looks as if she's forcing a smile. And Smith looks bitter and high strung, as usual.

Who's better-looking, Usain Bolt --

-- or Denzel Washington:

Watching the Olympics is more fun than watching most movies anyway. It's the ultimate reality show: the contestants train for years, it's all unscripted, there's nationalism to spare, some people cheat, and emotions tend to run raw.

The better-looking contestants is just a side benefit.


Steven said...

I guess Dibaba is good looking but not really my type. I don't think I'd have been very attracted to her if I'd seen it.

I think Denzel Washington is way better looking than Bolt though, who I don't think of as particularly good looking. The younger Washington was very handsome, as well as having a lot of on screen charisma.

Not sure about the white ones...some of those swimmers on the other article were good looking and looked like jocks... but I think Di Caprio when younger was incredibly good looking.

Makes me wonder how much opinions on looks differ. Ours certainly do.

John Craig said...

Steven --
No question, tastes differ. Dibaba is not exactly my type either, but beautiful enough that I'd be tempted. I never saw Denzel Washington as good-looking. Good actor, though.

Steven said...

I like Bolt too btw. He's cool. I'm looking forward to the 200m final. Michael Johnson commentates for British tv (seems like a pretty intelligent guy) and he just said Bolt is quite shy in any one on one situation. Also people found him flashy at first then realised this was authentically who he is.

John Craig said...

Steven --
Looking forward to it this evening, it goes off in less than two hours now. What I enjoy more than the ruling is actually his celebrations afterward. I think he's totally genuine too.

I've never understood, however, how some people can play to crowds and yet be shy one on one. Myself, I'm basically never shy one on one, but I'd wilt in front of a crowd.

Steven said...

I always found it interesting how De Niro could be so painfully shy in interviews and then act so uninhibited on camera.

A lot of people get desperately shy when they have to talk in front of a crowd. In uni we had to make a presentation in front of the whole class and most people were very nervous, nail biting, trips to the toilet nervous.

You feel fine talking in front of a small group but when there is a collection of individuals, the shyness somehow gets multiplied by the number of people present. Still, that makes more sense than the opposite: being super extroverted in front of a stadium and half the world and shy one to one.

Its a shame Gatlin never complacent or something didn't he?

John Craig said...

Steven --
Gatling never qualified? For what? The finals of the 200? He won't be missed there.

Steven said...

I saw him in one of the heats. He seemed to be taking it easy and won so I assumed he was one of the best. I also heard he came 3rd cos he took it for granted and didn't run his fastest. No? I'm just watching the 200 to see if Bolt wins and for the spectacle. Not very knowledgeable.

I'm looking forward to ufc 202 most of all this weekend, and the soccer. Love to see Mo Farah too.

Steven said...

Bolt is just something else, isn't he?

John Craig said...

Steven --
Yes, though that was the most muted celebration I've ever seen after a race of him. He was obviously tying up in the second half of the race and was disappointed in his time; he had been talking about going for the WR beforehand.