Thursday, August 9, 2012
Blacks, whites and the Olympics
Black men have dominated the sprints again. All the finalists in the 100m were black, as they have been at every Olympic final for more than a quarter of a century. The past 25 holders of the world record for the 100m have been black and data compiled in 2007 revealed that 494 of the 500 best-ever 100m times were recorded by black athletes. The 200m will doubtless be won by a black man, too. Usain Bolt is the hot favourite and Yohan Blake, his countryman from Jamaica, could take silver, as he did in the 100m. Christophe Lemaitre, of France, who qualified for the final with a time of 20.03, is, perhaps, the only white man in with a possibility of making the top five. And even that is a long shot. The preponderance of blacks in the sprints led to a curious exchange on the BBC on the night of the 100m final. Allan Wells was asked to describe his emotions when he won the Olympic 100m final in Moscow in 1980. The Scot started a sentence, reconsidered, started once more, and then paused again. If he had been as indecisive on the start line, he would not have made the final. Eventually he said: "Well, that was the last time a white man was in the Olympic final. And I managed to win it as well."