Sunday, August 24, 2008

Kenya's First Marathon Gold

Did you watch the Olympic men's marathon last night? What a race! I was 1/3 correct in my predictions -- I had said Kenyans would take 1st and 2nd and Hall would take 3rd. Kenya's Samuel Kamau Wanjiru took the gold in style, beating the previous Olympic record by a whopping 3 minutes.

Hall's 10th place finish was surprising and perplexing at first. But, on reflection, it's not that the Americans ran poorly -- Wanjiru and Kabede ran incredibly well. Given the weather (75-85° and 50%+ humidity), it seemed that nobody except the lead group expected a 2:06 finish. The commentators even said that Hall and his coach were shooting for a 2:09 and that the normal Olympic marathon was closer to 2:12.

One of the reasons that led me to think Hall would finish no higher than 3rd is his age and experience. I thought he needed a few more years and a few more marathons to hit his peak. Well, Wanjiru and Kebede blew that theory out of the water. Both are 21 years old and Wanjiru, at least, had only run 2 previous marathons.

Interesting Olympics with some no-brainer winners faltering -- Bernard Lagat, men's and women's 4X100 relay teams, Tyson Gay; some 'old guys' doing really well -- Dara Torres and Constantina Tomescu; Kenya, despite its dominance in distance running, taking its first ever gold in the marathon; and, of course, Michael Phelps' 8 golds, 7 world records (more impressive, I think, than even the 8 golds), and 1 Olympic record.

It sets up an interesting Olympics in 2012 in London. Speaking of 2012, if you're not a fan of NPR and/or didn't listen to All Things Considered on Friday, you missed a classic example of British self-deprecating humour (the spelling is a recognition of British spelling, not a typo). Go to this link, Imagining The 2012 London Games, and click on Listen Now for a light-hearted look ahead.

Run well, y'all,
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