The past two weeks have been quite exciting for this track & field buff. I had fun watching the future of athletic strut their stuff at the 2010 Moncton World Junior Championships. A week later, the Barcelona European Athletics Championships took place. And boy, did I have my fill of high caliber track & field action.
Despite the absence of marquee names such as Usain Bolt, Tyson Gay and the African distance specialists, the quality of the competition was superb since the cream of the crop of events like the heptathlon, the throws and the jumps originate from this storied continent. Europe, after all, is the hotbed of track & field.
Even though I’m thousands of kilometers away and every inch an Asian, I became so engrossed at the Euro Championships that I devoured every single video clip and news article that piqued my interest. Thanks to broadband internet, it seemed as if I was actually amidst the crowd, savoring the championship festivities.
Experience a panoramic view of the Barcelona Olympic Stadium
What I liked best about the 2010 Euro Champs are the underdog victories and last-ditch bursts of speed to the tape.
The Monstrous, Finishing Kicks (or last ditch leaps)
3.) 4x100m (M): Martial Mbandjock’s anchor leg:
2.) Long Jump (M): Christian Reif rewriting Robert Emmiyan’s championship record with his final jump:
1.) 200m (M): Christophe Lemaitre erasing Christian Malcolm’s lead:
7.) 1500m run (W): Nuria Fernandez’s first major championship crown:
The 33-year old overcame fast-starting world leader Anna Alminova in a free-for-all dash to the tape.
6.) 4x400m (M): Russia wins first-ever 4x400m relay medal since 2002 – a gold at that!
5.) 200m dash (W): Myriam Soumare’s golden half-lap:
The French sprinter had the slowest PB among all finalists, but still managed to shave off a significant chunk of her previous best to win the gold:
4.) Decathlon: Romain Barras‘ Decathlon victory!
Barras hung-on to a 5-point lead coming into the 1500m run – and his first major crown.
3.) 4x100m (W): Ukraine grabs relay gold:
Ukraine, with its nifty passing, wins the 400m relay crown – without a Top 10 sprinter in its lineup!
2.) 400m dash (M): Kevin Borlee does a Marc Raquil:
The “other” Borlee twin came out of nowhere all the way to first place, ahead of his more illustrious brother, Jonathan, and two Britons.
1.) 100m dash (W): Verena Sailer’s decisive dive (and Soumare’s unexpected bronze)
I’m just a sucker for underdog stories. The football movies “Rudy” and “The Replacements” are one of my favorites. There’s an infectious magic found in those unexpected victories. It doesn’t have to a gold medal. Once an athlete exceeds his/her expectations and does the improbable, the sheer joy the athlete exudes is indeed priceless.
Being an athlete myself, I know how it feels to chase something distant, to give your all for a single larger-than-life goal.
Perhaps that’s why we love sports so much. Despite its fair share of scandals, sport brings out the best in our being human. Those Herculean feats inspire and sustain, enables us to smile more often amidst the reality that is life – to dream a little bit higher.