Thu August 9, 2012
London Olympic Games Thursday Preview
Originally published on Thu August 9, 2012 8:43 am
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And I'm Renee Montagne.
At the London Summer Olympics, it's one star-studded 200-meter race down and one to go - today. American Allyson Felix won the women's 200 last night and was part of a U.S. track and field medal-winning binge. The Americans took seven medals at Olympic Stadium, helping push the Americans past arch-medal rival China in the overall race.
Not that anyone's counting, right, Tom Goldman?
TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Oh, right, Renee. Counting medals merely fuels jingoistic tendencies, pitting nation against nation. And that's not what the Olympics are about.
(SOUNDBITE OF THROAT CLEARING)
MONTAGNE: That is, of course, Tom Goldman with us from London as he's been for the past many days of the Olympics. Let's talk about the medal Allyson Felix won - gold - a color she's been chasing for quite a while.
GOLDMAN: Eight years at least, that's right. She won Olympic silver in the 200 in 2004 and 2008. Last night she finally broke through, beating a scary, fast field of runners. You had Shelley Ann Fraser Pryce and Carmelita Jeter - the 100-meters winner and runner-up - finishing second and third behind Felix. Then you had Veronica Campbell Brown, who won the 200 each of those years Felix finished second, and Sanya Richards Ross, who won the 400 here in London. Those two finished out of the medals, so a hugely talented and fast field.
MONTAGNE: And what was the key for Felix to get to the head of that group?
GOLDMAN: You know, the seeds of this victory were planted after last year's world championships. Felix wasn't happy with her results and she went to her coach, Bob Kersee. She said she wanted to work on her explosive speed, meaning she wanted to turn to the 100-meters along with her beloved 200. And here in London she finished fifth in the hundred but she ran a personal best time. And we saw last night how she burst in front of an incredibly fast field of runners. Here's what she said after the race.
ALLYSON FELIX: I feel like going back to the hundred, it made me aggressive. Of course, work to do there, but having a PR encouraged me and I just knew that that speed would help in the 200. And I definitely think it did.
GOLDMAN: Now, Renee, remember that raging controversy at the U.S. track and field trials, when Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh ran a dead heat in the hundred? And then they scheduled a runoff, the winner of which would run the hundred in London. The loser would be out of the hundred. Of course, Tarmoh decided not to do the runoff, giving Felix the spot here.
You know, it's interesting to think about what if Tarmoh had done the runoff and won. And as a result, Felix wouldn't have won the hundred here in London. What impact would that have had on the 200? We will never know but we do know Allyson Felix is a very happy young woman today.
MONTAGNE: And there is another big 200 coming up later today, a guy named Usain Bolt, ready to proclaim himself a legend.
GOLDMAN: Yeah, well, no one ever accused sprinters of being overly humble, right? So he is the greatest sprinter ever. But even he says he needs to win today's 200-meters, successfully defending the title he won at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He says if he's able to repeat in both the hundred, which he's already done, and the 200, that will make him a legend. And he's probably right.
MONTAGNE: Finally, in track and field, American Ashton Eaton set a world record in the decathlon at the U.S. trials. He's halfway through competition in London, and how is he doing?
GOLDMAN: He's doing really well. He came into today with a 220-point lead over fellow American Trey Hardee. Yesterday's first day of competition, five of the 10 events, Eaton was spectacular at times. He broke the Olympic record in the 100-meter dash. He was first in the long jump. So today could be kind of a magical finish and he could be crowned the world's greatest athlete.
MONTAGNE: All right. NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman in London. Thanks.
GOLDMAN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.