World’s fastest showman

Everyone admires a humble star, an athlete who wins with genuine humility.

And some people also like Usain Bolt, the record-breaking sprinter from Jamaica.

“Lightning” Bolt has won the 100- and 200-meter dashes at the Olympics, both in world-record times, the first man to accomplish that feat with his feet.

Bolt’s hot-dogging style comes with plenty of mustard. He’s a character and a showman — or the opposite of Eli Manning — and it does make things more interesting.

“I just blew my mind and blew the world’s mind,” Bolt said after winning the 200.

Something really mind-blowing would be Bolt leading the Jamaican bobsled team to a gold medal.

Christine Brennan of USA Today hopes Bolt’s achievements are authentic:

“Track and field has an instant legend. The beleaguered sport hasn’t had this much fun in years. Bolt better not fail his drug tests, or the sport might just crumble from the shock and embarrassment,” Brennan wrote.

“The sport has been on a downward spiral in credibility and interest since Ben Johnson was stripped of his gold medal and thrown out of the 1988 Seoul Olympics for a positive drug test. What Johnson started, Marion Jones finished when she lied for years about her use of performance-enhancing drugs. If you can’t trust a foot race at the Olympics, what can you trust?”

You can trust that China’s pingpong stars are not jacked up on steroids … maybe.

SINGING SPRINTER — Bolt’s big showing in Beijing brings back memories of sprinting stars Jesse Owens, Carl Lewis and Michael Johnson.

Lewis never will be forgotten, especially for his comical rendition of the national anthem before a Chicago Bulls-New Jersey Nets game in 1993. He forgot the words, his voice squeaked, and he stopped and said, “Uh oh, I’ll make up for it now.”

DISGRACED ‘ATHLETE’ — When he visited the Olympic venue for table tennis, Gannett News Service columnist Mike Lopresti decided to test his skills against an elderly volunteer.

He discovered he had no skills.

Lopresti: “The six pingpong tables are full. I challenge a woman retiree. ‘She’s not very well,’ the translator says, ‘but she will try.’ We warm up. I say something about playing to 7. She motions her hands. Bring it on.

“The game starts. I stink. Three old guys watching are laughing. It ends bloody. 7-0. It brings to mind the famous Olympics question once asked by an Asian television station of a losing athlete: ‘You are a national disgrace. Please comment.’ “

NO MING DYNASTY — Yao Ming, a center for the Houston Rockets in his spare time, is arguably China’s biggest star athlete. But the Chinese basketball team was a bust at the Olympics.

“I think that we have finished our journey for the Olympics this time. I feel very regrettable for the result,” Yao said after scoring 19 points in a 94-68 quarterfinal loss to Lithuania.

Yao plays for the Rockets, so he’s used to getting eliminated early.


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