So how do you follow up that?
Perhaps the most amazing thing about Great Britain’s golden night at the Olympic Stadium was that it has rendered almost anti-climactic Sunday’s men’s 100-metre semi-finals and gold medal race.
There is drama, to be sure: Usain Bolt’s stumble out of the blocks in his qualifying race has only led to intensified speculation that he is not the same runner he was when he dominated the 2008 Beijing Olympics. But one never knows with Bolt.
Justyn Warner, the Canadian who will run in a semi-final heat on Sunday, believes Bolt has spent the past two years sand-bagging, setting up the sport and his opponents only to crush them at the Games. Bolt certainly understands the value of a narrative, so nobody should put it past him.
But truthfully, whatever Bolt does will likely pale in comparison to the scene Saturday night when a Somali immigrant, Mo Farah, had the entire Olympic Stadium on its feet cheering for 10,000 metres.
It was a remarkable race, and at times the entire stadium shook. It is frowned upon in North America for reporters to cheer in pressboxes, but the press tribune at Olympic Stadium was no place for decorum on Saturday. Several Brit reporters cheered and applauded throughout the evening.
Farah’s victory was particularly telling because he is a Somali immigrant, albeit one raised in London, and race is an issue that is never far below the surface in England during harsh economic times. It will be galling, no doubt, to the small-minded to see a team that represents Dear Old Blighty send so many people of colour to the medals podium, but in truth it is right and proper that this face be presented to the world.
As for Farah? There isn’t a father who has ever been welcomed home by the embrace of their daughter who didn’t well up when his daughter Rihannah escaped from the clutches of her mother and security personnel and scooted over to hug her dad as he jogged around the track, the Union Jack wrapped around his shoulders.
That is the image I will take away from these games: father and daughter in a hug, with the daughter then skipping – yes, skipping – down the track before breaking into a run towards an older steward who gently touched her shoulder and held her up for her mother. Mo Farah stole our hearts Saturday night – he also stole the Olympics from Usain Bolt.
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