Giant on the move
Kenya’s hope for an Olympic marathon medal were dealt a blow when Robert Cheruiyot pulled out due to injury and three-times London marathon winner Martin Lel’s training was affected by flu. But Sammy Wanjiru saved the day and brought the marathon gold medal, proof that distance running is Africa’s forte.
Ethiopia, one of the poorest countries in the world, collected four gold, one silver and 2 bronze medals, showing that poverty does not have to stand in the way of great sportsmanship. Ethiopia’s Tirunesh Dibaba and Kenenisa Bekele both cruised to victory for the 10,000 and 5,000 metres, the first time the double has been achieved since the 1980 Games.
Kenya’s assistant athletics coach put it down to dealing with hardships from a young age and altitude, which helps the athletes deal with hot conditions.
Remember the Black Power salutes from the podium in Mexico 1968?
The 2008 Beijing Olympics medal ceremonies might not produce anything to match that, but there has been no shortage of drama so far.
In the full emotional spectrum, we have had:
Anger – Swedish wrestler Ara Abrahamian stormed off the podium to dump his bronze on the mat in a protest against referees.
With the exception of Zimbabwe’s swimmer Kirsty Coventry, who has collected three silvers, Algeria’s Soraya Haddad and Egypt’s Hesham Mesbah, who won judo bronze meals, and Benjamin Boukpeti, who got bronze in men’s singles kayak slalom for Togo, there have been no Africans on the podium.
There’s an interesting graphic at moreintelligentlife.com showing the medals table at the last Olympics in Athens, adjusted for each country’s population.
The Bahamas are top with Australia second and Cuba third, according to the site’s calculations. Australia were fourth in the unadjusted table, which I guess just highlights their extraordinary performances at the highest level in sport.