This is potentially one of the only sport posts I will ever do. For me art>sport. Actually if we are doing maths, catching the northern line>sport. But last nights 100 meter men’s Olympic final quickly crossed from sport to a stunning piece of performance art.
Prior to the sub ten second race, there was 3 minutes of posturing by the contenders. We had Bolt pretending to DJ before holstering his guns, Justin Gatlin saluting and Yohan Blake putting his paws up like a Little Monster. I assume that this little show by massive men is an attempt to show how confident they are in their prowess, while also trying to put off their opponents (+ trying to get higher paid sponsorship deals by being a ‘personality’). But to me, it brings back what is missing from the top sporting events, a big spoonful of fun.
I would take a pre-race pantomime over a death stare any day. It means that the watcher starts the race with laughter and joy before the tension sets in. And when the race ends the competitors are more likely to hug and smile than throw a tantrum like a three year old. The little show reminds us that sport is gift, a pleasure and something to be enjoyed. It’s an area that gives people from all backgrounds an equal playing-field and a place to shine.
For all that Bolt ran the fastest, the best pre-race performance had to be American Ryan Bailey in the semi-finals. After all the other lanes carried out the standard big eyes and cocky japes, the world focused on Bailey He stopped still, looked straight into the camera and blew a kiss. And with that simple kiss, every girl in the room let out a sigh. He may have been beaten by Bolt, but he is a sure contender for the Turner Prize. Any artist that gets that sort of reaction will surely win.