LBS- Usain Bolt won his 200m semifinal at the Rio Olympics on Wednesday, doing so by a thin margin. Bolt posted a time of 19.78 to finish first, while Andre De Grasse was second at 19.80.
The time was the fastest of De Grasse’s career. Perhaps this was orchestrated purposefully by Bolt, who slowed down and smiled at De Grasse as if to encourage his competitor...
Without being too in tune with the interpersonal relationships of international track stars nor having the willingness to look into it, I think I can definitely say that Usain Bolt and Andre DeGrasse have a close personal bond based on respect. That much is evident by the shit eating grins on their faces as they crossed the finish line - nearly simultaneously - during an Olympic event in which the were competing against each other. Still, if you willfully ignore the fact that the winner is one of the most likable people in sports then his decision to tease his opponent mid-race by turning it "on" and "off" at his leisure before wagging his finger in the face of the defeated is kind of a dick move, right?
That's not to say that I think Usain Bolt deserves more criticism for his obvious acts of showmanship, but it is to say that his personality is the sole reason he's able to avoid that criticism. I watch sports for the entertainment value so I would have been fine with anyone adding a little theatre to competitive running. However, if we have learned anything over the last week and a half it's that people look for reasons to get worked up during international competitions that they don't know all that much about. You've got Gabby Douglas getting crucified for failing to put her hand over her heart despite the fact that she traveled to a foreign country and succeeded while representing the nation whose anthem she didn't acknowledge "enough" for some overly "Patriotic" (Also see: Sensitive) viewers. You've got more people rewriting the rule book for a race they watch once every four years because they don't agree with the completely legal way in which the non-American winner won. People will stop at nothing to feel outraged by some of the best athletes in the world, yet Usain Bolt is at the forefront of the Olympics and his outright cockiness is being wholeheartedly embraced. I wouldn't have it any other way because I love the guy too, but let's call a spade a spade here - if anyone else was cheesin' during Olympic events and giving less than a full effort at all times it would have Twitter at DEFCON 3.