Flashback: Usain Bolt at the Athens 2004 Olympics (video)

2 Comments

Usain Bolt‘s sights are set on a “triple-triple” at the Rio 2016 Olympics. The Jamaican, already the first athlete to sweep the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay at consecutive Olympics, will try to do so for a third straight time next year.

But, no matter what Bolt does in Brazil, he will leave with a blemish on his Olympic résumé. It’s been there since 2004, when Bolt debuted at the Olympics in Athens.

Bolt, then 17 years old, made the Jamaican Olympic team for one race in the Greek capital — the 200m. He came to the Games with the second fastest time in the world in the event in 2004.

Sports Illustrated predicted Bolt would win a bronze medal behind world leader Shawn Crawford (who famously raced a giraffe and a zebra on primetime TV) and Greek 2000 Olympic champion Konstantinos Kenteris (who infamously missed a drug test the day before he was favored to the light the Olympic cauldron at the Opening Ceremony and withdrew from the Games days before the 200m race).

“It would be nice to be Olympic 200 meters champion at my age, but I don’t want to harp too much on that,” Bolt said in April 2004, according to Agence France-Presse.

But while Bolt carried enormous potential, he also was weighed down by a left hamstring injury (related to back problems and followed by an Achilles tendon issue, Bolt said in one of his books) that kept him out of the World Junior Championships one month before the Olympics and reportedly sidelined him for nearly three months that year.

“I am not where I was when I ran the world junior record,” Bolt said in Athens, according to AFP, referencing his 19.93 clocking April 11, 2004. “The good thing is, I am able to compete.”

Bolt was right on. He competed, but he wasn’t his best.

“It was too early for me, too soon in my development, and I wasn’t going to win based on how unprepared I was,” Bolt said in his book, “The Fastest Man Alive: The True Story of Usain Bolt.” “My preference had been to do the World Juniors [in July 2004]. … The Olympics [in August] should have been an occasion to look forward to. It is a significant moment in any athlete’s career, but given my poor condition I couldn’t think about enjoying it.”

He finished fifth in his first-round heat in 21.05 but needed to be 21.02 or better to advance to the quarterfinals.

“I knew it was a complete waste of time,” Bolt said of his heat in his book. “I didn’t have the heart for it. I could have got into the first four and reached the next round, but I wasn’t interested. I was in fifth place approaching the finish and could have got past the athlete ahead of me but didn’t bother. It didn’t make any sense. Even if I’d made it through, I was never going to be able to do anything and go further. I wanted to get out of Greece, which had been a very bad experience for me.”

If Bolt had made it to the final, his 19.93 world junior record would have won the silver medal behind Crawford’s 19.79.

Four years later, Bolt won the Beijing Olympic 200m in a then-world record 19.30. He reset the world record at the 2009 World Championships — 19.19 — and repeated as Olympic champion in London in 19.32.

Bolt’s run of dominance in the event at global championships appears to be in jeopardy heading to the World Championships in Beijing in August. American Justin Gatlin, who won Olympic 100m gold in Athens before serving a four-year doping ban, has the world’s two fastest 200m times since Bolt won the 2013 World title.

Flashback: Michael Phelps at the Sydney 2000 Olympics

Tadej Pogacar stuns Primoz Roglic, set to win Tour de France

1 Comment

Tadej Pogacar overtook countryman Primoz Roglic and is set to become the youngest Tour de France champion since 1904, the second-youngest in history and the first Slovenian champion.

Pogacar, who turns 22 on Monday, overcame a 57-second deficit to Roglic and won Saturday’s penultimate stage, a 22-mile time trial with a finishing four-mile climb. He is 59 seconds ahead of Roglic after three weeks and 84 hours of total racing.

“Actually, my dream was just to be [in] the Tour de France,” Pogacar said. “I cannot believe it, and if you ask me in one week, one month, I will still not believe it, probably.”

Pogacar won the stage by 81 seconds, greater than the margin separating second place from eighth place after 55 minutes on the roads. Roglic was fifth.

It’s reminiscent of American Greg LeMond surpassing Frenchman Laurent Fignon in the time trial finale of the 1989 Tour.

That final margin was the closest in Tour history — eight seconds. This one would be the 11th time in Tour history that the difference is less than a minute, according to ProCyclingStats.com.

“I struggled with everything, just not enough power,” Roglic said. “I was just more and more without the power that I obviously needed. I was just really giving everything till the end.”

Australian Richie Porte will join Pogacar and Roglic on the podium after moving up from fourth place going into the time trial. Colombian Miguel Angel Lopez, who came into the day in third, dropped to sixth.

It’s the first time since 2007 that everybody on the final Tour de France podium will be there for the first time.

TOUR DE FRANCE: Standings | TV, Stream Schedule | Stage By Stage

Sunday’s finale is the traditional ceremonial ride into Paris where the overall leaders don’t attack each other.

Pogacar is riding his first Tour de France and in his second season as a professional cyclist with a World Tour team.

Last September, he finished third in the Vuelta a Espana, one of three Grand Tours, which Roglic won. At the time, Pogacar became the youngest Grand Tour podium finisher since 1974.

“I knew that I can be with the best, that I can follow,” after the Vuelta, Pogacar said, “but I never thought that I would win already this year, especially in this season that was really strange.”

UAE Team Emirates initially planned to use Pogacar to support Fabio Aru, but the Slovenian’s continued emergence changed the plan.

“I’m going [to the Tour] firstly to learn,” Pogacar said in May. “But if I have a chance to show what I can do, I will.”

Pogacar was Robin to Roglic’s Batman for most of this Tour.

Roglic wore the yellow jersey as race leader the last two weeks. heading the dominant Jumbo-Visma team. Pogacar donned the white jersey for the highest-placed rider 25 and under, though he was on a weaker team.

But when they went head-to-head on climbs, Pogacar usually stuck with Roglic, sometimes riding away from him.

When it came down to the final climb on Saturday, with no team support in what they call the race of truth, Pogacar showed who was the strongest Slovenian.

“[Roglic] was really superior through the whole Tour,” Pogacar said. “He must be devastated, but that’s bike racing, I guess. Today I beat him, and that was it.”

MORE: USA Cycling names Olympic team finalists

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

2020 Tour de France standings

1 Comment

2020 Tour de France standings for the yellow jersey, green jersey, white jersey and polka-dot jersey through stage 20 of 21 …

Overall (Yellow Jersey)
1. Tadej Pogacar (SLO) — 84:26:33
2. Primoz Roglic (SLO) — +:59
3. Richie Porte (AUS) — +3:30
4. Mikel Landa (ESP) — +5:58
5. Enric Mas (ESP) — +6:07
6. Miguel Angel Lopez (COL) — +6:47
7. Tom Dumoulin (NED) — +7:48
8. Rigberto Uran (COL) — +8:02
9. Adam Yates (GBR) — +9:25
10. Damiano Caruso (ITA) — +14:03
13. Richard Carapaz (ECU) — +24:44
15. Sepp Kuss (USA) — +42:20
17. Nairo Quintana (COL) — +1:02:46
29. Thibaut Pinot (FRA) — +1:59:33
36. Julian Alaphilippe (FRA) — +2:17:41
DNF. Egan Bernal (COL)

Sprinters (Green Jersey)
1. Sam Bennett (IRL) — 319 points
2. Peter Sagan (SVK) — 264
3. Matteo Trentin (ITA) — 250
4. Bryan Coquard (FRA) — 173
5. Caleb Ewan (AUS) — 158

Climbers (Polka-Dot Jersey)
1. Tadej Pogacar (SLO) — 82 points
2. Richard Carapaz (ECU) — 74
3. Primoz Roglic (SLO) — 67
4. Marc Hirschi (SUI) — 62
5. Miguel Angel Lopez (COL) — 51

Young Rider (White Jersey)
1. Tadej Pogacar (SLO) — 84:26:33
2. Enric Mas (ESP) — +6:07
3. Valentin Madouas (FRA) — +1:42:22
4. Dani Martinez (COL) — +1:54:51
5. Lennard Kamna (GER) — +2:14:33

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

TOUR DE FRANCE: TV, Stream Schedule | Stage By Stage | Favorites, Predictions