Greatest athlete in the world? Not Michael Phelps. Actually, Phelps may merit that honor, but the TITLE of “Greatest Athlete in the World” once was reserved, with darn good reason, to the winner of the Olympic Decathlon. To do all ten events in two days, covering everything from sprints to distance runs, jumps to throwing events, and to do them all well, is surely the best test ever devised of all-around athletic prowess. It is beyond me why there hasn’t been a HUGE focus during this entire second week of the Games on the Decathlon; it is, after all, the last big event for a reason, because it is thought to be the culmination, the piece de resistance, of the entire fortnight-plus.
There was a time, too, when any American who won the Decathlon (and it usually was an American) was famous for life. Bob Mathias went on to be a congressmen. Rafer Johnson was famous for decades and was with RFK when he died. Bruce Jenner was on every Wheaties box, it seemed, for the entire 1970s. So why aren’t people paying more attention now?
For the record, American Bryan Clay won the Olympic Decathlon earlier today, after Americans fell short in 2000 and 2004. Many congratulations to him. Many!!!!!
Now, another Olympic note: Again and again I see people debate about what is the best way to report the national “medal counts,” with some people saying the total medals are what’s important (US well ahead) and others saying the gold medal lead is most important (China well ahead). To me, there’s an easy way to score it: one point for bronze, two points for silver, three for gold. By that standard, as I write, the US and China are in an exact tie with 200Â points each, with only a fwe Olympic events remaining. The US has 31 golds for 93 points, 36 silvers for 72 points, and 35 bronzes. 200 total. China has 47 golds for 141 points, 17 silver for 34 points, and 25 bronzes. Do the math: 200 total. Looked at that way, there is LOTS of drama, for those of us patriots who the Left would call jingoistic, in these last few events. Go USA!