Decathlon as standardized test
Legend has it that King Gustav V of Sweden told Jim Thorpe, when awarding him the decathlon gold medal 100 years ago, "You, sir, are the greatest athlete in the world." Ever since, the Olympic champion has earned that unofficial distinction. Yet the debate at these Games over who is the best athlete in the world, who is the greatest Olympian ever, has gone on with only rare mentions of the decathletes. American Ashton Eaton won this year's gold, but he had the misfortune Thursday of finishing the decathlon's final event, the 1,500 meters, not long after Usain Bolt upped the debate ante with his win in the 200. A day later, Eaton related what he was once told by 1976 decathlon gold medalist Bruce Jenner (better known to some of you as Mr. Kardashian): "Bruce said that the SAT is the standardized test for academics to go to a university, and the decathlon is really the only standardized test to determine who is the best all-around athlete. You have the running. You have the jumping. You have the throws. If you look at all the events and what they encompass, I'd say it's a pretty good standardized test."
A day in the life of Usain Bolt:
• Win 200 meters at Olympics. Include in-track celebration taking camera from trackside media photographer — Jimmy Wixtröm of Aftonbladet, Scandinavia's largest newspaper — and snap a couple pictures (see the photos at aftonbladet.se/sportbladet/os2012/article15239832.ab).
• Rip Carl Lewis, the only other two-time 100 gold medalist, at postrace news conference: "I'm going to say something controversial right now. Carl Lewis, I have no respect for him. The things he says about the track athletes is really downgrading for another athlete to say something like that. I think he's just looking for attention, really, because nobody really talks much about him." (Lewis has raised questions in recent years about Jamaican drug-testing procedures.)
• Have ESPN float the question of whether he slows at the end of races sometimes so he can spread out winning bonus money sponsors offer for breaking records. Bolt said he was going for a record in the 200 but slowed at the end when he felt back pain. Said his agent, Ricky Simms: "You can't just decide when and where you are going to break (a record)."
Readers ask us
With the recent news about tax payment for Olympic prize money, I was curious. When did the offering of prize money by the U.S. Olympic Committee for medals begin and why?
In the 1980s, the Olympic movement began changing its stance that athletes had to be amateurs to compete when it could no longer turn a blind eye to countries such as the Soviet Union and East Germany giving their athletes government and other funding to the point the athletes essentially were professionals. In 1988 the U.S. Olympic Committee began paying $2,000 to any athlete who finished in the top eight at an Olympics, world championships or other major event as a performance incentive and to help defray the athletes' expenses. At the 1994 Winter Olympics, it began giving bonus money to medal winners.
You said it
Last Sunday, NBC decided that we Americans would rather enjoy watching the equestrian event in London while the rest of the world watched the live broadcast of the men's 100-meter final. They thought we would prefer a repackaged version of the Olympics during prime time later that evening over the experience of live coverage. I'm sure their ratings are way up! Unfortunately, I fear they will pay a dear price for their arrogance and predict their ratings will drop to an all-time low as soon as the Games are over. For those who dislike big government telling you what to do, how do you like a big corporation telling you what to enjoy and when to enjoy it? I will no longer watch NBC and invite you to do the same.
Julian Atchia, Tarpon Springs
Compiled by Times staff writer Sharon Fink, from the Associated Press, NBC, USA Today
Drink it in
Some nightspots in London that hoped to do big business during the Olympics haven't, but the Chinawhite nightclub, long a favorite of partying British royalty, has drawn athletes in droves by offering gold medalists a free Golden Cocktail: a concoction of champagne, cognac and real gold flakes that would cost the rest of us $3,150.
Get the lightning to sign hope solo
Great news for national unity and women's soccer, not so much for the NHL and its rocky relationship with TV deals: The gold-medal game between the United States and Japan on Thursday afternoon was seen by 4.35 million people on the NBC Sports Network, making the game the most-watched event in the history of the network formerly known as Versus. That history includes a few years of NHL playoffs and Stanley Cup finals, including this year's.