Today is Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Olympic Spirit

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We saw former University of Tennessee sprinter Justin Gatlin take the medal podium for the first time in 10 years after being hit with a four-year ban for doping.

Gatlin took bronze behind two Jamaicans, including gold medalist and World and Olympic record holder, Usain Bolt, who ran a blistering 100 meters in 9.63 seconds. Gatlin ran a 9.79 second time for the bronze.

The Olympic Games had no shortage when it came to triumph and tragedy.

American McKayla Maroney was crushed after the final contestant edged her out in the womens vault, an event where Maroney was the reigning world champion.

But a dismount on her second and final vault went awry and dumped her on her rump, taking off enough points to give the gold to Romanias Sandra Izbasa.

I didnt deserve to win gold if I landed on my butt, the stoic McKayla admitted. Im not disappointed about the silver. Im disappointed about my performance.

She was so heavily favored going in, everyone else was playing for silver.

Imagine how difficult it had to be for McKayla to give the gold away. Gymnastics is a most difficult sport to master at the Olympic level and mostly these are teen-agers who have been trained for years to perform like robots.

Then there was Canadian Rosie MacLennan, who took gold in trampoline. Make fun of the event if you wish, but these are not the flimsy trampolines you perhaps had in your back yard when growing up.

In the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, MacLennan flew to Toronto on accrued flight points. She slept on an air mattress at her brothers home.

She was a volunteer at Canada House, which served as a gathering place for Canadian Olympians.

She ran errands, waited on athletes, took pictures of the medal winners off a printer and had them framed and hung in Canada House.

Now they were waiting on her, quite a turnaround at Canada House. Now the Prime Minister wanted to talk to her on the telephone. Her Twitter account went ballistic. Yes, Justin Bieber, tweeted her. All is well in her world.

Its where countries whose leaders are often at odds, can compete and get to know one another.

When 400-meter semifinalist winner Kirani James of Grenada took off his name/number bib and exchanged it with the South African, Pistorius, color was no barrier.

My hats off to him, James told reporters in London. Just coming out here and competing.

That, my friends, is the Olympic spirit.

Sports Columnist Joe Biddle can be reached at

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