Any sport has its share of triumphs, defeats and more importantly hilarious, shocking or head scratching behavior. Track and field is no different.
This week has seen Greek triple jump champion Voula Papachristou tweet blatantly racist comments concerning African immigrants to Europe and subsequently left off the team. For a country struggling with financial and social instability, the bad coverage of the action weighs heavily on the torn state.
However one chooses to take her comments or whether she deserves to be able to compete, this is a link in a long chain of gaffes and nutty behavior that has plagued track and field. Here I will list five of my favorites of the past.
5. Lightening strikes twice for Usain Bolt
This June, Usain Bolt, the undisputed fastest man in history, destroyed his pricey BMW while driving home at the break of dawn after a night of festivities. The official report said no alcohol or any intoxication played a role. Bolt was left happily uninjured. We though also have to remember his 2009 eerily similar crashing of a BMW after a late night. Take it easy on the cars, Usain, for your own sake.
4. Maurice Greene put out the fire
As California track fans, we mourn the Home Depot Invitational no longer being held, but it gave viewers a wonderful chance to see Maurice Greene prove why he was a showman and a competitor. In 2004 after running a quick 9.86 seconds (yes, that was once fast) Greene grabbed a fire extinguisher, threw off his shoes and doused the spikes in the cool foam. Over the top, but highly entertaining. The sport could use this type of showmanship more often. See the G.O.A.T.’s shoes set on fire here.
3. Shawn Crawford the zoo keeper
Before he was an Olympic champion, Shawn Crawford was humanity’s Man vs. Beast representative. In 2003 Fox televised a competition of various human athletes against their animal counterparts. For the foot race, Crawford was paired against a giraffe and a zebra. Winning the first matchup against his long-necked rival but then losing twice to the zebra, he proved mankind has a chance to claim king of the wild. Watch video of the exhilarating races here.
2. L.A. Marathon: What is the white guy doing?
At the 2008 L.A. Marathon a Ukrainian runner with a 64 minute half marathon PR took the lead in a mid race move at which prompted a question by commentator Toni Reavis as to why a white runner would be leading. For that matter he questioned whether the African contingent took it serious. The ensuing silence spoke loud and gave viewers a chuckle. Video of the uncomfortable moment here.
1. Carl Lewis makes Francis Scott Key cry
Olympic dominance, world records and a clean record. Very difficult to come by in the modern era of sports, but Carl Lewis and his four straight gold medals in the long jump will likely never be matched. His speed on the track allowed to him to be the world record owner for years against unfair competition. However his singing could not be as sparkling as he struggled through the national anthem and became a pariah for his vocals after a performance prior to a NBA game. If you have not seen it please visit YouTube to survive this rare and uncomfortable event. Watch the epic fail here.