Gary Reed – Thumbs Up. Bruce Allen & Spanish Basketball, not so much
Did anyone catch Gary Reed’s noble come -from-behind surge that still fell a hairsbreadth short of bronze in the men’s 800 metres? As a writer-geek, with no pedigree of Olympic sport-watching, I was again enticed to see this high drama event, not just because of my husband’s obsession with track, but because of the inspiring story of Gary Reed.
Born in Corpus Christie, Texas, he roamed around BC, grew up in Kamloops and Vernon and now hails from Victoria. Gary’s personal story, like so many of our Canadian Olympic athletes, is one of overcoming the odds – he’s not had much contact with his Dad and credits his single mother for not only his upbringing but his drive to succeed. A “mixed-race” kid, growing up “dirt poor,” Reed’s confidence and grit just makes me want to ditch all my cynicism about creeping corporatism in the Olympic movement.
After his loss in the 800 metres, on-line reader comments were uniformly positive and interestingly, written as if Gary would be reading each one: That was an amazing race on your behalf, Gary. I know 4th place can seem hard to accept but less than 3/10ths from gold is right there”/”you are in inspiration and a role model”/”All Canadians are so proud of your hard work/”…
I’m guessing die-hard O watchers will know lots about the pain and fierce competition involved in track events at this level; and the 800 metres is legendary. Reed arranged for his mother and sister to be trackside for his race – he paid for their tickets, flights and hotel. And when he lost, he said, “I left it all on the track. No regrets.” You are a class act, Gary Reed.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, my “counterpart” (irony!) in diversity matters, Bruce Allen was at it again. Making excuses for the actions of the Spanish Olympic basketball team(s) – the story broke when veteran Guardian sports stringer, Sid Lowe, ran a short piece describing the pose for a pre-Games advertisement: there was Spain’s finest, hands up to their temples, some kind of index-finger “pulling at slanty eyes” thing going on.
The ensuing media storm garnered wide-spread attention in the U.S. and out in the blog-o-sphere debates raged about “affectionate gesture” v. “ethnocentric tastelessness” (my call). Then, wham, a “backlash” from some of the Spanish media, accusing Lowe and the “Anglo-Saxon” press of trying to “dirty Spain’s name.” Any of our readers follow this story closely? Please write in…
Oh. Yeah. About B.Allen: I’ve listened to his mini-rant several times (you have to join his radio station’s “club” in order to access the audio vault/8/20/08); as usual, I couldn’t quite follow his reasoning, but he seemed to suggest that “north American media” whine too much & are too wussy. In the wake of the predictable apology from the Spanish Olympic Team, Allen ended with a kick at “P.C.breath” and a sigh of “no harm, no foul.” Well. What do you think?