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Usain Bolt provided the biggest thrills from Beijing. But he wasn’t given the sustained attention Michael Phelps got, and his legacy won’t last as long as Mark Spitz’s.
That’s only because dominant runners can’t pad their medal counts in the sort of filler events available to swimmers.
There are 13 swimming events for males going 200 meters or less. There are three such sprints in track, including one relay.
Seven of Phelps’ eight medals came in events where he traveled either 100 or 200 meters. All of Spitz’s 1972 golds came at those same distances.
Everybody in the world runs and only a few rich kids have ever swum the breaststroke or butterfly. So this disparity makes no sense.
But this is an easy fix: Add some silly new track events. Just throw in some flourishes to sprinting, like running while pounding your chest or running while pretending to fly. Bolt has already displayed prowess in these styles, and shown them to be thrilling.
So then the track event now known as the 100- and 200-meter dash could be called the 100- and 200-meter freestyle.
Coming up with names for the new running events won’t be tough, either. Imagine the water cooler talk when these races get certified.
“Damn, did you see Bolt win the 200 Showboat last night?” and “Man! No way anybody’s gonna touch Bolt tomorrow in the 100-meter Birdman!”
Would the showboat or the birdman events be any sillier than the breaststroke or butterfly? Nope.
Then let Bolt cherry pick from the foolish number of relays and medley events available to swimmers, and he goes home with more necklaces than Mr. T. And more than Phelps.
Where’s the justice?