From SF Chron:
So this is how the most selfish American Olympian sounds after winning a gold medal. He rattles off a teammate's accomplishments over the last year, cites one of the teammate's split times from memory and then turns poetic about the guy.
"He's like mercury. He just rises,'' Shani Davis said of Joey Cheek, the silver medalist, seated to his left.
Clearly, this was an impostor. The Shani Davis we've heard so much about doesn't blow kisses to fellow Americans. He doesn't even race with them. He races against them.
He allegedly bailed out of the team pursuit, a three-person race added to the Olympics this year, and cost Chad Hedrick a shot at tying Eric Heiden's record of five speedskating gold medals in a single Olympics.
There are two problems with those allegations:
One, Davis was never formally part of the team pursuit. He says U.S. speedskating officials asked him to do the race only a week in advance, which didn't give him enough time to adjust to the idea.
Two, Davis always intended to block Hedrick's minuscule chance for five golds. He planned to win the 1,000-meter race, also on the Texan's agenda.
Davis could have skated as many as 12,800 yards extra if he had done the team event and the U.S. reached the finals. Instead, the Americans lost in the quarterfinals, and Davis, on fresh legs, won the 1,000.
In the days in between, he was called unpatriotic, selfish and worse. On his Web site, one poster applied a racial epithet to Davis, the first black man on the U.S. speedskating team. Davis had a lot of answers, most of them sensible, some of them charming. But two competitors offered a more potent defense. "He's an Olympic champion, so he's right,'' said Erben Wennemars, the Dutchman who won the bronze medal. "Shani skated fast today. That's all I'll say,'' said Hedrick, who took sixth in the 1,000, finishing 56 one-hundredths of a second behind his nemesis. In the decorum category, he trailed Davis by much, much more.
Asked whether he was happy for his teammates, Hedrick skipped right over the gold medalist. "I'm happy for Joey,'' he said.
He also said: "I came here to be part of a team,'' implicitly denigrating a teammate.
On the whole, this feud is like a divorce. Taking sides seems foolish. No one outside the speedskating world can really know how these two behave when the microphones and notepads vanish. But an athlete's conduct on the Olympic stage means something, and in that respect, Davis made the most remarkable comeback of the 2006 Winter Games.
He said he had chosen to skip the team race not simply because he wanted to protect himself for the 1,000 two days later. Because he qualified for three individual events, he said, he didn't feel right shoving aside the skaters who were chosen specifically for the pursuit. (Davis was not.) Davis went to Salt Lake City as the No. 6 short-track competitor and didn't get to race.
"I'll say this 100 times,'' he said. "... After 2002, when I went to the Olympics but didn't get to skate, I told myself that I would never, ever take someone else's opportunity to skate at an Olympic Games.''
As for Hedrick, he said: "At least he said I skated fast. That's nice.''
From my pespective, the Winter Olympics are for RICH, SPOLIED, OVER-INDULGED RICH KIDS. We have a skier who comes, goes out for night life, and doesn't even get SHOW, much less PLACE or WIN. We have a spoiled Blond who wants to show off, and fritters away First Place.
Stop and think. These games are for wealthy people and their kids. Who can afford to go to a ski slope, or an Ice Arena for practice?
Shani Davis is not rich or famous. He busted his ass to get here.
He is suffering what most acheivers do in our United States experience lately. Instead of praise and admiration, there has to be a flaw--or multiple faults.
In 2002, this occurred:
The 1000-meter short track race included highly touted Apollo Anton Ohno, Ron Biondo and Rusty Smith. Ohno had won the previous seven races of the trials, comfortably earning a trip to Salt Lake City.
â€œI knew what I had to do exactly and if it went wrong that was it. I had nothing to lose, so I had nothing to be nervous about. I just had to get it done,â€� says Davis, recalling the race.
All his efforts came down to this one moment, something he had trained hard for. When the race began, Shani took an early lead with Smith, Ohno and Biondo trailing respectively. It was a lead that would hold up.
Davis finished first, becoming the first African American speedskater to qualify for the Olympics. His victory celebration was marred, however, by allegations that the race was fixed. Oâ€™Hare, a 1998 Olympic representative, finished out of contention for Salt Lake with the loss. He left before talking to reporters but the team coach Susan Ellis articulated his disappointment at the time.
In the days following his surprising victory, Davis read accounts in newspapers about the race and allegations of a fix. The inspiring story of the first African American soon to represent his country in the sport turned ugly.
Oâ€™Hare filed a complaint with United States speedskating and the USOC claiming Ohno conspired with Rusty Smith. The complaint said the two skaters fixed the race so that Davis would win and qualify. Biondo corroborated these charges. He went even further by saying he heard Ohno saying, â€œDonâ€™t pass, donâ€™t pass,â€� a message meant for Smith not to overtake Davis. On his part, Ohno said he did not skate his normal best because he had already qualified before the last event and hoped to avoid injury.
And from the other side, you have this:
Just wondering. Why is Bryant Gumbel getting a free pass?
Here's what the host of HBO's "Real Sports'' said about the Winter Olympics last week:
"Try not to laugh when someone says these are the world's greatest athletes, despite a paucity of blacks that makes the games look like a GOP convention," Gumbel said on the program. "And try to blot out all logic when announcers and sportswriters pretend to care about the luge, the skeleton, the biathlon and all those other events they don't understand and totally ignore for all but three weeks every four years. Face it: These Olympics are little more than a marketing plan."
I don't know Bryant and can't judge his intent. But I do know that if a Caucasian had denigrated a sport or a locale because of the lack of Caucasian athletes/spectators, he or she would have been run out of the sports business as rapidly as Rush Limbaugh was.
So why is Bryant Gumbel still sitting there?
And why haven't the same thought police who savaged Limbaugh demanded Gumbel's
I sure can not see the attraction of these sports, where only the rich get to train for these events, and anyone else who shows up gets "Dissed"