Beijing on TV: a view from the States, Day 3, by Jeff Benjamin


It is nice to have a track geek to ask to watch track and field media during the World Champs. I am not sure his wife minds, and I thank her for her patience, as Jeff waxes on about athletics media. Truth is, with Universal and NBC, US is getting some TV media that show offour sport.

Simpson_JennyShoeless-Beijing15.JPGJenny Simpson, 1,500m final (note one shoe missing), photo by

Beijing on TV- a view from the States day 3--by Jeff Benjamin
The 3rd day of television coverage here in the states brought about a double dose of covetrHe again from the combination of NBC and Universal. The initial show on NBC lasted 90 minutes and while it opened with the semi-final races of the 400 Hurdles, the focus was without a doubt on Bolt vs Gatlin.
As the men's 100 semis took place the NBC announcers finally did mention the drug suspensions of Gatlin. As thee races progressed NBC also rehashed the women's dramatic Heptathlon 800 finale, which was won by theory overall champion Briton Jessica Ennis Ennis Hill who dramatically passed Briane Theisen-Eaton in the final straightaway.
Then, it was on to the Mens 800 semis where David Rudisha cruised to victory in his heat while his main competitor Rudisha, Nijel Amos was out leaned and failed to move on.
Craig Masback, to his credited, admitted he underestimated Rudisha and was shocked like the rest of us over the elimination of Amos. During these heats, Tom Hammond then read a prefunctionary account of the Nick Symmonds controversy. To their credit, NBC finally came up front with all the controversial issues taking place which everyone in the track world is talking about anyway.
Interspersed with the Men's Hammer and Shotput were the heats of the 1500, with Masback warning that Jenny Simpson, although qualifying for the final, had to run better if she wanted a medal.
But the packed house in the Birds Nest was waiting to see Gatlin vs Bolt and the race more than lived up to expectations, with Bolt accelerating and then leaning past the stumbling Gatlin, winning by a hundredth of a second!
The always intense and analytical Boldon exclaimed,"long live the king," for Bolt. As for Gatlin, Boldon said,
"Gatlin picked the wrong time to run his worst race."
All credit to Lewis Johnson -who spoke with Gatlin right after the race and, despite the Silver medalist being near tears yet showing respect for Bolt, did not hold back when asking him about the past bans and how he responded to it, Gatlin said,"I don't respond to it."
Bolt was next and the greatest Sprinter of them all have credit to his coach who sat him down and told him he was thinking too much on the start. "Just relax and keep your composure, was the advice Bolt got, advice that indeed paid off.
To his credit, Bolt praised his competitor, "Gatlin is a great competitor".
True sportsmanship from a Champion.
The later broadcast on Universal was a replay
Then, On to Sun evening
The Brit crew returned although minus Steve Ovett . This session was just a melting pot day of qualifiers, and the announcers pretty much let the events particularly the field events just flow naturally with play by play but little commentary. Perhaps they were attempting to try to give the viewer the feeling of actually being in the Bird's Nest, but, except for a dramatic Women Steeplechaser falling into the water pit and an incredulous LJ Dendy fouling out of the long jump, there was not much tone of the dramatic from the announcers as the events shown also included the Women's Pole Vault and Discus . While great focus was given to Allyson Felix's qualifying 400, there was nothing gripping for the viewer here, nor were the announcers looking to display it.
That should change with the 4th day, as there are finals coming!

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