Jeff Benjamin with Tom FitzSimons and friends! Photo by Josh Gulotta
If you have read American Athletics, American Track & Field , or RunBlogRun for the last thirty years, you have read Jeff Benjamin’s tomes. Jeff is both fan and journalist. He wears his love for athletics and Staten Island on his shirt sleeve and we love him for it. Here is his first column from Rio!
One Never Knows Who You’ll See or Meet!
After a long and tortuous journey, my friends and I were finally able to enter the Olympic Stadium. It’s design was put together to insure that fans could see the spectacle before them from good vantage points, which Rio did succeed in doing. While up in the 3rd block high up, the spectators saw the performances tonight of Aries Merritt, Kirani James, Tori Bowie, and a host of others in their qualifying events. Adding to the atmosphere was the constant cheering and encouragement by fans, not only for their own countrymen but also for others whose efforts went above and beyond.
Following this theme and making the biggest splash of the night was the Women’s Shot Put Duel between New Zealander Valerie Adams and American Michelle Carter. In an upset decided on her last throw, Carter, who set an American Record of 67′ 8 1/4″, defeated Adams to the growing cheers of the fans, who applauded both Carter and Adams for their efforts, and presented the idea that in this competition there were no losers, but there must be a winner. Adding to the accomplishment was the fact that her father Michael, had won a Silver Medal in the 1984 LA Olympics!
Speaking of no losers but winners, this fan and his friends came across Tom FitzSimons on the way out of the stadium. FitzSimons , who competed at Mount St Mary’s, would go on to net a Bronze in the grueling event at the 2014 USATF Outdoor Championships, now competes for the Santa Monica Track Club. A disappointing trials (14th) last month has not deterred him, as he said that, ,”I hope to do well next year.”
This past year was not all bad for FitzSimons , though. Creating a unique fundraiser for charity, FitzSimons set a World Record for the most high fives completed over 60 seconds. In his quest conducted earlier this year and starting with a crowd gathered around the full outdoor track in lane 5,385 high fives were given to FitzSimons, a mark that set a new Guinness World Record mark for the most high fives achieved in 60 seconds. “I did that for charity,” he said. “and I hope to try and give it a go again next year too.”