Free run

The World Athletics Championship is currently underway in Moscow. The headline news so far has been: 1) The name Bolt is the world fastest in the 100m pun 2) Most of the medal-winning performances have been turned in by athletes not wearing any undergarment.

Okay, Okay. There has been some impressive show too from athletes wearing undergarments. The thing to note is they were wearing only that.

Seriously, some of the women participants were just in what seemed to be two-piece bikini, something which that they still don’t do even in swimming competitions. At the risk of sounding a bit gross, the World Athletics Championships seems to be an event where someone like ‘Silk’ Smitha would decidedly feel over-dressed.

On a couple of occasions during the telecasts, most of which I was watching along with my daughter, when they zoomed in on the close-up of the athletes, I was forced, out of incipient embarrassment, to switch channels and catch something more respectable like Indian Idol Junior hosted by Mandira Bedi, who was once part of cricket shows based on her deep insight and keen knowledge in wearing spaghetti strap tops.

I understand robust physical activity requires convenient dress. Indeed, as the wise old men used to say, you cannot turn up in a battlefield in Yves Saint Laurent dress, unless otherwise you are Yves Saint Laurent. But the point is it is discomfiting to see top-notch athletes in revealing attire revealing much of their body structure, the kind of which you are never going to attain even if you were to benchpress 23 hours a day.

On to some actual accomplishments, the peerless Jamaican Usain Bolt has been the headline-grabber based on the undeniable fact some of other names aren’t exactly built for headlines. For instance, there is this 3000m steeplechase runner Benabbad Mahiedine Mekhissi, and even if he were to cover the distance in, say, 7 minutes flat, the world media is not going to go gaga over it, simply because after writing in the name Benabbad Mahiedine Mekhissi headlines simply wouldn’t have any space let to fit in any other word.

Benabbad Mahiedine Mekhissi himself is not helping matters either. The wikepedia entry for his name, helpfully suggests: “Mekhissi Benabbad is best known for his bad temper and violent behaviour after events”. Which is not exactly surprising. I mean if I had a name like his, I would be violent enough to use chainsaw on others. But it is also quite possible that Benabbad Mahieine Mekhissi is naturally nasty. He is French.

Getting back to Usain Bolt, he is the undoubted superstar, endowed as he is with that one talent that is common to all great sporting heroes: Posing for pretty pictures. As far as actual performance on the track goes, it is quite conceivable that he is immensely talented. But we can’t say for sure. Less than 10 seconds is too difficult to come to any actual conclusion on any person.

Bolt’s unimaginable success has been so iridescently inspiring that it has spawned a generation of talented runners from Jamaica, all of whom carry in their eyes that hunger, that thirst and that desire to emulate his feats at partying after the events. No, seriously many of them are indeed talented and have it in them to go very far, provided they choose to run the marathon. If they choose the sprints, they will be merely running around in circles.

In general, this athletics championships happening in Moscow with all the nations participating without any rancour is a happy augury for the world. The last time such a big event was held at Moscow, the 1980 Olympics, the Cold War at its peak and the US and its allies boycotted the event because it (the US) kind of figured it out that the best way to humiliate its archenemy is by not letting its own athletes and sportspersons win laurels in international sporting contests.

Of course, the (then) USSR, was no better. When the next Olympic Games were held in Los Angeles (1984), it did not send its sportspersons to the event, thereby robbing the Games the excitement of seeing the Eastern Bloc athletes showcasing their prowess, winning medals and getting caught in a drug test. If you believed some of the stories from the then East Germany, it had a drug regime in which athletes were administered banned artificial stimulants through socially guaranteed PDS.

Talking of drug scandals, before this World Championships, American sprinter Tyson Gay had to pull out due to a failed steroid test. Just as well for Gay, because homosexuality is an offence in Russia and English is not its strongest suite.

Luckily, there has been no major drug scandal so far in the events per se. Athletes getting caught with their pants down in drug scandals are not exactly new. But mind you, most of them here at this event don’t seem have to anything under their pants.

And nude pictures, by the way, would be a Hussain bolt.