Monday, August 25, 2008

Winning story about Olympic losers

This story could have been a mess -- three names in lead? -- but Mr. Clarey pulls it off nicely.

It is very hard not to be Go Team!ish when writing about sports. A lot of sports journalism sounds like team PR.

So, if you're sick of hearing about the amazing feats of men who compete in Speedos and women who compete in bikinis (?!), give this a read. Nut graph (graphs in this case) in bold.

From The New York Times
August 24, 2008
For Every Winner on the Podium, the Losers Are Legion

BEIJING — Apart from being first-timers in the Olympics, Petero Okotai, Erica Bartolina and Genny Pagliaro do not appear to share much.

Okotai is a swimmer from the Cook Islands who rarely swims competitively despite living in a water wonderland. Bartolina is a pole-vaulter from the United States who lost an eye as an infant. Pagliaro is a pocket-size Italian women’s weight lifter in a country much more interested in who lifts soccer trophies.

They did share one other experience in Beijing, though: Each finished last in an event. How they coped with that was as much a part of the Olympic experience here as Michael Phelps’s touching the wall first, Usain Bolt’s parting ways with his fellow sprinters and the pole-vaulter
Yelena Isinbayeva’s front-flipping with delight on the landing mat.

When the French aristocrat Baron Pierre de Coubertin restarted the Olympics in 1896, the motto he chose was “Citius, Altius, Fortius,” Latin words for “Swifter, Higher, Stronger.”
Yet there are thousands more losers than winners packed into the athletes’ village in Beijing; those who have competed in the shadows in new stadiums and high-tech pools and who quietly take their seats in the village’s cavernous competitors’ restaurant while heads turn for
Rafael Nadal and LeBron James.

But the slower, the lower and the weaker also have goals and dreams. Their achievements and disappointments may not generate camera flashes in the night and intercontinental debate, but the results and repercussions are just as indelible.

More here.

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