As you might figured by now, my life is inundated by sports these days, and that is largely my focus on things. Yes, I'm aware that there is news in the world, but not only do I have to struggle to find a slot in my life for it, but I tend to avoid most news and even sports news coverage, not wanting to get any Olympics results early. The Olympics last for two weeks, so it's a full plate, but brief. So, this shall pass.
All of which is why I was surprised by what occurred on Saturday.
Despite spending most of the weekend and into the late night vegetating on the Winter Olympics, oddly enough it turned out that the most memorable sporting event I saw during the day wasn't during the Olympics at all, but rather on a broadcast just before it, which I stumbled on by chance.
And even if you don't watch sports or care much for it, this is something most anyone can appreciate. And in the end, get a smile from.
Waiting for the Olympic coverage to start on NBC Sports, I tuned in early and caught the end of the Boston Grand Prix indoor track competition, which had been run the day before. It was in the midst of the women's 3,000 K race, with Sally Kipyego running in first place and Jenny Simpson close behind in second.
I didn't know much about Jenny Simpson, but checked her out in more detail afterwards. She's a highly accomplished middle-distance runner, one of the best in the United States. She's a 2008 and 2012 Olympian, got the silver medal in the 1500 meter race at the 2013 IAAF World Championship and was silver medalist won last year's NYRR Fifth Avenue Mile, with the 4th fastest women's time at that event.
So, back to the Boston Grand Prix.
There she was in second place, when to the surprise and excitement of the announcers she began her final kick, taking over first place and racing for the finish line, crossing past it and slowing down, pulling off to the side of the track, victorious.
Except for one problem. You see, she miscounted the number of laps. She was one lap short.
Seeing Kipyego race past her, the expression of horror on her face spoke volumes, and she immediately realized her mistake. Even people who aren't trained in reading lips could easily see the words coming from her mouth -- "Oh, sh*t." And she quickly took off again around the track for one more lap.
She didn't win -- that was out of the question -- but the two had been so far ahead at the time that she was remarkably still able to finish second. And amazingly, despite slowing down to a near walk at one point, almost strolling off the track, she missed the American record by just a mere two seconds.
As you can imagine, the announcers were beside themselves as this was going on. They were shocked that a runner of Jenny Simpson's stature could make such a mistake, which explained to them why she'd started her final kick so early. And they said that had she not slowed down, she would likely have easily have set the record. It's hard to imagine that she wouldn't have -- watching the footage she loses what seems like at least three or four seconds.
I've tried to find footage of the race, but alas can't. But almost better are Jenny Simpson's post-race interviews. Most athletes might have been so pissed off they wouldn't even want to do an interview. Or be there on camera devastated. Or do the interview refusing to talk about the mistake, or trying to explain away the mistake, blaming it on conditions. But not Jenny Simpson. I saw one on interview that broadcast immediately after where she was as amazingly gracious as an athlete could be, literally laughing at herself. And here's another one right after, where she is just as gracious. So much so that I am now a huge Jenny Simpson fan. How can you not love someone who exuberantly says "That would have been a cool story if I would have been so stupid and still got the record. Anyway, that didn't happen, and I deserved not to get it because I was dumb and didn’t keep track of things." And is laughing at herself while saying it.
That, I have footage of. Here, see for yourself -- and become a fan of Jenny Simpson. A gracious person with her head screwed on straight, who happens to be a great runner, period, and worthy of fans for that alone.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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