It’s because of Cathy Freeman that I love the men’s 10,000 metres.
Not that she competed in it. Wrong gender for a start. And her specialty was a good 9.6 kilometres short of the distance.
But I was in the Sydney Olympics stadium for Freeman’s epic 400 metres win on 25 September 2000.
And in the dying embers of the night, I saw one of the most memorable races of my life when the great Ethiopian runner Haile Gebrselassie fended off three Kenyans to win by the enamel on his buck teeth.
Twenty-five times round the track and it came down to a sprint, won by nine hundredths of a second, a smaller winning margin than in the men’s 100-metre sprint.
Yesterday, in the same event, Mo Farah did something equally special. A heavy fall early in the race and he could have been toast.
In Chumbawumba style, he got knocked down but he got up again, fended off all the pace changes the Kenyans and Ethiopians could throw at him and blitzed all comers in the home straight.
If only he could learn the rest of the moves to YMCA.
But what about the Aussies, you ask? Good question. We’ve been bingeing on bling over the weekend, with medals of all colours.
It had been a while between pina coladas since Kyle Chalmers’ 100 metres freestyle win but Kim Brennan got the ledger moving again with gold in the women’s single sculls. After silver and bronze in London, she now has a complete set of Olympic memorabilia.
It was our first rowing gold since her hubby Scott won in Beijing in 2008. So, great gender equality going on in that household.
Cycling legend Anna Meares fulfilled her dreams for Rio — to improve on her London fifth place in the Keirin and to win some bling — all in one race, winning bronze in the Keirin.
In the process, she become the first Aussie to win individual medals across four Olympics, the first Olympian to medal in all four women’s track cycling sprint events and our most decorated Olympic cyclist. Most impressive of all, she can box jump 1.1 metres.
And mercifully she didn’t have to resort to this.
After some disappointments in the pool, our swimming team came away with silver and bronze in the women’s and men’s medley relay, with some navel gazing yet to come on our aquatic medal haul.
The men’s medley relay was Michael Phelps’ final Olympic swim and he made it count with another gold medal, taking his career haul to 23 gold and 28 overall. Such an over achiever.
He leaves the pool a much happier chappy than he was after London. “This is how I wanted to finish my career,” he said. “I’ve lived a dream come true.”
Blub of the day
So many contenders today.
There was Mo Farah’s excellent prostrate blub following his 10,000 metres win.
Anna Meares has given us some great blubs over the years and she added yet another one to her repertoire over the weekend with a blub of relief at her Keirin bronze.
But this Olympics has unearthed a blub newcomer in Monica Puig, who upset Angelique Kerber in the women’s tennis final to win Puerto Rica’s first ever gold medal.
“I think I united a nation,” she said.
Puig dug deep into the kit bag to showcase the rare unstoppable blub, with elements of nose dribble, giggle and all-round facial cleansing adding to the technical difficulty. Enjoy.
That’s the spirit
Ethiopian steeplechaser Etenesh Diro didn’t let a simple thing like a lost shoe stop her, running the last 800 metres of her heat with one bare foot and finishing a galant seventh. She won a place in the semi-final on appeal.
Estonian triplets Lily, Liina and Leila Luik became the first triplets to compete at the Olympics when they ran in the marathon.
Though well out of the medals, with Liina not finishing, the Rio trio managed a dance at the end of the 42 kilometres.
Worst media own goal
When the International Association of Athletics Federations banned Russian long jumper Darya Klishina from the Olympics based on new doping information, news.com.au kinda went with the wrong angle. Its headline: Russian beauty banned from Games.
Quote of the day
Rio 2016 Mario Andrada on why it’s been so hard to clean up the green fart-smelling diving pool: “Chemistry is not an exact science.”