I’ve always wanted to watch the Olympic 100-meter race in person, as close to the track and the athletes as I could manage to position myself. So when I arrived at the Bird’s Nest Saturday evening and saw a row of empty seats in the first row of the stadium, a little past the halfway point of where the race would take place, I rushed down and grabbed one. And didn’t move for the next four hours. Aside from about 10 meters of space (and the railing), there was going to be nothing between me and the fastest men alive.
The race, as I expected, was incredible. By now, you’ve seen the footage, so I don’t need to rehash it for you. (Although NBC missed the boat by not showing that race live.) But what Bolt did in that race was one of the most incredible feats in sports history. After the race, I went down to the media area and got in a couple questions with Dix, who was surprisingly not all that impressed with his bronze medal. Of course, I was bummed Tyson Gay didn’t make the final. But I guess it was to be expected. It’s virtually impossible to return to a sport like the 100 meters three weeks after a major injury and try and win an Olympic medal. He was about as gracious an athlete as anyone after his semi-final race, but he was certainly disappointed.
When Bolt finally appeared, nearly an hour after the race was over, the media frenzy was insane. I had three grown men hand me cameras and ask if i could, “Take a photo for me, and please try and get Usain in the frame.” Right. Let me just ask the 100 men with TV cameras, who are actually doing their job, to move out of the way so you can have a souvenir from the press center.
Bolt was impossible to get near, especially for this shorty, so I realized I wasn’t going to get to ask him my question. I have always wanted to ask the fastest man alive, on the day he becomes said Fastest Man, what his day was like. What did he eat for breakfast? I had planned to ask Gay in the interview I pre-scheduled with him for after the race (it’s now happening at 4 p.m. on Sunday, so stay tuned), but that plan changed after semis.
So I did the next best thing, something that I’ve never done before. I asked him in the press conference. At first, I was worried the few hundred media folks in the room would be annoyed with my question, but then I realized I actually didn’t care what they thought. And I figured his answer would add a little color to all their stories. Besides, if I had to hear one more person ask Walter Dix what it was like to watch Bolt run by him and set a world record, I was going to pull out all my hair and turn in my membership card to the People Who Write About Sports Society. (Press conferences should come with a Surgeon General’s warning. Danger: Extended Periods of Exposure May Make You Dumber.)
So I asked. And he giggled. And then gave the answer I’ve been waiting for all this time. Nuggets. He ate nuggets. Twice. That’s it. The secret to speed. The secret to smashing world records. McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets.
My entire belief system has been flipped on its head. And, perhaps, my diet.