Toronto Mike

Big Ben's 9.79


A couple of Mikes, formerly on top of the world and now just falling from grace, were prominent in the news this week.  There was Mike Tyson's loss and retirement from boxing and a verdict in the Michael Jackson case.  Reading about these two got me thinking about Ben Johnson.

I don't have to remind my fellow Canadians that Ben was the fastest man in the world.  In 1988, we as a nation gathered around televisions to watch him blow away Carl Lewis and the rest of the field to win the Gold medal in the 100m and set a new world record time of 9.79.  I also don't have to remind my fellow Canadians as to what happened next.  Ben's fall from grace was shockingly sudden and it broke our collective hearts.

Yesterday, Asafa Powell set a new world record in the men's 100 metres, registering 9.77 seconds.  Here we are 17 years after Ben's run and the world record is just 0.02 seconds faster than what he ran that day in Seoul.  17 years to shave all that time off of Ben's best.  What gets me is the fact Ben shot up his right hand in victory with a about ten feet to go.  I distinctly remember yelling at the TV when he did that, knowing that if he ran it out that record could have been in the low 9.70s.

Of course, Ben was cheating, and deserved to lose his Gold medal and world record.  I have little doubt everyone in that 100m final in Seoul was cheating, but Ben got caught.  The high of that 9.79 followed by the low of his disqualification still makes me dizzy... and sad.

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