Rogge: Usain in the membrane

The IOC chief criticizes the magnificent Bolt for celebrating. Is he an idiot or just crazy?

Published August 21, 2008 9:15PM (EDT)

Is Jacques Rogge an idiot? I'd welcome alternative theories, but I can't think of any. Maybe he's just nuts.

The International Olympic Committee president criticized Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt for showboating and supposedly showing up his opponents as he became the first man in 24 years to sweep the 100- and 200-meter dashes.

Here's a guy who actually lives up to his nickname, "Lightning," by electrifying the world with his performances. He blew away the competition at the world's greatest track meet. Michael Phelps' medal haul notwithstanding, Bolt is the story of these Olympics. Phelps won by fingertips in multiple versions of a specialized sport. Bolt practically lapped the field in the most elemental endeavor in athletics.

Rogge should be licking Bolt's feet. Thanks to this genius of speed, there are worldwide headlines coming from the Olympic "movement's" premier sport that isn't a doping scandal. Unless Rogge knows something we don't, in which case this guardian of all that's good and right with the world, plus whatever promises China's breaking today about press freedoms and other human rights, should speak up.

Instead, out of all the giddy celebrations by gold medalists, all the posing and yipping and exuberance and flag-wearing and other wonderful stuff happy people do when they've just accomplished their life's goal, Rogge picked on the most dominant athlete of the games, a guy from a tiny island nation with a boatload of world-class sprinters but, conveniently, not a lot of international political juice.

"That's not the way we perceive being a champion," Rogge sniffed, evidently using the royal we. "I have no problem with him doing a show. I think he should show more respect for his competitors and shake hands, give a tap on the shoulder to the other ones immediately after the finish and not make gestures like the one he made in the 100 meters."

Bolt had held out his hands before the finish of the 100, in a gesture widely interpreted by bluenoses as meaning "Where are all the other runners?" though it could just as easily have meant "Can you believe this?" or, most likely of all, "Yay!"

This was followed by Bolt pounding his chest with his fist, which obviously meant, "The sum of the square roots of any two sides of an isosceles triangle is equal to the square root of the remaining side." Either that or "There's a bug on my chest." Or, most likely of all, "Yay!"

Rogge should stick to what he does best, which lately is thinking up ways that China's crackdown on free-Tibet activists and Internet access represents an "opening up," and let the marvelous athletes who make his incredibly lucrative enterprise so lucrative do their thing. Nobody in Beijing is more marvelous than Usain Bolt. And nobody is more puny than Jacques Rogge.

By King Kaufman

King Kaufman is a senior writer for Salon. You can e-mail him at king at salon dot com. Facebook / Twitter / Tumblr

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