SLEEPER COUNTRY: THE NEXT POWERHOUSE SPRINTERS

With Usain Bolt leaving track and field and Asafa Powell soon also, both of Jamaica, what is next for the 4×100 meter relay teams. Who will be the next best team and from what country. Well you’re looking at it. Japan is a team that I have not heard anyone speak of when the conversation around sprinting comes up. Yes, you here about the United States, who by the way, has an aging team of sprinters as well (Tyson Gay, Justin Gaitlin, and Lashawn Merritt). Others include the like of course Jamaica, Barbados, Great Britain, and Canada to name a few. But back to Japan.

Japan’s 4×100 meter relay team knocked out the United States in the Rio Games, even without the disqualification to win silver. Shota Iizuka ran his personal best 20.11 back in 2013 and he is only 25 years of age. His teammate, 20 year old Yoshihide Kiryū ran a personal best 10.01 in the 100 meter and a 20.41 in the 200 meter dash. Next is Ryota Yamagata, who at only 24 years old runs 10.05 in the 100 meter and a 20.41 in the 200 as well. Then last is their fourth leg Asuka Cambridge, who himself runs 10.11 in the 100 meter, yet only 20.62 in the 200 meter.

With four years to plan for the next Olympics, which ironically enough will take place in Japan, all will have to step up. Yohan Blake of Jamaica will most likely be the new face of sprinting as the second fastest man in history already. But the Jamaican team will lose some guys due to retirement, or too old to compete in sprint events. Now the Americans have life in in Trayvon Bromell (9.84 100 meters and 20.03 200 meters) as well as two young men leaving high school right now 18 year old Michael Norman (10.27 100 meter and 20.14 200 meter) and 19 year old Noah Lyles (10.14 10 meter and 20.09 200 meter). But will they step it up and quick. There was a promising athlete from high school as well named J-Mee Samuels, who graduated high school in 2005, but did not turn out to go as hard as people had hoped. This Japanese team have proven themselves in the Olympics. The 20 year old Kiryu of Japan is a Junior, but was chosen on the Olympic team while Noah and Norman are thinking about college.

This should be a really interesting four years for the Japanese team considering the 2020 Olympics will be in Tokyo. They came in with a silver in the 4×100 and could potentially take the gold if they stay healthy. Whatever the case may be, all eyes are now going to be focusing on these four Japanese runners as time goes on.

The Rio Most Will Never See

“What they won’t show.”

As the Olympics games are in full swing in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, there is something most people  don’t know or won’t ever see; favelas. For those of you who are uneducated in what this word means let me explain to you what it is. The favelas is the name of the slums where the poorest of people in Brazil dwell. When the games opened just over a week ago, there was a sight that people living in the slums witnessed that was a lot different than the spectators in the crowd or us at home.

The photo to the right shows the view of how most Brazilians saw the opening ceremonies. If you notice, the young people are observing the fireworks from slums. Their clothes are caked with grim and graffiti are sprayed on concrete blocks. From this view, the Olympic games seems like a world away. As a citizen of the United States, I have a better view of the Rio Games from my flat screen television than citizens in Brazil.

So that leaves the question, who is to blame? Why, in a country where such poverty and crime exist would a nation spend hundreds of millions of dollars just to prepare for sporting events. Events which will only last a little less than a month with athletes who most likely are never stepping foot in Rio again. Well, it’s not about the athletes, or the games, or even the citizens. It’s about the money generated.

The Rio Olympics are expecting to generate billions of dollars through a variety of corporate sponsorships and multinational television network deals. What you don’t see is the negative impact it has on its citizens. Well what do I mean by negative impact, I mean the money spent to keep the various facilities going after the games. It is estimated that millions of dollars will be spent just for maintenance alone on facilities once the games are over.

Now I ask the question, who built these facilities? Were the citizens in Rio offered an opportunity to work and build these facilities. This way income is generated for poor families who will then in turn contribute to their nation’s economy. My guess is very little if any opportunity was allotted to families living in areas like the favelas. Private contractors and private investment pumped money into these games and even dubbed the games, “The Green Games for a Blue Planet.” How dare they, how dare they promote green initiatives. All the while you walk a few miles up into the hills where children frolic in raw sewage. Drug cartels and municipal police face off in the streets and protestors take over the streets.

As for the athletes with a platform, why don’t more of them step up. Is it that they are aware and don’t want to lose their corporate dollars. Or is it because they don’t know at all. Whatever the case may be, we will have to add Rio to the list of many countries vying for an Olympics in 2024 and beyond consisting of poor citizens that will never benefit from the Olympic games. Nations where they come up with money for Olympic games, but not enough to feed and employ its own citizens.