Olympic Track & Field: 5 Burning Questions Finally Answered
With the 2012 Summer Games less than four months away, pundits are already predicting podium positions.
Third-world nations are pinning their hopes on Olympic delegations totaling one—maybe two—athletes to bring home a medal. Any medal.
Elsewhere, writers are beginning to pepper the sports pages with interesting back stories and human-interest angles.
But this is not about any of that.
No—here are five questions every ardent Olympic fan will eventually have to confront as the opening ceremonies (July 27) draw near.
But we have answers.
1. Which Sport Is King of the Olympics?
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Long before gymnastics, swimming, boxing or cycling, track and field existed as the very essence of the Olympic Games.
The Olympic Stadium venue has always been the centerpiece of every host site.
Track and field—and all it's related disciplines—is arguably the most universal sporting endeavor on the planet.
Even if in non-Olympic years track and field may decline in global popularity, it always rises to the forefront as each new Olympiad approaches.
Which sport is King of the Olympics?
You already know.
2. What the Heck Is a Kg/cm2?
Two traits reside within the very soul of American society: independence and rebellion. Nothing illustrates this better than our steadfast refusal to accept the international (metric) system of measurement.
But when the Olympics (or any international competition) rolls around, most Americans are in a woeful quandary. A six-meter pole vault or a 90-meter javelin throw have no meaning—though both of these efforts would draw huge global acclaim.
Apart from actually familiarizing oneself with the metric system, there is only one answer for the typical American fan at this late date: cheat sheets.
Here is a metric conversion calculator specific to track and field.
And here is a printable conversion table.
By the way, a Kg/cm2 is a metric unit of pressure (kilogram force per square centimeter). If you drive a Mercedes or BMW, you may have seen it on your metric tire inflation gauge.
Whoever is responsible for inflating the basketballs, volleyballs and futbols must have a firm grasp of this information.
3. Is It Mr. Liu or Mr. Xiang?
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Western sportswriters have struggled with this question since Liu's stunning upset of American hurdler Allen Johnson in Osaka in early 2004.
Since then, the Chinese hero has gone on to become Olympic champion (2004), world record-holder (2006), and World Champion (2007).
Barring injury, he'll be lining up in the 110-meter hurdles final again this August.
And still his name draws questions of uncertainty with media and fans alike.
Journalists may continue to westernize the name (Xiang Liu), but for the record, here's the short answer:
It's Mr. Liu.
4. Where Is My Events Schedule?
For the first time ever, cyber cowboys in the dingiest of basements will actually have better overall access to The Games than even Her Royal Majesty.
Remember that for the first time in history, these games will feature YouTube/NBC live-streaming of every single event.
With that in mind, it is important to know when your favorite event is scheduled to begin.
You asked. We answered.
Here is a complete schedule of every track and field event. Other Olympic events can also be found here, using the search features.
Thankfully, for these games, London time is only four hours ahead of New York time.
5. Will Usain Bolt Do It Again?
Stu Forster/Getty Images
Almost overnight, Usain Bolt emerged as a global celebrity at Beijing 2008 Olympics.
Then, in Berlin 2009, already rivaling the Beatles and Muhammad Ali in popularity, he ascended to near-deity status at the World Championships.
So far-reaching is his fame that no detail of his multiple world records is needed here.
The guy has star power.
So, if the question is "Will Bolt again take his records to a new level?", given the changed landscape and cast of characters in the sprints since 2009, that answer will have to wait.
But if the question is, "Will Bolt again be the center of attention?", we can give you a very firm and confident "Yes!".
Get ready. London 2012 will not disappoint.
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