Tag Archives: olympics

Me and the Olympian: Scott Russell

Well, I saw film tonight, getting ready to sleep, of Scott Russell (Windsor boy) screaming or howling and growling after throwing a javelin. Yes, in Beijing. It was bizarre to see, because I had never seen him in action since he left Windsor to go to Kansas University in the US. I knew he was doing shot-put, maybe even discus, and now I see a guy with a reddish beard post-fling, and I’m thinking, “Was that dude in red and white? That might have been Scotty.”

So I go online and I find the image and story above of Scott, which was extremely uplifting. A proud moment. Yeah, I know, I see the Olympics for what it is to the people running the show, but I still appreciate the skill, finesse, strength, ability and dedication it takes to be an elite athlete. And to see Mr. Russell there, representing Windsor and Canada was awesome.

How do I know Scott. Simple. He and his brother were twin towers in sports (basketball of course) at F. J. Brennan High School. I had to play against him. It wasn’t fun, because the guy is massive, and skilled.

Flash forward to the summer of grade 10, when I make the Ontario travel basketball team (Riverside) that tons of great players tried out for, all hoping to be among all-stars. John Mastromattei, and Bill Davis, and I (all from Catholic Central High School) make the team. We are now shoulder to shoulder with the guys we despise all year long. Of course we formed a friendship with one another, which was shocking at first due to the vitriol we had for one another all season, but it was a majorly rewarding experience.

Ron Crumb, J.R. Bias, Ron Andriash (spelling?), John Fletcher, Marvin Caston, and several others joined Scott Russell, knowing him as the huge guy (6’9”) in the middle…not so much as the future Olympian who weighs 269 pounds and throws a spear over 80 meters! The story of his trials and tribulations to get to the Olympics can be read HERE.

We roomed together, and we got along quite well, as he was an extremely quiet guy, and a dedicated athlete when on the court.

Having come home tonight from playing with some pretty wicked basketball players (at the University of Windsor Student Centre gym) and some great kids who make up the Windsor Filipino team who will be traveling and competing, I felt it was a good time to remember Scott in this blog. Tonight, playing with guys who I haven’t seen/played with in YEARS AND YEARS brought up the nostalgia of what it means to be on a team of extremely talented guys.

And after I saw Scotty on the TV I thought, “Shit, shouldn’t I know he’s there? I mean, I like this guy, and I want him to medal…so I gotta see how he’s doing.” From what I can tell, he’s still in the running, and I encourage you to follow his quest for a medal.

Good luck Scott!

Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics

I’ve been anticipating these games, as I do every two years, because of the choreographed national pride it beckons from everyone. It’s great to see people rooting for the athletes who’ve been training to represent their country of origin, although these lines are steadily being blurred more and more.

Funny enough, the blurring of these lines makes these games more of a test of human ability than a national display of physical hierarchy. I like that development. I like seeing those paradigms shifted.

“What the – was that Chinese-lookin’ person representing Canada?” is the kind of thing I can see the generation or two before me saying as they watch the 2008 games, and it makes me laugh a little, assuming that there are people (shut-ins) who are unaware of the fabric of Canada, and just how incredibly diverse it is.

The thing that got me writing this, the reason, the main thrust was about the hubbub being tossed around about the possibility of athletes wearing their political heart on their sleeve at the games. Joey Cheek (Olympic speed skating gold medallist) was refused entry into China because of his potential to make a political statement at the games in favour of his work with the group Team Darfur.

I think of the simple image, the powerful, indelible image of the US track athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos who made the gesture of the fist in the air. I think of how simple-yet-magnanimous this symbol was, and how it was “deemed a domestic political statement unfit for the apolitical, international forum the Olympic Games”.

The repercussions were harsh. The athletes themselves were targets of hate and anger after they returned home.

And I simply shake my head when I think of this. The Olympics are an apolitical event?! What? For who? These games have been used as olive branches, or roadblocks in political maneuverings from the beginning. And to think that the people in charge, the fatcats making big dough off of these games (IOC, Coke, McDonalds, Adidas, Nike, etc.), can say what is and what isn’t “couth” at a worldwide-staged event like this makes me audibly do a spit-take. “Ppppppffftt!”

Who are they kidding?

I have it from a good source, who I will not name, that was in the meeting room in Detroit with an unnamed mayor of Detroit and an unnamed mayor of Windsor over 10 years ago now…that the process was shown to be the corrupt money-grab that it is. At some point a long while ago, Windsor and Detroit wanted to make a bid for the Olympics to be held (for the first time) internationally, across borders, in Windsor, ON (Canada) and Detroit, MI (US). A great idea…before 9/11. When the big meeting began, the delegates sat at a big table and waited to see how this meeting would unfold. As I am told (which you can take with a huge grain of salt if you like) was that the Olympic representative simply stated to the group that if they were not prepared to pay outright, hundreds of millions of dollars to the “people that make decisions”, JUST TO BE CONSIDERED IN THE RUNNING for the games to be held in WIndsor/Detroit, that they might as well adjourn the meeting.

And that’s just what happened. Dumbfounded delegates collected their handsome breifcases, along with their jaws, and went their merry way back to business as usual.

As I was told, this was the story of the Olympic bid that never was…never existed…never happened.

This kind of story that can almost qualify as conspiracy theory to some of you readers does not surprise me in the least. I would not put it past this organzation to operate under these corrupt policies (secret that they may be). To paraphrase the historian and moralist Lord Acton, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Anyone in a position to weild the outcome of flow of that much money, the coin involved in hosting and earning from an Olympic Games in their country/city, is bound to be a bastard in the end. You know it. I know it.

So for those of you who are poo-pooing the idea of someone taking the podium, and from out of nowhere donning a flag representing Tibet in order to shine a brighter light on the subject of human right abuses, reconsider the event as a whole. This whole thing is a business. A giant, athletic show masquerading as a nationality-pride-bi-annual-glee-holiday. And folks, business IS politics. It oozes with it. And with politics comes statements, and disobedience, and displays, and demonstrations. And I expect nothing less than this from our athletes and more, if they feel so inclined, taking the opportunity to spotlight issues that the media has done such a piss-poor job of doing. Maybe if someone, a Canadian, makes a shocking display on the podium, the right questions will start being asked of our Olympic host, China.