Ten years ago, Donovan Bailey blew the world away when he won a gold medal and beat the world record in the men's 100 metre dash at the Atlanta '96 Olympics and I saw him win it!
No, I wasn't in Atlanta but I was watching tv and saw him win the medal. Firstly this makes me feel very proud that I witnessed it because we're not known for winning medals when it comes to running in the Summer Games. It also makes me feel a little old, considering how long ago that was but at the same time it's a piece of Canadian history and I lived through it. So, let's say 50 years from now I can wave my cane and talk about the fact that 'I was there when Bailey won the gold'.
And you know what, it's pretty amazing Bailey won the race to begin with because of everything that was going on in his life at the time. He'd lost his uncle, Keith Ashley just the night before to cancer. And then several false starts most likely jarred his nerves. Then his British rival, Linford Christie was disqualified and he refused to leave the track, creating a delay in the race.
Also, for those of you who were around for the disaster that was Ben Johnson, there was concern as soon as Bailey won the race. My whole family watched the race and I think my mom mentioned that she hoped this wouldn't turn out the same way. For those of you who weren't around, Canadian Ben Johnson won the 100 metre dash at the 1988 Olympics but was disqualified after testing positive for doping. A really big disgrace for Canada.
But Bailey was clean and then went on to win another gold with the relay team a couple of days later. So, two medals for him and Canada, I was pretty pleased. And I think he's a really good role model, despite comments made after the race against Michael Johnson who pulled up short at the finish with an "injured quadricep muscle". There's way too much doping going on out there and it's dangerous. The scary thing is that I think most athletes who use them are aware of the side effects and just don't care. They just care about winning.
So, here's to Donovan Bailey and hoping that Canadian atheletes follow his example when it comes to competing clean.