This year's Olympics in London were extremely well organized and loaded with the widest assortment of events this sports enthusiast has ever witnessed. Ex-miler Sebastian Coe should be knighted for his superior leadership in coordinating such an immense spectacle.
Track and field events certainly lived up to the slogan, "Higher, farther, faster."
As a former distance runner, it amazed me how long the packs stayed together into the later stages of both the men's and women's 5,000 and 10,000 meters. Most were in doubt until the final straightaway.
In this regard, a special hats off goes to America's Galen Rupp for his furious burst of speed coming off the final turn of the 5K which brought him within a couple yards of beating out Britain's winner, Mo Farah.
And yet. Yes this humble former runner and coach was nagged with an "And yet." Looking at the rippling shoulder muscles and upper arms on many of the sprinters, who also had legs looking as though they could run through a fence -- all acquired in the gym? Perhaps. At least that's the claim.
Look back at pictures of Jesse Owens, Payton Jordan, Eddie Hart, Evelyn Ashford and the graceful gazelle, Wilma Rudolph, who sprinted to gold medal victories in the Rome Olympics.
They didn't resemble power lifters as we see many in today's dashes.
And though we applauded our women's gymnastic team's unerring performances while besting all opponents, one might wonder about their sizes? We saw a Chinese contestant of 20 who looked like a prepubescent 10-year-old. And several others (including some of ours) would have been able to walk upright under a 5-foot cross bar.
Natural? Or is something going on behind the scenes?
Here again, as an old timer, I recall a much taller and attractive Ludmila Tourischeva of Russia who placed first in the gymnastics all-around back in the early 1970s ... Then, in later Olympics, much shorter folks became best at vaulting, bounding, springing, tumbling and dancing on the mats. Why?
In former days we tended to associate drugs with drowsy-looking old men peering hopelessly from their bunks in dingy San Francisco basements, or hyper-hepped drummers in jazz bands. But not in athletics.
Now there seems to be a battle of the chemists lurking in the background. Without naming them, big names have headlined sports pages after being caught using physically enhancing drugs. Plus those we might think of as "the usual suspects" who are clean until proven otherwise.
We distance runners used to believe we were free of the problem. Those were only tactics of the quick-strength people. Then we heard about EPO (shortened from its scientific name). Basically, it adds more oxygen-carrying red corpuscles to the bloodstream and can increase an athlete's stamina by 20 percent or more. Users can train harder and run or bike longer and at a strong pace.
Personally, I'd rather see athletes compete against athletes rather than their chemists.
Contact Joe King at firstname.lastname@example.org.