The booing of the world athletics 100m sprint champion, Justin Gatlin, by a sizeable number of spectators at the London Olympic Stadium was beyond disgraceful. It achieved nothing except the belittlement of the British public in the eyes of the sporting world, the confirmation of our celebrity obsessed culture and the public’s willingness to be manipulated by opinion-formers who have no other interest at heart than their own.
Let’s be clear who was doing the booing, and of this I can be almost certain: people who would barely be able to run for a bus, let alone the blue riband race of world athletics. I declare an interest – I would have trouble running for a bus. However, I wasn’t booing.
To those who were, and to the angst-ridden officials of world athletics led by Lord Coe, what exactly were you booing? Could you explain it to me in the pub? What was the message you sent to a million kids? It was this. You were booing the notion that a kid can make good, that past mistakes can be rectified, that you don’t always need to live under a cloud just because one time you got caught in the rain. We should be standing proud and supporting Justin Gatlin who in his attempts to deliver this message was shamefully suppressed by ovine spectators who knew nothing except that they had been told to expect the celebrity to win and the villain to lose, and felt let down when they didn’t because now they had to work out a script on their own. So much so, that Lord Coe even used the words – “It’s not the perfect script’, and (previously) respected journalists described the world champion as a pariah in intelligent newspapers.
One day, not far off, somebody will run faster than Justin Gatlin. Let’s hope it’s a kid who turned his life around because of Gatlin’s example. One thing’s for certain – it won’t be a kid who turned his life around because he thought he’d get booed off the field for doing so. That kid’s still going to be high in a back alley somewhere, gunning for someone else.
One thought on “Gunning for Gatlin”
Well said. I like it that you’ve said some stuff that other people wouldn’t say because it’s not what their friends would say. Gatlin is a hero.