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Things I learned at the 2011 IAAF Track & Field World Championships in Daegu…

Baby's Man

That wearing your Auburn cap to a TGI Friday’s before the event will indeed yield a War Eagle Moment, in which a Jamaican named Henry leaves his table of U.S. (and Auburn) female track stars to approach the table of you and your girlfriend and talk amicably for a few minutes about Auburn and his general distaste for Korea (understandable; they tend eat their eggs racist side up here).

That the talent gap between British sports announcers and American sports announcers is too expansive to ever be overcome, even if those American announcers bum a ride on the back of a flaming, patriotic motorchariot driven by Evel Knievel’s ghost.

That Korean people will steal your obviously saved seat when you leave for a few minutes to purchase Ramen at the concession stand and will not leave that seat at anything short of physical force when you return, especially not your passive aggressive, melodramatic grabbing of your brochure and fan that are now sitting on the ground next to them.

That if you are a male in the general vicinity of world class track athletes taking their shirts off after a match, you will hug your own torso tightly, despite the high summer temperatures.

That Jamaican women are the friendliest, most comforting people on the planet who laugh at everything you say, especially when it’s not funny, and when they exclaim “Praise Jesus!” after a Jamaican athlete wins a competition, you toss your hands in the air and praise Jesus, regardless of religious persuasion. They also have an affinity for The Wave.

That Serbian coaches of women’s discus — if their girl is doing well — will leave their post briefly during the event in order to purchase celebratory beers and then return to pop the cans open and toss the beers back while still coaching from the stands. They will then set the tallboys down on the ground when their girl starts falling apart mentally and it becomes apparent that she will not receive a medal at this competition after all.

That the Chinese women’s discus thrower may, in fact, have a bulge.

That Korean girls ages 12-16 will lose their proverbial shit — in the form of shirt grabbing and cell phone photographs — for any young male celebrity, regardless of his true celebrity value, which includes Korean track athletes who come in second place for a 1500m qualifier. Take notes, Rivers Cuomo.

That thanking God as your first priority after a major athletic win is not just an American trend, but an international one. Winners from Ethiopia and Jamaica might just have different words or phrases for the process.

That while listening to the indecipherable translation of these statements by the bilingual interviewer in an atheistic country like Korea, you begin to wonder if the interviewer actually provides these God-thanks to the crowd, or if she improvises with a narrative about the much worthier Korean athlete throwing the competition to promote international racial equality instead.

That watching the World’s Fastest Man get disqualified for a false start in the final 100m race is not something you consider cool because you are a witness to what will be considered an infamous moment in track & field history. Instead, you feel genuinely robbed, bereft of happiness and excitement and the 40-something dollars you spent to witness that event in the first place.


The hard way.



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