Is it time to focus on the winners?

Usain Bolt did not even race in the 100m final in South Korea however most of the attention remained on the Jamaican.

Yohan Blake of Jamaica gets to grips with his 100m gold medal at the World Championships [GALLO/GETTY] 

So far, the headlines at the World Championships in South Korea have not focused on the winners.

It seems, more than ever before, that the athletes who have found themselves in the spotlight have been the losers.

Apparently, what the world needs to know about are the false starters, underachievers and hurdle bargers, rather than those who fight their way to victory against the odds. 

This favouring of the favourites rather than the winners is sad for sport in a number of ways.

Primarily it takes the focus off the achievements of those who did not let the pressure get the better of them.

Usain Bolt may have speed, Jennifer Ennis a beautiful smile but you need the complete package to win a world title.

And surely keeping your cool is a quality in a sportsman or woman that should be cherished just as much as their reputation in their event or physical attractiveness.

It is sad that many of the media reports out of Daegu seem to take very little notice of the eventual winners.

Instead, we hear about the disqualified Usain Bolt and Dayron Robles, not new world champions Yohan Blake and Jason Richardson.

Drama drama!

It is so much easier to grab hold of misery rather than salute and celebrate a new or unexpected talent.  

It is understandable why this is the case. It is drama, rather than athletic prowess, that usually steals the show.

After the 100m men’s final in Daegu what most people wanted to hear about was what had happened to reigning Olympic champion Usain Bolt.

The world was waiting to hear from the false starter himself. A chorus of “Yohan who?” met the winner.

But, if we think about it, would anything the unhappy Jamaican sprinter say be of interest.

Surely we can predict both the questions and their outcomes.

      Richardson celebrates on top of the podium after winning the 110m hurdle title [GALLO/GETTY] 

Journalist: So Usain, what happened? 

Usain: I false started

Journalist: But why Usain?

Usain: Because I thought it might be fun…

Flippant, I know, but the truth of the matter is Usain Bolt is just as human as anyone else and that he made an error.

Many fans have been quick to blame the IAAF’s new one-false-move-and-you’re-out campaign for Bolt’s premature exit.

However, Bolt himself has had little to say on the race and the false start ruling since his shock exit. 

It seems Bolt has bolted from comment, but that should not matter, because an interview with surprise 100m winner Yohan Blake is far more likely to reveal a good story.

There are numerous questions that could be put to the less familiar Jamaican; How did he feel about securing his first world title? After his win, what does he think about the one false start ruling? What will he do to celebrate, or will he not out of respect for Bolt?

It would also be fascinating to hear more from Jason Richardson who won the 110m hurdle title after Cuban Dayron Robles was disqualified for jostling with China’s Lui Xiang.
Richardson won the race but he has become an insignificant figure as people flurry around Robles and the thwarted Xiang. 

While it would be naïve to say sports journalist should not report on the drama and unexpected twists and turns of tournaments such as the World Championships, we do not want to create an environment where all we hear about are the ones who blew it.

That is not what sport is about. It may not be something people are encouraged to say to their children at sports day but sport is about winning.

Just because the public are used to hearing certain names in the media, it does not mean stars like Bolt deserve continued attention regardless of the outcome.  

Win, lose or false start, the World Championships exist so we can discover the world’s best athletes. These are the men and women with the oversized medals hanging around their necks.

Instead of jumping to interview Usain Bolt, we should make more of an effort to get to know Yohan Blake. 

This would give support to future hopes that need it and relieve extra pressure on those at the top who do not.

Joanna Tilley is a journalist freelancing with Al Jazeera on the Sport website. She has worked at Sky News, Sky Sports News, LBC Radio,, TNT Down Under and Wanderlust magazine.

Follow her on Twitter (@joannatilley) or her website,

Al Jazeera is not responsible for the content of external websites.

Source: Al Jazeera


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