I get that the Olympics is supposed to be the ultimate test of strength and concentration. A place where the best of the best gather to duke it out for the chance to be dubbed as No.1 in the world.
I get that being mentally prepared is almost as important as being physically prepared when it comes to advancing through the rounds, and that although the athletes never want to show their hands too early, they can’t coast because there’s a chance that race could be their last.
I fully understand that the mental games between the athletes are what makes Olympic track and field one of the most exciting disciplines at the games.
But I also understand the work it takes to get to the Olympics. The countless hours of training, the time away from family and friends, fighting through injuries and a barrage of other obligations surrounding being a collegiate or professional athlete.
As I watched the games this week, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for those athletes whose dreams of gold ended before they even started running.
It hit home when i saw one of our “Golden Knights” Demetrius Pinder false start in the opening heat of the men’s 200m dash. Pinder didn’t qualify for his speciality, the 400m, and could possibly leave Rio without running one race.
Pinder was a prime example of track and field’s cruelest rule: that one flinch, one false start-at the Olympics could end it all.
Several athletes have followed in Pinder’s footsteps so far at the games, and it’s likely that as long as the rule is in place, they won’t be the last ones to be denied a chance at competing at the the Olympics.
As it stands now, I think the rule is too harsh. Flat out. I’m not saying to give the athletes a wealth of do-overs, but any variation of the rule that allows at least one false start would be a great improvement.