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Marc Mason is a freelance writer based in Tempe, AZ.

Thursday, August 26, 2004  
One Guy Got It Right

Thanks, Allen Johnson.

Not for falling and skidding, scaring the life out of me and making me wonder if half your face had peeled off before you looked up. That I could have lived without. No, I want to thank you for showing restraint and class when so many would not have done so.

You laid on the track for a couple of minutes absorbing what had just happened. You came to Athens the Captain of the U.S. track team. You were expected to win a medal in the hurdles. And yet the dreams of gold were dashed so quickly, so harshly. It was painful for you, and for your countrymen who were behind you cheering. But your actions on the ground and after you got up made you a champion.

There was no screaming. No yelling. No swearing. You didn't cry. You didn't claim that the race was rigged. You didn't suggest that your hurdles were at a different height than everyone else's. You didn't blame other racers for bumping you. You didn't protest that the track conditions in your line were inappropriate. You simply sat there, stunned, and then picked yourself up with dignity and left the track. Dear God.

I suppose it says a lot of bad things about track that I am quick to praise something horrible that happened, but there you have it. Watching that moment, I was proud to be an American. Unlike the obnoxious Maurice Greene and his "bring out the fire extinguisher" nonsense, I knew right then that if yuou had crossed the finish line first in the finals and claimed a gold medal, you would have comported yourself with quiet dignity. And frankly, in an age where sportsmanship seems to be at an all-time low, especially among male athletes, you became, to this writer, a national hero.

7:40 PM

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