Truth be told, the French media is having a hard time dealing with South Korea and the Russian Federation beating them in the medal tally so far.
As the story goes, when Paris vied with London in their bid to host the Games, they only managed to overcome their loss by promising the British, “Ok you get to host, but we'll get the medals!”
Talk about an embarrassing prognostic! The British have since hit the jackpot, and while the French started out in third place in the medal tally standing after their swimming delegation put up a spirited competition, it has all been downhill from there.
They are having a hard time accepting their fencing fiasco. Heads are surely going to roll after two-time Olympic fencing champion Laura Flessel and the nation's flag-bearer got eliminated early on in the heats. It turns out that this was just a forerunner to their fencing fate.
According to commentators, the French fencing delegation had the potential of winning six medals, claimed to be sure to take home at least three of these, but came away with zilch, zero, nada, niente, rien! And yet, the French are standing on the shoulders of giants in this sport. They have spent colossal sums of money preparing their athletes. This is indeed the first time since 1960 that the country's fencing team has left the Olympic Games absolutely empty-handed.
Imagine Usain being eliminated in the quarter-finals and the entire Jamaican sprint delegation coming home with not a single medal? They would have to join the long list of asylum seekers in either Europe or North America. Just contemplate a bit on how people have been mean to Asafa. To add insult to the poor man's belowthe-belt injuries, there's now a new word out on the streets. If an athlete “safad” it means that he's pulled up and come in dead last.
So while Bolt and all things Jamaican have become increasingly hyped in Europe, there is this nasty undercurrent of jealously that is suddenly crawling out of the woodworks. The basic fact is that — love him or hate him — Usain Bolt manages to conjure up a smorgasbord of emotions, he leaves no one indifferent. Here are a few irksome examples of how the French media reacts to him:
Christophe Lemaitre, France's great white sprint hope, is called “white lightening” as if to put him on the same level as Bolt. His coach Pierre Carraz stated that Usain was a “garçon” — a boy who likes to have fun and party — but that he wasn't too sure that he trained enough. He slyly noted that Lemaitre, on the other hand, does not like to go out at all; he's a homebody apparently. Now it's an open secret that Usain knows how to drop legs. If you need proof just check out the YouTube videos with him on stage doing the “gully creepa” dance or freestyling in Paris. As he told the French film producer and director Gael Leiblang in the recently released film retracing his accomplishments, “I don't want to reach 50 and feel like I missed out on my youth”.
The French media also has a weird, worrisome tendency to give animal 'pet' names to black athletes and entertainers. So for example, the French triple track and field Olympic champion Marie-José Perec was called the gazelle. Laura Flessel is called La Guêpe or the wasp. An extension of this is the fact that sprinters are now clearly being likened to animals. Referring to Bolt, one commentator ended his introduction by saying “il y a chez lui quelque chose d'animal ” — there's something animal about him. To be fair though, the French tend to pepper their sweet nothings with animal references. Your sweetheart is your “lapin” — rabbit, “poule” — chicken or even the medically worrying and rather revealing of the state of French love, your “puce” — flea! It doesn't help either of course, that Yohan Blake now goes by the moniker “the Beast”.
It's raining Jamaicans
Even though Usain is our uncontested star, the entire Jamaican Olympics contingent is frustrating a lot of hard working coaches from far richer and more populous nations. With a population of between 2.8 and 2.7 million, depending on the source, we had three Jamaicans in both the 100 - and the 200-metre final for the men, two for the women. Europe with over 300 million inhabitants had one man in the 100-metre final, the United States had two. And from the foreign point of view, for people who know nothing of our sprinting history, a new fresh crop of runners, the likes of fresh-faced Warren Weir seems to be literally dropping from the sky on Jamaican soil.