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|| SportsShooter.com: News Item: Posted 2012-08-27

2012 Summer Olympics - David Eulitt
“What a moment to see 80,000 Brits stand and scream their lungs out.”

By David Eulitt

Photo by David Eulitt/Kansas City Star/MCT

Photo by David Eulitt/Kansas City Star/MCT

Jamaica's Usain Bolt, right, took the baton on the last leg of the men's 4X100m relay final, setting a world record time of 36.84 at Olympic Stadium during the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, England, Saturday, August 11, 2012. At left, Tyson Gay of
Working at my third Summer Olympics for McClatchy Newspapers and their wire service, mctdirect.com, I found my experiences in London to be exhausting, challenging and thrilling, all wrapped up into one gigantic shuttle bus trip.

My most memorable evening of the London Games came on the final night of track competition for two separate reasons. I was trying (somewhat in vain) to photograph the women’s high jump from the moat on the outside of the track in turn 3 at the Olympic Stadium. The U.S. had two female high jumpers in the mix and my colleague, Chuck Myers of MCT, was stationed at the finish line, so I took the alternate positions for field events and the relays in the evening session.

In the 5000m final, Mohamad Farah of Great Britain, winner of the gold medal in the 10000m final a few nights prior, lines up to a huge ovation when announced to the crowd on the video board. For thirteen straight minutes of the race, the crowd noise grew and expanded with each lap. On the last lap, Farah was in the lead, holding off a charge from the Kenyans on a full-out sprint, to the loudest crowd noise I have ever heard in a sports venue, anywhere. Farah ran past my position in turn 3 and headed for the finish. I looked over my camera and watched the crowd. What a moment to see 80,000 Brits stand and scream their lungs out. Farah won by less than a half-second for his second gold medal. I realized that I didn’t even hear my cameras going off, I only felt the vibration. My ears were ringing.

An hour later, the men’s 4X100m final was the dramatic finish to the evening session. Usain Bolt was running the anchor leg for Jamaica and the USA team featured Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay on the speedy team. I guessed that the race hinged on the last baton pass. If Bolt received the baton, cleanly, the race was probably over. The US team would have to be perfect in execution to win the gold.

I chose the end of turn four where the last baton pass would take place. I found a good spot in the sunken moat of the track and waited. The stadium fell into a hush in waiting. The starter’s gun popped. A riot of crowd noise and camera flashes exploded around the stadium.

I looked down, triple checked my camera settings, checked the battery and card capacity. By the time I looked up, the race was half over, sprinters running at superhuman speeds. Camera up to my face, get ready, focus on Bolt, deep breath. I see Bolt and USA anchor Ryan Bailey look under their armpit and take off for the exchange. Batons pass in a literal flash. Bolt and Bailey look even at the exchange. Bolt hits his top gear and the rest was world record history.

It’s commonplace for me to zone into just getting the pictures and miss the whole experience of sport. The communal witnessing of athletic greatness. The Olympics, perhaps the last place where national pride is demonstrated so passionately. How can that not be magic?


David Eulitt is a staff photographer at the Kansas City Star. You can see his work at his Sports Shooter member page: http://www.sportsshooter.com/members.html?id=103.

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