Shocking celebrity obsession revealed in spectators' protest

The behaviour of the Greek crowd last night, which held up the start of a tremendous men's 200 metres final here, really did shock me. Lining up were not just the three superb young Americans who stormed the race and swept the medals, but Frankie Fredericks, aged 36, in his fifth and last Olympic final, one of the venerable and popular greats of athletics.

And for whom was the booing, the protests, the chants of "Hellas" from so many in the crowd? For Konstadinos Kederis, the guy whose missed doping test covered the start of these games in scandal and was exactly the kind of publicity our sport did not need. The crowd's reaction was a total surprise, and it did make me wonder. I've always been adamant that doping has to be stamped out and the firmest of sanctions applied to any athletes who break the rules. I suppose I've always assumed that fans, spectators, also want the same, that to them, too, the sport means nothing if it isn't clean.

Here we had a protest for an athlete who was absent because he missed a test, then he withdrew himself from these Games. The athletes lining up are the fastest men in the world at this distance, because they have worked hard and done it cleanly. So the crowd's reaction seemed to say: we don't care. Actually, we don't want to inquire too deeply, to look beyond the surface; we want our hero, and we almost don't care what he's done. They seemed to be obsessed with the celebrity of their man, and they wanted their fairy-tale, of the Greek hero who beat the world, not to be troubled by the facts which the world's media could not have covered in more exhaustive detail.

That shocked me. Athletics delivers great feats, but they are achieved by real people who have worked hard, within the rules. The crowd needed no greater example than the American guys, and Fredericks, who managed to bow out of the sport with a fourth place in an Olympic final - wonderful. Earlier, one of our own, Steve Backley, made the javelin final and I am so pleased for him. Steve is another old stager, who has worked hard to achieve success for so long - I'm not sure people realise the effort it takes to come out and campaign season after season as he has. Now he, too, will say farewell at an Olympic final, a great way to retire. All athletes want to choose when they take their leave, not have wrecked bodies demanding they are put through no more pain. I hope Steve will do well in the final but, whatever the result, his is a great example.

Yesterday held another bright spot for British athletics: Chris Tomlinson's phenomenal performance in the long jump to finish fifth. Still 22, he nailed the first round with a jump of 8.25m, which left him just a few centimetres off a medal. That's athletics at this level, the tiny difference between the podium and the rest. So much of the work is to achieve those few centimetres, those hundredths of a second, which make the difference.

Chris's reaction told us a lot: he was content with his performance, but disappointed to fall short of a medal. He said he was going to work incredibly hard and listen to what his coach told him. That revealed a determination, dedication, a realisation of what I will take for him to be in the medals next time. In that attitude, we saw some hope for the future.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map