John Smallwood: Bolt seeks spot on Man U

Posted: August 09, 2012

BACK DURING his playing days as a NFL and Major League Baseball star, Bo Jackson was famous for his advertising campaign for Nike cross-training shoes called "Bo Knows."

In the original ad, Jackson is shown participating in football, basketball, tennis and ice hockey.

Back-to-back 100-meter champion Usain Bolt of Jamaica doesn't take a back seat to anyone and on Monday, he told a British newspaper that he'd like to play soccer for world club power Manchester United.

He even got an offer of assistance from Man U star Rio Ferdinand.

"People think I am joking, but if [Manchester United technical director] Alex Ferguson called me up and said, 'OK, let's do this, come and have a trial,' it would be impossible for me to say no," Bolt said in the Sun. "I would not take up a challenge if I didn't think I was good enough.

"I am a very accomplished player and know I could make a difference."

Not to rain on Bolt's good times, but Jamaica isn't a middling nation at best in the CONCACAF region of FIFA - the one that includes the United States and Mexico, the one that has never had a team make too much noise in a World Cup.

"I would be the fastest player in the team, but I can play as well," Bolt said. "If Alex Ferguson wants to give me a call, he knows where I am. I definitely want to see what I could do; I think I could step up."

Towards the end of the "Bo Knows" commercial, Jackson is on skates, decked out in a Los Angeles Kings uniform.

Before he says anything, Wayne Gretzky checks him into the boards and says, "No."

Don't be surprised if Manchester United star Wayne Rooney does a sliding tackle on Bolt after the 200-meters is finished and repeats Gretzky's line.

Still the Soviets to me

OK, it's a little childish, but I kind of like the idea that Kazakhstan, which declared independence from the old Soviet Union in 1991, is having a little fun chiding its former ruler.

Kazakhstan's athletes have six gold medal at the London Games. That's just four less than Russia. But the moods in the neighboring nations are 180 degrees opposite.

Kazakhstan, which has won seven medals overall, is in national celebration over the fact that it has already tripled its gold total from 2008 in Beijing in just the first week.

Across the border, things aren't so cheery.

On Monday, Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko spoke of "very tough conclusions" in relation to some already contested sports.

Russia is actually on pace to match its total of 23 gold medals won in Beijing, but considering that was its lowest total ever, no one is smiling.

Chief fencing coach Vladislav Pavlovich has already resigned and shooting coach Igor Zolotarev is reportedly ready to tender his.

Both teams failed to match pre-Olympic expectations.

Hey, I grew up in the latter stages of the Cold War.

When the Soviets weren't threatening to nuke us off the planet, they were kicking our butts in the Olympics.

Between the 1976 Montreal Games and the 1988 Seoul Games, the only time the USA beat the Russians in total or gold medals was at the 1984 Los Angeles Games.

Of course, the Soviets led an Eastern Bloc boycott of those games in retaliation for our boycotting the 1980 Moscow Games.

China is the chief competitor to the United States now.

As host nation in 2008, China lost the overall medal count to the United States (110-100) but took more gold (51-36).

After Tuesday's competition in London, China has 73 medals with 34 gold while the USA has 70 and 30.

Gone missing

In the Cold War era, athletes from communist nations were strictly watched so that they would defect to other countries.

Boxers always seemed to be of particular concern.

Cameroon is not a communist nation, but seven athletes from its delegation have disappeared from the Olympic village over the weekend.

Drusille Ngako, a reserve goalkeeper on the women's soccer team, was the first to go missing - disappearing when her teammates left for a match in Conventry.

Swimmer Paul Ekane Edingue was next, and five boxers - Thomas Essomba, Christian Donfack Adjoufack, Abdon Mewoli, Blaise Yepmou Mendouo and Serge Ambomo - vanished shortly after they were eliminated.

"What began as rumor has finally turned out to be true," said David Ojong, head of the Cameroon delegation. "They have disappeared."

Reports are that some of the missing talked of wanting to stay in the United Kingdom for economic reasons.

The big payback

The proliferation of media coverage at the Olympics has opened the door for many former athletes to get a piece of the pie as analyst for various outlets.

NBC has 28 former Olympians working for the network with a combined 45 Olympic medals - 25 gold.

Ask why he is in London doing Olympic chats for sports-oriented social media sites, USA diving legend Greg Louganis joked, "They paid me."


Contact John Smallwood at smallwj@phillynews.com. For recent columns, go to www.philly.com/Smallwood.

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