You and I woke up this morning to find that the new "World's Fastest Man" had been crowned, an Italian named Marcell Jacobs.
Don't feel guilty if you've never heard that name before. I sure as heck haven't, and I'm guessing very few people have. Jacobs, the son of an American serviceman, was born in El Paso, Texas, but considers himself fully Italian (his mother's nationality). He won the European indoor championship 60-meter dash this winter but was an also-ran eliminated in the semifinals of his only other major event, the 2019 World Championships in Doha, Qatar.
Also, going on demographics, you wouldn't have bet on Italy. No Italian man had ever appeared in any of the 28 previous Olympic 100-meter finals. The 200 was more their style, as evidenced by 1960 winner Livio Berruti and Pietro Mennea, gold medalist in 1980 and bronze medalist in 1972, who held the world record in the event for nearly two decades.
As Olympic 100-meter champions go, it's typically not the place on the track where one sees upsets. There are no hurdles for the favorite to hit, nor is there time for an upstart to spring a tactical surprise on the rest of the field.
If there's ever been an upset winner in the 100, it may have been Lindy Remigino. The Hartford, Connecticut, native barely qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials in 1952, but that year's NCAA champion was out with an injury, and one of the other Americans went out in the semifinals with another injury. All six finalists finished within .12 seconds of each other, and Remigino was Olympic champion after his right shoulder reached the finish line an inch ahead of Jamaican Herb McKenley's chest. American Dean Smith was 14 inches behind Remigino and didn't win a medal.
Also in Helsinki, Emil Zatopek of Czechoslovakia, the 5,000 and 10,000 meter championships already in his back pocket, just up and decided to enter the marathon, too. He had never run a competitive marathon.
On the road, he consulted with pre-race favorite Jim Peters of Great Britain about the pace. Peters, faking it, said the pace was too slow, so Zatopek cranked it up a notch. Peters ended up quitting, while Zatopek ended up so far ahead that he had time to chat with policemen and spectators watching near the stadium.
Zatopek, one of the greatest distance runners in Olympic history, could have gone back-to-back in Melbourne in 1956 were he not running weeks after suffering a hernia while trying to train while carrying his wife (also an Olympic champion in the javelin) on his shoulders.
On the women's side, the gold-medal winning performance of Alaska's Lydia Jacoby in the 100-meter breaststroke last week would certainly qualify.
Misty Hyman was from Arizona, but there seemed to be a Grand Canyon-sized gulf in class between Hyman, the rest of the field and defending 200-meter butterfly Olympic champion Susie O'Neill of Australia. O'Neill, who had won the event in Atlanta in 1996 by two seconds, broke the 19-year-old world record in the event at the Australian Olympic trials and would be competing in her home country at the 2000 Games in Sydney.
Hyman had something of a secret weapon: a sideways "fish kick" that she employed underwater for nearly 30 meters from the wall, only for FINA (the international governing body of swimming) to limit it to 15 meters. She had asthma issues and upon arriving to Australia, got sick and slept for nearly 20 hours.
However, Hyman and her fish kick were enough to hand O'Neill her first defeat in six years. Hyman turned back and looked at the scoreboard three times before allowing herself to believe that she'd won, and with the Australian crowd stunned into silence, Hyman could be heard yelling "oh my god!" 11 times.
Also in Sydney, Aleksandr Karelin entered the super heavyweight division of Greco-Roman wrestling having not been defeated in any match since 1987. A three-time Olympic champion, he had not even been scored upon in six years.
Enter Rulon Gardner, the youngest of nine children on an Afton, Wyoming, dairy farm. Gardner had crossed paths with Karelin before, at the 1997 world championships, and fell victim to Karelin's signature reverse body lift. He mused, "I had never flown before, so I thought it was pretty cool."
In the Olympic final, Karelin lost his grip on Gardner and received a penalty point. The American would not yield and scored the massive upset, cartwheeling across the mat in celebration.
In a post-match interview about 30 minutes after his triumph, a reporter asked Gardner when he realized he could defeat Karelin. He said, "About 10 minutes ago."
Sometimes that's all the belief you need.
Brandon Veale is presentation editor of the News Tribune and is trying really hard to rally for week two of the Tokyo Games.