Staines is the guy who fired the gun to start the men’s 200-meter final Thursday night, and he’s downright thrilled that Bolt and his other competitors stayed “steady” at the start of the race and that no one had to be disqualified.
“I know I breathed a big, big sigh of relief when the gun went and they went and there was no recall,” he said Friday.
Staines, who is from Chesterfield in central England, is one of the thousands of people who perform those anonymous tasks that make the Olympics happen.
They are the scorers and people who start clocks in every sport. There’s the guy who swims to the center of the water polo pool to place the ball on a little stand before play opens. There’s an army of helpers who race to the center of the beach volleyball court to keep the sand raked and smooth.
There are people who hold out the medals on the trays, people who place the hurdles on the track. the guy who runs out and measures where the shot put hits the ground, the guy who picks it up and returns it, and the guy who loads the weights onto the barbells in weightlifting.
At the Velodrome, there’s the slow-cycling person in a hat who rides ahead of competitors before the keirin races begin.
And in London, dare we forget, there was also the queen’s stunt double for the opening ceremony who dropped out of a helicopter to attend the games.
But all that pales compared to jobs like the one performed by Staines, the focus of international attention, if only for an instant. who would want the job of potentially disqualifying Bolt? he had false started in the World Championships in the 100 meters last year. no pressure there.
“I can remember giving the command on your marks and the crowd going quiet,” he said. “To think you’ve got 80,000 people in the stadium watching, you’ve got millions around the world watching, it then really hit home.”
The gun isn’t a .45 caliber or anything. It’s really a high-tech instrument wired to the blocks. the system recognizes a release in pressure. if there’s a false start, Staines gets a beep in the ear and a computer printout on who was responsible. Most of the time though, he can see it. Staines described the start.
“All the athletes responded to my command of ‘on your marks’ immediately. they all walked to the blocks. There was no gamesmanship. they all got down on the blocks together. they settled. the crowd went quiet. I held the nerves. I gave the set command. every athlete risen (sic) together. they came up together. they stayed there. I fired the gun.”
It all took 2.0 seconds. in the start world, that’s perfect. no beeps in the ear.
“I went to bed last night (and) the adrenaline rush was still there,” he said. “I’m still on a high.”
Gloom in Montenegro after Olympic water polo loss
KOTOR, Montenegro (AP) — when the Red Sharks lose, Montenegro mourns.
The water polo team of this tiny Adriatic Sea country, the pride of Montenegrin sports, lost 7-5 to Croatia, its wartime Balkan adversary, in the Olympic semifinals Friday, triggering despair in the ancient walled city of Kotor.
“This is a disaster,” Mladen Martac said as he watched the game at the Vardar cafe in the city center. “If it was football, basketball, or some other sports, it would hurt … but this is water polo, our beloved game.”
Montenegro reached the semifinals at the London Olympics along with Italy and two other former Yugoslav republics, Serbia and Croatia. Serbia faced Italy in the other Olympic semifinal later Friday.
The quarterfinals demonstrated the region’s power in water polo. Montenegro, population 625,000, beat Spain, population 47.2 million. Croatia, 4.7 million, beat the U.S, 312 million. Serbia, 7.3 million, beat Australia, 22.6 million.
Many doubted that after the bloody 1990s breakup of Yugoslavia, which won three Olympic water polo titles, the states that emerged could carry on the glory of the old communist country.
But many were wrong. Serbia has won three world and European championships since 1991. Croatia has captured one world and one European title in that time. Montenegro won the 2008 European crown.
The phenomenon of water polo dominance is nowhere more striking than in Montenegro, a picturesque southern European country nestled between pristine rocky mountains and the turquoise of the Adriatic.
Out of 13 Montenegro players on the Olympic roster, 12 come from two small coastal towns, Kotor and the summer resort of Herceg Novi, on the border with Croatia, where water polo grounds are cordoned off in the waters that dot nearly all villages.
On Friday, old wooden goalposts and plastic line markers swayed in the hot breeze and the waves.
“It’s a real rarity that so many world-class players come from such a small area inhabited only by some 60,000 people,” said Dusan Davidovic, a former player for Primorac Kotor, the 2009 European club champion.
He attributed the success to the “old Yugoslav water polo school.”
“That’s the school of improvisation, fitness and discipline,” he said, adding that the tradition of tall and muscly Balkan men has something to do with it.
“The ex-Yugo teams play with a lot of contact,” he said, describing a sport that often includes brutal underwater wrestling unseen above the surface, and unseen by referees.
War broke out in Croatia after it declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, and 10,000 people died in the conflict. Montenegrin troops took part in the fighting around the walled city of Dubrovnik.
Lingering rivalry among the former Yugoslav republics is perhaps best seen in water polo, which triggers national pride and emotion.
“This is another revenge for what they have done to us during the war,” said Mate Bacic, a Croatian fan in the nearby ancient Croatian city of Dubrovnik. “We are defeating them in peace.”
Operation of Liu Xiang successful