What’s going on with athletics? Do you know anything that’s happened in the sport this year? Has a sport ever so completely disappeared as ‘track and field’ — and not just because a large part of it has vanished into the maw of state-backed cheating, lying athletes and complicit FSB agents? Have we had the Bislett Games, that ever-present feast of record breaking athletics from my adolescence? Has the Weltklasse in Zurich, or the Olympics in one night as it was known, come and gone? Have the UK trials taken place? (That was normally an intense couple of days.) The answers are: yes; no, they’re coming up in September; and yes of course. But you see what I mean.
Who announced themselves at the US trials? Which sprinter has come from nowhere and recorded a personal best to relegate a household name to the relay squad? Are we even bothered by how fit Usain Bolt is? There used to be a glorious sport called athletics: shame it doesn’t seem to exist any more. Of course golf shouldn’t be an Olympic sport since it’s not the pinnacle of the game; we had that on Sunday at Troon. But sooner or later someone is going to ask whether athletics should be an Olympic sport if no one really cares any more. Athletics goes to Rio on life support, and unless something happens, we might as well switch it off.
One real giant who is towering over a previously tainted sport is the extraordinary Chris Froome, whose impending victory in the Tour de France looks as inevitable as a pair of Theresa May kitten heels. It will be Froome’s third Tour victory, and a colossal achievement. He’s been undervalued, perhaps because he looks like a spindly seven-stone weakling who is about to get sand kicked in his face.