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BEIJING 2008 : BEST OF THE BLOG

Beamon's greatness endures for decades

August 20, 2008|Gary Hall Jr.; Helene Elliott

BEIJING -- The U.S. Olympic Committee has a hospitality suite called the USA House here, where Olympians and their friends and family can meet, along with those associated with the Olympic movement.

It was at the USA House that I attended an event to honor Olympic legend Bob Beamon. The event was to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Bob's historic 1968 long jump of 29 feet, 2 1/2 inches, still an Olympic record.

I've gotten to know Bob pretty well over the last few years. What a great man. We both spend time in South Florida. We both have diabetes.

Bob attends a fund-raiser that I host every year for my diabetes foundation. His demeanor is relaxed despite the fact that wherever he goes his name is whispered: "That's Bob Beamon!"

I heard that an autographed 2004 Michael Phelps Donruss trading card was worth $500. I would rather have Bob's autograph. I'm embarrassed to ask though.

I'm not an autograph collector. The closest I've come to being an autograph collector was when I was a little kid. I had a Snoopy book with blank yellow pages. I was at a dinner with my parents one night, and my father pointed to an old man. "See that man over there? That is a great man. Take your book over there and ask him for his autograph."

That man was Jesse Owens.

It's strange, tears came to my eyes when I typed that last sentence. I'm not an overly emotional guy. It's just that I'm so proud of the fact that I was able to meet Jesse Owens.

Some people say that Bob Beamon's accomplishment was overshadowed by the moving image of Tommie Smith and John Carlos with raised fists. But Tommie was there at the USA House too, honoring the legend, gentleman and hero, Bob Beamon.

You know, the Olympics are pretty cool.

-- Gary Hall Jr.

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Standing out

The real revelation in the women's 200 meters Tuesday night was Roqaya Al-Gassra of Bahrain, who won the second heat.

She ran with her head and ears completely covered with a white cloth, her arms encased in a long-sleeve shirt and her legs covered up by sweatpants.

She certainly stood out in the crowd of sprinters wearing midriff-bearing singlets and bikini-like shorts.

Al-Gassra declined to speak to reporters, saying only, "I'm happy," as she walked away.

-- Helene Elliott

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