If you ask most people in the community, they would likely consider Jenn Stuczynski's silver medal performance in Beijing a triumph. After all, who else around here has one?
Yet it seems the medal was barely around Stuczynski's neck before someone tried to tarnish it.
An article by "AP Olympics Columnist" John Leicester was released Monday afternoon and even became the top story on Yahoo!'s news page while many were watching Stuczynski on NBC's primetime coverage. It is also pictured on Page One on the left.
Entitled "Trash talk backfires at the Beijing Olympics," it focused on what Leicester felt was an improper utterance from Stuczynski's lips about rival Yelena Isinbayeva before the games even began.
"Pole vaulting isn't basketball or boxing," Leicester writes. "It's far too graceful of a sport for the kind of trash-talk she doled out before the Beijing Games."
Leicester's apparent wish to equate pole vaulting with gymnastics and figure skating aside, he went on to reveal Stuczynski's "trash-talk" to the world. Parents, I warn you: I now repeat it here. Cover your children's eyes!
"I hope we do some damage," she said, "and, you know, kick some Russian butt."
Oh, what ferocity! What outright bold and unabashed claims! A trash-talking tip, Mr. Leicester: If you went to a basketball court and told the other team, "I hope I do some damage to you guys and, you know, kick your butt," you'd at best be laughed off the court and at worse thrown off with several injuries. "Hope" and "you know" are not in the trash-talk vernacular - just ask Muhammad Ali. You don't "hope"; you're absolutely sure. They don't know; you know. You know?
So if what Stuczynski said can barely qualify as trash-talk, where's the point of Leicester's column? If this is the best example he can make for trash-talk, I dare say he isn't as concerned with Stuczynski wanting to kick Isinbayeva's butt as much as he is with his own wanting to kiss it.
The entire rest of the column focuses on Isinbayeva's performance and the crowd's fawning over her. You almost expect to hear the soundtrack from a Lifetime movie playing in the background at spots.
And what does Isinbayeva say after she breaks her world record (again) and it's all over?
'She must respect me and ... know her position."
Let's see. Flagrant assuredness? Check. Extreme confidence? Check. Smells like trash-talk; at least more than what Stuczynski said!
In the end, Leicester's column sounds more like a celebrity gossip rag than coverage of an Olympic event. It makes you wonder what the "Olympics columnist" works on when the Olympics aren't around, doesn't it? Well, unless there's another John Leicester who writes for the AP, here are some stories he spent his time on earlier this year:
"Brad and Angelina's Guards Fight with Paparazzi on Chateau Grounds"
"Angelina Jolie's Hospital: 'Impossible' to See Inside Her Room"
"Doctor: Angelina Jolie gives birth to twins"
"First Photos of Brangelina Twins Will Net Fortune"
Now, to his credit, Leicester appears to have written stories about other things outside the realm of celebrity and Hollywood. Also, you can not take anything away from Isinbayeva's victory. She has proven that she still currently has more than her competition when it counts. However, watching the named "princess of the pole vault" preen in front of NBC's cameras in a pretty dress during their interview, saying how beautiful she was and talking about how she wants to star in a movie made her appear more of a celebrity than an athlete. That along with her constantly mugging to the camera and nudging the world record up just a centimeter every other performance so she can rebreak it and hear the applause makes me fear that a day will come when she will be "taken down a notch" as she and Leicester so felt Stuczynski needed to be at the games.
But regardless of what the future holds for the two vaulters, let me end, Mr. Leicester, to you by modifying your own adage: The Olympics isn't a celebrity pregnancy or red carpet premier. It's far too graceful of an event for the kind of trash gossip you've doled out during the Beijing Games.