Joe Battaglia, NBC Olympics
LONDON — With the Olympics set to begin here, everyone seems to have an event they can’t wait to watch.
“Always keep one foot in contact with the ground during the speed…I mean racewalk.”
Some are even looking forward to events that don’t exist.
Take Kevin Durant, he of Oklahoma Thunder fame, and a member of the U.S. men’s basketball team that will compete here. When asked on Friday night what he plans to watch during his free time in London, his answer was surprising on numerous fronts.
“I want to watch some speed walking,” he told the Associated Press. “I didn’t even know that was an Olympic sport.”
Well, Kevin, that’s because it isn’t.
But race walking is, indeed, an Olympic sport. The 50-kilometer race made its debut at the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles. The 20-kilometer event first hit the Olympic program for men at the 1956 Games in Melbourne, and later for women at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.
That Durant would even come up with the racewalk is shocking, given its less-than-popular status even among the hardest of hardcore track and field fans, particularly in the United States.
Maybe that’s because the U.S. has never won an Olympic gold medal in the discipline. Or maybe it’s because most people associate walking with everyday activity and not a competitive exercise.
Either way, having an NBA star show up to watch would bring unimaginable attention to the discipline. We’re also certain that American racewalkers John Nunn, Trevor Barron and Maria Michta would appreciate the support.
No matter what you call their event.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.