Celebrating last-place finishes at the Olympics. Because they're there, and you're not.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Signing Off

Well, that's it. I'm not sure I knew what to expect when I launched this blog a bit more than two weeks ago. I wasn't sure what the last-place finishes would look like, or what the response would be to this blog -- or whether anyone would even notice. As it turned out, lots of people noticed, and the response has been almost unanimously positive.

As for the results, we didn't get the last-place story that the media always hopes for: the ludicrous last-place finish. (They tried with the women's marathon, but given the severe conditions and the 16 DNFs, any finish was an achievement.) Partly that's a result of the IOC's crackdown on the novelty acts. And partly it's because last-place finishes, like medal finishes, come in all shapes and sizes.

Athletes come in last for all kinds of reasons, whether it's spectator interference, injuries, or deliberate strategies -- these were some of the more interesting last-place stories from these Games. But by and large last-place finishers were just like any other athletes at the games: some had a shot at a medal but it didn't work out, some were strong contenders, some had no hope but tried their best all the same -- and some might even test positive for steroids.

Last-place finishers are just like any other athletes. Most get ignored. Lucrative endorsement deals won't be waiting for the last-place finisher, but they won't be there for the seventh- or fourth-place finisher either. They won't be showboating at the end of the race. Their officials won't be demanding a duplicate gold medal. As far as the media is concerned, those off the podium hardly matter except as cannon fodder for the victors. But they're the nine-tenths of the iceberg beneath the surface: they're where most of the Olympics can be found.

This is my last post to DFL. I've been asked whether I'll do this again; I haven't decided yet. I've got other projects to work on -- and, believe it or not, I have to look for work. Keep an eye on my personal blog if you're interested in finding out what happens next. This'll be a hard act to follow, though.

I'll leave comments open for a few more days. Reader feedback, whether in the comments or by e-mail, has been a definite highlight of this little project. Thank you very much.

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  • At 10:11 AM, September 01, 2004 , Blogger James said...

    As I said before, you're more than welcome to submit stories for Runner-Up (www.runner-up.org). Just email me if you'd like to be added as an author. I think we're in sync on the philosophy of "non-winners", anyway.

    Great work during the Olympics. I hope you'll leave the site up as a resource between Olympic games, too.

  • At 10:10 AM, September 03, 2004 , Blogger mbar said...

    Good luck with whatever you do in the future!! :)

  • At 12:19 PM, September 03, 2004 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Hello, i'm Benedicto from Peru and i really love this blog, because it rescues the essence of olympism, is not to win medals is to do things the best you can, "Faster, Higher, Stronger" so i believe that the stories about people that finishes last in the competitions, are pretty interesting, because they are athletes that maybe don't have the preparation to finish on first place, but they have the courage to finish the competition, to compete, to put theirselves into the test and they deserve our recognition

    Well i have a blog where i have posted all i know about Olympics, and I have tried to talk about all kind of stories, the first places and the last places.
    is in: http://elblogdelbene.blogia.com it's in spanish.
    Thanks for creating this blog


  • At 12:50 PM, September 06, 2004 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Well thanks Jonathan. It's been a blast. Thoughtful, well-presented and with a sound philosophy, this site has been a one-off. I'm sure there will be no shortage of coat-tailers getting in on the act in 2008, but this will be their guiding light.