LONDON Jesse Williams is going old school Tuesday night with his motivation tactics for the mens Olympic high jump final.
Williams, who was a track star and standout wrestler at Raleighs Broughton High School, was only 1 year old when the movie Rocky IV came out in 1985. But the story of Rocky Balboa as an underdog fighting Russian Ivan Drago has resonated with Williams, who has laughingly told reporters in London that they are welcome to call him Mr. Balboa if they like.
Its also significant to Williams because in his sport, Russians often earn their way to the medal stand.
We have three Americans in the final, Williams said. Maybe we should all watch it again together.
The high jump final features 14 athletes culled from the 35 entrants via a preliminary round on Sunday night. Williams looked strong there, easily qualifying with only one miss before clearing a height of slightly more than 7 feet, 6 inches. He would likely need a couple more inches than that to get a medal Tuesday in front of the half-dozen family and friends who have come from North Carolina to London to see him.
A world champion in the event in 2011, Williams now lives in Eugene, Ore. He has been the best American high jumper for the past several years, but barely qualified for the Olympics. So making it through the first round Sunday wasnt a sure thing nerve-racking, Williams called it. So cue the Rocky theme now Williams claims he is ready to jump out of the gym Tuesday night.
• I only watched the last part of U.S. womens 4-3 soccer win over Canada on TV Monday the game was played two hours away from London but that was absolutely extraordinary.
• The Olympic badminton scandal is old news by now, but fortunately for the late-night TV comics there was this to report Monday.
U.S. judo athlete Nick Delpopolo failed a drug test and was disqualified from the Olympic Games. Delpopolo then issued a statement through the U.S. Olympic Committee that included the following line: My positive test was caused by my inadvertent consumption of food that I did not realize had been baked with marijuana, before I left for the Olympic Games.
Go ahead. Insert your own punch line. When I put that news on Twitter, everybody else did.
• The London newspapers usually have covered Great Britains athletes heavily at the expense of everyone else during these Games (and of course, U.S. newspapers do exactly the same thing for American athletes).
But many of them faced an interesting decision Sunday, when British favorite Andy Murray won a long-sought gold medal over Roger Federer in tennis and Usain Bolt ran an electrifying 100 meters to defend his title.
Most of the newspapers went with Bolt as their cover story, with Murray relegated to the second-biggest story. Thats a testament to the magnitude of Bolts worldwide appeal.
• Its amazing how prepared everyone is for rain in London. Its as if they keep umbrellas on their forearm and can release them like switchblades. And every baby stroller seems to have its own plastic rain guard you constantly see babies sleeping peacefully as their parents push them through another London drizzle.