but there’s been a gate crasher in one Cullen Jones.
In the preliminary heats Cullen and his teammates shattered the world record in the 4X100 Freestyle–leaving US coach Eddie Reese with a decision of who to add to the finals team of Phelps, Jason Lezak and Garrett Weber-Gale.
The decision most likely became obvious after Jones’ sub-48 split was the deciding factor in the prelims. Jones was part of the team that broke the world record in 2006.
Alain Bernard earlier was quoted as saying: “The Americans? We’re going to smash them. That’s what we came here for.”
The French were favored to win the event and become just the third team besides the Americans to win the relay.
Ironically, Lezak’s 46.06…the fastest split ever…chased down Bernard on the last leg to complete a world record breaking performance. USA shattered the 15 hour record by an astounding four seconds. Lezak touched the wall 8/100ths before Bernard to bail out the USA team who gotten off to an early lead.
Jones, a NC State product and Bronx native, is an ambassador of sorts in the pool. He’d learned to swim after almost drowning as a youngster. He and his family were enjoying themselves at a water park when Jones’ inner tube pinned him upside down after coming down a big water slide. His father Ronald pulled the then 5 year old out of the water and life guards had to resuscitate Jones. After learning from what could have been tragic, all he’s wanted to do is raise awareness by helping Blacks understand the importance of learning how to swim.
His father died of cancer in 2000 and never got the chance to see his son set a world record mark or earn the scholarship to NC State.
Do your part people and as we’ve all seen this past weekend with the deaths of Bernie Mac and Isaac Hayes, cherish the days of time spent with your loved ones. Cullen has “41” tattooed on his back in tribute to his father.
Crazy how life happens to give you the passion to achieve and also educate.
That has to change people. It really has nothing to do with the sport; it’s more about promoting obvious water safety. Jones is helping to propagate change through the Make a Splash program.
At 24, he’s still young enough to get back to the Olympics in 2012 and make an impact individually. He was pretty upset he barely finished third in the 50 freestyle, thusly not qualifying for an individual event in Beijing.
He still has a gold to show for it and while he struggled a bit on his leg, Jones in the process became part of the most memorable races in Olympic history.
Cullen Jones becomes the second Black to win a gold medal (Anthony Ervin in 2000), which is apropos on the 40 year anniversary of Tommie Smith and John Carlos very historical Olympic protest in Mexico City.
Here’s a video pre-Olympics when Jones was featured on the BET production, Ballers…