Actually, Michael Phelps is the greatest Olympian ever. If you only take into account the fact that he won eight gold medals and might now feasibly be on the next Young Jeezy album, he has eclipsed our own dreams by knowing how to swim on the one hand and doing anything more than buying the next Young Jeezy album on the second. So for that, we celebrate him. However, last night and today, we witnessed the pop culture birthing of one Dayron Robles, Cuban 110 meter hurdler, world record holder and Olympic gold medal winner. Indeed, he is fast as all get out, and he seems heroically impervious to our fear of a hurdle wrecking our genitalia in Olympic ignobility, but that is not what makes him great.
First, in an Olympic Games populated with freakishly attractive athletes who train in world-class American, Chinese and European facilities, Dayron looks like Raj from What's Happening!. He wears wire-rimmed spectacles held in place by Croakies that look like they were cut from an old boot, hangs tinny gold chokers around his neck and keeps time with a fresh executive watch. He is truly a window into what it means to achieve in Cuba while reminding us all that vintage is always a good option when you are light on cash.
Second, he upholds the spirit of the modern Games as a megaphone for justice. The day before Beijing dazzled us all with the opening ceremonies, Robles' signature appeared on a letter issued by the International Campaign for Tibet, in conjunction with Amnesty International, to China's president Hu Jintao calling for him "to enable a peaceful solution for the issue of Tibet and other conflicts in your country with respect to fundamental principles of human rights… China is the focus of worldwide attention… Your decision on these issues will determine the success of the Olympic games and the image the world will have of China in the future." According to the Guardian, "After the letter's international publication yesterday [August 7th] several signatories asked for their names to be removed. Robles was not one of them." BADASSSSSSS. Just saying. No big deal, says Jintao. Or not? Today the Chinese government shut down Chinese iTunes after it was learned that 46 athletes in the Olympic Village downloaded Songs for Tibet, which had been offered to them free of charge. Songs for Tibet was promoted by the International Campaign for Tibet. It featured songs from Sting, Moby, Damien Rice and Alanis Morissette.
Third, we have yet to receive word that Dayron Robles was one of the 46 athletes who downloaded that album, so he also has good taste.