100 days from Paris Olympics | Olympians Peter Vermes, Desiree Scott explain allure of 100-meter dash

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Posted at 6:09 PM, Apr 17, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-17 19:27:02-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Even among Olympic athletes, there’s something singularly spectacular about the men’s 100-meter dash, which conveys the crown of the world’s fastest human and the spotlight it bestows every four years.

“There's a buzz about it,” Kansas City Current midfielder Desiree Scott said. “The whole stadium just kind of goes quiet and you're waiting for that gun to shoot off. Then, if you blink, it's over. That's how fast they are. It's just the pure power and momentum that you see and you just feel the energy as they're running that race. It was really cool to be there.”

Scott is an accomplished athlete, and so is Sporting Kansas City Manager and Sporting Director Peter Vermes. Both have been elected to their country’s respective halls of fame.

Both also competed in the Olympics — Vermes in the Seoul Games in 1988 and Scott in each of the last three Games — and tell a similar story about being transfixed by the 100-meter dash.

Canada’s Ben Johnson edged U.S. sprinter Carl Lewis in South Korea in one of the most-anticipated races in history, but he later was stripped of the medal amid a doping scandal.

“It was a great competition, unbelievable event,” Vermes said of his Olympic experience. “I got to watch the 100-meter between Ben Johnson and Carl Lewis. I watched it live, so I mean — yeah, what an experience. Other than me playing it, that was my favorite part. It was cool, and Carl Lewis grew up in the town right next to my town. I kind of knew him, he knew me or whatever — but what a race. It was just amazing.”

Olympics Famous Doping Cases
FILE- Ben Johnson of Canada leads the pack as they churn to the finish of the Olympics 100-meter final, Sept. 24, 1988, in Seoul. Johnson appeared to have won the race in world record time, but he tested positive for an anabolic steroid and had his gold medal taken away. It went to American Carl Lewis instead.

Scott’s first Olympics came in 2012, where Canada won a bronze medal in women’s soccer at the London Games.

It’s also where Scott watched Usain Bolt cruise to his second of three straight Olympic 100-meter titles.

“We do get to trickle in and fangirl a little bit for some of the athletes,” Scott said. “We get a taste in the Olympic Village beforehand. I was actually — I'm half Jamaican — so I got to see Usain Bolt run and win his gold medal in the 100-meter. I got to see that live, so that was something that I'll remember for sure.”

Olympic Medals
FILE - Jamaica's Usain Bolt poses with his gold medal for the men's 100-meters during the athletics in the Olympic Stadium at the 2012 Summer Olympics, London, Monday, Aug. 6, 2012.

Scott returned to the Olympics, winning another bronze medal with Canada at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, then helped the Canucks strike gold for the first time at the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Games.

Speaking with KSHB 41 News on Wednesday at the Current’s training facility, exactly 100 days before the opening ceremony for the 2024 Paris Olympics, Scott acknowledged that those experiences rank among the greatest of her soccer career.

Tokyo Olympics Soccer
Canada's Desiree Scott celebrates at the end of a women's soccer match against Chile at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 24, 2021, in Sapporo, Japan. Canada won 2-1.

And yes, Scott would love to make a fourth Olympic appearance this summer.

“You kind of soak it all in [the first time] like it's a gift that you get there and earn that right,” she said. “It's definitely not an easy task to be an Olympian, so I was like, ‘Just enjoy the experience while you're here.’ To then get two more Games is incredible.”

The hopes of a nation rest on your shoulders at an Olympic Games, but the perks, especially if you deliver a thrilling win, are worth it — even if you have to fight through a pandemic to enjoy it.

“Unbelievably worth it,” Scott said. “... We wanted to change the color of the medal. That was our theme, like, ‘Bronze is great, but let's go after Gold. Let's see our flag rise.’ That was our big motivation.”