While not really a rule, but rather a want, this blog focuses on soccer and cricket, my two main passions. The only time I have strayed from this is when I wrote about the epic, and what will be legendary in the future, Wimbledon final between Federer and Nadal. Well after this weekend I have to once again stray from the norm and write about the 100m final at the Olympics, which was without doubt the performance of the year, and many years not just this one, by an individual in sport.
While the opening half of the Olympics belonged to Michael Phelps and his remarkable exploits in the pool, the second half of these Olympics will be Usain Bolts, whether or not he makes it an Olympic double in the 200m.
Bolts performance, and it was a performance in every sense of the word, on Saturday evening left people with jaws dropped, giddy in excitement, screaming with admiration, and silent in awe. In what was described by many as the best line up of 100m runners ever, maybe a exaggeration caught up in the moment, but again, maybe true, Bolt stunned the world and his fellow competitors in taking gold in a new world record time. That he smashed the world record, clocking a time of 9,69 seconds, was not the special moment that will have the athletics and sporting world talking for a long time to come, but how he did it. Bolt effectively slowed down and began celebrating his win, dropping his arms to his side and then thumping his chest over the line, in the last 20 metres of the race. The showman and histrionics aside, the Jamaican sprinter had slowed down for the final 20 metres and still managed to smash the world record! How much faster could he have gone had he carried on at 100% over the full distances? Those who watched and thought about that well be left dumb founded.
While some may see Bolts pre and post race (and mid race this week) posing, priming, pampering and dancing as a sign of arrogance, it is exactly what the Olympics has needed. The pressure on and intensity of the top athletes has taken a bit of drama out of the games. Professionalism is needed to succeed but entertainment will never be forgotten. Those final 20 metres of this final will be the image that many will take from these games. Bolt is young and confident, and on this form he has every right to play up his confidence, so long as those around him take it for what it is – the entertainment and performance of a showman, and not contempt for them or the sport.
The 100 metres has always been tainted with the drug cheat reputation, with three of the past five Olympic 100m champions testing positive for banned substances, and two of the past four world record holders. However Bolt has been tested 6 times this year, including in New York a few months ago when he set a world record of 9,72 and has never failed.
At 21 Bolt has time on his side to go even quicker. Most remarkable is that he is a 200m runner who has only recently taken up the 100m in order to quicken his 200m pace. He hadn’t even planned on running the 100m at the Olympics until a few months ago. More so, his height means he is a slow starter off the blocks, and his technique needs some work, so there is more speed to come from Bolt.
A track star become a world star this weekend and the Olympics got the glamour it had been crying out for. Usain Bolt well not be forgoten