Usain Bolt has done it again. Following up his 100m win, and world record, he completed the Olympic double of gold by adding the 200m title to his growing record, and the new world and Olympic record to go with it. Tomorrow we should be waking up to many sports head lines along the lines of lightning Bolt striking twice.
While the Americans may still feel that these Olympics have been Michael Phelps, with his record 8 gold medals in a single Olympics, and his achievement is remarkable and should not be taken away from him, these games have been Usain Bolts. The Jamaican star became the first sprinter since Carl Lewis in 1984 to win both the 100m and 200m titles and the first ever to win both with new world records.
The prancing and posing before the race were there again, followed by the dancing and more posing after, just as they were on Saturday, but take nothing away from the achievement of this young man, who celebrates his 22nd birthday tomorrow.
We tend to like our superstars humble and grounded, or flawed and eccentric. What Bolt has brought to the sport is showmanship, entertainment and most importantly supreme talent. Track and field, and most other Olympic sports, give little time for anything but the acts of competition themselves. Bolt is putting his own stamp on the sport by infusing his personality into the before and after of his races. He is making sure that people will be coming to see him more than a close race. Just as well because there is no such thing as a close race when Bolt is involved. Just as he did on Saturday in the 100m he absolutely demolished the field in the 200m, his favourite and stronger discipline, leaving the race to unfold in two parts, one between the other runners, competing for silver and bronze and personal bests, and the other between Bolt and the clock. And again he defeated the clock.
American 200m and 400m legend Michael Johnson, who set the previous world record for the 200m at the ’96 Olympics, had said that he thought the record was beyond Bolt, for now, and that he would beat it in the years to come. Bolt didn’t need to wait. Unlike the 100m, where he slowed down in the last 20m and still beat the world record, Bolt gave his all in this race, not losing stride or slowing down until he had crossed the finish line and claimed the new world record. That probably goes to show how much more he values the 200m, and how seriously he was taking this evening.
What is clear is that Bolt will go faster in the future, in both the 100m and 200m, and while that is a scary prospect for his fellow sprinters, who he makes look far slower then they are, it is an exciting new prospect for sports fans around the world.
Bolt has the potential to be the greatest sprinter of all time, and is well on his way to achieving that, and for us at home, and those in the stadiums, it’s going to be an entertaining watch. Watching greatness has never been as fun.