Friday, August 10, 2012

Usain Bolt: The Man, The Champion, The Legend

What more can you say? Usain Bolt came to London to be a legend and he did just that. The World's Fastest Man to defend his title in the 100/200 meters and neither race was close. He came, he saw, he conquered.

In the 100, he dusted arguably the greatest field ever by .12 with an Olympic record of 9.63 seconds. Unbelievable that Tyson Gay runs a 9.8 and doesn’t even medal. This might be more impressive than 2008 considering this field was miles better and he was challenged.

He followed that up in the 200 with even more insanity. He won his heat easily without breaking a sweat. Then in the final, he got out quick and left everyone behind to enjoy that cruise to immortality. 19.32 seconds tied what Michael Johnson did in 1996 to set the world record.

This was supposed to be the year he was challenged. His training partner Yohan Blake beat him at the World Championships and the Jamaican trials in the 100/200. Justin Gatlin was back from being suspended and running in top form in the 100. Tyson Gay was healthy and motivated. There’s no way that Bolt would repeat his effort right??

Wrong. He didn’t repeat it. He exceeded it. By slowing up both times, it leaves us to wonder exactly how fast he could’ve gone once again.

Now let’s put this in perspective

-       Only 3 men have more than 4 gold medals in track and field. Bolt has 4 in the individual sprints, a new Olympic record.
-       In each event, except the 200 this year, Bolt set either a world or Olympic record. Add that to the world record he helped set in the 4 x 100 Beijing. 5 golds, 4 in record time.
-       Margin of Victory: 2008 – 100m (.20), 200m (.66 – largest margin ever in Olympic history). 2012 – 100m (.12), 200m (.12 even with easing up)

Throw in the fact that Bolt has become must-see TV. My whole family gathered to watch the 200 heats just to see what he’d do. When he’s on the track, everything stops and you watch him. And he knows it. Sprinters are notoriously cocky and he embraces the cameras like a dancer playing to the crowd.

It’s like watching Muhammad Ali in the ring. Secretariat in the Triple Crown. Michael Jordan on the court. Wayne Gretzky in the 80’s. Jerry Rice. Usain Bolt steps out, tells you what he’s going to do, does it and there’s no answer.

We can speculate on how fast he really could run if pushed the whole time. I think he could’ve run in the high 9.5’s or broke 19.1 this week in the Olympics.

Warren Weir, left, and Yohan Blake, right, made it a Jamaican sweep in the 200. Further showing the balance of power in the sprints has shifted away from the U.S. Welcome to Jamrock!

He was challenged by better competition this year and he responded with dominant wins. Greatest Sprinter of all Time? He has my vote among the greats and if he and Yohan Blake lead Jamaica to a repeat in the 4 x 100 relay, go ahead and crown him as far as I’m concerned.

What's next? I've always said that an Olympian becomes immortal in 3 or more Games so if Bolt comes back for Rio in 2016, who's to say that he won't do it again? Yohan Blake may get better but I can't see any American being close to Bolt's galaxy. The only thing stopping Usain Bolt is injury or boredom. And that's scary.

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