Thursday, August 21, 2008
Lightning Bolt Strikes Twice!!!
Photo - China Daily
John Crumpacker, Chronicle Staff Writer
Thursday, August 21, 2008
(08-21) 04:00 PDT Beijing --
Michael Phelps, meet Usain Bolt. What you do in the water, he does on land.
The only difference is, Bolt has fewer events to dominate and fewer world records to destroy. First the 100 meters in 9.69 seconds. Now the 200 in 19.30.
He has one event left in these Beijing Olympics, the 4x100 relay Friday night. The world record is 37.40 by two U.S. teams, in 1992 and '93. A 2007 Jamaican foursome including Bolt ran 37.89.
"I'm looking forward to the 4x100," Bolt said. "I have one (race) to go. I have to refocus again to get one more gold medal."
In seasons to come, could the 400 meters be next for this prototype sprinter for the 21st century, 6-foot-5 with a track-eating long stride and the ability to turn his feet over as fast as his shorter competitors?
"I don't want to say anything too serious because my coach might want me to run 400 meters," Bolt said. "Anything is possible if I put my mind to it. I'm not worried about that now. Don't hold your breath. I don't think I'll be going up to the 400 anytime soon."
American Michael Johnson, who lost his 200-meter world record to Bolt on Wednesday night at the Bird's Nest, can breathe easily. For now, anyway, Johnson's world record of 43.18 in the 400 is safe from an assault by Bolt.
If ever a moniker suited the man, it is Usain Bolt. He struck twice here, first on Saturday when he toyed with the 100-meter field like a cat pawing at a mouse and still set a world record with his 9.69 time.
In the 200, he took a serious mien to the starting blocks in what is his favorite race. For someone so tall, Bolt exploded from the blocks, ran the turn hard and pressed the issue down the straight with the effort clearly visible on his face.
The clock stopped at 19.31, adjusted seconds later to 19.30. Bolt dropped supine on the red track and covered his face with his hands when he saw the time.
"The 200 has been my love since I was 15," he said. "I was the youngest ever to win World Juniors. It means a lot to me. It's dear to my heart. The 200 means more to me than the 100."
Johnson's world record 19.32 from the Atlanta Olympics lasted a dozen years. Bolt drew instant comparison to another Michael, swim czar Phelps.
"My name is Lightning Bolt," he said. "I won't compare myself to Michael Phelps. To win eight gold medals, that's great. I'm on the track and he's in the water. You can't compare the two."
After the race, Bolt spoke to the prime minister of his country, Bruce Golding, who told him virtually everyone in Jamaica was in the streets celebrating. Jamaicans at the track said much the same thing, that the country came to a standstill to watch or listen to Bolt's epic achievement.
The man who turned 22 as Wednesday night segued into this morning had his entire nation of 2.7 million riveted.
"People are just cooling," said Bert Cameron, a 400-meter runner who won Jamaica's first world championship in 1983. "There's nothing on the roads before the race was run. Everybody is looking on TV. Every single soul in Jamaica loves track and field. Every single person, from the youngest to the oldest, they're sitting down saying, 'Yes, mon.' "
Cameron, a coach in Jamaica, said he first met Bolt when he was a tall, skinny youngster of 12.
"He ran 52-flat (for the 400) on a grass track," Cameron said. "Not like grass in Europe. Grass with ruts."
While many astute track people thought Johnson's world record would last well into the 21st century, in Jamaica folks knew better.
"We knew it was coming," Cameron said. "This, and better to come."
Now, there's a scary thought, but probably a realistic one. Bolt has the prime of his career still to come. If anything derails him, it could be his junk food diet. To fuel up for both his world-record dashes, Bolt said, he ate Chicken McNuggets from the McDonald's at the Olympic Village.
Like Phelps, who shovels in all manner of food to keep from losing weight, Bolt is at an age when he can be cavalier about nutrition.
"You want the truth?" Bolt said. "I got up at 12. My masseuse brought me nuggets, of course. I'm serious. I didn't want to go to the cafeteria. I went straight to the track and my masseuse brought me more nuggets."
Alas, poor Jesse Owens never had an opportunity to power up on nuggets when he became the fifth man in Olympic history to win the 100 and 200 meters at the same Games , in 1936. Bolt is the ninth man to win both sprints at the same Olympics but the first to break world records in both.
One interested spectator at the Bird's Nest on Wednesday night was Renaldo Nehemiah, the onetime 49ers wide receiver and former world-record holder in the 110-meter hurdles. Nehemiah dabbled in the 200 during his track career and had a personal best of 20.26.
"I thought he robbed us of another great performance (in the 100) because I thought he could run 9.50," said Nehemiah, now an agent representing U.S. sprinter Allyson Felix, among others. "I'm so pleased. I thought, if he runs, if he truly runs, this is his Olympic Games. It's magical. None of us thought world record. I thought 19.55, 19.52."
In his record run at Atlanta in 1996, Johnson clocked 10.12 seconds for the first 100 and 9.20 for the second. Splits were not immediately available on Bolt's dash to history, but his opening 100 was probably faster than Johnson's was in Atlanta.
"I assume his first 100 had to be faster than Michael," Nehemiah said. "A 6-5 sprinter with cat-like feet, and the turnover to match the smaller guys, if he has the same tempo and takes nine-foot strides, it's ridiculous. You just can't match it."
None did. After lane violations disqualified the initial runner-up, Churandy Martina (19.82) of Netherlands Antilles, and the third-placer, Wallace Spearmon (19.95) of the U.S., Americans Shawn Crawford (19.96) and Walter Dix (19.98) moved up to the silver and bronze medals.
"He's bad. He broke the 100-meter record, the 200-meter record," Crawford said. "I'm serious, he's bad. The guy came out and made this the best Olympics of my lifetime."
Half-laps in a hurry
The top 10 200-meter times.
19.30 - Usain Bolt (Jamaica), 2008. Beijing
19.32 - Michael Johnson (U.S.), 1996, Atlanta
19.62 - Tyson Gay (U.S.), 2007, Indianapolis
19.63 - Xavier Carter (U.S.), 2006, Lausanne, Switzerland
19.65 - Wallace Spearmon (U.S.), 2006, Daegu, South Korea
19.66 - Johnson, 1996, Atlanta
19.67 - Bolt, 2008, Athens
19.68 - Frankie Fredericks (Namibia), 1996, Atlanta
19.69 - Walter Dix (U.S.), 2007, Gainesville, Fla.
19.72 - Pietro Mennea (Italy), 1979, Mexico City
Men who have won the 100 and 200 at the same Games.
1904 - Archie Hahn (U.S.) 11.0/21.6
1912 - Ralph Craig (U.S.) 10.8/21.7
1928 - Percy Williams (Canada) 10.8/21.8
1932 - Eddie Tolan (U.S.) 10.3/21.2
1936 - Jesse Owens (U.S.) 10.3/20.7
1956 - Bobby Morrow (U.S.) 10.5/20.6
1972 - Valeriy Borzov (U.S.S.R.) 10.14/20.00
1984 - Carl Lewis (U.S.) 9.99/19.80
2008 - Usain Bolt (Jamaica) 9.69/19.30
E-mail John Crumpacker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article appeared on page D - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle