Thursday, September 4, 2008
Beijing Olympics - Bolt's 'unprecedented power'
Updated: 2008-08-25 08:07
For me, Jamaican Usain Bolt stole the Olympic show with equal doses of blinding speed and youthful exuberance on terra firma.
Just three bursts of unprecedented power were all he needed to eclipse American swimmer Michael Phelps as the poster boy of the Games - and become the evolutionary benchmark discussed at water coolers and wells alike.
But what is more memorable for me is Bolt's laid-back attitude amid the excess of modern sport.
The sprint triple winner waltzed into the Bird's Nest ahead of the 100m final as if he were strolling along a Jamaican street en route to the corner store.
He hurled his oversized frame out of the blocks a few times to limber up only to swagger back and casually kill some time before running the fastest time in history.
No pensive meditation or elaborate drills, just sheer confidence in his explosive legs.
Long enough to appear behind the pack even while his torso was in front over the first 5m, they whipped him out of the blocks and set up the win and 10.69 record time before he was fully upright.
When he did open up, the 193cm flash resembled a Concorde leaving the runway, only the deafening roar belonged to 90,000 incredulous spectators.
Absolutely sure of himself as the fastest thing on two legs with 30m still to run, he then beat his chest as alpha males have always done.
This later earned him a rebuke from the International Olympic Committee boss, Jacques Rogge.
Sure, the aptly named sprinter hammed up some mythical poses and forgot to press the flesh with his rivals immediately after the final, but this is 2008 and who could begrudge the then 21-year-old for some showmanship at that hormonally charged age.
To his credit though, Rogge tempered his criticism with the admission Bolt is fueled more by youthful exuberance than hubris and the acknowledgment he represented another "dimension in the sprint".
And he may well end up in one if he runs any faster. Which is a frighteningly real possibility considering he pulled up in the 100 and tensed up in the final stages of the 200.
Despite his determination to beat the 12-year-old world record set by US legend Michael Johnson, he was still clowning around with cameras beforehand.
He flirted with them, letting the world know who was No 1 from the bowels of the Bird's Nest, before wiping his head with his hands to insinuate "no sweat" and exploding around the wings of the stadium to his second gold.
He then capped off an unforgettable meet by playing an instrumental role in his nation's 4x100m relay gold.
If there was anything disappointing about Bolt's meet it's that he didn't contest the 400m, an event Johnson believes the Jamaican can also break his record in.
(China Daily 08/25/2008 page5)