Changing China

Giant on the move

A stroll in the sun for Usain Bolt (Updated)

August 15, 2008

Bolt amblesUntil today I would not have thought it possible that somebody could amble 100 metres in 9.92 seconds but that is what Usain Bolt did in his second heat of the event on the first day of athletics action in the Bird’s Nest.

The gods had been kind and produced a clear-skied day hot day with minimum breeze and Bolt enjoyed his time in the sun.

He started off running 10.2 in the opening heat and never appeared to reach full speed, was easing down from about 70 metres yet clocked a time that would have won the gold medal in the Moscow Olympics 28 years ago.

He returned in the evening for a another leisurely stroll around the Bird’s Nest to make it clear that his world record of 9.72 is extremely vulnerable.

The near-capacity 91,000 crowd certainly enjoyed it, and were similarly pleased by the efforts of Asafa Powell and Tyson Gay, Bolt’s two biggest, but by no means only, rivals for the gold in Saturday’s final.

With the Olympic flame burning fiercely from its Cornetto cauldron and the echo of the starter’s gun rippling up through the magnificent triple-tiered stadium, there was no question that the fans were watching something special.

There was not too much local success to get the Chinese supporters going but they let rip when heptathlete Liu Haili made her clearances in the high jump.

What they will be like when when Liu Xiang goes in the 110 hurdles final on Aug. 21 I can scarcely imagine. But I’m looking forward to finding out.

Mitch Phillips, from the Bird’s Nest

PHOTO: Usain Bolt of Jamaica competes in the first men’s 100m heat at the National Stadium during the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, August 15, 2008. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn

NOTE: This post was updated after the second heats in the evening.


I thought Bolt looked the real deal, and will be very difficult to beat. Liu Xiang needs to contend with Dayron Robles of Cuban the new world record holder, so the Chinese may not be smiling.

Posted by Neil Barnaby | Report as abusive

Bolt looked even better on his second heat, he is such a talent. Started jogging after 70 metres and ran 9.92, me thinks he’s gonnna break the record. Powell isn’t far off either!

Posted by Big | Report as abusive

Hi Big. Your comment came in just as we were updating the piece. You’re absolutely right. He looked like he could run it in 9 seconds flat if he really put his mind to it.

Posted by Kevin | Report as abusive

Why does he keep looking so casually side to side and seemingly slow down the final 40 metres? Is he trying to rattle the rest of the sprinters before the final? Frightening. I wouldn’t want to run against him. My favourite moment tonight, though, was the cheers the Chinese sprinter got — it was like 91,000 people were trying to launch him into the next round. It was such a nice change of pace from Athens — where the crowd disrupted a race the suspended Greek runner should have been in. What losers. And what winners the Chinese are. Go China!

Posted by Erik | Report as abusive

As a fellow Jamaican I was in disbelief to know he could run sub 10 in that fashion. I asked myself twice, did he just do 9.9 running only 40-50 meters. This is awsome and failing bad weather or injury he will astonish the world in the finals. But jus maybe he and Asafa has worked out a dela to share the 100 and 200 gold and may ease up if asafa is running second to him


Posted by Carl Stewart | Report as abusive

Bolt is the real big man! all natural Jamaican talent showing the world top class sprinting without using steroids. Without any injuries the world cant stop Usain!

Posted by jamyouth | Report as abusive

I want to see a Jamaican 1,2, however, the gold medal will not be given out until saturday night jamaica time. Any of the three can win or.. the jamaicans have my vote though

Posted by Donna | Report as abusive

The Bolt is awesome, the real deal and i wish him and all Jamica all the best. Phelps is incredible but if Usain can replicate the great Carl Lewis and win the 100 and 200 then he will become the face of the games due to the importance and glorification of track and field atheletes over swimmers. Injury permtting a world record cant be too far off…………. would not miss the final for the world.

Posted by Palacios | Report as abusive

Jamaica being just a dot on the world map, will surely leave a huge impression in the record books with both Bolt and Powell

Posted by Tanya Robinson | Report as abusive

I know Bolt looks unbeatable but he does often make a bad start. If it’s really bad, anything could happen. How fast can he get out of the blocks? It’s the only question.

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

You’re right, Tanya. If it’s a one-two it will be an amazing achievement for such a small nation.

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

The world will now see how magnificent Jamaican Sprinters are!

I say Jamaica 1-2 but there is still a possibility for 1-2-3.

Go Jamaica Go!


Usain Bolt is just the greatest talent to hit the track in ages and Jamaicans everywhere must be so proud of his achievemrnts to date!!! looking out for him to also win the Gold in the 200m in Beijing and to break the record – it’s clear he can do it!!!

Posted by Audrey Anderson | Report as abusive

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