Changing China

Giant on the move

Bolt takes sprinting to a whole new level

August 16, 2008

Bolt with the flagUsain Bolt’s 100m triumph at the Bird’s Nest will surely be one of those sporting moments that stay in the collective memory for decades.

As anyone who was there, or who saw the TV pictures, will attest, Bolt could have put in an even quicker time than his new world record of 9.69 seconds, had he not started celebrating with 20 metres to go (it’s down to yam power, according to his family).

Yet it was his supreme confidence, bordering on arrogance, in milking the moment that made it such a memorable run.

Arms outstretched, face turned to the crowd, with 10 metres to go, Bolt knew that no-one was going to catch him and he could take a good look around as he made history. He carried on sprinting way past the finish line and the first quarter of his victory lap was almost a taster of what is to come when he runs in 200 metres.

He didn’t stop running until he spotted some Jamaican fans in the crowd, so easily identifiable in those vibrant yellow shirts with that magnificently proud flag, and went in for a hug.

After Michael Phelps pushed the limits of swimming to a new level this week now the track and field section of the Games has started with an astonishing performance which we will see replayed on our television screens countless times in the next week and beyond.

I first saw Bolt at the Jamaican national championships, the island’s Olympic trials, back in June. Despite the presence of his rival Asafa Powell in the same 100 metres race, he eased off and virtually jogged over the finish line, leaving some of the fastest men in world athletics panting behind.

Then, as now, he made his rivals look like little kids chasing vainly down the back street after the big boy.

PHOTO: Usain Bolt celebrates winning the men’s 100m final, August 16, 2008. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

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