Changing China

Giant on the move

‘Insane Usain’ sets my first Games alight

August 17, 2008

Bolt takes the congratulationsAs Usain Bolt coasted past my press seat in a burst of speed and swagger on Saturday night, splaying his arms and pumping his chest as he crossed the 100 metres finish line, it was just the buzz everyone had promised me from my first Olympics.

I was there to report on the atmosphere at the Games’ blue riband event, but involuntarily found myself screaming encouragement, then laughing in joy and awe. As he ran around the track in delighted celebration, I was close to tears.

Here was the showman and the hero athletics has been crying out for, and I had been there to see it for myself.

I had been a fan of the Olympics as a small boy, and I still remember the ease and grace with which Cuba’s Alberto Juantorena won the men’s 400 and 800 metres in Montreal in 1976.

But the money, and the doping, gradually killed the romance for me.

The last 100 metres final I remember vividly was the classic showdown between Ben Johnson and Carl Lewis in Seoul in 1988. When Johnson was found to have taken drugs, the spell was broken. 

Then, in 10 seconds, or should I say 9.69 seconds, of sporting genius, I was entranced again.

To be fair, it has not just been about Bolt.

I saw the ease and elegance of Michael Phelps in his first race, watched women’s synchronised divers Chen Ruolin and Wang Xin drawing gasps and applause from their first dive and on the spur of the moment popped in to see the Chinese women’s gymnastics team sailing through the air like imps.

Sport would also not be complete without a big dose of controversy, but I have to admit I was a little surprised when the coach of the Australian women’s waterpolo team told me the referees were “stupid” and “arseholes”.

Nor was I really expecting it when a Swedish greco-roman wrestler lay his bronze medal down on the mat in protest at the refereeing and walked out of the arena — and out of the sport — with his fist raised.

In the end, though, it is the sporting excellence, the drama and the genius which has really captivated me. Not to mention “insane” Usain Bolt.

PHOTO: Usain Bolt of Jamaica is congratulated by fans after winning the men’s 100m final at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 16, 2008. REUTERS/Hans Deryk


It was not the time that Bolt recorded, it was the way he delivered it. Bolt made a world class field look pedestrian as his 6.5ft frame ate up the track and propelled him into a new dawn of 100m running. In a race that had promised so much he gave the watching billions a wonderful piece of athletic history and theatre. So all Bolt has to do now is add to his 100m world record win with victories in the 110m hurdles, 200m, 400m, 4x100m relay, 4x400m relay, the 800m and the 1500m, to equal Phelps 8 Gold’s in one games. Oh and before I forget Bolt has to break the world record in all expect one, the choice is yours Usian. Now that really would be a magical 8.

Posted by Neil Barnaby | Report as abusive

Fair point … or he could go for a long jump and triple jump in there just to break the monotony..,

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

To each his own Phelps in water and bolt on the track, but i think phelps got that many golds coz bolt can’t run on water and phelps can’t swim on land

Posted by Niks | Report as abusive

Congratulations to Usain “Lightening” Bolt, and the Jamaican Atlethic Federation. Unfortunately, no thans to NBC – we in the USA have to wait 12 – 24 hrs to see anything athletic. I have never seen any broadcast so biased and so poor. I hope they never get the rights to do so ever again.

For viewers in the USA – it’s more “NBClympic”, “Swimlypics”, “Basketlympics”, “Rowlympics” – anything you wanna’ call it – BUT DEFINATELY NOT OLYMPICS. NBC has single-handedly killed the Spirit of the Olympics.

Posted by Michael Khreuz | Report as abusive

Bolt’s burst of speed off the blocks is amazing for someone who is primarily a 200m runner. Wonder what the timing would’ve been if he hadn’t eased up in the last 20 m!!

Posted by Madhu | Report as abusive

I agree with the author and I am being brought back to olympics by Usain “Lightning” Bolt. I was enthralled by the ease with which he won. It is great to feel that after a long time.

I agree strongly with Michael Khreuz above, NBC coverage is very poor and biased commentary. Only one gymanstics commentator was very fair in his words. I was pissed they interviewed only the US team always exception of Bolt and fraser. They did not interview the aussies who won their swimming gold medals. It is just a matter of time Aussies will overtake the US swimmers. wouldn’t even have a recorded version of sports where america did not win a gold. Bolt’s run was epic and they did not have it on their site. shame on NBC.

I think I got a better coverage when I used to follow olympics in India.

Posted by vivek | Report as abusive

THE LIGHTNING BOLT!He has made Jamaica and all those who are Jamaicans proud beyond words.This golden run shows the world that we are much than sand,sun,sea and crime. Jamaica is agreat place to call home but we are showcased on the world page as being bad but there is only greater things lined up from positive people such as BOLT….JA salutes you for a job well done.
S.W. St. Elizabeth

Posted by shanns | Report as abusive

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