Changing China

Giant on the move

Snapshot Beijing, 3: Usain Bolt’s victory in the 100m

August 24, 2008

Bolt snapshot

At the 1988 Olympics in Seoul. I shall never forget sitting in the front row and watching Ben Johnson hurtling towards the finish line in the 100 metres and then raising his hand aloft in an almost contemptuous “I am Number One” gesture.

Twenty years later, sitting — lucky me — in the front row again, my indelible memory of the Beijing Games will always be that magical last 100 metres when Usain Bolt looked left and right, spread his arms wide and thumped his chest for sheer joy.

He was glorifying in his talent, treasuring a moment that he would relive for the rest of his life. So will I.  

Kevin Fylan adds: This is the third in our series of snapshots from the Beijing Games, where Reuters reporters give their thoughts on what it was like to be there at the key moments of the Olympics.

Read Snapshot Beijing, 1: Matt Emmons, by Erik Kirschbaum here.

Read Snapshot Beijing, 2: Matthias Steiner, by Sophie Hardach here.

More to follow over the course of the day.

PHOTO: Usain Bolt (L) of Jamaica celebrates winning the men’s 100m final of the athletics competition in the National Stadium at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 16, 2008. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn


For me, the moment of these games came in the final bronze-medal repechage match fought by Taiwanese (or Chinese Taipei’s, if you prefer) taekwondo athlete Sun Li-Wen. She suffered two partial tears of her left knee ligaments and a fractured left toe during her first round loss yet refused to withdraw from the competition. Hobbling badly, she competed on one leg during two consecutive bronze-medal repechage matches; unable to put any weight on her badly injured left leg, she fell to the mat 7 times during the first bout and 11 times during the second, but got up each time and refused to quit, despite being in obvious and excruciating pain. She finally lost the bronze medal during a sudden-death period in her final bout (after being knocked down for the 14th time by her opponent’s scoring blow), and by that time, the entire crowd had been deeply touched by her tenacity and perseverance. Her motivation apparently came from a pre-Olympics promise made with her father, who is battling nasopharyngeal cancer — he promised to keep battling the disease that threatens his life, and for her part, she promised to pursue an Olympic medal with everything she has. And she did just that.

I’m amazed that Western media hasn’t picked up this story at all (as far as I know), and I believe it deserves some attention, as it is a tremendous feat of the human spirit and, for me, the indelible image of these Olympic Games. nal/national%20news/2008/08/23/171388/Su -captures.htm

Posted by Wei Chen | Report as abusive

All these insinuations that Usain Bolt was using drugs just don’t hold water. Consider this, the time he ran in the 200 meters as a 17 year old (19.93) would have placed second in Beijing and his 200 meter time as a 15 year old (20.61) was better than many who made it to the second round of the heats.

Posted by Danny Aves | Report as abusive

Jamaica’s Showing in the bejing Olymics should come as no surprise. they have played second fiddle right behind the US evry olympics previously. Then came Balco. Suddenly the USA only have a training program that used to rely on drugs. they dont currently know how to train an athelete with only hard work, diet and and confidence that one doesnt need drugs. The exceptional Times by the Jamaicans, have more to do with being trained by Jamaicans in Jamaica versus being trained and used and burnt out by american colleges.

Posted by Robin Baston | Report as abusive

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