Giant on the move
Snapshot Beijing, 7: Bolt breaks the unbreakable world record
My abiding memory from these Games will be watching Usain Bolt give everything he had to break a world record most of us had thought unbreakable.
Michael Johnson’s time of 19.32 in the 200 metres had never been seriously challenged before the Jamaican sprinter, a headline writer’s dream, decided it was finally time to get down to some serious work.
Bolt had won the 100 metres, and broken the world record, with ridiculous ease on the Saturday to set the Games alight. He was running so well that he had time to ease up well before the line and still record a commanding win.
Wednesday was different. Again, he had the race won well before the line, thanks to a brilliant bend, but there was no question of him slacking off as he hurtled down the straight. I could see him grimacing with pain as he neared the finish line before looking over to check the time.
The clock stopped on 19.31 but times are often rounded up or rounded down and there was a second or two to wait before we would find out whether he had broken Johnson’s world record or merely equalled it.
Those seconds seemed a long time for me — heaven knows what Bolt must have been feeling — but eventually the time was rounded down to 19.30. It was an incredible achievement for the Jamaican and a memory I will treasure.
This is the seventh and last in our series of Beijing snapshots — moments from the Games that will live long in the memories of all who witnessed them.
PHOTO: Usain Bolt of Jamaica looks up at the scoreboard as he crosses the finish line to win men’s 200m final of the athletics competition in the National Stadium at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 20, 2008. Bolt set a new world record with a timing of 19.30 seconds. REUTERS/David Gray