Thursday, August 21, 2008

Day 12 Review: Bolt action rifles world record

Updated: 2008-08-21 01:59:53
Day 12 Review: Bolt action rifles world record
Usain Bolt (Photo credit: Getty Images)

(BEIJING, August 20) -- "I am number one" screamed new 200 meter world record holder Usain Bolt into a TV camera lens after leaving the field for dead to complete an Olympic gold sprint double -- both in world record times.

You better believe it. Cool, calm and charismatic in his pre-race preparations, for once here is an athlete who can live up to the hype once the gun has been fired. One day short of his 22nd birthday, Bolt blasted out of his blocks and crossed the finish line 19.30 seconds later to slice two-hundredths of a second off the previous mark of 19.32. By comparison, the rest of the world class field left trailing in Bolt's wake looked like a bunch ungainly dads competing on school sports day.

For Bolt, it seems, is the real deal. The Jamaican hasn't so much re-written the record books in the past five days -- rather he has given athletics the boost it needs.

For the remainder of the summer, children across the world will attempt to emulate this new ebullient sprint king. With five days to go, it is safe to say that Beijing 2008 belongs to Usain Bolt. In terms of numerical superiority, swimmer Michael Phelps' awesome first week makes him an all-time Olympic great. And Bolt has some catching up to do to match the marvelous record of American sprinter Carl Lewis -- the last man to complete the Olympic 100m and 200m sprint double. Let's not forget that for good measure Lewis also won the Long Jump and the 4 x100 Relay in Los Angeles, and nine Olympic gold medals in total.

Yet like the greatest of sportsmen such as Muhammad Ali, Pele or Magic Johnson, Bolt adds something else -- theater. It isn't just what he does, it is the way that he does it. There is joyous confidence that somehow falls this side of arrogance -- enough to suggest he is capable of gouging lumps out of his own world records. It will be fun to watch. And athletics stadiums around the world are guaranteed to be packed to the rafters to see him try.

Frankly, it is up to other athletes to respond -- a hard ask for the night's other track and field athletes. For the record, Shawn Crawford and Walter Dix both of the United States took the silver and bronze medals. Churandy Martina and Wallace Spearmon were both disqualified.

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