Don’t call me the greatest until I’ve done the 100-meter and 200-meter double again, Usain Bolt told the media. Today we can call Bolt the greatest sprinter we have ever seen. Once again that brilliantly charismatic king of the track renders us hacks wordless, having exhausted our store of superlatives previously.
The sprinter is so dominant that when he doesn’t smash records or tear down previously unbreakable barriers, we almost feel cheated. Bolt didn’t run sub 19 seconds—what an anti-climax! Never mind he has already broken the unbreakable and has stretched the boundaries of human endeavour. We want him to leave us with our mouths agape all of the time. Well, for the London Olympics, we will just have to make do with seeing a bit of history being made.
Once again they lined up. Bolt in lane seven, Yohan Blake in lane three. The rest were background extras.
Bolt in lane got off to a tremendous start in the 200-meters and it was practically game over for the rest after just 50 meters. As he rounded the bend, we could see he was totally dominant. He hit the home straight, three meters in front of his only rival Yohan Blake.
The rest of the field were disappearing in his wake.They might as well have been still on the warm-up track or in the bleachers cheering. They would have had a better view than watching his back for 200 meters.
As his languid stride propelled him to immortality down the final 100 meters, on this occasion, at least he had an outrider for part of it. Blake strained every sinew to try and close the gap. At 150 meters, it was just Bolt versus the clock. Like in the 100-meter, Blake must have known you can’t catch lightning.
Bolt was able to celebrate a stride from home, placing his fingers to his lips—silencing the final few doubters. This was a celebration which probably cost him an Olympic record, as he eased slightly, to win in a time of 19:32 seconds. The time the great Michael Johnson had set in 1996—a time we thought would last 30 years or more—which we had set as our perfection point. And somehow it felt anti-climatic. Blake took silver in 19:44. Another championship and he would have been the dominant sprinter. His time will come.
Warren Weir was strong enough to hold off the challenge of Wallace Spearmon to take bronze in 19:84, to give Jamaica a 1-2-3 and cement their total dominance of sprinting.
Bolt celebrated by dropping down and giving us 10 push-ups.
Records would have to wait for another day and some day those records Bolt has set will tumble and we will reassess what we thought was possible in terms of how fast man can run. We will watch his loping run with incredulous eyes. Sport scientists will scratch their head and draw up a new perfection point—the limit of human endeavour.