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Usain Bolt 2012 Olympics: Jamaican Sprinter's Showboating Dilutes Greatness

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 09:  Usain Bolt of Jamaica celebrates after winning gold in the Men's 200m Final on Day 13 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 9, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Adam FromalNational NBA Featured ColumnistDecember 16, 2016

Usain Bolt has established himself as one of the greatest athletes of all time during the 2012 Olympics. However, as impressive as his accomplishments on the track may be, he's diluting his overall greatness with his showboating. 

The Jamaican sprinter had a chance to do much more than just become the first athlete to ever win a gold medal in both the 100m and 200m events at consecutive Olympics when he defeated his countrymen and the rest of a strong field on Thursday. 

He was presented with the opportunity to leave an indelible impression on viewers and spectators alike, dazzling them with a record-setting performance that would never be forgotten. He could have put on a show that we'd remember forever, on par with the other moments that you remember where you were when your first saw it. 

Instead, Bolt chose to put on a different, self-glorifying type of show at the 200m final. 

More than a few paces in front of the second-fastest man in the world, teammate and rival Yohan Blake, Bolt started to slow down and coasted to a gold-medal finish.

This is by no means the first time that Bolt has gotten rid of the competitive juices and decelerated prematurely. 

Bolt managed to leave a mark on the track world by showing that he was so dominant he didn't need to go all-out over the duration of the competition, but that mark is much less impressive and memorable than a world record. 

Is it really asking too much to expect Bolt to run as hard as he can through the finish line? You know, to finish strong just like every young sprinter is taught to do. 

This man is in the international spotlight just a few times per year, so he should be able to put forth maximum effort for the duration of his event. 

Bolt finished with a time of 19.32 seconds, tying American sprinter Michael Johnson for the fourth-fastest time of all time.

Now we'll never know if he could have challenged his own mark, the 19.19-second record that he set at the Berlin world championships in 2009.

It's perfectly fine if Bolt wouldn't goof around before and after the race, but maximum effort while he's proving that he's the greatest sprinter of all time would be nice.

When Bolt's records are broken in the future—and they will, as generations of sprinters inevitably get faster over the course of time—the numbers aren't going to be presented with asterisks that say, "By the way, Bolt didn't run as fast he could have because he was so far ahead of the field."

Bolt may be putting on a show for us now, making himself one of the most popular and recognizable athletes in the world, but he's diminishing his legacy simply by failing to do something we've all been taught: always try your hardest.  

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