Forget Team USA Basketball doing what they were suppose to do against Spain and getting lucky with Ginobili getting injured in the semifinals playing Argentina, since you will when the NBA season starts (exception: San Antonio Spurs fans). As much credit is deserved to Michael Phelps for his 8 Gold Medals and 7 World Records in this past Olympiad, the true star of Beijing was the goofy, flamboyant, 6’5” lanky, Chicken McNugget eating speed demon from the yam fields of Trelawny, Jamaica.
For what most American expected a continued domination of the 100m and 200m Sprints in the 2008 Olympics with Tyson Gay leading the charge fell apart quicker than Devin Hester Returning a punt. In life the show must go on, and if the star is cannot perform then the understudy must give the performance.
Perhaps in began during the Reebok Grand Prix on May 3, 2008 in New York City, it was only the fifth time he ran the 100m as a professional. Bolt achieves his first world record of 9.72s surpassing his fellow countryman Asafa Powell’s mark of 9.74s with lightning striking from a distance in the sky. After his race Gay admitted “It looked like his knees were going past my face” realizing the Lightning athletic potential. Perhaps this has haunted Gay while giving Bolt peace of mind with the accomplishment.
Two months later Tyson Gay qualifies for the 100m but fail to do with a hamstring injury for the 200m during Team USA tryouts. In the Games Gay failed to advance to the finals of both the 100m Dash and 4x100m Relay with him and him alone at fault.
This along with Lolo Jones’s surprising finish in the Women’s 100m Hurdles (Dawn Harper took her slack), Sheena Tosta losing out to Jamaica’s Malaine Walker for Gold in the Women’s 400m Hurdles, and Sanya Richards’ Bronze medal in the Women’s 400m (Ohuruogu (GBR) Gold, Williams (JAM) Silver) showed the continued demise of USA Track escaping the past shadows of greatness embarrassment.
With a no show of Gay in the 100m final on August 16 in the Bird’s Nest, Usain turned in his greatest performance yet. With an ecstatic Michael Johnson screaming like a little girl in te stands, the Lightning Bolt from lane 4 devastated the competition even when pulling up through the last 20 meters. At 9.69s the fastest man alive celebrated his new triumph, though some throughout the world would accuse him of showboating. Staying cool and loose before and after the dash his only goal for the 100m was to win Gold with the record owned by him months before.
His win was only the start of the Jamaican onslaught of the 100m and 200m events within that week. Shelly-Ann Fraser won Gold in the 100m Women’s with her teammates Sherone Simpson and Kerron Stewart tying for the Silver medal 0.2 seconds behind the next day. On August 21, Veronica Campbell-Brown retained her 200m Women’s title from the Athens Olympiad against Allyson Felix a day after Usain Bolt broke Michael Johnson’s 19.32s record by 0.02s to win the Men’s 200m. Bolt followed his two records by taking a third in the Men’s 4x100m Relay with Nesta Carter, Michael Frater, and Powell in 37.10s on August 22.
Sure some people may not like the presentations Usain does but in my opinion he brings youth and a breath of fresh air into the sport. His hamming of the 100m has left us wondering what if keeping us in tuned incase he does surpass 9.69s. In the era of Tim Montgomery, Marian Jones, and the recent steroid allegations of Carl Lewis from 1987-1988, the recently 22-year-old Bolt distracted us with his blazing speed and charisma to show us the future of track for the next two, possibly three Olympics from now.
Swimming was in no need of saving for Michael Phelps to turn in his feat, nor did the US Basketball Team needed to worry about basketball falling apart if they did not win Gold (though much grief would be given). The World of Track was in turmoil and needed a guiding light to a better place as the Beijing Games close. As a new fan of his skills and celebrations, I must proclaim that Usain Bolt is the Savior of Track.