Just 51 days remain for the 2012 Olympics as we look back at some of the great stories that took place in the Olympics over the years. Inspiration can be derived from many places – courage, hope, valor; from usual to bizarre. But, ‘victory is possibly’ is the most common phrase that inspires people. Here is a story that celebrates victory.
# 3 – Usain Bolt wins both 100 m and 200 m sprints in Beijing.
“Excellence is doing ordinary things in an extraordinary way”, said John Gardner a long time back. Hundreds of Athletes win medals during the course of the Olympic games but to do it with utter and sheer dominance is always extraordinary.
Usain Bolt was never a 100 m sprinter. His 6’5” frame meant that he could never start as quickly as the likes of his compatriot Asafa Powell. Bolt knew this and that is, probably, why he never committed to do the sprint double at Beijing. But his coach, Glenn Mills, made a wise choice and asked Bolt to compete in both the races.
Thank god Mr. Mills made the right choice. If not, we would have been deprived of seeing one of the greatest feats in the history of Track and Field games.
As soon as Bolt began racing 100 m races, he came to know that his calculation was wrong. He was as effective on the shorter version of the race as he was on the 200 m track. In only his fifth overall 100 m race, Bolt broke the world record set by Asafa Powell, clocking 9.72 seconds.
The Olympics came and Bolt entered the 100 m finals with two decent clock timings – 9.92 and 9.85. The finals began with Bolt running with power, speed and precision. He finished the race in 9.69 seconds. The crowd at the Bird’s nest stadium in Beijing were left speechless, Usain Bolt had just bettered his own world record by 0.3 seconds.
But it was not the time in which he did it, not even the victory margin that he had, but the manner in which the Jamaican did it that traumatized the world. With almost 20 meters left, Bolt visibly reduced his speed and started celebrating. He had this arrogant exuberance and ran almost another 100 m to celebrate. He shattered the world record by a very good margin and still left the impression that he could have done much better.
With 15-20 meters to go, Bolt gazed around, widened his arms and pounded his chest a couple of times. He did all this in a race which determines the fastest man on the planet and still managed to break the world record. Usain Bolt was racing in a league of his own, he left the rest of the pack behind and powered himself to a victory that was par excellence.
Despite having the second worst start to the race (reaction time : 0.165 s), Bolt managed to win gold because of his acceleration and power. Once he got into the full drive, there was no catching him. After five strides, he was leading the pack and after 10, he was all but gone.
In the aftermath, people began talking about the time he could have set if he hadn’t slowed down. Richard Thompson, the silver medalist, suggested 9.54 seconds. Bolt however, was very humble about the whole thing. He commented “That’s not important,” he said outside the stadium, long after the race. “I came here to win a gold medal.”
Just like they predicted, Bolt did have a better time in him. A year later, at the Berlin World Championships, he broke his record for the second time and clocked an impossible 9.58 seconds. It might take years for that record to be broken, who knows, maybe Bolt will break it himself in London!
So, the expectations were obviously high when Bolt returned to the Bird’s nest to run the 200m finals four days later. Michael Johnson’s record of 19.30 seconds, which had been standing still for nearly 12 years, was considered unbreakable. This time though, Bolt kept the theatrics away. It was just simple and plain power combined with unthinkable speed. Bolt won the race and broke Johnson’s record. He had the double. He did what he wanted to do. Bolt also won Gold at the 4 x 100 m relay racing for Jamaica.
Beijing 2008 underlined Usain Bolt’s status as the greatest track and field player of our time. Bolt displayed one of the finest acts of excellence in modern history. His victory margin was the largest since Carl Lewis in 1984. His story tells us that nothing is impossible with perseverance and commitment.
Here is a great compilation of all the World Records that Bolt has set and broken.