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Like a Bolt of Lighting!

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1.24K   //    17 Jul 2011, 21:31 IST

(Disclaimer: This was one of my first few articles. Please go easy on it!)

31st of May 2008
Jamaican Bolt breaks 100 m World Record!

I thought the papers had got it wrong. They must have got him mistaken for the other Jamaican Asafa Powell(whose world record he broke..). So I reread that particular new article and checked it online to be sure. They were not mistaken. Thus, a new sensation arrived on the scene…

Jamaican Usain Bolt‘s first introduction to sport was through cricket. Tall thin and wiry, he had the look of a modern Michael Holding. It didn’t last and he shifted to track and field( Thank God for that!) to take advantage of his pace( he was a pace bowler in cricket, not surprising!). Incidentally, Michael Holding was a great 400m athlete during his youth, but he chose cricket in the end! Anyway, Bolt was an immediate sensation in track and field. At junior level, he became the first junior athlete to go under 20 seconds in the 200 meters, breaking a world junior record in the process.  Breaking world records started early for Bolt… But why, why is it that no one mentioned him until now? He was the best contender for the 200m crown and he was genuinely VERY FAST!  Well, because, he ran the 200m. The 200m was never the premier event of the Games, even though it is said that the average speed in the 200m is more than the 100m. People never recognized these fast, sleek runners because they were not the FASTEST MEN ON EARTH…that coveted title went to the short, burly and muscular 100m runners. And after Carl Lewis (who won the 100-200 double in 1984) or Michael Johnson who managed to take the 200m and 400m to dizzy heights, no one has managed to bring the 200m event into the limelight…until now that is.

Usain Bolt: The Fastest man on the planet

But it took the 100m to advertise the 200m, it was that for Carl Lewis and the same for Usain. Before May 3rd 2008, the 100m was considered a two-way battle between World Record Holder Asafa Powell and American Tyson Gay. On the 3rd of May, Usain ran a wind-assisted 9.76 which was then the second fastest legal time splitting the two contenders and really showing everyone why three is considered a crowd. People tried to put down his performance labeling it a a fluke and that a man as tall as Usain could never run the 100m. At 6ft 5 inches, he was a monster. It was said that shorter, bulkier men would find it easier to get the required acceleration for the hundred. But Usain and his coach wanted to prove the pundits wrong. On 31st May 2008, Usain ran a 9.72. It was unbelievable! It was just his 5th 100m race in his career and he had already broken the World Record( something that Asafa had done after 3 years in the business!) Extraordinary indeed. He became from little known outsider, to top contender. And we all know how it turned out in the end…

Now he has eclipsed Michael Johnson’s 12 year old 200m record to become the first person to win the 100-200 double since Carl Lewis in 1984. But all of us would love to ask the question, “If Usain Bolt had run those last 20 meters in full speed on the 16th of August 2008 at the Games…?” Well, God only knows. Or we will soon know in years to come…

This was all quite a few years back.

Now, as we near the London 2012 Olympics, things have completely changed. Bolt has had his first injury scare, his first loss at the hands of American Tyson Gay and looks shaky for the first time in his whirlwind career. All his competitors seem to have got that whiff of a chance that they can beat this seemingly invincible Greek God. However, Bolt can never be written off.  He still holds the world records in both the 100 and 200m. No one has ever come close to beating the mark he has set in either event save a wind assisted 9.69 by his main threat Tyson Gay, who has just undergone surgery. So, will he again streak past the field like a bolt a lightning? Only time will tell…

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