Sunday, August 17, 2008

Usain Bolts Jamaica to Victory

Bolt
(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

by Teswayne Harris

It was as if he knew he would win the race. It was as if he knew he would break the world record, one more time. It was as if he was running all by himself, in a lane and in a race all by himself.

But he was not. He was chased by 7 others, including his compatriot and former world record holder Asafa Powell. None of them could have caught him and by the time that was a thought, the race was over and a new world and Olympic record set: 9.69.

Running out of lane three, the man known as “lightning” was almost the last one to react to the start gun, but after the first 50 meters of the race, it was clear that Bolt had separated not only from Trinidad’s Richard Thompson, the 2nd place finisher, but also from the rest of the field.

Participating in his first Olympics, the 6 feet 5 inches Jamaican Usain Bolt reaffirmed what everyone already knew: he is the world’s fastest man. But Bolt did not need 100 meters to claim the title as the race was won from about 70 meters.

Within 70 meters of the race Bolt started to celebrate, extending his arms outward and then beating his chest as he crossed the finish line. On this night, he did not care about a world record; an Olympic victory in the 100m for him, his family and his cou ntry was more important.

No Jamaican male or female has ever won a 100m gold medal at the Olympics. Bolt did it, bringing home glory to Jamaica and to every Jamaican national at home and abroad.

Bolt ran a very fast race and it took numerous replays to see actually how he did it. But one still has to wonder how fast can he run.

At 21, the Puma-endorsed athlete is still young and his ascendancy to the top of the world’s purest sport comes at a time when he has no real challenger or competition, either in the 100m or the 200m.

His main rival American Tyson Gay is coming off an injury and is on the decline. Countryman Asafa Powell is not a competitor and does not compete well in races when he has a challenger who can beat him. Powell runs better when there is no competition.

Bolt is incomparable. He thrives for the big events and the competition that it brings. Earlier this year at the Reebok Grand Prix, he destroyed Gay in his first big test in the 100m, setting a new world record 9.72.

Now he sets sights on the 200m world and Olympic record, 19.32, held by his idol, American Michael Johnson. Gay was supposed to be his main rival in this event, but an injury at the U.S. trials prevented him from qualifying. It was Gay who beat Bolt at last year’s world championship and revenge would have been sweete r for Bolt with the sprint double.

This week, Bolt will school the field in the 200m and gain his second Olympic gold. He will also ask his teammates Michael Frater, Nesta Carter and Powell, all of whom have sub 10.0 secs personal bests, to assist him in earning his third gold medal in the 4x100m relays.

It would not be surprising if Bolt earns three gold medals. In fact, Jamaica expects him to earn three gold medals.
But before the moment passes and our memory fades, let’s all savour the moment when Bolt crossed the finish line, beating his chest and running around the track, putting Jamaica in the world’s spotlight.

We have witnessed a Jamaican named Bolt as the fastest man on the planet. It was as if we, Jamaicans, knew that this moment would arrive.

Every country is great, especially Jamaica.

Bonita Jamaica
Beautiful Place. Amazing People.

See you in Jamaica.

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