A real Jamaican lightening bolt, sprinter Usain Bolt, struck again and again at the 12th International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships in Athletics at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, Germany.
I was riveted to the television as I watched the gifted and remarkable one-of-a-kind talented sprinter produce world records in the 100- and 200-meters at the same stadium USA legend Jesse Owens debunked Hitler’s master race theory in 1936.
Move over Tiger Woods and Michael Phelps. Bolt has positioned himself as the most recognized athlete in the world sporting community.
I’m a devoted track and field slappy, and, proud of it. I rank boxing and track and field as the toughest individual sports on the planet. When one steps into the ring or onto the track, there is no one to help you, but the return on investment from the effort and desire extend to ascend to the level of world-class elite athlete.
Boxers and track athletes are measured and compete against others from every nook and cranny in our world community. Asia, Middle East, the Pacific Islands, Europe, Africa, South America and North America all have athletes competing in world boxing and track and field championships around the world.
Track, in particular, is the sport the gets my sports juices flowing. The basic human traits of running, jumping and throwing are refined, strategized, cultivated and polished to the point that an athlete can push the body to the very limits of its capabilities.
As I sat in the Bird’s Nest (China’s Olympic Stadium) as a journalist during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, I had heard all the buzz about Bolt, but when he went out there and set world records in the 100 and 200 of 9.69 and 19.30, I knew I was witnessing the greatest sprinter ever to lace on a pair of track shoes.
In the world community, minus the United States, which seems determined to keep track as second-class sport, Bolt is the most famous athlete in the world. He packed over 70,000 fans into Berlin’s Olympic Stadium for both his 100- and 200-final runs. And he did not disappoint as he produced an electrifying World record 9.58 in the 100 and topped that with an even more amazing 19.19 in the 200.
I was covering the 1996 Atlanta Games when Michael Johnson set the world record of 19.32. It was widely acknowledged as one of the toughest records on the books.
Then Bolt, the unquestioned “world’s fastest man,” bettered it in Beijing, of course, but with this latest improvement it must surely be considered one of the greatest performances of all time.
Bolt’s 200 achievement was otherworldly; however, his 100 victory was also breathtaking. He beat the defending champion, USA’s Tyson Gay, who clocked a sensational 9.71 in second, a national record that was just 0.02 shy of the previous world mark. And Gay, who is now the second fastest man in history, was nowhere near the Jamaican when he blasted past the finish line.