Raising the bar: Usain Bolt

Raising the bar: Usain Bolt, 22 once again, produced a captivating run that won him a gold medal in the 100 metres as he smashed the world recor

Not only did the 22-year-old Jamaican live up to all the fevered expectations which his China tour de force had engendered. He did much, much more. Exactly one year to the day since he ran 9.69sec in the Bird’s Nest stadium, he lowered the mark to 9.58sec and in the 96 years of International Association of Athletics Federations’ records, no man has ever improved the best time in the blue-riband event by a greater margin.

Eleven hundredths of a second. Even Bolt looked as if he couldn’t quite credit the seemingly impossible as he wheeled around the track afterwards, arms spread wide like an aeroplane. Yes, a man really can fly.

In the same historic stadium where Jesse Owens created his legend 73 years before, Bolt simply embellished his own as he became the only man in history to cross the line first in two successive major championship 100m finals with a new world record to his name.

Forget the stats, though; just gasp once more at the sight of the eighth wonder of the world.

And so much for the feverishly-hyped “grossen duell”. How must Tyson Gay, America’s reigning champion, have felt? In what was supposed to be a two-horse race, in the lane outside Bolt he got off to the better start and recorded the third fastest time in history, 9.71sec, yet still found himself passed by Bolt as if Nijinsky was cruising past a selling plater.

All credit to the magnanimous Gay. He understood his part in history. “I’ve been telling you Usain can run that fast and I’m really happy he did it. He’s so hot, he took it to another level.”

So hot that the sport has never seen anything to compare. The world had always fancied after Beijing that if Bolt ever decided to run the full distance instead of indulging in breast-beating showboating en route, then he could erase his own mark and on a night balmy enough to pass for Kingston, so it came to pass.

He started in mediocre fashion but once he was upright and into his running, he was ahead by 30 metres and the race was done. This time, though, as opposed to Beijing where he started playing silly b’s at 80m, there was no messing around.

This was business; just one glance right and one left with a couple of strides to go, just to ensure that the opposition were beaten. They were, of course, out of sight.

Great sprinters were nowhere. Asafa Powell, Bolt’s compatriot, clocked a season’s best 9.84sec for the bronze medal behind Gay while Dwain Chambers played his part in one of the greatest sprint contests in history as he set a season’s best 10.00sec for sixth place. He reckoned it had been a “privilege” to run.

Bolt himself just smiled a told-you-so smile. “I said anything could happen and it did,” he beamed. “It was a big target but I got 9.58sec and I’m really happy with myself. I was ready, I was feeling good after the semi-finals. I came out and executed it in the final.”

Only a couple of hours earlier, for the first time there was just the faintest hint at the start of the semi-final that, amid all the hoopla, Bolt might actually be nervous because, although he went through his usual daft antics on the line, when he finally settled down in his blocks, the unthinkable happened; he false started.

Second time around, it was Britain’s luckless Tyrone Edgar who was disqualified after leaping out of his blocks a fraction early. Yet at the third time of asking, Bolt, still so unfazed, jogged home from 40m out. He still clocked 9.89sec. Madness.

Five of the other finalists qualified in under 10sec but they were working. Bolt was taking a Sunday evening constitutional.

One suspects there are more miracles to come. Next stop on Tuesday morning are the heats of the 200m as he sets out to attack his world half-lap record of 19.30sec.
As for his world 100m record, he vowed: “Now I plan to do even better in the future.”

In the past, he has mused: “I could go 9.4 but I think the world stops at 9.4.”

Thank heavens the world has still not stopped yet for the fastest man on earth. A time of 9.58 seconds? It is apparently a mere staging post. –Telegraph

Evolution of the men’s 100 metres world record

10.6 seconds Donald Lippincott (US) July 6, 1912
10.4 Charles Paddock (US) Apr 23, 1921
10.3 Percy Williams (Canada) Aug 9, 1930
10.2 Jesse Owens (US) June 20, 1936
10.1 Willie Williams (US) Aug 3, 1956
10.0 Armin Hary (West Germany) June 21, 1960
9.95 Jim Hines (US) Oct 14, 1968
9.93 Calvin Smith (US) July 3, 1983
9.92 Carl Lewis (US) Sept 24, 1988
9.90 Leroy Burrell (U.S.) June 14, 1991
9.86 Lewis Aug 25, 1991
9.85 Burrell July 6, 1994
9.84 Donovan Bailey (Canada) July 27, 1996
9.79 Maurice Greene (US) June 16, 1999
9.77 Asafa Powell (JamaicWorld ) June 14, 2005
9.74 Powell Sept 9, 2007
9.72 Usain Bolt (Jamaica) May 31, 2008
9.69 Bolt Aug 16, 2008
9.58 Bolt Aug 16, 2009