Wednesday, July 25, 2012

2012 Olympics: Usain Bolt Still Has That Swagger

This is Usain Bolt‘s moment, the most extraordinary story waiting to be told at the 2012 Summer Games in London, the one time he can wear Jamaica’s Olympics gear designed by Bob Marley’s daughter and strap on his golden Puma shoes and claim gold medals as the fastest man in the world. He is the quickest sprinter, and in the blink of an eye, he can run faster than Sonic the Hedgehog. Never has there, as one can recall, been a man as fast as Bolt, at least not from Kingston, Jamaica.

And, in London, like the time he won by remarkable margins at the 2008 Sumer Games in Beijing and 2009 world championships in Berlin, he’s again favored to run the fastest and float across the finish line unbeaten. If he reaches the finish to conquer gold medals, he leans back, with his arms tilted and the left hand pointing skyward for his famous victory pose, and then jogs around the track with the Jamaican flag draped across his shoulders. As a child, growing up three hours away in Jamaica’s rural North West, he loved playing a game called cricket. But then one day, his coach saw potential and convinced him to pursue running. Bolt, a world-class Jamaican track star, found a passion for running at a young age.

It’s likely that his coach had seen something in him and knew he’d someday turn famous and showcase his wheels in track and field, earning endorsement deals from Gatorade and Puma, defined as one of the greatest athletes to ever compete in the Olympics. It’s a sign that he was willing to meet the challenge and stand as a competitor against runners on their quest for gold medals. When he tried running at early age, faster than lightning and born with raw talent, Bolt ran at top speed and Dwayne Barrett and Pablo McNeil inspired him to expand on his speed and swagger. As he gotten better over the years, being that he was a gifted runner, he won his first silver medal in the 200 meters with a time of 22.04 seconds at the annual high school championships in 2001 and rose as a star rather quickly.

As the years went by, Bolt finished with a best of 48.28 seconds in the 400 meters and won a silver medal at the CARIFTA Games in 2001, a Caribbean regional competition. Bolt would go on to record a time of 21.81 in the 200 meters and earned a silver medal — and raced at the 2001 IAAF World Youth Championships in Debrecen, Hungary, a world level event in which he never qualified for the 200 meters final. The amazing thing is, he still finish with a time of 21.73 seconds, for a personal best. The matchups would become effortless each time, and other runners had no shot against Bolt, unable to keep pace with the speediest man alive, unable to cross the finish line without being exhausted and overworked by trying to outdistance him. At every opportunity, Bolt was more noteworthy and faster than before, and had impressive numbers at the Central American and Caribbean Junior Championships, setting the record of 20.61 seconds and 47.12 seconds in the event.

By then, they surely knew who Bolt was after those extraordinary races, a sprinter who fuels on Gatorade and prepares and trains for the stiffest competition, even though his competitiveness and sturdiness has never been a problem during his superlative Olympic games. So respectfully, with all that has happened in his teenage days, Bolt’s work ethic, rigorous preparations and workouts have benefited in his favor, such as the time he won a gold and two silver medals at the age 15 when he raced at the 2002 World Junior Championships in Kingston. Beginning his new journey Bolt was the center of national attention and acclamation for his exceptional speed and performances.

After winning a gold medal at the 2003 World Youth Championships, plus breaking records in both the 400 and 200 meters in his last Jamaican High School Championships with 45.30 seconds and 20.25 seconds, he was advertised as the fastest athlete in the world and had been distinguished as a top-notch runner. Favored to dominate in his particular sport, though he’s been struggling with leg and back problems, Bolt is focused and poised in effort to heighten his legacy and represent his native homeland as one of the greatest to ever run for Jamaica, where he is a beloved icon. You can see Bolt’s sense of responsibility four years later. By flashing back, he was arrogant and a showboat as it was a turnoff for many, and he wasn’t the most likable guy around the globe. It’s in his nature suddenly to avoid premature celebrations and compete at the highest level.

And behind it all, entering the 2012 London Games, Bolt is likely vulnerable to plunge to his rival, training partner Yohan Blake, who beat the world’s dangerous sprinter twice at Jamaica’s Olympic trials. The day he set a personal best in the 100 with his finish in 9.75, Blake, in retrospect, was the subject of many regards and gleamed at a moment that Bolt was doubted and questioned. But, to get a few things straight, he is still a menace and is certain he can heal his disappointments and struggles to put fear in the hearts of every runner, including his Jamaican team member, Blake. And more than anyone — the culture of Jamaican sports, the love of running, the investment of conditioning and exhausted training and discipline and the second nature of their heritage — Bolt is simply the best.

If he prevails, he can easily be one of Olympics most gracious athletes and fastest all time. And Bolt, meanwhile, owns 100m and 200m Olympic titles. His moment perfectly came in 2008 when he shattered the world record and won the 100m effortlessly in Beijing. The most perceptible thing about Bolt, besides that he’s mercurial and speedy and can amass gold, silver and bronze medals on his quest to complete a race with the most wondrous track time, is his blatant 6ft 5in frame and blazing vehemence. He has chicken nuggets for his pre-race meal, an unhealthy diet that fuels him to race at such an all-time high. For years now, he’s been known to be “Lightning Bolt,” a trademark that perfectly fits his brand. At age 25, he’s feeling good and can produce astonishing performance to shatter his own world-record 9.69 seconds in the 100. Ricky Simms, Bolt’s agent, told reporters about two weeks ago that Bolt had no tightness in his hamstring and has returned to high-speed, not hindered by chronic back problems or leg injuries.

It’s hard, though he’s nursing injuries that can have a damaging impact on him, to dismiss a runner as good as Bolt. It wouldn’t be right, nor smart to rule out the world’s fastest sprinter, injured or not, because he’s recorded three faster times this year alone. He isn’t worried but disbelievers are left to wonder if he can avert poor starts.

But a couple of days away from another Olympic appearance, Bolt has a chance to not only dominate, but also an opportunity, a golden opportunity to accumulate a large number of gold medals if he runs proficiently and briskly. If that someone can achieve, it’s no one other than Usain Bolt.