Saturday, August 11, 2012

2012 London Games: Nobody Can Catch Usain Bolt

The first thing I should note, as I couldn’t keep track of the Jamaicans smoking the U.S., is that Usain Bolt is really the greatest track showman. He’s a showboat, a demigod and a natural-born athlete, the sprinting sensation of the world, which affirms he’s The World’s Fastest Man. Nobody can keep up with Bolt, let alone the Americans, an amazing talent running the greatest footraces of these London Games.

Lightning Bolt is the hero of the Olympics, a new theme of track and field. It’s the greatest show in the world by a man who is merely described as the fastest man alive, born with a gift to run for his life and break world records as we become crazy about the Usain Bolt Show. His countryman, Yohan Blake, the 100 and 200-meter silver medalist, handed over the baton and, man, Bolt pulled away in the final leg to blaze across the finish line with a time of 36.84 seconds. I was impressed by him and dropped my jaw Saturday night, as always, when Bolt anchored Jamaica’s world-record performance in the 4×100 relay, breaking its own record in its gold-medal medal victory.

Walt Disney released a film called “Cool Runnings” years ago. The movie was based on a true story about a Jamaican bobsled team that raced at the Winter Olympics. The folks at Disney — as Bolt has been entertaining and electrifying to characterize the nature of track and field events in these games — should choose to make a sequel to “Cool Runnings” and call it Lightning Bolt. The motion picture, after all, would be a seller and top the movie’s box office as one of the greatest sports films of all-time.

It was, after all, the prelude to an Olympic dream, and Bolt cemented his place as one of the greatest runners of all time. There’s no denying it — we are watching Bolt blossom into a legend of these London Games before our very eyes, after sustaining excellence of defending three championships. He is hailed as the Michael Jordan of track stars, captivating 80,000 in Olympic Stadium, with his incredible feet, agility and will to win during his prime as millions across the world respects him rightfully so. The night for Great Britain was filled with euphoria, as well, when Mo Farah beat Ethiopia’s Dejen Gebremeskel in the men’s 5,000-meter final to go with his 10,000 gold, perhaps more impressive than watching Bolt and Bailey in the final leg that concluded with a dramatic finish. Bolt is the most coveted of all Olympians and pulled away from American Ryan Bailey, an impressive run in the final leg of the race, while a rambunctious crowd erupted in cheers and wildly screamed.

My eyes, however, were glued to Bolt the entire time, and no one else. He is, without argument, an Olympic legend, no matter what IOC president Jacques Rogge thinks about his legacy, saying Bolt is not yet there. The rest of the world thinks he wasn’t only the star of the sport, but feels he took another step toward moving into the company of all-time great Carl Lewis, who Bolt ripped earlier this week. If not now, eventually we’ll have no choice but to call him a legend, surpassing Lewis as the most decorated sprinter in Olympic history. Most of all, however, he’s wore the Jamaican flag around his shoulders and gold medals around his neck three times. It’s no fluke that Bolt dominated the 100 and 200-meter with his God-given speed when, rather amazingly, he’s the most relentless athlete the world has ever seen and embraced.

There’s no one as fast as Bolt, a near-perfectionist and the greatest sprinter, running all the way to claim his third gold medal of these London Games and sixth in two summer games. There’s no one who runs harder than Bolt, not right now at least. There’s nothing more breathtaking and wonderful in sports than Bolt. You were delighted, thrilled, essentially falling out of your seat, wondering how the heck he runs so quick. The most athletic runner in London is Bolt. This is a guy who once, with a straight face, said he’s the best of all-time and he’s right about it.

That’s no lie.

But what about the United States? From the moment American Tyson Gay was handed the baton, he had trouble keeping up with Blake, who outran him to give Bolt a huge lead. The handoff from Gay to Justin Gatlin was anything but perfect. But if we’ve learned anything, besides understanding that Bolt is by far the greatest, it’s that Bailey can somehow stay with the fastest man in history. This is not to say, mind you, that he can edge Bolt in a race, because it’s not seemingly possible and won’t ever happen. As time progressed during the race, Bolt had to run all the way and beat Bailey to the finish. There’s no doubt Bailey, 23, is an emerging U.S. track star, not intimidated to compete and endure a challenging footrace against Bolt.

Short of the finish — as Jamaica dominated again — a common trait of the Jamaican culture, the Americans finished second in a time of 37.04 and captured silver. As for Bailey, he’s the emerging U.S track star for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, where he looks to compete and avenge a gold-medal loss against Bolt, who had to run at full speed. This time, Bolt had to actually give it his best effort, like having to accelerate and run all the way until he reached the finish line, just enough to hold off the Americans. Bolt couldn’t slow down and celebrate prematurely, but when he delivered a signature performance, he performed gold-medal winner Farah’s famous salute.

The Jamaicans were running for one purpose, and indeed they brought home the gold, as defending three titles was Bolt’s stated goal. The Jamaicans are celebrating, and among all sprinters, Bolt is partying the most. But as long as Bolt is around, he will be the man to beat. With him around, Jamaica has sustained historic achievements.