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Bolt is the greatest of all time

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19.30 in the 200m, breaking Michael Johnson’s record! Two world records, two gold medals. He led by 10m at the finish, and this time there was no show boating.

I remember watching Johnson set the record in Atlanta (on television). I couldn’t imagine when — if ever — it would be broken.

In the semifinal heat yesterday Bolt looked like he was jogging at the finish, yet placed ahead of Shawn Crawford, the defending gold medalist from Athens who finished third in the final. Bolt destroyed his competition effortlessly. He is a superman among boys.

Hopefully the silly US media will forget about Phelps and focus on the real story in Beijing. Note added: Bolt donated $50k to earthquake relief in Sichuan province. He said he was moved to tears on the night of winning the 200m race, when more than 90,000 spectators in the Bird’s Nest sang “happy birthday” for him. Unfortunately, not of interest to NBC.

NYTimes: The margin of victory seemed almost impossible. His finishing time, a sport-shattering moment. Just days after Usain Bolt electrified track and field with a world-record run for the ages in the 100 meters, he might have outdone himself in the 200.

Jamaica’s wunderkind surged so far ahead of a stellar Olympic final field Wednesday night that the final 50 meters inspired sheer awe. Running hard through the finish, Bolt not only ran 19.30, breaking the world record by two-hundredths of a second less than two hours before his 22nd birthday, but he seemed to set new parameters on what humans can achieve.

This time, unlike in the 100 meters, Bolt ran hard the entire race, clearly wanting to show what he can do when he is serious. In the 100, he essentially stopped racing with about 10 meters to go, threw out his arms and slapped his chest before he crossed the finish line. That made his time of 9.69 — .03 better than the world record — that much more astounding because it could have been even lower.

In the 200, Bolt overpowered the field in the turn, entering the straighaway with the only question left being how much would he win by and would he break the world record. That was 19.32 seconds, set by the American Michael Johnson at the 1996 Atlanta Games. Before Wednesday night, Johnson’s record run was the only performance under 19.62. Bolt’s previous personal best was 19.67.

“I didn’t think I’d see under .30 in my lifetime,” said Renaldo Nehemiah, a former gold medalist in the 100 hurdles. “He’s a freak of nature. He did it at 14 and he did it at 17. Most people aren’t surprised he did it. They might be surprised he did it here, but it was inevitable.”

More from George Vecsey of the Times; Michael Johnson agrees with me on the singular nature of Bolt’s performance:

NYTimes: …“It was the most impressive athletic performance I have ever seen in my life,” Johnson said Wednesday, before the next one. “It was amazing to watch — especially since I didn’t have to watch from behind.”

…Usain Bolt has made this a two-athlete Olympics. In two bursts of speed, he has matched much of the buzz for Michael Phelps, who won eight medals in the pool. Bolt’s two gold medals were won out in the open, on two feet. The first one was play. The second was work. But both are records. Kiss the old ones goodbye.

Written by infoproc

August 20, 2008 at 2:40 pm

Phelps, shmelps — Bolt is the man

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9.69 — and he strolled across the finish line while beating his chest with no one even close! Bolt is 6 foot 5 and only 21 years old. I think Michael Johnson’s record in the 200m is in jeopardy. Bolt is probably the greatest of all time, assuming he’s clean.

NBC: …With a full seven strides to go, he dropped his arms and let them fall outstretched to his sides, appearing almost to run sideways as he played to the sold-out crowd of 91,000 at the Bird’s Nest. Just before the finish line, he started high-stepping and, for good measure, executed a chest-thump.

All that, and still — 9.69 seconds. Bolt simply ran away from the rest of the best of the world.

“I was just saying I’m No. 1,” Bolt said later. “This is what I came out here to do, and I made it.”

BBC: …Michael Johnson described [it] as “the greatest 100m performance in the history of the event”.

Johnson, a multiple Olympic champion who still holds the 200m and 400m world records, told BBC Sport: “He shut down with 10m to go. We have never seen anything like it before.

“It’s absolutely amazing. Asafa Powell and Tyson Gay cannot run with him. He is a show unto himself.”

Remember what I said about Jamaican track a month ago during the Olympic trials…

I was a competitive swimmer from age 7 through college. My high school team won a state title my junior year and conference titles all four years I was on the team. We had numerous All-Americans and state champions. I’m still ranked (barely) on the all-time list. But the best athlete I ever competed against was a running back who had been an LA sprint champion and had turned down Division I football scholarships to attend Caltech (he was 6 foot 2 and around 190-200). I could not lay a hand on him in the open field and he was incredibly strong in the weight room even though he never trained. (Most swimmers are shockingly weak when it comes to lifts.) During our senior year scouts from USFL teams were still looking him over as a free safety, despite his not having played high level ball in college. There is no comparison between the quality of athlete in amateur, fringe Olympic sports and the big money sports like football and basketball.

Phelps, shmelps.

Written by infoproc

August 16, 2008 at 3:26 pm