As Usain Bolt crossed the line in first in the 200m, cementing his status as the greatest sprinter of all time, the doubts and whispers about him and his chances disappeared into the London ether. Bolt, however, didn’t forget these. It must be said that, prior to the London 2012 Olympic Games, he had hardly enjoyed a successful season.
The 25-year-old began by running a slow (for him) 10.04 seconds in the a 100m meet at Ostrava, before being defeated in both the 100m and 200m by team mate and friend Yohan Blake at the Jamaican trials. Bolt has often mentioned that Blake trains harder than him, hence his moniker, “the beast”. Following Bolt’s epochal success in Beijing four years ago, had he taken his eye off the ball? Was there someone ready to make a Henry Bolingbroke style claim for Bolt’s throne?
The Games confirmed that rumours of Bolt’s demise were greatly exaggerated. The Jamaican produced two sensational displays to retain both his Olympic 100m and 200m titles, a feat so unprecedented that it even proved beyond the capabilities of the great Carl Lewis.
When discussing Bolt, we often associate him with charisma and good humour. However, when he crossed the line in both races, two new emotions poured forth from the champion – annoyance and downright anger. Bolt wagged his finger to the crowd after winning the 100m, and put that same finger to his lips following the 200m race, in order to silence anyone that had dared to question his ability to hit form when required. If anyone was still in doubt, the 6’5″ giant of athletics anchored Jamaica to gold in the 4x100m relay, meaning he now has an impressive medal collection featuring no fewer than six Olympic golds.
During the post-race press conference, Bolt declared himself to be the greatest sprinter ever, proclaiming London 2012 as “his time”. It would be impossible to argue with this, however, Bolt clearly felt the need to explicitly state his point. This is because in the world of sprinting, Bolt has taken on the position of god, at least in the Greek mythological sense rather than the more contemporary religious meaning.
Over the past year Bolt’s critics and rivals have attempted to portray him as a mere mortal, and present an image of Bolt as being wounded, fallible and most certainly beatable. Justin Gatlin even had the temerity to claim that people had grown tired of “the Usain Bolt show”. Contrary to Gatlin’s assertion, this past week was a sporting example of the infamous Samuel L. Jackson speech in Pulp Fiction.
God was angry, and delivered his wrath. The mortals dared to defy his majesty, and tried to drag him down to the ground with the rest of us. However, Bolt isn’t like the rest of us. He does not belong on the ground: Bolt belongs in Olympus with David Rudisha, Michael Phelps, Sally Pearson and the others. These Games have ensured that this is exactly where he will stay.
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