When I Say Lightning, Usain Bolt
A 100m race is such an odd event. Everybody in the sports industry, from journalists to corporate sponsors, spent almost a year to trumpet the hype of the race to determine the fastest man on the planet, but the main event itself didn’t even last 10 seconds. It’s like a long-anticipated boxing bout between two great boxers but it’s ended prematurely in the first round after one accidentally knocked out the other. The case may not happen often in boxing, but in a 100m race, it happens all the time.
Somebody has to do something to make a 100m race a longer event. Have pity on thousands of spectators who pay a fortune to seat on the stands and witness a spectacle that lasted shorter than Kim Kardashian’s marriage. It seems that the scientists at CERN have found the Higgs Boson — the so-called god particle — so maybe they could lend a hand to the International Olympic Committee to manipulate the time and dimension. That’s one for the future Nobel prize.
The short nature of the race means the audience doesn’t have time to do anything that will distract their attention from the track, not even a blink. If you watched the race on TV, you might have crossed your fingers not to experience any customary blackout. Dear PLN, you can cut the electricity on any other day, but please, not today.
The race itself is quite simple. 9.60 seconds and a certain Jamaican wins. Usain Bolt has cemented his place as the world’s greatest sprinter of all time after he repeated in London what he did in Beijing: Winning the Olympic gold medal.
His compatriot and training partner, Yohan Blake finished second in the same race while the other 6 sprinters only managed to see the Jamaicans’ buttocks all the way to the finish line. Cue the journalists around the world to make catchy headline of how the lightning bolt has struck twice. To replicate a classic hip-hop toast: When I say “lightning,” Usain Bolt.
Athletes with a hint of arrogance usually divide opinions, but it doesn’t work that way for Bolt. If you’re as good as he is, you’re allowed to write: “The most naturally gifted athlete the world has ever seen” on your Twitter bio. This is the man that made an Olympic canteen packed with world’s best athletes stood in applause when he entered the room. He slowed down in the last 30m in the 200m race and put a finger on his mouth as a gesture to silent the naysayers, yet he still won the gold — with Blake again finished second. After crossing the finish line, Bolt did a set of push-ups to demonstrate how little the race drained his energy. A typical swagger.
In the post-race interview, he claimed himself as the world’s greatest athlete of all time and nobody could argue against it. Bolt does the talking both with his mouth and feet. Bolt is undeniably the Muhammad Ali of our time – something that he himself confirmed after a reporter asked whether he thought he’s on par with the great American boxer and basketball’s Michael Jordan. And we thought Bolt was going to claim that he’s greater than the two sporting icons. Such a let down.
We’re privileged to see that such great athletes live in our era. The sentimentalists usually talked about how sports and athletes were far greater in the past. For instance, there can’t be passed a FIFA World Cup without a pundit uselessly claimed how Pele or Maradona are still the best footballers ever. Hoops aristocrats said that 1992 Dream Team is the best there was, the best there is, and the best there ever will be in basketball.
Retro sentimentalists don’t exist in track-and-field for the same reason they don’t exist in swimming. Bolt, along with Michael Phelps, are indisputably the greatest athletes ever for their unrivaled achievements in their respective disciplines.
One may not overshadow the other because their own unique success. Usain Bolt’s swashbuckling attitude makes him an entertainer on the running track and he’s deemed as a savior after a series of doping scandals that tarnished track-and-field forever. Phelps’ phenomenal records of 22 Olympic medals – in which 18 are golds — will not be equaled in near future and makes him untouchable in the sports pantheon. Of course, the fans would have been merrier if Phelps celebrated a victory with his Albatros-like arms doing press-ups on the pool side, but in Phelps’ defense, he provided the fans a longer spectacle than Bolt.