Usain Bolt is a freak of nature.
Usain Bolt is a force of nature.
The Jamaican claimed his 11th World Championship gold in four appearances in the 4 X 100m relay in his trademarked style.
Is there a greater sprinter in the history of the sport? More dominant, bigger, cleaner?
He was expected to be given a run for his money by his resurgent American rival, Justin Gatlin.
Just one-hundredth of a second separated the two in the 100 metres.
But the 200 was all Usain. It’s his favourite event and we all saw why.
The Bird’s Nest had seen the eagle land and his name was Bolt.
“People pretty much counted me out this season. They said, ‘He’s not going to make it. That’s it for him.’ I came out and proved you can never count Usain Bolt out. I’m a champion, and I’ll show up when it matters.”
It took a runaway Segway steered by an errant cameraman to trip this phenomenon.
What will it take to beat Bolt?
You can’t catch up with him, that’s for sure.
“What will it take? It will take staying in front. That’s what it’s going to take.”
And to think that this is his worst year yet.
Gatlin was hoping for redemption for his fall from grace, having been banned for doping.
It was and it wasn’t. The better man won.
It wasn’t for lack of trying.
However, the paying public or the online denizens would not have anything of it. There was no substance behind the portrayal of Gatlin as the ‘villain’ of the showpiece.
The American had paid for his folly. And he was back to prove that he could run—clean—and win.
Bolt spoke of retiring after the Rio Olympics next year.
The newly crowned IAAF chief, Sebastian Coe, was quick to lament the announcement.
“I do sort of feel that I’m in sort of 1960s, 1970s time warp. It’s the kind of conversation that was probably taking place in boxing at that time as to what happens after Muhammad Ali retires. Well, after Muhammad Ali, Marvin Hagler happens. After Muhammad Ali, (Thomas) Hearns happen, Sugar Ray Leonard, (Floyd) Mayweather. It happens.Yes, what we have to concede, and what I believe is that I don’t think any athlete, any sportsman or woman since Muhammad Ali has captured the public imagination and propelled their sport as quickly and as far as Usain Bolt has. The Usain Bolts of this world will not come along on a conveyor belt . We do need to make sure people understand we have extraordinary talent, which we’ve witnessed in Beijing. We shouldn’t be concerned because we have a sport that is adorned by some of the most outrageously superhuman, talented people in any sport. Our challenge is to make sure the public know there are other athletes in out sport.”
Spare a thought for Gatlin, the vilified.
His lack of contrition is held against him as against Bolt’s lack of arrogance.
Gatlin’s agent, Renaldo Nehemiah, says:
“When people say he never apologised, I say: ‘You haven’t done your homework.’ And the IAAF, who know this, have never come out and said anything, which I am very sad about. Justin has apologised. What is he supposed to do, go to every country and say sorry?”
I have always said to Usada and Wada: ‘Come and test us, day or night’. That’s all we can do, make ourselves available and, if that’s not good enough for people, that’s just the world we live in.
In the last few years Justin has focused on getting his weight right and getting his technique on where it needed to be and starting to run more efficiently. We don’t know with certainty anyone, who hasn’t tested positive, is not doing anything. The good thing about our testing is that it does catch people. Justin Gatlin did get caught doping. That is a fact. So we do catch people and I am happy about that.”
Justin is very charming, personable and bright. But at some point you have to back away. He said: ‘I can’t be beat down by this every single day. I came here to run, this is not fun for me.’ So I told him: ‘If anyone is going to continue to talk about the past, let’s not talk to them.’”
Gatlin admits he was a drug cheat but he’s also a human being:
“Obviously I am the most criticised athlete in track and field but at the end of the day I am a runner and that’s all I can be.”
Gatlin has now gone public about his multiple apologies in the past for his mistakes.
In one of his letters addressed to IAAF’s then president, Lamine Diack, and his senior vice-president, Sergey Bubka, he wrote:
“I am sincerely remorseful and it continues to be my mission to be a positive role model mentoring to athletes to avoid the dangers and public and personal humiliation of doping. And the harm it brings to the sport of athletics.”
I have cooperated fully with the United States federal investigation to clean up our sport of track and field working towards it becoming drug free.”
Bolt may be clean but he’s hardly your typical sprinter.
He’s blessed with twitch fibres much like other sprinters but he’s also a huge man. His large strides lend him an advantage that’s hard to overcome once he hits his paces.
He’s no lumbering mountain man; he’s the biggest, fastest man on the planet.
He’s a freak of nature. And it’s more than likely that it will need another anomalous human being to break his existing records.
Is that possible? Or is it possible, even feasible, that gene therapy and its mutations are the way forward in games that require superhuman efforts to be ‘Higher, Faster, Stronger’?
What’s normal, what’s not?
What’s a ‘zero tolerance’ policy?
Can rules and regulations prevent cheating?
These are all questions that the general public who follow athletics must be asking themselves and of the IAAF when shocking revelations of more than 800 athletes recorded one or more “abnormal” results over a period of 12 years.
Are you surprised?
The answer, unsurprisingly, is an emphatic no.
Why would we be? Why should we be?
We’re all aware that athletes, in these modern times, are as likely to be supremely naturally gifted yet equally likely to be products of laboratory concoctions.
The debate is age-old.
Science and its manifestations can be used for both good and bad.
The ethics of sports has undergone several changes over the past 100 years or so.
The term ‘professional‘ can denote both excellence as well as ruthlessness and unscrupulousness.
The numbers cited are bewildering; the conclusions are far-reaching—clean athletes are a minority if not a myth.
Will there be a redistribution of medals, of prizes won and claimed?
Will that be enough?
Maybe it’s time to revert to games at a micro level, say, a village rather than the ‘global village’ that is the Olympics and the World Championships?
Mercifully, the tainting of athletes will not put off the amateur and sports lover from indulging in activities that taught them the benefits of regular exercise and notions of fair play.
Unmercifully, it should get them to tighten their purse strings when it comes to doling out cash to watch or cheer these ‘supercharged’ monstrosities or deviants.