Usain Bolt made it look like he was on a stroll in the park. But, by the time he completed the business end of his day’s work at the Olympic stadium in London on Sunday, leaving behind seven equally-bodied men panting, the world was at his feet.
However, there was a difference this time around. In Beijing four years ago, as the phenom seized the few seconds and filled it up with raw power through his long and loping strides, he was thumping his chest and almost seemed to joke with himself as he took the Bird’s Nest by storm.
On Sunday, he was a bit more serious as he pounded his way to yet another glorious victory after getting off the blocks fifth among the eight starters. Maybe, it was just the sort of statement he wanted to make to the world in the face of doubts over whether he would be able to retain his title, following the twindefeats he suffered at the hands of his training partner, Yohan Blake, at the Jamaican trials in the run-up to the London Games.
Maybe again, he was just being cautious with his start, what with his jumping the gun at last year’s World championships in Daegu, South Korea, at the back of his mind. But still, for all that, it will remain etched in history that ‘Lightning’ Bolt did take only 9.63s, bettering on his time of 9.69s which took him past the winning post in 2008.
His slow start notwithstanding, it was interesting to note that Bolt took just 41 strides as he sped from start to finish — fewer than the 46 Blake took to cross over the finish line while securing the silver ahead of American Justin Gatlin’s 42.5 steps for the bronze.
Coming a day after compatriot Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce gave enough reason for her countrymen to celebrate by becoming the first sprinter to win the 100m gold in back-to-back Games in the last 16 years, Bolt’s repeat sent the Jamaicans into wild celebrations yet again. And what better time to get to his second 100m gold than on the eve of Jamaica’s 50th year of Independence.
True, none could have asked for more from Bolt — who will next be seenin action again in the 200m, starting on Tuesday, and then later in the 4x100m relay in which he had won golds in Beijing — and he will be looking forward to winning them once more.
And as the rest of the world stands stupefied by the deeds of this lanky athlete — just a fortnight away from celebrating his 26th birthday — the curiosity around what has made the small Caribbean island of Jamaica the capital of world sprinting remains. Is it the yam that remains the staple diet of the people of that country, or the chicken nuggets which Bolt constantly feeds on? Or again, is it all about genes and its related science?
Significantly, the ease with which Bolt triumphed on Sunday will demoralise the Americans who, starting from Tom Burke in 1896 (Athens), have almost monopolised the event. Now that their aspirations have been dealt yet another body blow by Bolt, it will be of great interest to see how the Americans willstrike back in the coming years.
Yet, for all that, it is a simple fact that Bolt has remained unconquered as the fastest man on the planet. Even while being on a stroll in the park. Perhaps, he is just living up to his nickname at home, Vijay, which to Indians, is a shortened version of the word meaning ‘victory.’