Monday, 6 August 2012

Lightning Bolt strikes again

“It’s very rare to repeat success. To win two Olympic 100m titles, nobody else has ever done it. History defines the greatest. You need longevity and consistency." 

The words of back-to-back Olympic 100m champion Carl Lewis (Los Angeles 1984 and Seoul 1988) were most likely spoken in hope rather than genuine belief back in May ( On Sunday night in the Olympic Stadium, Usain Bolt blew Lewis' forecast out of the water as he repeated his predecessor's achievement in emphatic style.

History maker: Bolt crosses the line ahead of Blake and Gatlin

An Olympic record time of 9.63 seconds, the next fastest to his own world record, saw the 25-year-old Jamaican cross the finish line ahead of compatriot Yohan Blake and 2004 champion Justin Gatlin to firmly write his name into the history books and silence his critics.

On reflection, you have to consider whether it was ever in doubt? Hindsight is a wonderful thing but it shouldn't take anything away from the magnitude of Bolt's accomplishment. The 100m sprint is like no other event at the Olympics. The competitors train incredibly hard for four years but it all comes down to a single nine to ten second race. To win the much-coveted title in Beijing in 2008, and then have the hunger to work for it all over again in London against a stronger challenge, is testament to Bolt's attitude and professionalism.

Although he has gained a reputation for being somewhat of a party-goer - it reared its ugly head again in the early hours of Monday morning ( - he's clearly an athlete who knows his limits and abides by them. Nobody is in a position to aim criticism at his lifestyle off the track until it has a direct effect on his performance on it.

It's hard to believe that prior to his triple gold medal triumph in China, not many people had actually heard of the man who is now a household name throughout the world. He may have been billed for stardom by those within the sport but there wasn't anything like the same global expectancy to deliver as there was this time round. Despite suffering his fair share of disappointments over the last four years, particularly disqualification from the 2011 World Championships final after a false start, Bolt has taken everything in his stride and ultimately produced the goods at the right time.

Now, having matched Lewis' incredible feat, he has eyes set on winning the 200m crown and marking himself out as the only man to complete the 'double double'. Victory on Thursday night will propel him to legendary status and almost certainly bring the debate about whether he is the greatest sprinter of all time to a unanimous conclusion.

Ben Johnson, who initially won gold at the 1988 Seoul Olympics before being exposed as a drugs cheat, has previously been quoted as saying that he was '50 years ahead of his time' and that 'Bolt is doing stuff' he was capable of. Surely this is a bit rich coming from an athlete reliant on performance enhancing drugs to reach his ultimate goal?

Success can be manufactured through a variety of means but there is no substitute for class. Bolt has the latter in abundance.

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