Usain Bolt is undoubtedly the greatest short distance runner in the history of mankind. Here is our tribute for the Fastest Man Ever, on his birthday.
Growing up in India, it is not very common that you become a big enough fan of track and field. For a young Indian kid born in the 90s, athletics was limited to the times of Olympics and the Asian Games, with Justin Gatlin and Asafa Powell being the only names that I could remember.
It was only before the 2008 Beijing Olympics that I heard of His name in The Telegraph. Powell’s countryman had broken his previously held 100 m World Record just a few days ago with a time of 9.72 seconds. But in spite of that, he was still not too well known across the world. At 6 feet 5, Usain Bolt was not the perfect fit for a ‘dasher’. But still he did the unthinkable in May 2008, at New York.
But the ‘not too well known’ 100 m record holder was soon to change his fortune at the grandest stage of all. In the 2008 Olympic Games, he chose the stage to announce his arrival with the whole world watching. After a comfortable route to the 100 m, Bolt was set to conquer his first Olympic Gold. With teammates Asafa Powell and Michael Frater up to challenge him in addition to Trinidadian Richard Thomson, he was expected to face a tough challenge.
But Bolt had completely other ideas. After a trademark late start, the Jamaican sprung away from the rest of the field like he applied Nitro in the popular Video Game ‘Need For Speed’. With 20 odd metres left to go, Bolt even dared to look either sides before chest pumping his way to the finish line. His time was 9.69! That was the day the World Got a new superstar and I got a new Super Hero – Usain ‘Lighting’ Bolt.
But my new superhero was not ready to stop wooing the world just then. A few days later Bolt was scheduled to run in his favourite 200 m event and it was again his turn to make me worship him even more. If his 100 m run intrigued me, his 200 m was awe inspiring. In a race he was favourite to win, he won. But the way he decimated Michael Johnson’s 12 year old World Record, was nothing short of extraordinary. His time? 19.30! (it was faster than his 100 m run!)
Post 2008 Olympics, a whole lot of people were accustomed with the name of Usain Bolt. He had already broken the two world records, and was now a household name for many a people. But the Jamaican superstar was just getting started. He was planning to go one better a year later.
Breaking world record once, is the dream for stars. But breaking your own record multiple times is what champions do. And Usain Bolt is a champion! He waited for the next year, at the World Championships in Berlin.
In the 100 m he was challenged by American Tyson Gay, who ran a world record equaling 9.69 in the final! But Bolt’s run of 9.58 was beyond the extraordinary!
Well, if we thought that he was going to stop there, we were wrong. Usain Bolt broke his own 200 m record again in the same place, by a whooping 11/100 of a second (his new record stood at 19.19)!
5 World Records in consecutive years! Was there even a chance to not become a die hard fan of the Greatest Man in Sprinting History? The Man was known as good for his brilliance on the track as well as his showmanship off it.
But the race of the millennium was yet to come for the big Usain Bolt. The 100 m final in London 2012 was easily the greatest race on paper and the track. The final lineup was decked up with all the modern stars of 100 m sprinting. Usain Bolt had teammates Asafa Powell and Yohan Blake for company alongside the American trio of Justin Gatlin, Tyson Gay and Richard Bailey. 2008 Olympic silver medalist Richard Thompson and Churandy Martina completed the list. But for Powell’s muscle pull, that saw him limp off the last few metres, the race could have been the first in history to have 8 sub 10 seconds finishers! Nevertheless, Usain Bolt once again rose to the occasion, lowering his previous Olympic record to 9.63.
Usain Bolt is character, with his attitude and swagger. His arrogance was always mixed with a bit of innocence. He is a star attraction all across the world.
The triple Olympic Champion retired with 3 World Records to his name and 8 Olympic Golds in 3 Olympics. As long as the world will have sprinting, there will be an Usain Bolt.
The man is a myth, the man is a legend; and the man has been successful in turning a whole generation of people like me to follow Track and Field religiously. Even after his retirement, his legacy has lived and will continue to live on.
Thus, from this tiny die hard fan of his, I hereby wish him a very Happy Birthday. Long Live Usain Bolt! Long live The Lightning!
Which is your favourite Usain Bolt memory? Do let us know in the comments below.