Usain Bolt is an Incredible: Best of Olympics Day 9
The National’s sports team is helping you keep up to date with what is happening in Rio while most of us in the UAE were sleeping. Here is today’s Daily 5.
1 Superhero sprint
It’s only 10 seconds. But man, no one has ever made that 10 seconds more electrifying.
Sprinting is maybe the purest of Olympic sports. What could be more fundamentally sporting than lining up and seeing who runs faster? “Fastest man alive” – It’s a cool title, anyone would want it.
Other sports require intricate structure, elaborate equipment, complex rules of engagement. But people have done the sport of “running fast” for as long, well, as there have been people. Pick a spot, run to it, first one there wins.
And no one in human history has done this faster than Usain Bolt. No one has been more purely thrilling in their ability to run really fast.
We got one more marquee glimpse of this on Sunday night.
Bolt started off comparatively slow, and even trailed Justin Gatlin for the first 50-60ish metres. But he hit his stride.
There is pretty much nothing in sport like Usain Bolt hitting his stride. The burst of it, the confidence with which he surges. Then that little bit of relaxing he does just before every finish line, getting his winning pose just right for the cameras.
He knows he’s going to win, as sure as you or I know that two and two make four. (“I told you guys I was going to do it,” he said after.)
A colleague of mine recently compared him to the character “Dash” in the movie The Incredibles. Dash’s superpower is speed, and his superhero parents won’t let him run races at the risk of revealing his abilities.
“But I promise I’ll slow up,” he pleads in the movie. “I’ll only be the best by a tiny bit.”
Usain Bolt is like that. A superhero out there being the best by only a tiny bit, only to maintain credibility.
As he stormed across the finish line, winning an unprecedented third 100m gold, the Olympic announcer shouted, “He’s immortal now!”
Immortal. Or Incredible.
2 Nice to meet you
One of the more sublime parts of the Olympics is when stars are born.
Had you heard of Wayde van Niekerk before Sunday? If you follow athletics, probably. He’s the reigning world champion in the 400m.
But for most people, their introduction to track stars is the Olympics. Van Niekerk made an exhilarating introduction.
The South African usurped Michael Johnson’s 17-year-old 400m record, running in 43.03sec to beat it by 0.15 seconds. The American legend Johnson himself said on the BBC broadcast: “I have never seen anything like that.”
He called it “amazing” and “a massacre” and “truly special”.
As the likes of Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps make their presumed exits, it’s reassuring to see new Olympic legends rise at these Games.
3 Other highlights from Day 9
• Britain won everything on Sunday. Andy Murray most spectacularly with his men’s tennis singles gold in an epic final against Juan Martin del Potro. “It was a long and tiring match,” he said of the 7-5, 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 result, an understatement. Justin Rose meanwhile won golf’s first gold in 112 years. Max Whitlock won two gymnastics golds, in the floor and pommel horse, the country’s first and second gymnastics golds. And for good measure, Jason Kenny added the cycling men’s sprint title.
• Kenya’s Jemima Sumgong became the first Kenyan women’s marathon champion.
• Budding American superstar Simone Biles took medal No 3 with gold in the vault in her quest for a gymnastics record five
• Dutch star Dorian van Rijsselberghe completed a dominant windsurfing RS:X series – he’d already clinched gold going into Sunday’s final race, then went out and won that too anyway. He finished ahead of Great Britain’s Nick Dempsey by more points (27) than he actually accumulated (25) in the less-is-more (1 point for first, etc) 12-race regatta. Frenchwoman Charline Picon of France won the women’s in a markedly more close (64 points to China’s Chen Peina at 66 for silver) competition.
• The United States leads in the medal count with 69 (26 gold), followed by China with 45 (15 gold) and Great Britain (15 gold, 38 overall). We’re keeping track of all the gold medal winners.
4 Tweet of the day
Andy Murray, he’s pretty good huh?
5 Video of the day
Could it be anything else?
Updated: August 15, 2016 04:00 AM