x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Usain Bolt was strides ahead of the competition

Best Olympic track and field star No 2 Not only did he complete a 100m and 200m sprint double at Beijing 2008, he destroyed the field in both races and set two world records.

Bolt holds the record for the 100m and 200m.
Bolt holds the record for the 100m and 200m.

Usain Bolt ran like no one ever had.

Not only did he complete a 100m and 200m sprint double at Beijing 2008, he destroyed the field in both races and set two world records. In 112 years of Olympic sprinting, no one has been as dominant.

He left most onlookers agog. A 9.69secs in the 100? A 19.30secs in the 200m? Those were marks not expected in 2008, and perhaps not in 2028.

Some analysts settled on Bolt's extraordinarily long stride to explain his unprecedented speed. He needed only 41 strides to reach the finish line in the 100m; his competitors needed 44 or 45.

Tyson Gay, who came closest to the definition of "rival" to Bolt, once described the curious phenomenon of racing against a man who stands 1.95m. "It looked like his knees were going past my face."

Bolt's performance in the 100m was so overwhelming that he was celebrating before he reached the finish line. Analysts later suggested he could have run 9.55secs had he gone through the line at full speed.

He added a third gold, running a leg on Jamaica's 4x100m relay team and Bolt was part of another world record, a time of 37.10secs.

Cynical observers, who are common in an age when so many top sprinters have failed drug tests, wondered aloud if Bolt had availed of illegal chemical aids. They were particularly sceptical of the enormous improvements Bolt had made in both events in just one year: from 10.03secs to 9.69secs in the 100m, from 19.91secs to 19.30secs in the 200m.

To date, the dark speculation has not been borne out. Bolt has yet to fail a drug test and, indeed, has since lowered the record in the 100m to 9.58secs.

poberjuerge@thenational.ae


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