Why

Why

Monday, 24 August 2015

SEVEN YEARS ON TOP - USAIN BOLT

Usain Bolt winning his third 100m world championships at Beijing 
Terry Pratchett in his book, A Hat full of Sky quoted - "Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving". The year 2008, the Summer Olympics came to China for the first time and like all the previous editions, the athletics remained the hot favourite. 

Enter Usain Bolt, the tall Jamaican, who was five days shy of turning 22. He had the world record for the 100m dash - but running in a Olympic final is a different matter. As cool as ever, Bolt composed himself, took his mark and when the shot was let go, he was off in a flash and by the time he completed the 70m, there was none to either side of him, he opened his arms, slapped his chest and crossed the line celebrating his achievement. 16th August 2008, the race that catapulted him to the global audience. His unshyly expressions made him a crowd's favourite and overnight he became a poster boy with his trademark 'lightning bolt' pose.

Bolt winning his first 100m Olympic gold at the Beijing 2008 Olympics 

Yesterday, at the Bird's Nest he took part in the clash that was dubbed as 'Good vs. Evil' and like the cliche goes, the good won - but just by a tiniest of margins to retain the title of 'world champion' in 100m.

From 2008 to 2015, a lot has changed in that period for Bolt - from being an apprentice with tons of talent and promise, he has taken giant strides and has conquered all his opponents multiple times, overcame his occasional faults (Daegu 2011) and has become an all-time sprint great. He looks good to add a few more gold medals to his tally in Rio next year, to defend the three gold medals which he won here in Bird's Nest in 2008 which were successfully defended at the 2012 London Olympics - a feat that has never been achieved before in sprinting.

When I watched his epic-duel with Justin Gatlin, my mind went back to 2008 when he was hailed as the 'sprint king' by the members of media and press after his triple gold feat. Seven years on, he has retained his personality, but has gone many levels up, standing tall on the track and off the track staying away from doping. 

It is a rarity and at the same time a privilege to witness a sprint athlete achieve such an extended peak performance and all I can say - athletes like Bolt have carried the image of sports in the positive light and in the right way among all the negativity that threatens to derail the sport consistently. 

My first impression of Usain Bolt was formed during the 2008 Beijing Olympics and since then I have followed his career, met him a couple of times and heard him speak about his journey before Beijing 2008 and his life after that - quite remarkable and inspirational these seven years have been.