Bolt’s per­fect farewell

Jamaica Gleaner - - TUESDAY SPORTS -

USAIN ST Leo Bolt has never failed to be a prime time fo­cus of at­ten­tion. Call him su­per­star, su­per­man, su­per hero or just sim­ply a leg­end, his ath­letic achieve­ments, awe­some pres­ence and an­tics, to boot, to which the less gifted can only aspire, have at­tracted the cam­eras and mi­cro­phones of the world. The ac­crued ex­po­sure at­tached to the ex­cite­ment and ec­stasy within his ador­ing fan­base has cat­a­pulted his im­age far be­yond the global sport­ing co­hort. This prod­uct of a Chris­tian back­ground, main­tained by car­ing par­ents, Welles­ley and Jen­nifer, rigid in dis­ci­pline and de­cency, has as­sumed an im­age that can aptly be de­scribed as “larger than life.”

There is a highly pre­dictable re­sult to all this adu­la­tion and ac­claim. The only ‘triple tre­bler’ in sprint­ing com­pe­ti­tion at the pres­ti­gious Olympic Games, has his ev­ery move tracked with pre­ci­sion. The na­ture of this mir­rors the in­ner work­ings of the Hublot watch brand, for which, along­side fel­low sport­ing greats, Pele, Kobe Bryant and José Mour­inho, he has been ap­pointed an am­bas­sador. Even his pri­vate life (can some­one of his stature have such a thing?) has been placed un­der in­tense, in­tru­sive and in­ti­mately-re­veal­ing post Rio scru­tiny.

WHEN TO QUIT

With all th­ese front page is­sues sur­round­ing the life of the pre­vi­ously se­cluded coun­try lad, that of when to call time on his il­lus­tri­ous ca­reer, could not es­cape. That cru­cial de­ci­sion for a top-of-the-line ath­lete, was al­ways go­ing to take cen­tre stage at some point. There is a cul­ture en­demic to the coun­try’s track and field and sport in gen­eral. Call it un­ac­cept­able, for lack of a harsher word. It sug­gests that “time to go” de­ci­sions are to be made by other than the in­di­vid­ual in ques­tion.

Fos­ter’s Fair­play is of the firm view that pack­ing it all in, should re­side in the prov­ince of the ath­lete along with his or her han­dlers. Too of­ten, it comes and in many cases, dis­taste­fully so, from ad­min­is­tra­tors and oth­ers look­ing on. Few around at the time can for­get the case with the out­stand­ing and most suc­cess­ful at the time, Olympic sprinter, Don­ald Quar­rie. Co­in­ci­den­tally, with Hur­ri­cane Matthew head­ing in Jamaica’s di­rec­tion, al­though prayers for a re­prieve are on­go­ing, it was Gil­bert time, ap­proach­ing the Seoul Olympics in 1988, when DQ, as he was af­fec­tion­ately known, was de­nied a sixth Olympic mo­ment. The Mon­treal 1976 100m/200m sil­ver and gold medal­list, re­spec­tively, had achieved the qual­i­fy­ing mark and placed sec­ond in the longer dis­tance, at the tri­als, but was forced to re­turn to his Los An­ge­les, Cal­i­for­nia res­i­dence with­out the joy and splen­dour of hit­ting that ca­reer-end­ing six.

LONDON GOOD­BYE

It is now Bolt’s time to drop the de­par­ture bomb. Once again, he is han­dling the lime­light, in con­so­nance with the show­man im­age that he has adopted. In dra­matic style, he is care­fully select­ing his exit date. The seem­ingly favourite op­tion is the 2017 London World Cham­pi­onships, where the Ja­maican back­drop will be huge – a most fit­ting stage to say good­bye. One senses that the world’s most elite does not en­vis­age any threat to his supremacy, al­though there is the sug­ges­tion that only one sprint

would be at­tempted. Al­though not spec­i­fied, this might very well be the half-lap race. This so, as there is a lin­ger­ing ca­reer dream, still not ful­filled – the prospect of putting the 200m world record to rest, with a mind-bog­gling 18 point. To even con­tem­plate that feat is scary for lesser mor­tals. A fa­mous quote from the sports afi­ciona­dos when fan­tas­tic times from the big man in up­com­ing events are dis­cussed, some­times trashed by the non-be­liev­ers, is “Re­mem­ber, this is Bolt.”

There is even talk of tak­ing some time away from the sport, recharge his bat­ter­ies, re­bore his cylin­ders, and re­turn for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. A re­cent quote at­trib­uted to him while go­ing through a par­tic­u­larly rig­or­ous gym rou­tine in his Rio prepa­ra­tions, is in­struc­tive. “Why am I do­ing this?” That self-ut­tered thought alone should snuff out any flicker of tak­ing on the best in the world in an­other four years, while on the doorstep of age 34.

Leav­ing the sport, which his pres­ence has graced with a splen­didly en­hanced and re­dec­o­rated im­age, must be solely the pre­rog­a­tive of Usain Bolt. With no qual­i­fi­ca­tion to so rule, Fos­ter’s Fair­play sug­gests: Let London 2017 be the grand farewell.

Thank you, Usain.

BOLT

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