Prais­ing Ja­maican sounds like hy­per­bole… it’s not, it’s Hy­per Bolt

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - TOM FORDYCE

IF THAT’S run­ning tired, keep me awake for weeks. 19.19 sec­onds? 19.19 sec­onds? Usain Bolt has cre­ated a new art for m: Score­boards We Thought We’d Never See.

Avail­able in a se­ries of four, lim­ited-edi­tion prints, each adorned with the artist’s unique archer’s mo­tif. Value: Golden.

Has there ever been a se­quence of runs like this? Like most things Usain, never be­fore.

Four ma­jor fi­nals, four gold medals, four as­ton­ish­ing world records. An amaz­ing 9.69 sec­onds in the Olympic 100m, 19.30sec in the 200m just days later, 9.58sec in the 100m last Sun­day fol­lowed by 19.19sec on Thurs­day. You want to in­clude the re­lay? Then make that five, with a sixth maybe to fol­low to­day.

It’s a track record without par­al­lel, in both senses of the phrase.

Ever since he came out at the start of last year with a golden glim­mer in his eye and a mag­i­cal spring in his step, Bolt has re­de­fined the bound­aries of what was be­lieved to be hu­manly pos­si­ble. It sounds like hy­per­bole, but it’s not. It’s just Hy­per Bolt.

We should be used to it by now, but each fresh won­der is as stag­ger­ing as the last. The best 200m judge around, Michael John­son, was con­vinced Bolt wouldn’t break the record on Thurs­day night. So was Bolt him­self.

“I didn’t ex­pect it,” he panted af­ter­wards. “I was a lit­tle bit tired, but I thought, well heck, let’s try.”

For once, Bolt did look like he was try­ing. There was the usual horse-play be­fore­hand – the T-shirt with the words ‘Ich bin ein Ber­lino’ scrawled on it, the slow-mo­tion com­edy hay­maker aimed at ri­val Wal­lace Spear­mon as they warmed up, the con­duct­ing of the crowd to first qui­eten down and then roar – but from the gun he went hard, hard, hard.

Within 15 strides he had over­taken the sprint­ers in all three lanes out­side him. Within 30 you knew the record was on.

Arms pump­ing, teeth grit­ted, face gri­mac­ing. The race num­bers stuck to his thighs took flight and were left be­hind. For quite a while they were in sec­ond place.

As he came into the last 50 me­tres he glanced right, and then right again. Quite who he ex­pected to see there was not quite clear – a mo­tor­cy­cle out­rider? A traf­fic cop wav­ing a speed gun?

On and on, a dip on the line, and then a stare at the score­board. We know the rou­tine by now – scream him through the tape and then fo­cus on those yel­low num­bers on the elec­tronic screen stand­ing just in­side the in­field eight me­tres past the fin­ish.

It still doesn’t pre­pare you for the shock of what you see. The in­credulity doesn’t end. You look at the wind gauge – head­wind. You skim the re­sults sheet – five men un­der 20 sec­onds for the first time in his­tory, none of them within dis­tant me­tres of the win­ner, Shawn Craw­ford run­ning 19.89secs and fin­ish­ing out­side the medals.

“I was try­ing, I was dy­ing, my form was go­ing back­wards.” This is the sort of quote you ex­pect to hear from some­one who has just gone out in the first-round heats. You don’t ex­pect to hear it from a man who has just knocked over a 10th of a sec­ond off a sprint world record for the sec­ond time in four days.

“That,” said John­son em­phat­i­cally, “was a ridicu­lous race. That bend was un­be­liev­able. No-one has ever run a bend like that and prob­a­bly never will. The per­son who might break th­ese records has not been born yet.”

Up in the stands, Bolt’s fam­ily waved their Ja­maican flags with glo­ri­ous glee. They hadn’t all been there in Bei­jing, but they weren’t go­ing to watch this one from back home in Trelawny. Mum Jen­nifer dabbed her eyes, brother Sadiki high-fived, dad Welles­ley gave it an all-teeth beamer.

Welles­ley had been asked ear­lier what his own sprint­ing pedi­gree was like. “I used to do the 200m and 400m at pri­mary school,” he said with de­light­ful un­der­state­ment, “but I was never as good as him.”

It was a night to re­mem­ber in the Olympias­ta­dion. Bolt was, of course, the ma­jor rea­son, but there was so much more. In a pur­ple patch of around 30 min­utes, we saw the great­est 200m in his­tory, a fan­tas­tic women’s 400m hur­dles fi­nal, a 110m hur­dles fi­nal where the first three men were sep­a­rated by less than a hun­dredth of a sec­ond and a high jump com­pe­ti­tion that brought a ca­pac­ity crowd of 75,000 peo­ple to com­plete si­lence and then ear-split­ting cel­e­bra­tion.

“Thun­der­bolt Thurs­day”, some dubbed it. Oth­ers called it “Thrilling Thurs­day” or “Thank Flip It’s Thurs­day”.

Yes­ter­day, Usain Bolt cel­e­brated his 23rd birth­day. He prob­a­bly broke the world record for the most can­dles blown out in his­tory, or took the big­gest slice off the ex­ist­ing cake than any­one’s ever seen.

Won­der if there was any­one quick enough to gate­crash the party?

AP PHOTO

TIME ON HIS HANDS: Usain Bolt leaves a class field for dead as he an­ni­hi­lates his own 200m world record in Berlin this week

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