Usain Bolt delays the real fun and Games until after the men's 200 metres final
THERE was no time for partying after another historic sprinting landmark, Usain Bolt had promised us on Sunday night. Not when he was still only half way through the door marked "Legend".
Hmm. It was difficult to know quite what to believe with good old Usain Bolt since the next thing we saw were the pictures he had apparently posted of himself on Twitter celebrating with a bevy of beauties at 3am in the Olympic Village.
Yet one thing was for certain; while the rest of the world was telling him that his legendary status was already secured after he had successfully defended his 100 metres title in 9.63?sec, Bolt quickly countered that if we wanted a discussion about that, then we should all reconvene after the 200? m, the heats of which take place around Tuesday lunchtime.
“The 100m is just one step in the door,” said Bolt. “But now there’s the 200? m. I have to defend this one too; that’s what’s going to make me a legend. I’m looking forward to it.”
Because if we thought Sunday showcased him back to his matchless best, Bolt’s thrilled and chilled demeanour threw up the tantalising possibility that, with the only thing lacking on that wonderful Sunday night being another world record, then perhaps he could oblige London by delivering another landmark in his favourite event.
In Berlin three years ago, his 19.19?sec run marked one of track and field’s most mind-blowing performances, that of a man whose only opponent was the clock as he finished 0.62?sec ahead of the field.
The difference in Thursday night’s final will be that Bolt will have a rival equipped to push him into uncharted territory, the same man who he credits for setting him on the road to victory in the second fastest time in history on Sunday. Surely, Yohan Blake couldn’t help push him beneath the 19?sec barrier?
“When Yohan Blake beat me twice at the (Jamaican) trials, it woke me up, opened my eyes,” noted Bolt. “It was pretty much a knock on my door with him saying ‘Usain, it’s Olympic year. I’m ready. Are you?’ I just got refocused and came back ready.”
He needs to be because Blake, whose amazing 19.26?sec run in Brussels last year demonstrated his true prowess.
Reflecting on a 100?m performance which now gives him the three fastest times in history, Bolt said: “I never remembered I was running against the clock until the last 25, 30 metres then it popped into my head ‘world record’ and I looked across on the clock. But it was too late to do anything about it then.”
In the longer event, though, Bolt has those extra few seconds to delve into fantasy. Like dipping under 19sec, something that both he and Blake have both insisted is feasible.
“I hear Blake is saying a few things about the 200m which is my favourite event,” joked Bolt, with a nudge of his young training partner sitting next to him at the post-race press conference.
The implication was clear; he cannot wait to get his revenge over the fellow who in Kingston in June had the temerity not just to hand him his first defeat over the half-lap distance in five years but also to set the fastest time in the world this year, 19.80?sec, while bursting past him during the race.
A couple of new challengers will enter Tuesday’s 200m fray. Christophe Lemaitre, the European 100m champion, gave the blue riband event a miss here to concentrate all his energies on the half-lap following his brilliant 19.91?sec run at Crystal Palace three weeks ago, while Wallace Spearmon, 19.95?sec this year, will lead the US challenge.
Of course, it is now obvious to Blake that the Bolt he will face in the 200m is now a completely revamped model after being treated by the Munich doctor, Hans Müller-Wohlfahrt, who is seen as a guru by so many of the world’s top sportsmen and women.
“He’s been a major part of my success of my career,” explained Bolt, whose problems associated with his spine condition, scoliosis, have regularly required the magic touch of the Bayern Munich doctor.
“I’ve been going to him since I’m 18, 19 and he’s really done great work on me. After the trials, he looked at my muscles, did his treatment and said, ‘Don’t worry Usain, you’re going to do great, just go back and train’. Hans is more than a doctor, he takes us to dinner, looks after me, comes in on weekends to treat me and make sure I’m OK.”
Now he seems more than okay. The only thing that seems to be getting under Usain’s skin is London jobsworths. But then we should not be surprised that Bolt is bothered by all this.
As the 3am girls may attest, he lives by rules that simply do not apply to anyone else.