The unique appeal of Bolt

Usain Bolt’s stunning performance in the 100 metres final on Sunday at the 2012 London Olympics was not only a testament to his ability to perform under intense pressure, but it also stamped his supremacy in the world of the track and field athletics. Quite frankly, this generation has not seen anyone like him.

The Jamaican sprinter defended his Beijing 100m gold medal performance at London, thereby becoming only the second athlete to do so (American Carl Lewis did it in 1984 and 1988). To have done it with a new Olympic record of 9.63 seconds speaks volumes of his talent and skill. He could have perhaps even beaten his own world record of 9.58 seconds had he not glanced at the clock during the final 20 metres of his sprint. He knew he would win; his only concern was whether it would be a world record.

He will also probably defend his 200m sprint gold medal this year, and that would truly seal the tag of “one of the greatest of all time” if not “the greatest”. His record is enough to make him a frontline contender for the tag, though — he is a five-time world champion, and a four-time Olympic gold medallist with one event still to go at London.

He runs at an average speed of close to 38 kmph; faster than what most cars run on a typical Mumbai road. At his top speed, this even touches 44 kmph.

Bolt is not just about numbers and speed. It is his incredible mental strength that allows him to win against equally talented and fast individuals such as Tyson Gay, Yohan Blake, Asafa Powell, Justin Gatlin, and Ryan Bailey — each of whom have the ability to win a gold. It is just that Bolt is undeniably the first among equals.

Bolt is a showman of sorts, and he knows he is better than most. But is there arrogance in what he does? There seems to be absolutely no evidence of that — he is just endearing in his antics. It is this that brings him close to his fans, and perhaps will keep him there for some time to come. 

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