It was easy to find detractors of the Jamaican triple gold medalist from the Beijing Olympics. Usain Bolt’s record time of 9.63 seconds last night caused experts to stutter, especially Michael Johnson and Carl Lewis. Despite some turbulent periods in his preparation leading up to these Games, including being disqualified at the World Championships and losing the race to his Jamaican colleague Yohan Blake. These setbacks caused the world to start their assumptions that he was not invincible and could have been relegated to a lower place in the final order in London. Take another look. In hindsight, the picture could not have been clearer. After hearing his coach’s complaint of injury at the Jamaica trials, there was no hue and cry, but the gentle giant of world sprinting plotted a training program which at most times, appeared logical, especially when many wanted him to face the starter at each invitation prior to the London engagement. Champions are made of sterner stuff and the discipline which was displayed by Bolt and his technical staff worked out wonderfully. Even through the prelims, his method was all about traveling as fast as was necessary to get into the next round.
The semifinal was literally a joke and he came to the line with the ease of a well oiled machine and the body language that spelt “I am ready” all over it. His slight stutter out of the starting blocks was corrected within a portion of a second and never appeared to worry the champion. He cruised up to this talented group of world class sprinters in their own right, whizzed past them with the strides of a gazelle, past the finish line as though he was uncertain about what the detractors had to say in the past few weeks.
The fact that seven of the eight finalists all ran sub ten seconds, made this victory the greatest moment in track and field.
A genuine Caribbean salute for the outstanding contribution which the Jamaican athletes have made once again and it could well carry into the rest of track and field over the next few days. Richard Thompson tried his best and his time of 9.96 secs. will have told its own story, leaving us all with the hope of leading the team to the medal rostrum in the 100 metres relay
Also at the Olympic stadium, Lalonde Gordon may have shocked many by winning his heat in a time of 44.58 seconds and catapulted into the 400 metres final to face Kerani James, the Grenada and world quarter mile champion. When one considers that the former world champion LeShaun Merritt pulled up injured early in the prelims and the Jamaican Gonzalves cut a sorry picture in his first heat, LaLonde Gordon may find himself among the medals. Of course, top 400 metres runners never surprise me, as I have lived through the eras of Wendell Mottley, Edwin Roberts, Edwin Skinner, Kent Bernard, Ian Morris and Charlie Joseph, all tremendous at this distance. The same could not be said of Jeanne Baillie as she found the going very difficult in her heat and failed to make any impact. So there is still much to look forward to when it comes to track events with Jehue Gordon, Lalonde Gordon still very much in the fray, and semifinalist cycling contender Njisane Phillips is showing the world that even a well organised and dedicated young athlete can produce results well in advance of what the experts believe. There is much to cheer about, although there have been no medals. But, hang on! That day may soon be here.