Column: Enjoy Bolt for bringing some fun to track
There wasn’t any need to shush his doubters this time, because
by now Usain Bolt doesn’t have any. No reason to celebrate early,
either, when there was a chance to make one final statement about
just how fast a human being can run.
This one was strictly business, a flat out sprint to the finish
and into the record books. Sure, there was the obligatory ”To the
World” pose afterward, but the most animated Bolt seemed to get
right after his last race in the London Games was when a stuffed
shirt of an Olympic official made him surrender the baton he
carried on the anchor lap of a stunning 4×100 relay.
Bolt would later reclaim his Olympic souvenir on appeal, which
seems only fair for a man who helped make these games so
spectacular. He may have shared the spotlight with Michael Phelps
in Beijing, but there would be no sharing it here after becoming
the first man to win the 100, 200 and 4×100 relay golds in
What made it so much fun was the way Bolt had so much fun. While
Phelps showed no charisma at all in winning gold after gold, Bolt
preened, posed and postured – seemingly wanting to let everybody in
on the good time he was having.
He began by winning one of the greatest 100 meters ever. After
winning his second gold in the 200, he declared himself a
After his third Saturday night obliterated the world record in
the relay, he led the crowd of 80,000 at Olympic Stadium in doing
the wave before finally waving goodbye.
”It was a goodbye to London,” Bolt said. ”I was just having
fun with the crowd. I came here to London to become a legend and I
am a legend and I wanted to thank them for supporting me.”
Let IOC president Jacques Rogge try to spoil the party, if he
wants, by claiming Bolt needs at least one more Olympics to be
considered a legend. Just remember, he’s the same guy who thought
Bolt shouldn’t be celebrating so much in his gold medal run in
Rogge should be celebrating himself that Bolt could still be
around for a run at more golds in Rio. The Olympics need his
sparkle, though Bolt said he may not be up for a three-peat in Rio
and the way he got the souvenir baton signed by his teammates made
this seem like maybe a goodbye to the Olympics, too.
”It’s going to be hard to really do that,” Bolt said.
That could be, or it could be Bolt just being Bolt. He talked
about retirement in one breath, and in the next joked about having
discussions with his coach about moving away from the sprints into
”Have you seen the training routine for 400 meter runners?” he
asked. ”I’ll (throw up) a lot more, and I don’t want to do that. I
like my lunch.”
The crowd at Olympic Stadium was already in a festive mood on
the last night of track and field after roaring every second of the
way as Britain’s Mohammed Farah won the 5,000-meter for his second
gold of the games. They settled in their seats in anticipation of
one last great race to end it all, and Bolt and his Jamaican
teammates delivered against a U.S. quartet that had set an Olympic
record in heats just the day before.
The American runners did their job and more, running a 37.04
that by itself would have tied the old world record. But Bolt, who
got the baton about the same time as Bailey, exploded down the
stretch, pulling away in the final 30 meters to post the first time
ever under 37 seconds, a 36.84 that was exhilarating to watch.
”When he got the stick, there was nothing we could do about
it,” U.S. sprinter Tyson Gay said.
”He’s a monster,” said Ryan Bailey, who could only watch as
Bolt ran away from him on the final leg. ”He’s a monster.”
It was one final show at a stadium built just for the Olympics,
one final time to watch the sprinter with the long strides eat up
chunks of track at dizzying speed. Shortly after Bolt and his
teammates stood on the podium for their medals and Bolt posed
playfully with Farah for photos that will surely front most British
newspapers, workers began preparing the stadium for the closing
A few hours earlier, the man who staged the Olympics for his
country said he appreciated the show Bolt put on.
”We’re not a sport of automatons,” said Sebastian Coe. ”We’re
people that have got flair, intelligence and sometimes express it
in all sorts of ways. God spare me from a sort of robotic approach
to life. It’s great that our sport captures those great moments.
And yeah, he’s fantastic.”
Yes, he is, in the kind of way that comes along only once every
few generations. He’s an imposing physical presence on the track,
an amazing talent when his long legs get going.
Bolt has it all, and yet he can have fun, too. It’s a rare gift
in a very gifted athlete.
He could make it quite a party four years from now in Rio,
though he might have to be dragged there by his teammates.
”Right now I’m like a bum,” he said. ”I have no goals.”
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated
Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org or