Bolt. Even his name sizzles with speed. Usain Bolt. “World’s Fastest Man.”
It would be nice to believe he’s the real deal, not just another athlete propelled more by chemicals than his own determination.
Then again, assume nothing in the modern age of sport. In a time where baseball players are paid $161 million over seven years and where bankruptcy dealings steal the hockey headlines, very little is pure. Even swimmers await rulings on the admissibility of synthetic suits, which must meet standards of buoyancy, thickness and water resistance.
You’ve got to be kidding!
Amidst the distraction, Bolt runs. And he keeps getting faster. His latest feat is a new world record at 150 metres in Manchester. He is a testament to what is possible for the human race.
Usain Bolt is 22 years old, stands six-foot-five and weighs 190 pounds soaking wet. Not your typical sprinter. He won three gold medals at last summer’s Beijing Olympics, setting world records in the 100, 200 and 4×100-metre events. He’s the first man in history to turn that trick.
“I think he’s the next generation of running,” says Alex Gardiner, Canada’s head track and field coach. “I hope I’m not proven wrong.”
Gardiner has been following Bolt since the Jamaican kid appeared on the international scene at the world youth championships in Sherbrooke, Que., in 2003.
In Beijing, the masses loved him. Bolt danced and mugged for the cameras every time he raced. Once across the finish line, he held his golden shoes aloft and kissed them.
It was glorious to watch.
Bolt will run in Canada in Toronto’s Festival of Excellence at the new Varsity Stadium on June 11. It’s important for his sport that he’s going to be here.
“It’s really saying that track and field is back,” Gardiner says.
Let’s hope he’s right. Let’s hope Bolt is what he appears to be: An exceptionally gifted athlete who demonstrates that human kind is capable of getting faster and stronger on its own two feet.
Lord knows there is a need to believe in Bolt.
– Scott Russell is the Host of CBC Sports Weekend seen Saturday afternoons. He has covered professional and amateur sports including nine Olympic games and numerous world championships.