Wed | May 24, 2017

The World’s Best!

Published:Thursday | September 3, 2015 | 9:00 AMGregory Spalding
Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer Usain Bolt celebrates winning the men's 200m gold medal.

The World Champion-ships taught us that a fit, engaged Usain Bolt is always going to be the best in any field of his contemporaries.

If there was an ounce of doubt, it dissipated in less than 9.95 seconds in the semi-final. What would have been a major mishap to almost any other athlete became a minor glitch for Bolt, signifying to all doubters - there is only one Bolt; one world best.

The implementation of the World Championships in 1983, followed by the move to a two-year cycle from 1991, means modern-day athletes can accumulate titles at a far greater rate than their predecessors. Nevertheless, Bolt now surely stands heads and shoulders above all sprinters. But does having titles, medals and world records make someone the world's best?

When Bolt stumbled three steps into the first semi-final of the 100m at the World Championships and still recovered to win, it became clear to all and sundry that he would retain that title. Even to the unbeliever, if not Gatlin, it was evident that the mettle of this man typifies that of a champion. Bolt, with determination unlike what was ever required before by the multiple World champion, never seemed to have lost his nerve.

Perhaps this was what the doctor ordered, as the unlikely recovery and eventual win provided a catalyst both physically and psychologically for things to come. From then on Bolt looked like Bolt, and it would take only a brave, if not foolish man, to bet against the reigning king of track and field.

Ironically, lightning would not strike twice; such an error would not befall the king in the final. The moments between the semis and finals jolted his detractors from outright scepticism to forthright certainty. By the time the 100m race got off, the wagon was fully booked and the world of track and field was buoyed by the outcome for varying reasons. Even detractors were happy.

Bolt came to Beijing and won both the 100m and 200m, beating the in-form Gatlin twice. He now has five of the 10 fastest 200m times ever, four of the 10 fastest 100m times ever and the world record in both events. The 200 metres was won in 19.55 seconds - the 10th-fastest time ever - despite gesticulations and the last 10 metres, typical of Bolt.

We are reasonably sure that if he hadn't false-started in the 100m final at the 2011 World Championships, Bolt would have won every Olympic and World Championships gold medal in the two events since 2008.


He won the 100 metres, beating Gatlin in his strongest event with a time of 9.79 seconds. While that race wasn't as dominant as his 200m win, Bolt delivered as he said he would. Ultimately, it was Bolt doing what Bolt does that won him his third World 100m title, not Gatlin doing what Gatlin should not do that resulted in the outcome which was widely desired.

Bolt replaced Rasheed Dwyer in the Jamaican line-up which headlined the qualifiers from the heats of the 4x100m relays. But the USA remained with their heat ensemble of Trayvon Bromell, Justin Gatlin, Gay and Rodgers, respectively, in the final.

In May, the Americans dominated the Jamaicans at the World Relays, but with an in-shape Bolt on anchor, the Jamaican supporting cast of Nesta Carter, Asafa Powell and Nikel Ashmeade delivered within range of the rivals, who fumbled, and the rest is history. Bolt's 11th World Championships gold came on the penultimate day of competition, when he confirmed himself as the best athlete of all times.

Hats off to Usain St Leo Bolt - still undisputed and world best!