Thu | Jul 19, 2018

Tony Becca | Wonder boy Usain Bolt

Published:Sunday | August 28, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Kenya's Vivian Jepkemoi Cheruiyot (centre) greets Usain Bolt after the Jamaican ran the final leg to give the country gold in the 4x100 metres at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in Brazil on Friday, August 19. Cheruiyot had earlier won the 5000 metres gold.
Usain Bolt wins his third gold medal of the Rio Olympics as he anchors the Jamaica 4x100m team to victory.
Usain Bolt kisses his men's 200m gold medal.

I hope Usain Bolt will forgive me for calling him a boy, but there is no other phrase that I could think of using to describe him but, The Wonder Boy.

In 2004, Bolt went to the Olympic Games in Athens as a 17-year-old. He went out in the first round, a gold chain dangling from his lips.

In 2016, 12 years later, at nearly 30 years old, and wiser, he went to the Rio Olympics after winning two gold medals in the 100 and 200 metres in Olympic record time, running on two winning 4x100m relays in Olympic and world record times, and he won them all over again for a record-shattering three times, and in succession at that.

This time he never broke a record, and they were his own, nor did he share in any record. He simply did what he had to do. He was the first at the tape in all of them. The triple was accomplished, and in fine style at that.

He was way ahead of the field in all of them. We may once again, now that he says he is leaving the scene, see close finishes with men straining to reach the tape.


Easiest things


He ran the races as if they were the easiest things to do. It could never have been that easy, but he ran them almost as if he was on a Sunday afternoon stroll down the road.

I don't know if anybody doubted his ability to do so, but I know I did not - except for the relay, where he had to depend on the performances of his three colleagues and where there is always the possibility of a messed-up baton change, of somebody running out of a lane, or something equally devastating.

Thank God, Asafa Powell, Yohan Blake, and Nickel Ashmeade went around the track without any mishaps, and by the time Bolt got the baton and switched it to his right hand, it was all over, bar the shouting.

The big man had delivered, and quite nicely at that.

What happened to the record, or records, the Olympic record of 9.63 and the world record of 9.58, the Olympic record of 19.30 and the world record of 19.19, and the Olympic record of 36.84?

"I tried, but, you know, when you are getting old, you start feeling the pain," said an elated and ecstatic but cool Usain Bolt, the world's greatest-ever sprinter and, undoubtedly, one of the world's greatest-ever athletes.

He is also one of the world's greatest sportsmen ever.

I am almost willing to bet that no one, and I mean no one, who is now alive, regardless of how young he is, will ever live to see this record, the treble- treble at the Olympic Games, broken.

Times, Olympic records or World records will always be broken. It is only a matter of time. Performances, however, brilliant performances, are something else altogether. They last, some of them, almost forever, or may be forever.


Enjoyable moment


Rio 2016 was something special, and, but for when I was watching the Test matches against India, I saw all of it from the comfort of my lounge chair.

In 1976, in the company of the late Franz Botek, Lawrence Rowe, Andy Roberts, and one or two other West Indian cricketers, I saw Donald Quarrie beat the field to win the gold medal at the Montreal Olympics.

That was my most enjoyable moment from the Olympic Games, after Herb McKenley, Arthur Wint, George Rhoden, and Les Laing until the coming of Bolt and others like Merlene Ottey, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Shelley-Ann Fraser-Pryce, and Elaine Thompson, Jamaica's bubbling double women's sprint champion.

Rio has left me with memories that I will never ever forget: the Bolt and Thompson victories, Omar McLeod's victory in the 110 metres hurdles, South Africa's Wayde van Niekerk running from lane eight and setting a new world record in the men's 400 metres, Mo Farah's runs in the 5,000 and the 10,000 metres, and Shauna Miller's dive to win the women's 400 metres from Allyson Felix.

The USA's Matthew Centrowitz's wire-to-wire victory in the men's 1,500 metres race, the run of Javon Francis from fifth place to finish second in the 4 x 400 metres relay, the all-round brilliance of Simone Biles in gymnastics, the dominance of Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky in the pool, and the attacking skill of the fighting, never-say-die attitude of Monica Puig in the women's tennis final.

More than all, however, I will never forget the sportsmanship displayed during the 16 days of the games, especially in the gymnastics and the athletics, the spontaneous hugging of the victors by the losers, the graceful congratulations of the victors for the losers, and the helping hand extended to many a fallen contestant by a competing colleague during races.

It was good to see. This is what the Games is all about, according to Baron Pierre de Coubertin over 100 years ago.

Usain Bolt, despite winning all his races, and despite being the undisputed best, and although being the greatest, was a friend to all the competitors, or so it seemed, even to those who had most to lose by his greatness. And that was good to see.

We will miss him, if he calls it quits, and the Games will miss him. He is truly a Wonder Boy, and really, the Games' only "fantastic and amazing" performer.

In singing the praises of Usain Bolt, in noting the achievement of all the other champions and national representatives, past and present, we must remember and say a big thank you to all the governments, to all the administrators, to all the volunteers, to the many benefactors, and the battery of coaches who all made it possible.

Without them, and as great as is, there would never, ever have been a winner, much more one like Usain Bolt.