Thu | Feb 25, 2021

10 years later: Proud of my legacy ... but - Bolt looks back on his Berlin brilliance, wishes he had gone sub-19 in 200m

Published:Friday | August 16, 2019 | 12:00 AMAndrÈ Lowe/Sports Editor

Today’s 10-year (10th) anniversary of Usain Bolt’s 100m world record has triggered a moment of reflection for the retired superstar sprinter, who told The Gleaner yesterday that, despite his contentment with his mind-boggling accomplishments on the track, not going below 19 seconds in the 200m remains a point of regret.

Bolt’s 9.58 seconds run at the World Championships inside Berlin’s Olympic Stadium on August 16, 2009, and the 19.19 seconds 200m run that followed four days later, cemented his status as one of the greatest sprinters of all time. What he went on to accomplish – eight Olympic and 11 World Championships gold, makes him one of the best sportsmen this world has ever seen.

Still, there is one thing that the soon-to-be-33-year-old would change.

As he spends at least a portion of his day skipping through YouTube clips of his whirlwind Berlin experience, Bolt admitted that not breaking the 19 seconds barrier will always be something he wishes he had achieved.

“I wouldn’t say I’m disappointed, as I am very happy at the legacy my coach and I created, but I really wanted to run sub-19 seconds (in the 200m),” Bolt said.

Bolt never quite returned to those dizzying heights in the eight years that followed. In fact, besides the 2012 London Olympics, where he ran 9.63 seconds in the 100m and 19.32 seconds in the 200m for double gold, he has never really tested his world records. He, however, points to his injury issues as a major factor behind this.

“I was never really able to stay full healthy to get there again,” Bolt said.

Bolt, reminiscing, said he knew something special was on the cards in Berlin, despite the struggles he had in the lead-up to the championships, following an accident in late April 2009, which left his BMW on its roof, after he lost control of the vehicle on Highway 2000.

“It was a great accomplishment considering I had a car accident that year. Being able to overcome the foot injuries to break the records, it meant a lot, as my coach and I worked very hard that year, especially on my technique. So in looking back, I’m just still humbled and happy we got the records,” said Bolt, who returned from injury to clock 9.79 seconds in the 100m in Paris, just before the championships.

“I knew I was in good shape. The expectations around me racing Tyson (Gay) created the perfect build-up. That run in Paris was definitely a warm-up and it gave me a lot of confidence going into the World Championships. I ran some crazy times in training and coach expressed to me I was ready to challenge the records,” Bolt added.

His chest-thumping celebrations a year before at the Beijing Olympics might have left everyone questioning his limits, but for Bolt, beating American rival Tyson Gay was his biggest motivation.

“I really just wanted to run and win, especially since people were saying Tyson wasn’t at the Olympics the year before. So beating everyone was more important to me than what people were saying about my celebration,” Bolt noted.

Before Bolt’s 19.30 seconds 2008 Beijing Olympics world record run, the world waited 12 years to see someone erase Michael Johnson’s 19.32 200m mark. Before Bolt, Asafa Powell was the last man to hold the 100m world record, after his 9.77 (2005) and 9.74 (2007) efforts. Since first lowering the time to 9.72 seconds in May 2008, Bolt went on to better his own mark twice in 442 days.

It’s no surprise he isn’t getting too comfortable with his records. After all, more than most, he knows that records do not last.

“I am just happy at what I was able to accomplish. Records are made to be broken, but who will break them, I don’t know,” he said.