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Bolt's bronze marks mortality

Published:Monday | August 7, 2017 | 12:00 AM


Usain Bolt was visibly emotionally affected (and understandably so) in those moments before the start of the 100-metre final at the 2017 World Athletics Championships in London. He appeared to be on the verge of crying. We have never before seen him look the way he did, in all his 15 years of glitter on the international stage.

But then, the London 100 metres final was like no other before. It would bring the curtain down on an amazing, legendary individual career and journey that no one, including Bolt himself, could have dreamt of or ever imagined, when in 2002 he was crowned World Junior champion in the 200 metres event.

The frightening feeling caused by the finality of the moment and the whirl of accompanying emotions sapped his strength. His legs moved, but without their usual power. Anticipating that final moment from a year back did little to lessen the emotional impact at the instant the ultimate moment arrived.

Bolt was handicapped by the emotional load he carried. Without that burden, he would have won that race comfortably. Indeed, he was the quickest over the distance when the various reaction times were factored in.

When Bolt ran the 100 metres in 9.58 seconds in 2009, that feat, in the minds of many, elevated him to the realm of the superhuman. Seeing Bolt as being mere human, despite his larger than life, megastar status, will help in understanding what happened to him in that much hyped, most eagerly anticipated, individual farewell race.

Many thanks to Bolt for the bronze medal, his first such. Don't be surprised if he considers his only bronze the most difficult medal he has earned.