You never doubted him. Did you? Usain Bolt’s demolition of his 200m rivals at the weekend meant he left Daegu with the world gasping at a gold medal won rather than a red card received.
Had any other man in the field triumphed in such dominant fashion we would now be eulogising and jaw-dropping until flabbers could be gasted no longer.
With Bolt, as with everything he does, it’s slightly different.
For the first time in four years at a major championship he tore through the finish line without a searing “WR!” flashing up on the huge electronic clock on the in-field to his left.
It has become a ritual while watching Bolt, a beautifully familiar part of the act which has captivated us all since that humid night in Beijing three summers ago – watch him ping away from his rivals like a man on a bungee, glance at the scoreboard, roar with astonishment and disbelief.
No-one should ever feel a tinge of disappointment having watched a man run the 200m in 19.40 seconds.
But it is Bolt’s misfortune, as well as his greatest triumph, that he has turned the extraordinary into a routine occurrence, made the performance of a lifetime an annual event.
As Steve Cram remarked to me afterwards, “There isn’t much unbelievable left to do”.
Like spoilt children expecting ever more expensive gifts for Christmas, we should be grateful for what we have been given. By any standard outside Bolt’s own impossible gauge, this was a display of sprinting to savour and celebrate.
A look at the stats, and then the analysis.
This was the fourth fastest 200m ever run. Only Bolt himself and the almost equally remarkable Michael Johnson have ever gone faster.
Bolt’s margin of victory over Walter Dix was a massive 0.30 seconds. Only two men in history have finished further ahead of the man in silver in a World 200m final, Bolt with his 0.62 secs thrashing of Alonso Edward two years ago, and Johnson with 0.33 secs in Tokyo and Gothenburg.
It’s a similar story with the gap between first and third. Christophe Lemaitre ran the joint fastest time for bronze in history, shattering his personal best in the process, yet was still 0.40 secs down on the Jamaican superstar. Only twice has the margin been greater – 0.66 secs in Berlin, and Johnson’s 0.48 secs in Tokyo.
It is only Bolt who has run these sorts of times in World Championship history. The next fastest man on the list is Tyson Gay, and his 19.76 secs in Osaka is not in the same league. Even Johnson never ran faster than 19.79 secs at a Worlds.
To put Saturday’s performance into greater perspective, the average 200m gold medal-winning time at a World over the past decade is 19.87 secs. That itself is massively skewed by Bolt’s 19.19 record in Berlin. From 2001 to 2005, no man even broke 20 seconds.
Bolt conjured up this showing from a reaction-time of 0.193 secs, slower than anyone else in the field.
He has also done it in a season when his form has been comparatively weak and his times almost human; his average time over his last three 200m races before coming to Daegu was 19.97 secs, with two of those plus-20 sec showings.
“If that wasn’t unbelievable, it was still extremely impressive,” says Cram.
“No athlete can improve in every race. Look at Michael Johnson’s 19.32 secs world record from the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. No-one expected him to get close to that ever again, let alone every time he performed.
“Usain has had to contend with all the attention after the 100m, with niggling injuries over the last two years, with having changed his training routine. Despite all that he was able to put something very, very good back together, and to me that’s hugely impressive.
“What I like about him is that he saves his best performances for the big championships, not a Diamond League meeting in Zurich or Lausanne.
“He was genuinely under pressure after the 100m. Not only was that the third fastest 200m he has ever run, but he did it in a season when he’s apparently not running all that well and a week when he’s made the biggest mistake of his athletics career.”
What of the nitty-gritty of the run itself? How impressive a piece of technical sprinting was this, how close to Bolt’s physical best?
“It’s a big deal that he did that having been drawn in lane three,” says Darren Campbell, Olympic 200m silver medallist in 2000.
“Three’s a great lane, but not for Bolt. It’s too tight for him.
“That gave Dix a real opportunity in the race. If he could come off the bend in the lead, he could have put Usain under real pressure, and we haven’t seen him have to respond to something like that.
“But Bolt ran a very, very good bend. If he’d been drawn in lane six, with its more gradual curve, I honestly think he could have run 19.30 seconds.”
In that record-mangling run in Berlin, Bolt’s physical effort had been written all over his face, the gliding and smiling left behind in the 100m.
Here it was the same, a grimace on his face and his arms driving hard all the way through the line.
“You could see him glance to his right to see where Dix was, but when he saw he was clear he visibly exhaled and let his stride pattern do the rest,” says Campbell, who was in Korea as an expert for BBC Radio 5 live.
“He was working hard down the straight, but more because he wanted to put on a show for the crowd than because he had to to take gold.
“Usain uses the crowd to the absolute maximum, and then controls and feeds off the energy he generates. It’s why he threw his spikes to the crowd after the semi-final on Friday night, to get them going for the final.
“How good was this? Judge a champion by how they deal with adversity.
“There is nobody in Daegu who has been under more scrutiny than Usain Bolt, yet he comes out and does that. You tell me if he’s a true champion.”
One final question lingered in the mind as Bolt finally left the stadium in the early hours of Sunday morning, hundreds of reporters still beseeching him for an interview and dizzy spectators screaming like giddy schoolgirls.
That 19.19 was possibly the most remarkable world record ever recorded. It beat a mark in Johnson’s that was itself a staggering improvement on anything that had been seen before. Can Bolt – older, inestimably wealthier, under even more pressure – ever bring the record yet lower?
“If he does, it will only happen in London next summer,” says Campbell.
“I’m not sure how much longer he’ll go on for if he wins a second Olympic title, but there’s a bigger reason, the support he’ll get in London will be better than anything else he will ever have experienced.
“The crowd in Berlin was amazing, and that’s why he performed the way he did, but the one in London will be even better, so knowledgeable, so enthusiastic, so many Jamaicans. It will also be a long time since he’s run in the UK.
“If he draws his energy from the crowd, and it’s the best crowd he’s ever had, would you put it past him?”
Foryce writes for BBC Sports
Obuah Lauds Nwabali Over Chieftaincy Title
The proprietor of Go Round FC , Bro. Felix Obuah cups he was on cloud nine seeing his former ward, Super Eagles’ first choice goalkeeper at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2023 in Cote d’Ivoire, Stanley Bobo Nwabali, being conferred with a chieftaincy title at his Egbema Kingdom home in the Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area (ONELGA) of Rivers State .
The 27-year-old Chippa United goalie was led to the ceremony on Sunday by Bro. Obuah as he first paid a courtesy call to the ONELGA council headquarters where the Chairman, at the Nzeobi’s palace in Aggah-Egbema, HRM Eze Everestus Amuda conferred the chieftaincy title ‘Ugo Egbema 1 of Egbema Land’ which means the Pride of Egbema on the Chippa United goalkeeper.
Amuda eulogised Nwabali for his performance especially his penalty saving heroics which he noted, engraved him in the hearts of many Nigerians both home and abroad.
Sir Vincent Job announced a cash gift of N5 million in addition to a street being named after .
At the Nzeobi’s palace in Aggah-Egbema, HRM Eze Everestus Amuda conferred the chieftaincy title ‘Ugo Egbema 1 of Egbema Land’ which means the Pride of Egbema on the Chippa United goalkeeper.
Amuda eulogised Nwabali for his performance especially his penalty saving heroics “This is the dream of every father, that his son or daughter makes it to the top. When we started, I had the dream that one day if they put in their best, they will reach the zenith of their careers,” Bro Obuah said.which he noted , engraved him in the hearts of many Nigerians both home and abroad.
A grand reception was later held in Nwabali’s honour at the Community Primary School, Okwuzi where top dignitaries including Sir Job, Chief Whip of the Rivers State House of Assembly and member Representing ONELGA Constituency I, Hon Franklin Nwabochi as well as member representing ONELGA Constituency II, Hon Dcns Nkemjika Ezekwe showered encomiums on the Super Eagles shot stopper.
Rivers Hoopers Coach Sure To Make Statement
Rivers Hoopers head coach Ogoh Odaudu says his team will face a huge task after Thursday’s 2024 Basketball Africa League draw.
Hoopers were drawn against former champions US Monastir, APR of Rwanda, and Senegal’s AS Douanes in the Sahara Conference.
Top two teams will advance to the BAL playoffs scheduled to take place in Kigali, Rwanda, from May 24 to the first of June.
There will also be a slot for two best third-placed teams from across the three conferences (Kalahari, Nile, and Sahara).
“The group is obviously a very tough one, Odaudu said.”
‘’Former champions US Monastir, APR who defeated the Rwandan team (REG), who were at the BAL last year; they are a very tough team too. Of course, last year’s finalist, AS Douanes, is in that group, so we have been placed in the group of death.
While the other two conferences will hold in March and April, the Nigeria Premier League Champions won’t play until May 4.
Odaudu added, ‘’Notwithstanding, we have enough time to prepare and be there. We will overcome once the jump ball comes.’’
Since the inaugural edition in 2021, Rivers Hoopers and Kwara Falcons are the only Nigerian teams who have played in the BAL, and neither have gone past the group stage.
The former Nigeria international wants his team to be the first Nigerian team to make it to the playoffs of the Basketball Africa League.
“First and foremost, getting out of the group is our target for this year’s BAL. We are tired of just going to participate and coming back home after the first round.
“For us this season, we want to ensure we get to Kigali and be in the playoffs. Whatever happens from there on is a bonus.
SWAN Gets New Leaders In Rivers
The Rivers State Chapter of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) has elected a new leadership.
On Monday, February 19, Peter Abaje of DAAR Communication was voted Chairman alongside other executive members: Vice Chairman – Deinma Abaku; Secretary, Ekpor Temple; Financial Secretary, Bath Ndubuwa, and Eyo Kelvin, Welfare Officer, who will pilot the administrative activities of the association for three years.
While other officers were elected unopposed, Mr. Abaje beat the out gone Chairman, Ms Sarah Atonye David by 10 votes to five to emerge.
The election was held under the supervision of Mr. Gabriel Nwanetanya National Ex Officio, who represented the Zonal Vice President, Azuka Chiemeka.
Inaugurating the newly elected officials, Mr. Gabriel Nwanetanya described the electoral process as peaceful and orderly and charged the Executive members to live above board by re-positioning the association in the state as no excuses would be given for non-performance.
He encouraged them to be creative and look inward to discover and showcase the abundant sports talents existing in Rivers State and also appealed to them not to apply personal interest to move the association forward.
In his inaugural speech shortly after the election, Peter Abaje, the newly elected Chairman of SWAN in Rivers State, said that the conclusion of this election signaled a new dawn in the state chapter of the association and vowed to lift the association to greater heights.
The Chairman also promised to carry every member along in the scheme of things as well as operate an open-door policy.
“The new leadership under my watch would collaborate with the private institutions and Rivers State Government to promote and develop community sports as well as encourage the education of members in areas of sports journalism, he assured.
Members of the association who voted and witnessed the election process, applauded the SWANECO for delivering a hitch-free, fair and transparent election.
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