30-year-old Usain Bolt, the Jamaican sprinter, is a 9-time Olympic gold medalist since the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. He became an Olympic legend after winning 3 gold medals at the Olympics in Beijing, 2008. He is arguably the fastest man in the world. From the age of 15, his nick name has been: Lightning Bolt.
I for one have always been fascinated by the Olympics and World championships since my teenage years. Since Ben Johnson of Canada left the Seoul Olympics (1988) in disgrace-after winning the 100m and then tested positive for use of anabolic steroids and Lance Armstrong’s domination of the Tour de France from 1999 through to 2005, it has been great joy and fun to watch Usain Bolt reinvent himself every year and keep challenging himself without using Performance Enhancing Drugs. Lance Armstrong, one time admired by many of us, is currently considered the cycling’s biggest fraud.
From the onset, Bolt identified his strengths and defined his image and statement that he projected to the world. He committed fully to his authentic image and made the statement as the greatest athlete of all time. He worked hard to refine and sustain this image and statement. Every time he stepped on the field to compete, he carried this image. He carried himself with dignity and respect thus teaching us how to treat him. He owned his image, loved it and lived it. Who can forget how he worked up the London crowd during the 2012 Olympics after winning the 100metre race? He covered himself with the Jamaican flag and ran around the stadium greeting his fans! No wonder the people of Jamaica adore him and consider him among the best representatives of their country.
On the track, he demonstrated incredible skills, traits, abilities and capability and strived to play by the rules. He set himself apart from every other athlete and could never be confused with any of them. His image endeared him to us and he earned himself power and played to us. He declared to us that he was the fastest man in the world, proved it and we believed him. He had become such an essential part of the Olympics and World championships that when he retires completely, we shall miss him terribly until someone steps up to follow in his footsteps.
He was bold enough to say : “I’m the best. I’m the fastest man alive. I’m now a legend.’’
I was inspired to write this post mainly out of my admiration of him as the great among greats of all time but at the same time for his humility that allowed him to know when to quit the game. According to the Institute of Biomedical Research and Sports Epidemiology; the peak age performance for athletes in track field events is 26.1. For the 100metre race, it is 25.4 for men and 26.6 for women. In such a high-powered activity, no one gets better with age. Bolt has always projected himself as authentic and consistent so he chose to give himself the ongoing IAAF World Championships in London as his final challenge. He had hoped to go out on a high note. He holds both the 100 metre (9.58secs of 2009) and 200 metre(19.19 secs of 2009) World records ; he had wanted to go out by breaking his own 200 metre record.
Last Saturday – 5th August, I was not anywhere near a television set but I was able to follow the 100metre race in London on radio. In a highly charged atmosphere, the unexpected happened: Usain Bolt followed behind Christian Coleman (USA) and Justin Gatlin(USA), the only person who had beaten him twice before. Justin Gatlin had been banned twice for doping and now has come back with a big bang. The irony is that as Bolt bows out, Gatlin stages a comeback.
Like all his fans worldwide, I very much wanted Bolt to win one more time. He goes out with a bronze but without breaking his character. I am still watching out for the 4 by 100 metres relays later in the week. After all,we are always being advised to leave the stage when the audience is still applauding.
Some inspiring quotes by Usain Bolt:
“ Stop waiting for things to happen. Go out and make them happen.’’
“To all my doubters, thank you very much because you also pushed me.’’
“The difference between the impossible and possible lies in determination.’’
Yes, Usain Bolt, you took the games to another level; you made them exciting and made people want to watch them . Most importantly, you have inspired and demonstrated to the young that each one has something great inside her or him and has the responsibility to develop it fully for her/his own good and for the good of others. You set out to be recognized among the greats like Mohammed Ali and Pele and you achieved it brilliantly. I cannot wait to see you channel that deep passion, energy and determination into something else.
For the young and old reading this post; may it inspire you to become the best person you can be while doing what you love and enjoy.
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