Saturday, July 11, 2009

Usain Bolt's Records Will Stand For A Few Decades

Its hard not to marvel at Usain Bolt. He literally blows the current crop of competitors away. For a 100m race, the winning margin is usually in hundreds of fraction of a second. If you thought his Olympics win was astounding, and it was, his performance in the rain last night was astonishing. The commentators here noted that Bolt ran the first 100m of that race in 9.9 seconds.

Last night, Bolt was due to run in the 200m in Lausanne, and much hype surrounded the race. So you can imagine that when the heavens opened and it poured with rain before and during the meeting, people's expectations were dampened somewhat.

The men's 100m was won in 10.07s - a relatively slow time. The women's 100m was taken in 11.03 - good, but not spectacular. It was not a fast night for sprinting, and quality athletes all seemed down by a couple of percent on their normal times. And when the wind picked up, Bolt was faced with a headwind, it would have been quite acceptable to run anything around 20 seconds.

But Bolt unleashed a 19.59s time, which is absolutely extra-ordinary, running into a headwind of 0.9m/s in wet conditions. His margin of victory was 0.82 seconds, over LaShawn Merrit, the Olympic 400m champion, with other Olympic finallists (medallists among them) trailing even further behind.

The gap to second is an amazing 4.2%, which is the equivalent of first and second being separated by almost 5 seconds in an 800m race! Of course, that never happens because of pacing and race strategy, but it's an incredible margin of victory over a decent quality field.

About a month ago, Tyson Gay laid down his marker when he ran 19.58 seconds in New York. That still stands as the fastest time in the world this year, and so on paper, anyway, Gay and Bolt have a great duel lined up in Berlin later this year.

But on the track, and in the rain, Bolt more than matched Gay's performance. There seems little that Bolt cannot do, barring injury, and on the right day, his own world record of 19.30s seems fragile. Considering that only a year ago the 19.32s of Michael Johnson was the most "unbreakable record" in track, Bolt has certainly moved the sport forward a few generations.

1 comment:

Trashed said...

Technically speaking, Bolt is more suited for the 200m and 400m than the 100m due to his height and body length ... but that hasn't stopped him.

He is an amazing specimen of the human race !