[Back to Category
One among billions Usain Bolt
Usain Bolt walked into Thursday's press conference asking for drum-rolls.
Before he walked out following a frenzied 40 minutes of verbal jousting and congratulations, he took the microphone and told everyone, “I am a legend, bask in my glory.” In between, he admitted that he would be better as a winger if he was good enough for Manchester United, published his credentials for T20 cricket and the IPL by proclaiming that he had got the wicket of Chris Gayle and also found time to state his complete and utter lack of respect for Carl Lewis. Oh, and he also spoke about love.
If you were looking for insight into what really makes Bolt tick, the press conference was not the right place to do so. At times, while listening to Bolt, you felt like you were indulging the dreams of a wide-eyed teenager, full of innocence and belief. The only difference is that with Bolt, you almost believed him. It is ridiculous, true, but the magic of Bolt is that he made you really believe that he could one day be playing alongside Wayne Rooney in the red of Manchester United or even be opening the bowling for one of the glorified IPL franchises. With that celebration and with his achievements Bolt could probably even win the gold in archery.
Perhaps, everything is indeed in the context. Bolt had just gone where no sprinter in history had gone before, by completing the double-double of 100 and 200 metre gongs in two consecutive Olympics. He was not fully fit, yet he managed to equal Michael Johnson's one-time feat of 19.32 that was often lauded as unbeatable. Bolt had just transcended the barriers that bind mere mortals. If he now told you he could play for Manchester United, who are you to deny it?
The stardust that sparkles around Bolt is reminiscent of some of the most iconic athletes of the past. It is not just about talent, Bolt has that in droves, but it is also about charisma. Bolt does not just break records; he demolishes them with a sort of dismissive panache while at the same time retaining a sense of innocence and song that has long since been consigned to the scrap-heap of professional sports. Yesterday, many compared him to Muhammad Ali, others to Michael Jordan, and others still to Diego Maradona; Bolt has just been elevated to exalted company.
With Bolt there is also a freshness that should not be there. For one of the most famous athletes in the world, he is not afraid to let his feelings be known. He doesn't like Justin Gatlin, anyone who attended the press conference following his 100-metre triumph would know that. On Thursday too, he made his feelings about Carl Lewis clear; the American star's drug-related comments without any proof had led Bolt to lose all respect for him. With Bolt, it is all in black or white, there are no shades of grey.
Watching Bolt run is so thrilling, so emphatic, so crushing and yet so casual that it makes you want to get up and just embrace the person next to you, if just for having the pleasure to have collectively witnessed something so unique and so special. With Bolt, there is always the 'I was there' moment. Which is why the stadium roars every time he is in attendance and which is also why flashbulbs go off like neurons firing in a brain when he hits his stride. It is also why, in the words of the advert, for twenty seconds, the world stops to watch one man run.
Inexplicably, there are critics of Bolt and of his exaggerated celebrations. But by doing that Bolt is just being true to character. “I am going to party like it's my birthday,” he said on Thursday. And if his utterly cool self-confidence is galling, consider these lines that are in his autobiography.
"It is said that the population of the earth is 6.8 billion, and that approximately 107 billion have lived on this planet since man came into being," says Bolt in his autobiography. "It doesn't get any cooler than knowing you are the fastest of them all."
There really isn't. There is no one in this world who has ever mastered the primal, elemental skill of running fast better than he has. If this doesn't give one man confidence, nothing ever will.
Bolt's achievements are almost alien but in a rare moment during yesterday's frenzy Bolt provided a stark moment of insight into how he himself views his elevation to the pantheon of legends.
"To have set a goal for yourself, to become a legend, and to achieve that, it is not something you can explain,” said Bolt. “It won't sink in until I sit down with my friends and family back home, right now I am just happy and hyped.
“But when I get back I will reminisce, and we will say 'remember when Yohan beat you,' and 'remember when you were injured?' And I will think about the journey I have been on. I am not saying I'll cry... but."
But he might just cry. And when Usain Bolt is gone, so might we.
[ Front Page ] 2012-08-11