Saturday, August 16, 2008


In case you missed it, Jamaica's Usain Bolt ran a world-record time of 9.69 seconds Saturday night to win the 100 meters at the Olympic Games in Beijing.

Let me repeat that: 9.69!

The only time that mark has ever been seen in the 100 meters is on a video game. Bolt is in his first year in the highest-profile event on the track, and if 2008 is any indication then marks that were once considered impossible (something in the 9.5s) is possible with this guy.

A 6-5 sprinter, Bolt is the "gold" standard now, and the 22-year-old will only get better from here. The first 100-meter Olympic champion from Jamaica, Bolt bulled into the lead at about the 20-meter mark and then turned on the jets. He probably could have run in the high 9.5s if he hadn't coasted through the final 20 meters already in full celebration mode. It was a defining moment in track and field history, similar to the moment when Michael Johnson -- wearing his gold Nike shoes -- completed his 400-200 double at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta with a remarkable time of 19.32 seconds in the 200 meters.

Some Olympic moments stand the test of time, moments like Bob Beamon's long jump mark in Mexico City in 1968, Mark Spitz winning seven gold medals in Munich in 1972, Bruce Jenner's decathlon win in 1976, Carl Lewis' performance in 1984, Flo-Jo in 1988 in Seoul, the Dream Team in 1992, Michael Johnson in 2000, Jeremy Wariner bursting onto the international scene in 2004 and, of course, Michael Phelps in 2008.

But for track and field fans, the men's 100 meters will stand the test of time as well, simply because it brought a new face onto the international scene that will dominate the landscape for at least the next four years. Casual followers of sports -- and those who pay attention to track and field only when the Olympics roll around every four years -- had probably never heard of Usain Bolt before watching the tape-delayed 100-meter final. But Bolt had already broken the world record twice in 2008, and his races have become something of a sensation on You Tube.

ACU fans have their own athlete who transcended the sport and put his own stamp on an Olympic Games, and that was the great Bobby Morrow, who won three gold medals at the 1956 Games in Melbourne, Australia. For years Morrow has been called the "Greatest Sprinter of All Time," and you'd get an argument from anyone who ever saw Morrow run that he doesn't still own that title.

But Bolt has forever put his stamp on the world of track and field ... and it likely won't be the last time.

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