That was quick. Usain Bolt finally put together a complete race. Previously his start had been sluggish or he had taken his foot off the pedal at the end of the race but last night in Berlin it all came together. It is easy to see that no one can touch him, Tyson gay ran a lifetime best 9.71s but was still 0.13s off. The Jamaican not only has the gas but a charisma that has raised the profile of athletics enormously and the sport has to be grateful to him for this. Steve Cram described him as ‘brilliant beyond compare’ and I have to agree with that, he has raised the bar and started to pull everyone else along with him towards it; would Tyson Gay have run that time without Bolt alongside him? I don’t think so.
Bolt now has his sights set on running 9.4s, setting this goal could be a smart move not only for the sprinter but for the sport as a whole. Instead of athletics bodies marketing a race, they can market the record so that people will watch to see if he can break it. It can instill an excitement in each event he attends and will mean a clamor for tickets to watch; it will have those at the top queueing to line their pockets. Whilst I too will be enthralled at the prospect of following his quest for that target, there is another reason that I think his arrival to the sport could have a profound influence.
Tiger Woods effectively started a new era in golf, he was untouchable to begin with, and although still number 1 in the world, he doesn’t always have it his own way as the PGA this weekend displayed. Roger Federer did the same in tennis and we now have Nadal and Murray ensuring the odds on a Federer victory aren’t as short as they once were. I think, and hope, the same will happen in the 100m and the performances of Bolt will bring a new generation of sprinters that will ensure sprinting remains competitive for the next 10 years. Otherwise we could be looking at a Michael Schumacher scenario where people become bored of that dominance and have to change the rules to stop it. We could see Usain Bolt having to compete in heavier shoes or having his blocks further back….. I still think he’d win!