There are a plethora of nicknames that we issue to the athletes we follow as sports fans. The King. Air Jordan. The Great One. Tom Terrific. However, the title “The Fastest Man on Earth” is by far the coolest out there. Speed is an asset in every athletic activity. Whether its basketball, football, baseball, hockey, lacrosse, tennis or soccer…if a competitor has a ton of speed, they automatically have an advantage. Therefore, to be literally the fastest man on the planet Earth has a special relevance to it, and Usain Bolt has proven that he an athlete that all can greatly admire.
For the second straight Olympics, he has won gold in both the 100 meter and the 200 meter dashes. He ran the 200 meters in 19.32 seconds, which was a little less impressive than the 9.63 100 meter time he put up on Sunday for his first gold. After his performance on the track, Bolt said “I’ve done something that no one has done before, which is defend my double title. Back-to-back for me…I would say I’m the greatest.” While humility might not be a part of Usain’s repertoire, speed certainly is. It is so damn hard to be considered the fastest man in the world and win both distances one time. To come back four years later, and four years older is damn near impossible. However, athletes of Bolt’s magnitude don’t understand what the word impossible means.
Bolt is also one of the best showmen in the sports world. He doesn’t appear to have any pressure on him at any point in his races. He rolls up the starting line with a huge smile, acknowledging the crowd with his entertaining antics. He regularly pretends to be a DJ spinning records, then holds up his index finger and flexes his arm, pointing like a Greek God. During the Beijing Olympics, he turned around and finished a gold medal race backwards, facing his opponents. Today, during his gold medal run, he was looking at the crowd and then put his finger to his lips, making a Shhhhh gesture to the crowd. Bolt stated he did so because “that was for all that people that doubted me, all the people that was talking all kinds of stuff that I wasn’t going to do it, I was going to be beaten, I was just telling them: You can stop talking now, because I am a legend.” Then he dropped down and delivered 5 push ups just for good measure right after crossing the finish line.
The 6-5 sprinter towers over his opponents. He makes the second, third and fourth fastest men in the world look like children. In an Olympics that have featured great performances from Michael Phelps, Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh, the entire U.S. women’s gymnastic team and others, Usain Bolt’s brilliance, dominance and swagger have been by far the most memorable athletic demonstration of the Olympic Games. He has elevated his status in the world of sports to that of Jordan, Ali, Pele, Gretzky and the few others who don’t need a first and last name for total recognition. His teammate Johan Blake ended up winning silver in both Bolt’s golden sprints, yet he had nothing but praise for his fellow Jamaican countryman who cost him the ultimate prize. After the race, Blake said “Definitely, he’s a legend. He motivated me a lot. It’s his time. It’s going to be my time soon.” It might be your time at some point Johan, but I don’t see the “fastest man on Earth” slowing up anytime soon.