Botswana 19-year-old Letsile Tebogo drew comparisons to a young Usain Bolt for not only breaking a world junior sprint record, but also how he did it — by beginning his celebration some 20 meters before the finish line.
Tebogo lowered his U20 world record in the 100m from 9.94 seconds to 9.91 at the world U20 track and field championships in Cali, Colombia, on Tuesday night.
He raced out to a lead, and by the time the victory was assured, he turned to his right and began wagging his index finger.
In 2008, Bolt won the Olympic 100m final in 9.69 seconds (a world record he’d break the next year). His celebration began at a similar point as Tebogo, wingspanning his arms and then beating his chest as he crossed the finish in Beijing.
In both cases, one of the immediate reactions was to wonder how much faster the sprinter could have gone by running through the line. Tebogo said 9.8, according to World Athletics.
“If somebody took it as disrespect, I’m really sorry. I saw the fans and [it was so] everybody watching at home can enjoy the race – to remind them a little bit about what Usain Bolt did back in the days,” Tebogo said Tuesday, according to World Athletics. “He’s my idol – the person I look up to.”
Bolt may have been watching. Immediately after Tebogo won, the retired Jamaican legend tweeted, “World Juniors I see.”
When Bolt was 19 years old, he had yet to run a competition 100m. He was then the U20 world record holder in the 200m, a label now held by American Erriyon Knighton. Bolt eclipsed 9.91 in his third career 100m, clocking 9.76 at age 21 in 2008. Later that month, he broke the 100m world record for the first of three times.
There is still another junior record for Tebogo to chase before he turns 20 next June 7. Trayvon Bromell remains the fastest teenager in history, running 9.84 a month before turning 20. An athlete cannot set U20 world records in the year they turn 20.
Tebogo is committed to sprint for the University of Oregon beginning next year.
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