Usain Bolt

Ten years ago: Usain Bolt posts 100-meter record that still stands

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Eleven years ago today, Usain Bolt blasted across the track in Beijing to win Olympic 100-meter gold in an unfathomable time of 9.69 seconds.

Ten years ago today, Bolt stepped to the line for the world championship final in Berlin.

“I would not be surprised to see that clock say 9.5,” said the prescient commentator Ato Boldon.

When that clock stopped, the digits 9.5 were indeed there. The final time: 9.58 seconds.

To put it in perspective — Tyson Gay set an American record of 9.71 seconds in the same race, and he wasn’t all that close to Bolt at the finish.

Gay shaved another 0.02 seconds off his time a few weeks later in Shanghai to match Bolt’s 2008 time of 9.69, an American record that still stands. The only other sprinter to go faster than 9.7 is Jamaica’s Yohan Blake, who also ran the iconic distance in 9.69 a few weeks after the 2012 Olympics.

Bolt himself never again broke the 9.6 mark and only broke the 9.7 mark once more when he lowered his Olympic record to 9.63 in 2012.

From 2013 to today, only three men have broken the 9.8 mark. Justin Gatlin did in six times in 2014 and 2015, posting a best of 9.74. Bolt did it twice, including a 9.77 in 2013.

American Christian Coleman ran a 9.79 last year and has the world’s fastest time (9.81) so far this year with the Diamond League finals and world championships still to come.

While a time of 9.58 seems beyond the grasp of any other mortal, it’s so deeply embedded in Bolt’s identity that he chose the jersey number 9.58 in a charity soccer match earlier this year.

LONDON, ENGLAND – JUNE 16: Usain Bolt of Soccer Aid World XI wears the number 9.58 in reference to his 100 metres World Record time during the Soccer Aid for UNICEF 2019 match between England and the Soccer Aid World XI at Stamford Bridge on June 16, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

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Noah Lyles responds to Usain Bolt’s question, honors Dragon Ball Z’s Goku

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DES MOINES — For everyone applauding Noah Lyles this season, and there are many, one of his most famous onlookers still wants to see the American answer one question on the track.

“Last season he was doing a lot of good things, this season he has started off good,” Usain Bolt said Thursday, according to The New York Times. “But as I said, it all comes down to the championship. Is he confident to come into a race after running three races and show up? For me he has shown that he has talent, but when the championship comes, we will see what happens.”

Bolt is right. Lyles, though he is the fourth-fastest 200m runner in history, has never competed at a global championship. How he will hold up through the rounds in a foreign setting, like Doha in two months, is one of his big unknowns.

“Sounds about right to me, sounds like my thoughts exactly,” Lyles said when shown the Bolt Q&A after winning his 200m first round heat at nationals on Saturday (the semifinals and final are Sunday). “It’s why I decided to run one event this year.”

Lyles chose not to race the 100m this week, even though he is ranked second in the world in the event this year. He didn’t want to take any energy away from making the world team by finishing in the top three in the 200m. The double can wait until the Olympic year.

Lyles was fourth in the 2016 Olympic Trials 200m out of high school, just missing that three-man Rio team. He was an overwhelming favorite to make the 2017 World Championships team but withdrew during that season’s USATF Outdoor Championships with a hamstring injury. There were no outdoor worlds in 2018, when Lyles went undefeated at 200m for a second straight season.

Lyles and Christian Coleman, the world’s fastest 100m sprinter since Bolt retired in 2017, are expected to go head-to-head on Sunday in the most anticipated duel of the four-day meet. Coleman is already on the team in the 100m.

Lyles said his season has gone to plan, from running 19.50 last month to coloring his hair half-gray/silver in honor of a Dragon Ball Z character Goku on Saturday. He already has designs to go full gray/silver for worlds in Doha.

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Usain Bolt calls out ’embarrassing’ Jamaican sprinters

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Usain Bolt called out his fellow Jamaican Olympic medalists Yohan Blake and Warren Weir as well as the next generation of his countrymen who have been slower than the top U.S. sprinters in the two years since Bolt retired.

“I’ve walked away from the sport, and no one is there to pick it up, pick up the pieces, keep the level,” Bolt said in a Jamaica Gleaner interview published last week. “It’s embarrassing for the country. Every time I see people, [they say] come back. We need you. But you have so much talent in Jamaica.”

In 2018, Jamaica had none of the 10 fastest men in the world for the first time since 2003. This year, Blake is the lone Jamaican who has broken 10 seconds, while five Americans have done so.

Blake, 29, is the second-fastest sprinter in history and beat Bolt at the 2012 Jamaican Olympic trials but has lost multiple steps since a series of leg injuries beginning in 2013.

Led by Christian Coleman and Justin Gatlin, the U.S. could sweep the 100m podium at the world championships in late September. Jamaica hasn’t missed an Olympic or world podium in the men’s 100m since 2004.

While Bolt earned most of those medals, Jamaica boasted a deep group with Blake, Weir, former world-record holder Asafa PowellNesta Carter and Michael Frater. All are now 29 years or older.

“I don’t think it is going to get any better because I think these youngsters are a little bit spoiled,” Bolt said of his countrymen, according to Reuters.

Bolt reacted to Blake, Weir and fellow veteran Kemar Bailey-Cole splitting from Glen Mills, the coach whom they shared with Bolt. Bolt said that sprinters who left Mills “disrespected” the coach on social media.

“[Mills] took you to the highest level that you have ever been,” he said. “They probably won’t get back to that level, but he has brought you there. … If you don’t work hard and you don’t train hard, how can you be great? When Warren Weir got to the level that he is, I remember Warren Weir taking days off to go to Florida and [fellow sprinter] Jason Young. Just randomly, take a week off from training. … frolicking and just relaxing. Who does that in a season?

“These youngsters, they feel like because they got the contract … they feel like they’ve made it. That is the problem. No one wants to listen. No one has the fight in them or the anger to be great. If you don’t want it, then it don’t matter how much I speak. I’ve spoken to all these young athletes from Bailey-Cole to Blake, all of them, I’ve had conversations. You know what I mean? They don’t want to hear it.”

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