Usain Bolt’s sad farewell race
By Jesus A. Garcia Jr.
I WAS in my room for ten days, glued to the television in the evening watching the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championship Games held last August 3-13 in London. Of all the athletic games that were conducted like javelin, discus and hammer throws, high, long and triple jumps, sprint, middle and long distance runs, to name some, I focused on the sprint races like the 100, 200, 4 x 100 meters to watch out for my idol, world and Olympic champion Usain Bolt of Jamaica.
I became more curious about him when I read in the newspaper weeks ago that the IAAF 2017 London World Championships will be his last race, win or lose. In an interview, Bolt said the main reason behind his plan to retire even at his young age of 30 is the frequent recurrence of his hamstring injury during his training days and some competitions. He said it slowed him down a bit making it difficult for him to break his own amazing world and Olympic records in 100, 200 and the 4 x 100-meters relay. His aim is to surpass his own 9.58 seconds record in the century dash he established in 2009 IAAF World Championships and be acclaimed as the greatest man sprinter of all time, confident that if he retires his records will stand for many years, if not forever.
But just as he was afraid of, he tumbled in the last 50 meters due to the sudden recurrence of his hamstring injury and even failed to finish the event in London in his last 4 x 100-meters relay race. Great Britain won to upset the top favorite Americans. Japan surprisingly finished third.
Bolt also lost his initial race, the 100-meter sprint that the aging but bull-strong Justin Gatlin, 35, of U.S. won, topping the distance in 9.92 seconds, still a far cry from Bolt’s 9.58 mark. Gatlin’s compatriot the 21-year old Christian Coleman finished a very close second, 9.93, and the lanky six-foot-five Bolt only landed third in 9.95, one of his slowest finishes in the 100-meter dash, his forte. It was also one of his worst performances in international meet since he climbed to prominence in 2008 Beijing Olympics for his double sprint wins, the 100 and 200 meters in record times. He repeated these achievements in 2012 London Olympics and added the 4 x 100 meters relay for gold. It was exactly how he achieved how he won the three gold in the Rio Olympics last year by winning the 100, 200 and the 4 x 100 meters relay to collect his total of eight Olympic gold to become the only Olympic sprint runner to do these aside from being the 11-time world champion in same distances he competed in.
World pundits and sports connoisseurs say that Bolt could have accomplished his 9.55 seconds dream easily during his prime years if he had stopped showboating before reaching the finish line. Now that he has retired, and vowed not to make a comeback in the post-race interview, he will never be forgotten and will be missed by many, including this writer. And although his last attempt was a sad farewell race, I believe his records will stay for many years. Maybe the fellow who will smash his marks is still not born in this generation.
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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” JOHN 3: 36