August 16, 2009
Last August in the 100-meter final at the Olympics, Usain Bolt shattered a world record in the event even though he began thumping his chest in celebration at the 90-meter mark. Bolt explained by saying he didn't care about the time, just the gold medal. Still, people wondered: "How fast can he go if he runs through the tape?" We found out tonight in Berlin.
The Jamaican sprinter shattered his own world mark in the 100 this evening, running a blistering 9.58 at the IAAF World Track Championships. That was .11 seconds faster than his time from Beijing and right in line with what some physicists had predicted Bolt could run if he kept racing for the entire 100 meters. The time is stunning. It's a full two-tenths faster than Ben Johnson ran in his steroid-fueled "victory" at the 1988 Olympics.
Bolt went so fast that his much-anticipated showdown with Tyson Gay (who withdrew from the 100 in Beijing due to injury) seemed anti-climatic. That Gay broke the American record in the race despite losing by a few strides demonstrates the greatness of Bolt's run.
The world mark was set in the same stadium in which Jesse Owens won five gold medals at the 1936 Olympics. Nothing in track will ever top that moment, but Usain Bolt's sprint tonight came close.