No sweat; Bolt is listening

From the Sports Desk

With Hartley Anderson

Sunday, July 08, 2012    

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IN the case of one Usain Bolt, the adage, "Success doesn't come to contented people", has an authentic ring to it. Indeed, circumstances have conspired for it to smugly fit into his desire of becoming a living legend in track and field.

Mere weeks before he makes his much-anticipated bid at the London Olympic Games, the athletic wonder has to contend with a fitness race, as well as those against the pretenders to his throne. Happily, he is up for the challenge.

Presumably seething after his unceremonious deposition as Jamaican sprint king, an atypically subdued Bolt conceded his defeat by Yohan Blake was indeed a "wake-up call". True to his nature, he stated his intentions of using the time available to "get it right" before London's curtain call.

If the Olympic Trials elicited an unprecedented level of local and international interest, the proliferation of theories subsequent to the aforementioned results ranks a close second. For instance, many local fans are convinced Bolt intentionally lost both sprints as a psychological manoeuvre to make rivals lower their guards.

They argue that the real Bot will turn up in London in tip-top shape, ready to blow away all and sundry and will easily win both the 100 and 200m, perhaps in record times.

Another notion is that Bolt really is not 100 per cent fit and that this was a well-kept secret by a Racers camp keen to avoid any panic among the local fans.

Yet another theory contends that Bolt is suffering the effects of an over-indulgent nocturnal lifestyle, which manifested itself in an overweight frame and general sluggishness which attended his starts in both heats and finals last weekend.

Perhaps the biggest puzzle of all, however, has been the fluctuation, and now rapid loss of form, by the big man this season. For, it must be borne in mind that prior to Blake's 7.75 seconds in the shorter dash at the Trials, Bolt previously held the two fastest times this season, 9.76 and 9.79 achieved on the Diamond League circuit.

Though not in the ball park of his world record 9.58, these are indeed fast times, and even at that early stage, positioned him as the 'form man' and the one to beat at the Olympics. I daresay, those early displays ominously placed Bolt on track to move into the region of the 9.6s.

The extent and speed with which Bolt rebounds to regain his coveted place among the favourites at the Olympics is totally dependent on his ambition and resolve, with his mercurial talent -- if not history -- distinctively in his favour.

Here, it must be borne in mind that no male athlete has ever repeated as 100m champion on the track at the Olympics, the exception being American legend Carl Lewis who won in 1984 and was awarded the gold medal four years later in Seoul after finishing second to exposed drug cheat Ben Johnson.

Aspirations of legendary status apart, therefore, Bolt has much to prove in London. He should also be aware that the Jamaican fans, despite voicing disapproval at recent events, are solidly in his corner and expect him to emerge victorious from the expected showdown with compatriots Blake and Asafa Powell, as well as Americans Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay.

For, as the saying goes, "To whom much is given, much is expected." Bolt, undoubtedly, has the support of this entire nation who wants him to do well. Something of a national treasure, the lanky sprinter is best advised to overlook the scathing remarks that have come his way in recent times, seeing them as a public warning against complacency.

However, as local football boss and JOA vice-president Captain Horace Burrell sagely suggested last week, these utterances should be scaled down in the interest of the Jamaican superstar, for the greater good of the country.

After all, Bolt, like anybody else, is human and obviously could feel let down by his own people at a time when these distractions are unnecessary.

Regardless of the balance struck between truth and speculation about the world's fastest man, what is a fact is that Bolt is obviously not contented with the status quo, as a visit to his German physician a few days ago would probably indicate.

As a proud, arrogant sporting star who revels in the limelight and who hates to lose, logic suggests he will rebound in like fashion and again set the world alight. Indeed, on those muscular shoulders rest the hopes of a nation proudly celebrating its 50th year of political independence, as well as the future of a sport whose image has been tarnished by the scourge of drugs.

And by the way, not much should be read into the 'pedestrian' 9.99 and 10.03 seconds attributed to Gay and Gatlin at Friday's Diamond League meet in Paris since both have already clocked 9.8s this season. As Kim Collins can attest, personal or season's bests are non-issues at this point, with so many other factors at play.

Interestingly, having seen Richard Thompson compete last Friday, it appears Jamaican and US athletes will occupy six of the eight lanes in the men's 100m final in early August. Trinidadian Keston Bledman, not Thompson, should also make that final.

Even more absorbing is the order in which the projected top six will finish. From a Jamaican perspective, do we dare dream of a one-two-three?





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