Sport

The Bolt impact

By Clare Forrester

Monday, August 06, 2012    

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IN the middle of all the hype and excitement surrounding Usain Bolt and his superhuman performances, one vastly important fact is being overlooked. Even if Bolt never wins another race in his life his impact is already earth-shattering, not for his mind-blowing records, but because Bolt has single-handedly changed the culture of Olympic sports.

I watched Serena Williams dancing on court after her demolition of Maria Sharapova in the gold medal match at Wimbledon. This was not just jumping up and down, it was actual dance moves. This would never have happened pre-Bolt.

In almost every track final the athletes are trying to show relaxation and play with the crowd before the race. The smiles are not tenuous anymore, they are bright and genuine. It seems many athletes have taken to heart Bolt's relax-and-have-fun mantra, diametrically opposed to the traditional focus-and-get-serious advice.

In the same way that Rafa Nadal biting his medal has gone beyond tennis and is now replicated at virtually every medal ceremony, even by Serena Williams, so too has Bolt's message of relaxation seeped into the collective consciousness of all of today's sportsmen. Expect more smiles and less scowls, less furrowed foreheads and gazes into an eternal horizon.

Bolt has taught the world a lesson, that sports is fun and if you are a sportsperson you should be having fun. With his 100m victory last night, he has given Jamaicans at home and abroad every reason to join in his fun.

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