MJ-Lebron, Montana-Brady. There are great debates in sports, but one of them ended last night in Rio.
The argument about the greatest sprinter of all-time. That man is Usain St. Leo Bolt. The greatest sprinter and the most electrifying performer in track and field history.
In the time it took me to say his government, he won the 100 meters last night. For the third straight Olympics. Carl Lewis never did that. Michael Johnson never did that. Donovan Bailey certainly didn’t do that. But Bolt did. The first man in history to do it.
The fastest man on the planet for 8 years and counting. There’s no bigger lock in sports than Bolt on the biggest stage. Seriously, since 2007, he’s lost just once in a major championship final and that was a DQ for a false start.
He doesn’t just deliver wins; he gives you holy bleep moments. Even the semifinal last night was a holy bleep moment. All the talk coming in was how he wasn’t totally right. That his back and hamstring were giving him problems. That he was older and slower and that Justin Gatlin had been running faster times than Bolt the last two years and that if ever there was a time when Gatlin could get him, this was it. Bolt actually seemed vulnerable, even beatable. This was supposed to be Gatlin’s redemption. The time when he made everyone forget he was a disgraced cheater. Until Bolt showed up and casually dropped a 9.86 in the semifinal. And made it look absurdly easy. Dude practically walked across the finish line.
And then came the final, with each runner coming out like a heavyweight boxer being introduced to the crowd. Gatlin was booed, again. And Bolt got off to a slow start, like he usually does. Gatlin got out nicely and was running a nice race; it actually seemed for a moment Bolt might be in trouble. But then 40 meters in, Bolt started doing Bolt things. The afterburners kicked in, Bolt hit his top speed, and was chewing up huge amounts of real estate with each stride and it was clear, the more things change, the more they stay exactly the same. Gatlin and the rest of the field were looking at the backs of Bolt’s shoes.
It’s not just that he won, but how he won; by running down Gatlin and ripping his heart out again.
How good was he? Some dude coached by a 74-year-old grandmother shattered the 400 meter record last night and Bolt was still the star.
And as always, as good as the race was, the victory lap was even better. There has never been a better sprinter than Bolt, nor a better showman. A better dude.
Bolt runs better than anyone ever and he celebrates better than anyone ever. Hanging with the creepy Olympic mascot, posing for photos, taking selfies, wearing hats, carrying flags, he did it all. And afterwards, he reminded everyone to soak it in because this will be his last Olympics. “I am a living legend. Somebody said if I win these three gold medals, I would be immortal and I kind of like it. So I’m going to run with that one.”
You do that, Usain. You run with that one and no one will stop you, because no one can catch you.
We got the race everyone wanted, and the outcome everyone expected. Dude is the goat. There has never been another like him and never will be.