Pavilion Parade by M V Muhsin
August 12th, 2012 by Admin

Bolt-O-Rama: ‘I made it ‘Me, to Di World’

Here is an exercise we must take together. Take a deep breath and get into an act of concentration. Now focus on the seconds hand on your watch. Start counting as you snap your fingers in rapid fire succession.

On your Marks, Set, Go! …snap one, snap two; snap three; snap four, snap five, snap six, snap seven, snap eight and snap nine and snap ten.

It took me under 10 seconds to do this. And that’s what it took seven of the eight competitors in the 100 meters dash at the Olympics. What’s your count? Well it took that marvel of a man, Usain Bolt just nine snaps of your fingers – 9.63 secs-to cover 100 meters.

The 100 metres was the swiftest foot race ever run! Breathtaking and dramatic as this is, here was Usain Bolt electrifying the world’s power grid, as it were, as no human has ever done in the 106 year history of the Games.

And just last Thursday he became the only athlete ever- on the planet- who to have won gold at the 100 and 200 meters. It was Carl Lewis and Bolt, the only men to take home back-to-back golds in 100 meters. Usain Bolt now became the only man to win two Olympic 200s. He accomplished the 200m in 19.32 secs. And if one uses our formula of snaps of fingers, in 19 snaps or less! This is notwithstanding Usain having the time, in his last few strides, to put his left finger to his lips and caution those who doubted him to “Shush”!


Bolt on his way to victory

‘Rocket Usain’

This is simply the stuff that mythology is made of: he hears ‘times winged chariot’ hurrying at his back. He transforms himself into ‘Rocket Usain’. This rocket is 6ft 5 inches tall. It has an incredible stride of 10 feet. Yes, 10 feet! Myth transforms into human form and 80,000 people see this unfold, unbelievingly with their own eyes in London, both in the 100 and 200 meters. Hundreds of millions more view this on their screens, breathless–for 9.63 seconds and dizzy for much longer. And for 19.32 secs in the 200. Lumps enter our throats rendering us -cough! -breathless!!

US Bronze winning sprinter Gatlin, who ran in the lane next to Bolt, captured the sparks from the grid well by saying: “when his legs start lifting you feel his power!”

He is such fun and an entertainer. His pantomime acts before and after his victories are now legendary. Bolt’s signature finger-pointing pose drawn from the Jamaican Tourism campaign, tells us all in a reggae pantomime act “I made it ‘Me, to Di World”

I visited Kingston and Montego Bay in Jamaica some months back. Who is your Prime Minister, I asked my cab driver. And the answer was spontaneous: hey man, its Usain Bolt!

Family of modest means

He was born in an agricultural hamlet east of Montego Bay. His father, Wellesley Bolt, was a coffee-farmer; mother Jennifer a dressmaker. There’s was a family of modest means, hard working and simple in outlook. Dad Wellesley, it was said, would complain that something seemed to be wrong with ‘my boy’. He just could not sit still; always running rather than walking; and jumping when he was expected to be sitting or standing.

But at high school he won prizes and broke records and then an ailment struck him. He was diagnosed with Scoliosis, a curvature of the spine that left his right leg half an inch shorter. He was asked to give up athletics to protect his spine. But the Wellesleys are not the types who give up. A new coach and a doctor from Germany put him back on track.

And that track brings this 25-year-old, $ 2 million (Rs 260 million) a second for the 10 seconds on the track from sponsorships! His sponsors are Puma who give him around $10 million annually and then there are others like Hublot the watchmaker, Visa, Soul Electronic, and Virgin Media who play a secondary role. Big time!

Heavy betting

His feat in the 100 meters has also made some fans rich and some bookmakers sulk. Ladbrokes the bookmaker in London had to pay out over half a million pounds sterling to punters who bet against the odds. One fan is reported to have bet British pounds 60,000 (Rs.13 million) on Bolt with the odds at 1/4.

Throughout history sprints have captured the interest and imaginations of sports fans world over and the 100 meters is regarded as the crème de la crème of the Olympics with the 200 and the relays coming next.

With speeds at stake it blows one’s mind as to how the time-keeping system works.

Many of us remember the days in the 1940s, or even later, when Olympic sprinters took off from holes they dug themselves behind the starting lines.

Contrast this with the latest starting blocks that now adjust for different stride lengths and hip widths. The blocks not only signify to the runner when to go but also whether he/she has jumped the gun!

Sound from individual speakers

As for the starting “gun”, when it’s triggered the sound comes from individual speakers behind each runner. All runners hear it simultaneously. In the past runners in lanes close to the starter would hear the signal a fraction of a second before than others in the further lanes. According to Omega: The Complete Book of the Olympics” a sprinter usually takes off about 0.13 of a second after the gun sounds.

Humans it says cannot react to sound in less than 0.1 seconds, and so a sprinter who takes off faster than that will be disqualified. Sensors in the back of block detect a premature increase in pressure and signal a false start.

Adding to all this innovation is the speed of recording the results. Within as quickly as eight seconds after a race ends results can be determined and posted!

As Usain Bolt defied and defined Olympic achievement his Bolt-O-Rama, it may well herald another bout of innovation to keep pace with new speed barriers as they are broken.

Before the Olympics someone wrote that the London Olympics has a chance to be impossible, but also, impossibly glorious!

Usain Bolt made that happen. Prince William and Prince Harry were present. Also ‘Prince’ Kobe Bryant and ‘Prince’ LeBron James of Basketball heritage and many others from royalty were there too. Amidst this Royal audience, there was only one King-Usain Bolt. And he “Made it ‘Me to Di World.’