By Jonathon Gatehouse - Thursday, December 6, 2012 - 0 Comments
Jamaican runner’s three-peat in London made him a legend. As Jonathon Gatehouse explains, there’s more to do
Just a touch over a minute and 18 seconds. That’s all the time Usain Bolt actually spent running at the London Olympics. Three 100-m sprints, three 200-m runs, and the anchor leg of the men’s 4 x 100-m relay, spread over the course of a week. Not a bad return on investment considering his results—three more gold medals.
The 26-year-old Jamaican had set himself an immodest goal heading into his second Summer Games: to become a legend. And by winning the same three events he had taken in Beijing back in 2008—sprinting’s triple crown—he certainly made his case. There’s only ever been one other track and field athlete to win three events at consecutive Olympics: Ray Ewry of the U.S., who took back-to-back golds in the standing high jump, standing long jump, and standing triple jump in 1900 and 1904. (He won two more of those three events in 1908.) But it’s a safe bet that he didn’t cap it off by partying into the wee hours of the morning with leggy members of the Swedish women’s handball team. “I’m the greatest,” Bolt repeatedly told reporters, never failing to follow it up with his infectious grin. And really, who’s arguing?
In a discipline that is filled with chest-thumpers and enormous egos, Bolt towers above his competition. Before the six-foot-five star came along, sprinting was considered a shortish man’s game, with races won via quick exits from the blocks and low-slung drives over the first 30 m. But where Bolt excels is down the back stretch, standing tall with his long legs gobbling up the track. “I’m kind of a poor starter,” he explains in a video he recently posted on his website. “At 60 m, that’s where I become a beast. That’s when I start to dominate a race.” By the 90-m mark the work is usually over, and the celebration well under way. “The last 10 m you’re not going to catch me. No matter who you are, no matter what you’re doing. That last 10 m takes me three-and-a-half strides.” Continue…
By Charlie Gillis - Tuesday, September 1, 2009 at 11:00 AM - 16 Comments
Why the world’s fastest man can’t run clear of controversy
Of all the analysts, coaches, retired athletes, kinesiologists, politicians, Freakonomists, dieticians and assorted pundits who weighed in on Usain Bolt’s performance last week, perhaps none captured the magnitude of the sprinter’s accomplishment better than Ethan Siegel. An astrophysicist by training, and a data cruncher by inclination, Siegel was in front of his TV in Portland, Ore., when the lanky Jamaican performed the athletic equivalent of a quantum leap at the world track championships, lopping .11 seconds off the world record in the 100-m dash and sending the crowd in Berlin into a frenzy.
Stunned, Siegel proceeded directly to his computer. There he assembled a graph charting world records in the 100 m against time, in hopes of illustrating how radically Bolt’s times diverged from the historical norm. Sure enough, the resulting trend line could be likened to a river emptying over a cliff. Up there was everyone else’s record; down here was Bolt’s—some 30 years ahead of where it should be according to the historical trajectory, and tantalizingly close to the theoretical limit of human velocity. To Siegel, the graph bore out some wild-sounding comparisons he’d been hearing to Bob Beamon, an American long-jumper whose 8.9-m leap in 1968 stood as the world record for 23 years. “I’ve never seen something like this happen in any sport,” he says. Others weren’t so impressed. “I suspect the math behind this performance,” sniffed one commenter on Siegel’s site, “is actually chemistry.” Continue…