Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Usain Bolt: Best Since Jesse Owens in 1936

In case you missed it Tuesday, this is what I wrote about Usain Bolt's win in the 100. I think it foreshadowed his performance -- and epic accomplishment -- today:
Let me defend Usain Bolt from prudes like Bob Costas, who apparently felt that someone whose week-long display of flamboyant sycophancy of Michael Phelps qualifies him as a journalistic paragon who might preach unchallenged from the anchor's pulpit:

Rather than defiling the spirit of the Olympics, Bolt embodied them. He cared so little for the pedestrian concept of a world record -- only for the thrill of Olympic gold -- that he put that world record at risk to celebrate the only success that mattered to him and his country.

Don't blame him for being so far ahead at 85 meters that he could celebrate early; surely, if anyone in the rest of the field was closer to him, he would have dug in -- again, not for any world record, but for this Olympic ideal Costas claim he disrespects.

Bolt did just enough to accomplish what he came to Beijing to do: Win gold in the 100. Any effort beyond that -- punish your enemies! -- would have been the very opposite of the spirit of the Games. And so everything after that was limited to his celebration of his joy.

What could be more Olympian than that?
His 200 was focused, like a laser. No preening, just "I'll-take-that-world-record."

Between the two, it was the most impressive display on the track -- Olympic or otherwise -- since Jesse Owens in Berlin in 1936.

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