Earlier this week, International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) president Sebastian Coe made a simple assessment of Jamaican sprint legend Usain Bolt. “You can have the Friday-night-in-the-pub conversations about who is best footballer or tennis player, but there is no argument about this guy in sprinting,” he had said. Anyone who has followed Bolt over the years will vouch for the authenticity of Coe’s statement without a second thought.
With the IAAF World Championships set to kick-off in London on Friday, Bolt’s decision to call time on his glittering career will dominate the sporting world over the weekend. The Jamaican will race just the 100m and 4x100m relay before hanging his boots. The 30-year-old will surely leave a huge gap to fill.
Going by his sheer consistency over an extended time period — the Jamaican has lost just one competitive international race since taking the world by storm at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 — Bolt is undisputedly the “greatest” ever track-and-field star. To quote former US sprint legend Michael Johnson, winner of four Olympic gold medals and eight World Championship titles, “Neither Jesse Owens, Carl Lewis or myself has produced, in my opinion, the consistency and longevity that Usain Bolt has and so to this point he has to be considered the greatest. If he’s healthy, I don’t think anyone can stop him.”
Apart from winning eight gold medals at the Olympics, Bolt has also bagged an unprecedented 11 World Championship crowns. His personal 100m best of 9.58 seconds at the Berlin World Championships in 2009 is the fastest ever. Bolt’s best timing of 19.19 seconds in 200m is also a world record.
Scientists have come out with a mathematical model now that explains the power and energy Bolt has to expend to overcome the drag caused by air resistance. According to their study, published in European Journal of Physics, Bolt’s time of 9.58 seconds in Berlin was achieved by reaching a speed of 12.2m per second, which is equivalent to about 27mph!
The world is awaiting an encore in London, for one last time.