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Monday, August 29, 2011

Bolt from the Blue for Usain - it is Yohan Blake at Daegu, South Korea

The whole World is watching intensely the keenly contested events of the  13th World Championships in Athletics -  an international athletics competition currently being held in Daegu, South Korea. It started on 27 August and is scheduled to finish on 4 September 2011.

In any athletic event, 100 M spring is the blue riband event and by all parameters and form,  the Olympic champion Usain Bolt certainly was  once again the odds-on favourite to win gold in the men's 100m final.  No game is won before the final moments, there are many keen to challenge him – yet Usain Bolt is a champion in his own right.
 Bolt winning in style in Beijing Olympics

In the same Korea, way back in 1988 in Olympics, we all watched and were startled by an astonishing 9.79 by the dimunitive pocket powerhouse Ben Johnson turning head to see the rest behind, raise his finger even before he crossed the final line to declare himself the winner – a great gesture but before he could celebrate the win was disallowed as he tested positive for stanozolol after the race.   To me it was remarkable race – in the 100M sprint, little separates the runners,  Ben could turn back around 75 – 80M and was home by a comfortable margin – a great race looking it again and again.

My favourite writer Sujatha wrote a story based on the life of a girl aspiring to win  the 100M in under 10 seconds titled ‘pathu second muthuam (10 second kiss).  Though records keep tumbling down, for women 10.49 seconds remains.  It was achieved by Florence Griffith-Joyner popularly Flo-Jo in 1988.  she passed away at a young age of 38 in 1998. 

In men, the barrier was first broken way back in 1968 by Jim Hines, then Calvin Smith, Ben Johnson, Carl Lewis, Leroy Burrel, Donovan Bailey, Maurice Greene, Tim Montgomery, Asafa Powell, Justin Gatlin – all have done that.  The Jamaican Usain Bolt showed to the World that he is made of a different stuff.  In the Beijing Olympics on 16th Aug 1988, he ran an improbable 9.69 to win the Gold.  In the 2009 World Championship, he further clipped 0.11 seconds to run an incredible 9.58 seconds, which is presently the World record.  He was touted to repeat his performance of winning, if not the timing !!!

Blake, the winner

But the winner of yesterday’s event is Yohan Blake, a fellow Jamaican.  He holds the national junior record for the 100 metres, and tied Seun Ogunkoya as the youngest sprinter to have broken the 10-second barrier (at 19 years, 197 days).  Blake's personal best of 9.89 seconds makes him the fourth fastest Jamaican runner He is coached by Glen Mills, and is training partners with Bolt and Daniel Bailey.  At the 2011 World Championships, Blake comfortably made the final.  Following the shock disqualification of compatriot Usain Bolt, Blake won the Gold medal in a time of 9.92s.

 the false start

It was a technical loss for the  triple Olympic champion, and an unbackable favourite to retain his world title.  As he  burst from his blocks in lane five realized in anguish the enormity of his error   within just a couple of strides and  was tearing off his Jamaican vest in fury.  It should not happen but is not entirely a rarity !!  - a falst start….   His mistake was visible to the naked eye from all parts of the stadium, prompting exclamations of disbelief among shocked spectators.

Generally Bolt has a great aura of  style, pomp and arrogance that goes with most Caribbeans.  This time he beat himself with an unforgiveable lapse of starting before to leave all his fans nodding their heads in disapproval.  His running mate Blake won the world championship last night and immediately dedicated the victory to his countryman whose stunning false start disqualification had opened the path for him to claim the crown.

That is what nervy trouble can do to even the most confident persons.  A person who would have won the face half a second ahead of anyone else, nervously jumped possibly worried of hundredths of a second an advantage that the early starter  might get !!  There is more left and the immediate challenge for him is 200M where also he is expected to win hands down.  As with most sports, there has been a recent change in 2010 – introduction of a one strike and you are out rule for false starts after the sport had been blighted by a routine number of false starts.  Bolt was not the only man to false start and rule himself out of any hope of a medal, British sprinter Dwain Chambers false started in the semi final. Several English commentators have ventured that the rule needs to be changed again before the London Olympics so as to avoid the possibility of the world missing out on seeing the best racing the best because of a tedious rule.  As usual for the British supporters, rules should always be flexed if they might come in the way of their winning !!

Regards – S. Sampathkumar.


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