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Thursday, 21 August 2008

Bolt From The Blue

So how have they been for you? The Almost Daily Sports Blog has been thoroughly enjoying the Games at the expense of many other aspects of my life...such as The Almost Daily Sports Blog.

Ireland are doing magnificently. Well, certainly our boxers are. Don't rule out Denis Lynch tomorrow though...nor Olive Loughnane later on tonight. Ok Olive is unlikely, but since she's from my hometown that's a real homer pick.

The Games have belonged to two people - Phelps and Bolt. So, who's the star?

Let's assess the facts. Michael Phelps has won 8 gold medals in Beijing. More than Spitz. He's won 14 overall. More than Ireland. He set seven World Records along the way, in every event bar the 100m Butterfly, which he did win despite the claims of some people.

Usain Bolt on the other hand, so far, only has two gold medals and two World Records. However, to me, he is the star of these Olympics. He is the first man in 24 years to complete the 100m/200m double. He is the first ever to win both in World Records. He also has the chance to win a third medal this weekend in the 4x100m relay with the all dominant Jamaican sprinting team.

So which tally is most impressive?? For me... it is Bolt. Just.

Phelps' records have as much to do with a technological fluke than anything else. The pool is deeper and wider than most and the new LZR suits from Speedo add an estimated 2% to an athlete's performance. Sure, everyone else has the use of the same technology, but that gives him a distinct advantage over those who went before him. As for these games, but for Jason Lezek, and the previously mentioned squeaky bum touch over Milorad Cavic, there would have been no gold rush.

Bolt, on the other hand, is in a different class. He set the 100m World Record by running only 85 of them and today, broke one of the most impressive records in the book, Michael Johnson's 19.32 in Atlanta in 1996. Both performances were phenomenal. Simply stunning. His winning margins are impressive. In events where margins are measured in the hundredths, he won by a chasm. He is brilliant.

I confess that I had my doubts about Bolt. Too often athletes have shown us flashes of brilliance, only to rob us of the joy of what we have seen. Like someone in the audience of a magic show, I wondered where the rabbit came from. However, I have been assured that he is clean. I sincerely hope he is. Track and fired needs a star. It needs an instantly recognizable face. It needs an L.T., an A-Rod, a Wayne Rooney. It needs a Michael Phelps. Usain Bolt is that man. Usain Bolt is a super-star. Usain Bolt is the greatest athlete in the Games of the 29th Olympiad.


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