Bolt out to remain a gun, not jump it
Michael Gleeson, Daegu
August 30, 2011.
IT WAS like watching Muhammad Ali trip while climbing into the ring. Like Don Bradman being timed out before facing a ball. Champions do not get stopped this way.
Usain Bolt is one of the finest athletes the world has seen - the holder of every world record and Olympic sprint title. But in his mind he had to defend all three titles- the 100 metres, the 200 and the 4 x 100 relay - here and at the London Olympics to become an all-time great.
That is the measure of Bolt's dominance of his sport; he can worry not about winning, but history.
Bolt is more than a sprinter, he is a presence, a charismatic figure who intimidates. At 195 centimetres he is physically bigger than any other sprinter.
Which all made what happened her on Sunday evening so much more extraordinary when Bolt false started and was disqualified from the 100-metre final. The sudden-death rule, implemented last year, denied Bolt the chance to run and us the chance to watch him.
He knew the rules and did not complain, his exhortations on the track, ripping his singlet off and stomping, were in disbelief and anger at himself, not in protest.
The man who typically finishes a race at least half a second ahead of anyone else had nervously jumped, maybe more worried about his modest form coming into the event than we had credited.
The man who owns the track suddenly had nowhere to hide when he was on it. He left the track without speaking and went to the outside warm-up track on which he warmed down from a race not run.
Bolt said later that he was ''extremely disappointed'' but wished to move on ''as there is no point to dwell on the past''.
He added in a statement: ''Firstly I would like to congratulate my teammate Yohan Blake and the other athletes who won the medals. However, I have to move on now as there is no point to dwell on the past. I have a few days to refocus and get ready for the 200 metres on Friday.
''After this I have the 4 x 100 and a few other races before the end of the season. I know that I am now in good shape and will focus on running well in the 200. Thanks to all the people who sent me good wishes and I will try my best to make you proud in the 200.''
Blake was the man most helped but also most overlooked by his countryman's stunning disqualification. There will always be a footnote to his win - ''that was the year Bolt false started'' - but one he could live with.
''I can't find words to explain it,'' said Blake. ''I feel like I want to cry. I've been praying for this moment for my whole life. I felt sorry for Usain, my training partner. I had to take it out in the race for him.
''I knew I would challenge Bolt one day, but I did not expect it today. I am traumatised and have mixed feelings. I am very sad for Usain Bolt but, at the same time, I am enjoying this very much.''
American Walter Dix, the Olympic bronze medallist, took silver and 2003 world champion Kim Collins, of St Kitts and Nevis, bronze.
''As much as I want to be on the podium, tonight is a sad night for athletics,'' Collins said.
But he quickly admitted that one man's loss was another's gain, and asked should he worry too much of another's trouble at his own expense?
The rules were changed in 2010 to introduce a one-strike-and-you-are-out rule for starts after the sport had been blighted by a routine number of false starts.
Bolt was not the only man to false start. British sprinter Dwain Chambers false started in a semi-final.
Many believe the rule needs to be changed again before London to avoid the possibility of missing out on seeing the best race.