Sunday, August 17, 2008

Bengali in Beijing - The Name's Bolt!

I told you I was there. Witnessing the race to be the Fastest Man on Earth. Tyson Gay had crashed out in the qualifiers, making the three-horse race a two-horse race. Of course, Asafa Powell eventually finished fifth - but that's immaterial. It really was about Bolt. Usain Bolt.

This one's of the eight men at the start - just after taking off. They're all blurs. Obviously. Not because of the camera - well, maybe partly. But they're all blurs anyway.

At the finish line then. I had made up my mind to click when the group was five paces off the line. Did so. But when you're setting a world record, chances are, this is what you will do to a poor unprofessional cameraperson shooting with an automatic digicam. Yeah, the rest are there, but Bolt is out of the frame. Only the heel of one of his shoes can be seen if you check carefully.

There - the world record. The usual pose immediately afterwards. 9.69, the time. You wonder what might have happened if the Jamaican in Bolt hadn't woken up 10 metres off the finish line, when he suddenly started waving his arms about and celebrating with whacks to his chest and stuff. Probably not 9.60, but certainly 9.62 or 9.63. What say?

Posing with his golden shoes afterwards. When we were in Jamaica for the cricket World Cup, the intelligent and witty Atreyo Mukhopadhyay had told me very seriously that when Jamaicans are born, a little hole is made in their head and a worm is put in. The worms act up every once in a way and that's when the Jamaicans do strange things. Which is what you see in Jamaica all the time. Guys walking around quietly and then suddenly breaking into something inexplicable. Like Bolt. A complete weirdo. His celebrations were fantastic, starting from the 90th metre of the race.

There he goes again. The archer's pose that he put on even at the start when his name was announced. He saw himself on the giant screen and did the exact same thing. This, when the other seven were limbering up, mouthing prayers, etc. These Jamaicans...

And then the official press interview. 9.69. End of story. For a man who has always been a 200-metre runner and won his first major 100-metre race only in May this year.