Usain St. Leo Bolt, you will be missed!

I was already in love. Fiercely, ecstatically and unconditionally. But seeing this man burst into the scene right out of thin air, on 3rd May 2008, at the Icahn Stadium in New York, with a New World Record (9.72 seconds) and following it up with a pair of physics-defying performances at the Bird’s Nest Stadium at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, I fell in love all over again. This was the saviour track and field was waiting for. A transcendental trailblazer who would exceed the wildest expectations of his fans. A born entertainer with an indomitable sense of youthful exuberance and self-assurance. A charismatic ambassador of the sport, who would inspire billions and make track and field cool again.
 
The blend was uncanny to begin with. At 6 feet 5 inches tall, he was better suited to play basketball than athletics. But what could possibly happen if you infused world class speed and quickness into that towering frame? Well, you would get Usain Bolt, and in him and with him, a freak of nature, unseen, unfathomable and for all competitive purposes, UNFAIR. There are countless scientific analyses and interpretations as to how he did what he did, but perhaps it doesn’t take genius, to figure out how a man who has to take 3-4 steps less than everybody else to cover 100 meters, while having the same foot speed can obliterate world records at will. And then there was confidence. Unshakable, all-conquering confidence. Confidence that would earn him 3 Olympic Gold Medals at the age of 30 well past his sprint-prime. Confidence that would enable him to maintain his composure to win Gold at 200m and 100x4m, after false-starting in the 100m. And finally, perhaps most importantly, there was this jovial, magnetic personality which held everything together like glue. And now, after nearly a decade of making mockery of human limits and leaving the most experienced pundits adjectiveless, Usain St. Leo Bolt from Trelawny Jamaica is about to retire. And boy oh boy Usain, will you be missed.
 
I’ll miss those moments when I used to watch him on live-tv. I distinctly remember when I first saw him live. It was the 100m final at the Beijing Olympics. At the beginning (pre-race), it was no different from any other race. But by the end of it, I had sprung to my feet from my chair, my heart was beating nineteen to the dozen and I was having intense goosebumps. And not a race has gone by ever since, that I haven’t had the exact same physical responses whenever I watch him live.
 
I’ll miss his competitive spirit. Sure he has lost the odd race or two. But there has never been a single athlete who even remotely threatened his dominance, especially at major events. Asafa Powell, Tyson Gay, Yohan Blake, Justin Gatlin and Andre de Grasse; they all have one thing in common. They were exceptional athletes who just had to bow down to the master. And there’s no shame in that. Not only did Bolt not lose many races but he also never gave the impression that he would, ever.
 
I’ll miss his Jamaican flare. The unbridled, chaotic joy with which he filled the stadiums whenever and wherever he raced. For Bolt, no stadium was too big, no moment too daunting. He was in his element from the moment he took the field for his warm up. From playing with the camera to dancing with the mascots, from flirting with the female volunteers to his iconic pre-race and post-race routines, here was a man who was born to steal the limelight. It was almost as if he could channel the vibes of vitality and euphoria from the crowd and condense them into one energy booster that propelled him to victory.
 
I’ll miss the 9.58; I’ll miss the 19.19; I’ll miss the 36.84; no matter how many times I watch them on YouTube. For in Bolt, we didn’t see just greatness. We witnessed history being re-written. History, that would stand the test of time!
 
Article by: Merl Chandana

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