CBC Sports

The need to believe in Bolt

Posted: Wednesday, May 20, 2009 | 12:39 PM

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Bolt.

Even his name sizzles with speed. It’s as if the very mention of him conjures up images of something being fired out of a cannon.

Usain Bolt. “World’s Fastest Man.” It sure would be nice to believe he’s the real deal.

Then again, assume nothing in the modern age of sport. In a time where baseball players are paid $161-million over seven years and where bankruptcy dealings steal the hockey headlines - very little is pure. Even swimmers await governing bodies that rule on the admissibility of synthetic suits, which must meet standards of buoyancy, thickness and water resistance.

You’ve got to be kidding!

Amidst the distraction Bolt runs. And he keeps getting faster. His latest feat is a new world record at 150 metres through the soggy streets of Manchester, England. He’s like a barnstorming testament to what is possible for the human race.

Usain Bolt is 22-years-old, stands six-foot-five and weighs 190 pounds soaking wet. Not your typical sprinter. And yet he won three gold medals at last summer’s Beijing Olympics setting world records in the 100, 200 and 4x100-metre events. He’s the first man in history to turn that trick.

“I think he’s the next generation of running,” says Alex Gardiner, Canada’s head track and field coach. “I hope I’m not proven wrong.”

Gardiner has been following Bolt since the Jamaican kid appeared on the international scene at the world youth championships in Sherbrooke, Que., in 2003. Even then the coach knew this was a special talent.

“It was always the quick, quick strides,” Gardiner recalls. “I’ve never seen anyone sustain that rapid a rhythm … with the possible exception of Michael Johnson.”

He is a wonder. In Beijing the masses loved him and he played to the crowd. Bolt ran and danced and mugged for the cameras every time he raced. Once safely across the finish line he raised his golden shoes aloft and kissed them.

It was glorious to watch.

Soon Bolt will run in Canada in Toronto’s Festival of Excellence at the new Varsity Stadium on June 11. It goes without saying that it’s important for his sport that he’s going to be here.

“It’s really saying that track and field is back,” says Alex Gardiner.

Let’s hope he’s right. Let’s hope that Usain Bolt is what he appears to be. An exceptionally gifted athlete who demonstrates that human kind is capable of getting faster and stronger on its own two feet.

Lord knows there is a need to believe in Bolt.

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