Saturday’s men’s 100-meter final was expected to be one of the marquee event of the Beijing Games, with a fast and incredibly close finish expected between Usain Bolt and Usafa Powell of Jamaica and American Tyson Gay. Instead, Bolt turned it into a rout, setting a world record of 9.69 while winning by two-tenths of a second, the largest margin of victory in the event in the last 40 years of the Olympics.
And oh yeah, he apparently did it with one of his shoes untied.
The ease with which Bolt crushed a world-class field called to mind Michael Johnson’s amazing 200-meter run in Atlanta. But, looking at the circumstances, it’s hard not to think about Ben Johnson in Seoul and his mountain of chemical supplements. Or Flo Jo, who like Bolt seemingly came out of nowhere to become a dominant sprinter and had rumors of steroid use follow her to her grave. Much like Michael Phelps, it’s an unfortunate reminder of the “guilty until proven innocent” mindset we now have about great athletes.
As for Bolt’s main rivals? Gay didn’t even make it out of the semifinals and later admitted that his injured hamstring was worse than he was letting on. Meanwhile, Powell continued his tradition of flops in big meeting by struggling to fifth for the second straight Olympics. And he even had both of his shoes tied.