The world salutes supernatural king of speed Usain Bolt

Society Materials 17 August 2008 07:30 (UTC +04:00)

The world took a deep breath after the Olympic 100 metres show of Jamaican Usain Bolt and then engaged in a world record of superlatives to describe the historic performance. ( dpa )

"Bolt of lightning leaves the rest of mankind far behind," said British daily The Independent on its website on Sunday.

Michael Johnson, who could lose his 200m world record to Bolt, bluntly spoke of "the greatest 100m performance in the history of the event".

Germany' Bild daily named Bolt "The Rocket Man" and the China Daily titled "Catch me if you can - Bolt saunters into history."

Bolt won the first Olympic 100m gold for Jamaica in a jaw-dropping show of speed, clocking a world record 9.69 in Beijing's Bird's Nest in front of a stunned crowd and billion-strong TV audience.

He did so with a shoelace not properly tied and by stopping running hard after 80m to celebrate the win.

"Imagine what he might achieve if he broke into a trot," wondered Britain's The Guardian.

American race finalist Darvis Patton named Bolt "a freak of nature."

The Independent spoke of "a human flying machine who is still a long way from reaching the extremity of his personal speed limit, let alone mankind's.

"The world had seen nothing quite like it before.

"For 9.69 seconds, this 6ft 5in (1.96m) Jamaican phenomenon had taken off and touched speeds no human had ever before reached without technological assistance. He had done so while shutting down the engines some 20 metres from the line, glancing to his right (presumably in the ill-founded notion that someone might be within his air space)," said The Independent.

There was much talk about his size and Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) had a very close look how this affected his run.

"He needs only 41 strides to reach the other end of the 100m track, that's four or five less than the other world class sprinters," said the paper on its website.

Bolt was several strides ahead of the rest in crossing the line, having turned what was supposed to be a hyped duel with former world record holder Asafa Powell and world champion Tyson Gay into a one-man show as Powell choked again to finish fifth and Gay didn't even make the final.

"What was billed as a showdown thus ended in a walkover," said the China Daily.

But as much as Jamaica celebrated and the world watched in awe, Bolt could not run away from the suspicion that has surrounded the event since Ben Johnson was exposed as a drug cheat 20 years ago at the Seoul Olympics.

The FAZ said that every 100m champion except Canada's Donovan Bailey in 1996 has been linked in one way or another with doping. With Johnson, the 1992 champ Linford Christie and 2004 winner Justin Gatlin were caught for drug abuse.

The Guardian struck a similar note.

"The history, however, casts its shadow. Johnson's downfall was tragic; if anything were to be awry with Bolt it would be farcical," The Guardian said.