After his world record-breaking 200metres victory this afternoon, Usain Bolt poses a lot of problems. For his competition – obviously; for his production line of accountants desperately trying to keep up with the workload; and for the coaches who have been preaching the gospel of Power-Sprinting for the last few decades. The same gospel of upper body strength and bulk which produced the likes of the hideously distorted Ben Johnson, and which fuelled the market for steroids and other bulk-enhancers.
Usain Bolt therefore poses the biggest problem to the chemists. From now on, coaches will be looking for long, rangy sprinters with excellent technique. These things are not easily faked with drugs. Not as easily as bulk, anyway. So the task of the cheats just became a little harder, and sports lovers can believe a little more easily.
If long and lean becomes a new body fashion, and leads to fewer immobile neckless gymnauts, so much the better. It might even reduce the amount of rage on the streets a fraction.
Unfortunately, all this depends on not thinking the unthinkable. And that doesn’t feel right.
‘Bolt Stakes His Claim As The Greatest Ever Sprinter’.
Richard Williams.Guardian 21/8/08.
“Perhaps it is too much to hope that he has also banished the suspicions that have undermined the integrity of Olympic sprinting for so long. But when you look at him, at his 6’5″, 13st8lb frame and at the articulation of his limbs as he devours the track you might be forgiven for thinking that he, more than any other leading sprinter for several generations, might just be able to achieve such feats without artificial assistance. There is none of the physical distortion created by the excess muscle that powered recent generations out of the blocks. He looks balanced and natural.
Well, we can hope.”
Olympics: Why a negative will be a massive positive.’
Paul Kelso, Guardian 18/8/08.
“There was no one aiming daggers at him as Carl Lewis did at Johnson in 1988, instead there were only compliments. Everyone who was gripped on Saturday will hope it stays that way.”
Beijing Olympics 2008