The Men’s Olympic 100 Meter Final may have featured three Americans, but the only man I wanted to see win that race was an arrogant, flashy, and charismatic Jamaican. And I don’t think I’m alone.
I tend to swim against the current when it comes to cheering in sports. I was a Colts fan before they were good; a spot of blue in a sea of drunken green and gold. I’m a diehard Marquette fan while everyone else pulls for Bucky. And I’m with the South Siders of Chicago rather than the Milwaukee Brewers.
I’m also not a fan of arrogance. I don’t mind a little showiness when the particular athlete can back it up, but most of the time I’m more a fan of the humble, hard-working underdog.
That doesn’t bother me when it comes to Usain Bolt. In fact, it makes him all the more likable. Let me explain.
Running is one of the most basic physical feats of the human race. It is a natural thing for a healthy human to be able to run. Unlike other sporting skills, like shooting (bullets or basketballs) throwing, fighting, or lifting, most people (particularly athletes) find the finite end to their ability when it comes to speed. No matter how hard they work, they find the end to their ability to run. I’ve always been fast, but not the fastest (although I think I still surprise some people). Until I am no longer able to run, I will probably be that: fast for a healthy male, but not among elite athlete speed. I know how fast I am and what my limits are.
Usain Bolts looks the limits of running, this most basic of human abilities, in the face with his fierce stare. Then, 41 blazing steps later, he smiles, laughs, and beats his chest in defiance of human limits.
He doesn’t just face his limits and then exceed them: he mocks them.
When he does all his little hand motions, when he turns up the swagger to a hundred thousand trillion, when he wears the big chains, when he confidently nods his head, he’s not defying his opponents, or other countries, or society. Rather, he is facing the limits of humanity and racing past them.
That’s not to say he doesn’t defy competition as well. The 100 Meter Final was absolutely stacked, and many were saying Bolt was through. He would also be facing runners like Justin Gatlin and Yohan Blake, both excellent starters who could finish well. Maybe Bolt wouldn’t be able to catch them by the end of the race.
As it turns out, the race wasn’t really that close. 40 meters in, I wasn’t sure if he was going to win; he didn’t seem to be gaining any ground. Then he did what no other human could do and flew the final 50 meters to break an Olympic Record. His own Olympic Record.
That’s why I’m captivated by Usain Bolt. He can appear to be beaten, losing badly to Blake in the Jamaican trials only a few months ago, and return at the Olympics to defend his throne. Does he even work that hard? He’s like a superhero. Everyone has 9.58 in their sights but no one can catch him. It’s the kind of greatness that someone will rarely see in their life.
And that’s why I wanted Bolt to win. I wanted to see him strike his pose and prove to everyone he is still the fastest man to ever live. And I want him to continue to push the limits of what is possible for humans to accomplish. Even though he may not be wearing my colors, he’s racing for me.
I know Phelps and Franklin are the headliners for this Olympics, but for me these events in London are about Usain Bolt. Maybe he only appears on the world stage ten seconds every four years, but he still is the most exciting athlete in the world. Like, comment, subscribe/follow, post to Facebook and Twitter, email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for reading!