TRACK PROFILE Report #806
BOLT AMAZES WITH 9.69 100m WORLD RECORD IN BEIJING
By Bob Ramsak
(c) 2008 TRACK PROFILE Report, all rights reserved
BEIJING — Underscoring the world record performance that thrust him into the sprint spotlight late last spring, Usain Bolt did himself even one better in Beijing, cruising to a 9.69 world record to demolish the field in the final of the menâ€™s 100 meters on the second day of action at the National Stadium.
â€œMy aim was just to be the Olympic champion,â€ said Bolt, who lowered the 9.72 mark he set in New York City on May 31. â€œI wasnâ€™t thinking about a world record.â€
With a performance that defied the imagination, Boltâ€™s assessment seemed to be quite on target. Clearly ahead of Trinidadâ€™s Richard Thompson 40 meters into the race, he then forged onward to build a lead so massive that some 75 meters into the race, he began to look side to side, dropping his arms and gesturing as if to ask, â€˜Where is everybody?â€™
Actually, said Bolt, it was simply a celebration. And the capacity crowd watching history being rewritten soaked it all in. â€œAs soon as I saw I had the field covered and I knew I would win, I was very happy and I started to celebrate.â€
Thereâ€™s no way to determine what his final shutdown, along with his one-handed chest thumping as he crossed the line, cost him on the clock â€“ Trinidadâ€™s Marc Burns, who finished seventh, estimated his storming performance could have been as fast as 9.55 â€“ but Bolt, who claimed the first 100m gold medal for Jamaica, seemed to care little.
â€œI havenâ€™t seen the replay, so I really canâ€™t comment,â€ he said. For the sake of those behind him, itâ€™s just as well. â€œI just came here to prove that Iâ€™m the best in the world and I did that.â€ A 0.20 second margin of victory provides plenty of evidence to support that appraisal.
Behind him â€“ well behind him â€“ on planet earth, it was the â€œforgottenâ€ who produced the hottest pursuit. Thompson, this yearâ€™s NCAA champion for LSU, ran the race of his relatively short career to finish second in 9.89, with American Walter Dix just a few ticks behind to take the bronze in 9.91. Despite the slowest start of field, Churandy Martina of the Dutch Antilles was fourth, clocking a 9.93 national record.
â€œHeâ€™s just a phenomenal athlete,â€ Thompson said. â€œI donâ€™t think anybody could have been him with a run like that today.
Yet again, former world record holder Asafa Powell will go home empty-handed, after running 9.95 to repeat his fifth place showing from Athens four years ago.
Tyson Gay, the 100/200 meter champion last year, didnâ€™t even reach the final after finishing a disappointing fifth in his semi final some two hours earlier.
DIBABA ENTERS NEW TERRITORY
Likewise the first final on the track on the opening night of competition on Friday was yet another for the ages. Simply put, it was the finest womenâ€™s 10,000m race in history that capped a sensational opening day of track and field competition.
Running in front of a near-capacity crowd at the â€˜Birdâ€™s Nestâ€™ Stadium, world champion Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia added yet another glimmering jewel to her already ornate crown after her 10,000m victory in 29:54.66 to become only the second woman in history to dip under the daunting 30-minute barrier.
â€œIt was really tough, but I am not afraid of any race,â€ said Dibaba, who indeed faced perhaps her fiercest battle ever over the trackâ€™s longest distance. Although making her trademark break for the lead just beyond the bell, she didnâ€™t finally break clear from the remarkably strong Elvan Abeylegasse until about 250 meters remained. Abeylegesse in turn was rewarded with her brave late-race front-running with a sub-30 of her own, 29:56.34, a European record to become the third fastest in history.
In fact it was Abeylegesse, and before her, Dutchwoman Lornah Kiplagat, who deserve the bulk of the credit for the historic foray into sub-30 territory. Kiplagat led virtually from the gun –she brought the field through the first half in just under 15:10– until the young Ethiopian-born Turk took over with eight laps to go, upping the pace by injecting a series of 70-second laps. In the end, Dibabaâ€™s finishing strength was simply yet again unparalleled.
Meanwhile, American record holder Shalane Flanagan gradually made her way up through the field, passing a pair of Kenyaâ€™s best before finally working her way into third with laps to go. She held on easily to take the bronze in 30:22.22, smashing her own national record of 30:34.49 set at Stanford in April to become the 13th fastest ever. Remarkably, it was the second straight major championship in which an American woman took the bronze in the event. Not bad for a woman who was struck with food poisoning a serious bout of diarrhea just a few days earlier, briefly putting into question whether she would compete at all.
In all, 10 women dipped under 31 minutes, seven of them with career bests. Behind Flanagan finishing fourth was Kenyan Linet Masai whose 30:26.50 was a world junior record. Clearly, the fears that Beijingâ€™s notorious pollution would impact distance runners here were largely dispelled. At least on this night.
MENâ€™S SHOT PUT SHOCKER
In Fridayâ€™s final in the menâ€™s shot put, conventional wisdom was again defied when Polandâ€™s Tomasz Majewski upset the favored American squad. Already riding high after a career best 21.04 in qualifying, he took control with his first throw of 20.80 in the final. Two-time world indoor champion Christian Cantwell briefly took over with his second round 20.98, to which Majewski simply responded with a 21.21m toss in the third round, a toss which would have sufficed for the win. As insurance, he set his third personal best of the day with a 21.51m effort in round four.
Cantwell later improved to 21.09 in the final round to take silver, with Andrei Mikhnevich of Belarus taking the bronze (21.05).
World champion Valerie Vili added the Olympic shot put title to her collection tonight, with a 20.56m throw to improve her own Oceania record. The New Zealanderâ€™s throw came with her opening effort, but remarkably consistent, each of her five throws sailed beyond 20 meters.
Natallia Mikhnevich (20.28m) and Nadzeya Ostapchuk (19.86m) took silver and bronze for Belarus.
There was a Ukrainian 1-2 in the heptathlon, with Nataliya Dobrynska succeeding Swede Carolina Kluft as the Worldâ€™s Greatest Female Athlete. She tallied 6733 points, topping teammate Lyudmila Blonskaâ€™s 6700. American Hyleas Fountain took the bronze (6619 points) to capture the first U.S. medal in the event since 1992.
Competition resumes on Sunday with the womenâ€™s marathon in the morning and concludes with the final in the menâ€™s 10,000m. The eveningâ€™s action will also include the first ever Olympic final in the womenâ€™s 3000m steeplechase, the menâ€™s hammer throw, womenâ€™s triple jump, and womenâ€™s 100 meters.
There will also be semi-final action in the menâ€™s 1500m and womenâ€™s 400m.
Below is one of our view’s of the birds’ nest, as they call the National Stadium:
Used with permission of Bob Ramsak, http://www.trackprofile.com