The star of the show may have been far from happy with his own performance at the meet, but I’m fairly certain that the organisers will have come away from the New York Diamond League feeling pretty chuffed with their efforts to entertain. Whilst feeling glad that the Jamaican had decided to return after a seven year hiatus.
Not only did they put on a event full of high class competition, but they enticed the city to the world of track and field more than ever before.
Go out into any bar in Manhattan, Brooklyn or the Bronx and I can almost assure you that 99% of people will know fewer than two track and field stars by name, let alone have a clue about how much a shot put weighs (me neither) or the number of barriers you have to clear in the 110 meter hurdles. More than 30 years since the sport became professionalized at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, most also still don’t even realise that you can make money from it.
Despite this, on Saturday, thousands flocked to Randall’s Island to pack out the stands of the Icah Stadium in order to see the world’s fastest man.
In doing so they created an atmosphere that only benefited Usain Bolt, but the rest of the field too. As they made the most of the venue being full for the first time in many years by excelling on the beautiful blue track, that glistened so majestically in the NYC sun.
For that reason, the beautiful weather conditions and the general pedigree of the competition, I believe that this was the best Adidas Grand Prix to date, at least as a combination of the collective elements.
Usain Bolt, photo by PhotoRun.net
Not only does this illustrate how invaluable the Olympic champion is to the sport as an ambassador and icon, but even more so it show’s the limitations of track and field in his absence. Something that seems even more ominous given that his planned retirement now only lies two years away.
That being said, on this occasion, while Bolt succeeded in his attempts to get the crowd onto their feet roaring his name, he could not come up with a time to match their efforts. Due in part to the heavy headwinds, but mainly for reasons he could not explain: “I’d really love to explain to you guys what didn’t happen today, but I just didn’t go well.
“I’m kind of baffled with what happened, I was feeling great yesterday, we did a few turn runs and I felt great, so I just don’t know what happened.” he professed post race.
Coming out of the blocks, Bolt says he had an okay start, yet what came next was what he described as the worst turn of his career, leaving him feeling frustrated and demotivated. Yet while he may have wanted to switch off and get home in cruise control, he couldn’t. Suddenly he had a battle on his hands and challenge to complete.
He hung on to come away with victory, but not satisfaction.
While he could throw away last Saturday’s race as just being a poorly executed run early on in the season, his negative persona post race, something I’ve rarely experienced before, gave the perception of a man who is genuinely concerned at his current predicament. Especially in light of the performances of his rivals. Mainly Justin Gatlin.
“This season is not going so smoothly I’m trying to figure out what’s going wrong I need to get on top of things and try to work my way back up. I’ll just have to sit with my coach try to analyse and figure out what’s going on, we’ll work on it, but if it stays at this pace I guess there’s going to be trouble.” he said whilst giving a slightly misplaced chuckle that illustrated his inexperience at being placed in such a position since breaking through in 2008.
In reality, as the ultimate performer, no one would be surprised if in his next competition Bolt goes on to have one of the best race of his life, nonetheless his anxieties can be understood in the current climate.
Even so, performance aside, I’m sure deep down, Mr Bolt was just as glad as the meet organisers were to see him be reunited with the camaraderie of New York City and the Diamond League.
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