If you haven’t seen it, there’s this wonderful photo going around of Usain Bolt looking back on his pursuers in (I think) last night’s 100m final. Which he won. Easily.
It’s wonderful being so dominant that you can clown around before the race is even over. And why not? Bolt won his third straight Olympic 100m gold medal and he will go down as one of the most overpowering talents in track and field history.
Well, here’s why not. Winning the race matters. Winning the medal matters. But if you’re Bolt’s kind of elite, records also matter. He is the current world record holder, having run a 9.58 in 2009. But he may well have run even faster in the 2008 Olympics. In that race, he was dusting the “competition” badly – badly – when, near the finish, he took his foot off the gas to showboat a little.
He set a new record that night – 9.69 – but experts say he may have run as fast as 9.55 (or faster) if he’d kept the hammer down.
He’s not alone. Every season we seem to have a case or two of football players actually dropping the ball before they cross the goal line because it’s so important for them to hot dog. Then there was Lindsey Jacobellis’s moment of epic dumbassery.
I will never understand why showing your ass is so much more important to some folks than, you know, winning. There’s probably a dissertation in there somewhere.
In any case, when it comes to something like the 100m, a hundredth of a second is significant. If somebody comes along and runs a 9.57 and it stands for a decade – which isn’t at all impossible – Bolt is going to have some time to contemplate the price of his hijinks.
Great picture. Fun picture. The hallmark of a showman. But absolutely not the behavior of a true champion, for whom winning comes first.
Jesus is coming, children, and he has his horse before his cart.