Sprinter Usain Bolt rode into the sunset after his final hurrah in London, leaving behind a trail of sheer brilliance and records galore..
Back in 2012 after securing a double in the 100 metres and 200m in the London Olympics, Bolt used a line made famous by legendary boxer Muhammad Ali and declared that he not only a “legend” but also the “greatest athlete to live”.
Bolt wasn’t bragging. He put that beyond doubt when he won both races for the third time at the Rio Games last year.
Though he did not live up to his nickname of Bolt Lightning at the ongoing IAAF World Championships 2017 in London, finishing third, he admitted to himself that “Time Waits for No Man”.
His customary lap, not filled with glory this time, enthralled the fans who wanted selfish with him. Bolt willingly obliged, showing the humble side of his character. The fact that the crowd booed the winner Justin Gatlin proved how much they loved Bolt.
There were many Indians who were bleary-eyed after watching his final race at around 2am last Sunday. This only goes to show how popular the man was. His absence will be felt among spectators and television viewers around the world.
His appearances on the track sent the blood racing through the veins. People awaited the race with bated breath. The Bolt effect was unsurpassed.
There was a sort of cheetah-like stride which thrilled and awed spectators who gasped as soon after as another record was broken.
The celebrations, in unique Bolt style, stamped his authority in the sprinting world.
It has been said that Bolt, in his younger days, was accused of being too laid back in his approach. He enjoyed life, loved dancing and was a frequent visitor to the disco.
He had the makings of a great sprinter but lacked the will to aim high. It was his coach Glen Mills who stoked the fire of ambition in Bolt.
Now committed to making his mark in the world of athletics, Bolt faced injury setbacks early in his career. He was in the Jamaican squad to the Athens Games in 2004 but injury left him disappointed. But the world began to sit and notice him. Here was something special which if nurtured could be a world-beater.
Mills wanted Bolt to also concentrate on longer distances but the runner thought otherwise. He preferred the shorter distances. Bolt began to show his mettle a little later and by the time of the Beijing Games in 2008, a champion was born. He has thrilled the world with his long strides and cool demeanour. He knew he was the champion and nothing would stop him.
What makes a sportsperson greater is to know when to quit. Bolt made up his mind a year ago that the London event was going to be his last. And he kept his word.
There is always that nagging feeling that there is some more fuel left in the tank and Bolt may have thought the same after the third place finish. But his time was up and he took his call and stuck to it. That’s what champions do. It is always better to say no ‘one more time’ in sports.
The sight of his biggest rival Gatlin bowing to him after beating him will be etched in the annals of track and field and in the minds of people forever.
We will miss you legend.