Usain Bolt is one of the glorious certainties of sport. Those long legs loping away to the finish line, that final acceleration at the tape — all have played out as frozen frames committed to every sports fan’s memory over the last decade. London might well witness the last of these sights. This weekend at the World Championship, the fans for one last time will watch a much-hyped sporting showdown without stressing over the fortunes of their favourite. That’s because when Bolts runs, he wins.
The greatest ever Jamaican — a rare one in a mighty hurry from the laid-back land of reggae and rum — didn’t set hearts aflutter through contests with rivals. Fans would sprint across global arenas to watch one man run. Not run against the runner-up or stride against time, but simply run faster than any human might. It mattered little that it has been the vilest decade for athletics with anti-doping measures catching up with many charlatans on steroids. Bolt owns 13 of the last 20 best timings in 100 and remains the only clean name as he heads into yet another most-watched race of his career, said to be his last.
With the sport in the middle of a credibility crisis, it seems tough to believe the IAAF will let him go, though who can catch the fastest man if he’s made up his mind? But even before he takes to the starting blocks — he’s famously false started at a world tournament too to complete the whole gamut of drama — the speculation is spicing up. He might run into a glorious sunset, of course. But Bolt might just fetch up before the next Olympics at Tokyo or take up the full lap of 400m or turn up in cricket or American football for a lark. The only certainty is when you see Bolt, he’ll be running like mad. He’s done this tumultuous world of uncertainties an almighty favour simply by ensuring he wins gold every single time. This one last time, watch the effort of every sinew as he guns for the magical effortlessness that is trademark Bolt.