It remains to be seen whether Usain Bolt will be going forward in time again tomorrow, in the way that he did when he took the 100m and 200m world records to new limits in Berlin last week. Just to get to the Letzigrund Stadion for his first professional engagement since the World Championships, though, the fastest man of the 21st Century will be going back to the days when men were men and the likes of Tom Finney and Stanley Matthews would travel to play in the big match of the day by means of public transport.
It is unlikely that the Lightning Bolt will be undertaking a spot of part-time plumbing, as the future Sir Tom used to do of a Saturday morning before getting a quick scrub down and catching a tram for Deepdale. Like the rest of stars competing in the Weltklasse Golden League tonight, though, Bolt will be riding the tram from the athletes' hotel near Zurich airport down the hill into town for the meeting known as "the one-day Olympics of track and field."
It is all part of a drive by the meeting organisers to reduce carbon emissions, and clearly the plan came as news to Bolt yesterday. He had, he confessed, never travelled to a meet by public transport before. "This will be my first time," he said. And his first time in a tram too? "We don't have them in Jamaica," he said.
Bolt runs in the 100m tonight, against Asafa Powell, with whom he teamed up as the back end of the Jamaican 4 x 100m relay team who cruised to victory in Berlin last Saturday night. Nobody asked him yesterday if he thought he might break his world record, the 9.58sec he clocked in the World Championship final a week past Sunday. Perhaps it was a sign of the times.
We have seen the Lightning Bolt strike down the 100m and 200m records in spectacular fashion in Beijing and in Berlin. Now the world is clamouring for a different trick from the Jamaican phenomenon. There were more questions at his press conference yesterday about the long jump than anything else. Having mentioned at a Jamaican Tourist Board function last Sunday that he would like to try his hand, or more specifically his speed, at long jumping, Bolt insisted that it was no throwaway remark. "I'm definitely going to try it," he said.
The good news for Britain is that Bolt's expanding horizon does not quite go as far as the triple jump. "I think triple jump puts a lot of pressure on your knees," he said. "I've seen what these guys do to their knees and it looks really bad. I don't want to mess mine up." So Phillips Idowu, as world champion, and Jonathan Edwards, as world record holder, can rest assured that they are in no danger of being hopped, stepped and jumped into oblivion by the Lightning Bolt.
There is a men's triple jump on the programme tonight but Idowu will not be one of the 16 world champions putting their reputations on the line in Zurich. Like Jessica Ennis, Britain's other gold medal winner in Berlin, the Belgrave Harrier is saving himself for a grand homecoming at the Aviva British Grand Prix at Gateshead on Monday.
There will, however, be British echoes from Berlin: with Lisa Dobriskey lining up in the 1500m against Maryam Jamal, the Bahrain athlete who beat her in last Sunday's final by a tantalising 0.01sec; and with the burgeoning William Sharman, fourth in the 110m hurdles final, getting another chance to show his Weltklasse credentials.Reuse content