'Lightning' Bolt storms to record in 100 metres

The world 100 metres record was reduced to 9.72 seconds on Saturday night by an athlete who does not start properly, slows down before the finish and is not even supposed to be running the distance seriously. Who knows what Usain Bolt can do when he gets it all together?

After the 21-year-old Jamaican's startling display on a waterlogged track at New York's Randall Island, when his lanky, 6ft 5in frame moved inexorably clear of a field that included the US world champion Tyson Gay, that is the question now being considered by observers of international athletics.

"I always say the 200 metres is my favourite race. That's not going to change," said Bolt, whose performance in what was only his fifth serious 100m race makes him appear ominously capable of challenging the monumental world 200m record of 19.32sec set by Michael Johnson in winning the 1996 Olympic title.

Having beaten the 100m mark of 9.74sec set last September by his fellow countryman Asafa Powell, the quietly spoken student at Jamaica's University of Technology went so far as to say he was "pretty happy" with his achievement at a Reebok grand prix that was delayed for almost two hours because of storms. But he became more animated on the subject of the impending Beijing Games.

"This world record doesn't mean a thing unless I get the Olympic gold medal," he said. "Tomorrow if someone comes and runs faster than me, I'm no longer the fastest man in the world. If you're the Olympic champion, then they have to wait four more years to get you again. I think the Olympics is the biggest thing, and I'll be doubling in the 100 and 200 now, definitely."

For all the lightning that flared around the Icahn stadium, the time recorded by the man known as Lightning could hardly be regarded as a bolt from the blue given that he had set the second fastest time in history, 9.76sec, in Kingston on 3 May.

That performance indicated that he was about to start delivering seriously on the huge promise he had shown in winning two golds and a silver in the world junior championships aged 15, breaking 20 seconds for the 200m two years later and taking silver behind Gay in last year's world 200m final.

But even in the aftermath of his Kingston effort, Bolt's coach Glen Mills had maintained that his athlete was "a quarter-mile runner". If Mills had had his way, Bolt would have been running 400m races this season in preparation for his 200m challenge, with a view to moving up later in his career. Bolt, however, hates the longer distance, and Mills reluctantly agreed last season that he could run over 100m if he broke the Jamaican 200m record. Bolt duly did so, recording 19.75sec.

Mills has said Bolt is "never going to be a good starter" because of the difficulty of getting his tall body smoothly out of the blocks. That handicap is compounded by other bad habits. When he is running the 200m, Bolt still slows by looking over his shoulder – "Nobody stopped me when I was younger" – and he clearly failed to push to the line in his 9.76 run.

His race in New York, watched by hundreds of flag-waving Jamaicans, also saw him fail to obtain the maximum from his momentum and he crossed the line with arms outstretched before roaring round the bend as if he was running his favourite distance.

The fates had been with him. A poor start when the race got underway was annulled because another runner false-started. The following wind would also have been over the legally permissible level of two metres per second. Second time round, Bolt got away a bit better, and the wind gauge read plus-1.7mps.

Gay, 5ft 11in, lamented that he had run the same rhythm as Bolt, but that his opponent's stride pattern was bigger. "He was covering a lot more ground than I was," he added. Bolt looks set to have the kind of impact over two distances made by Cuba's Alberto Juantorena, similarly nicknamed White Lightning, who won the 400m and 800m at the 1976 Olympics.

Bolt's next planned outing is in Ostrava on 12 June, when he will run his favourite distance. Expect more lightning.

Fast lane: History of the 100m

10.6sec Donald Lippincott (US) 1912.

10.4 Charles Paddock (US) 1921.

10.3 Percy Williams (Can) 1930.

10.2 Jesse Owens (US) 1936.

10.1 Willie Williams (US) 1956

10.0 Armin Hary (W Ger) 1960.

9.95 Jim Hines (US) 1968.

9.93 Calvin Smith (US) 1983.

9.92 Carl Lewis (US) 1988.

9.90 Leroy Burrell (US) 1991.

9.86 Carl Lewis 1991.

9.85 Leroy Burrell 1994.

9.84 Donovan Bailey (Can) 1996.

9.79 Maurice Greene (US) 1999.

9.77 Asafa Powell (Jam) 2005.

9.74 Asafa Powell 2007.

9.72 Usain Bolt (Jam) 2008.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Account Manager

£17000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This children's clothing compan...

Recruitment Genius: Experienced Carpenter / Joiner

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading manufacturer...

Recruitment Genius: Cabinet Maker / Joiner

£22000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This bespoke furniture and inte...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic and Motion Designer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Do you get a buzz from thinking up new ideas a...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones