'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.

newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Life and Style
Scientist have developed a test which predicts whether you'll live for another ten years
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executive - Call Centre Jobs

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator - Lancashire - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Support Engineer / Network ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Developer

£26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Developer is required to ...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn