Quick as a flash, Lightning is now a phenomenon

Four months down the line, in the chill of a bleak British midwinter, the memory remains warmingly vivid. It is the Olympastadion in Berlin on the evening of Thursday 20 August 2009 and the World Championship men's 200m final is fast approaching. Usain Bolt enters the arena. The crowd roars with laughter at his every clowning move, relayed by the trackside cameras on to the giant screens at either end of the stadium.

Bolt points to the message and motif printed on the front of his yellow and green T-shirt: the message "Ich bin ein Berlino," next to a cartoon picture of Berlino the bear, the mascot of the 12th athletics World Championships. Of course, the message is a twist on the celebrated soundbite given by John F Kennedy when he visited the city in 1963 after the erection of the Berlin Wall.

"Come and get me," Bolt mouths into a camera before settling into his starting blocks. Some chance. The previous Sunday, in the 100m final, Tyson Gay ran 9.71sec and still could not get anywhere near the Lightning Bolt. On that occasion, Bolt stopped the trackside clock at 9.58sec, an improvement of 0.11sec on the world record figures he had set while slowing down in the Olympic final in Beijing. What might the Jamaican do in the 200m in Berlin? Beat the opposition – the nominal opposition – convincingly. Nobody is shouting the odds about him beating the world record time which he set in the longer event in Beijing, 19.30sec – least of all Bolt himself. After all, he had to strain all the way to the line in the Chinese capital to shave 0.02sec off the supposedly untouchable record that Michael Johnson had established at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. And, by his own admission, he had little specific 200m training behind him, having been ordered to keep off bend running for several weeks after injuring his left foot in a car crash in May.

It is a true measure of the Bolt phenomenon, then, that he proceeds to shoot from his blocks, blitz around the bend and storm to the finish line in a staggering 19.19sec. Bolt is then embraced by Berlino the bear.

On the eve of his 23rd birthday, what is there left for the Lightning Bolt to achieve? "If Queen Elizabeth knighthooded me, I would be Sir Usain Bolt," he muses. "That sounds very nice."

Three to watch

William Sharman: Fourth at the World Championships in 2009, the former timekeeper on the 'Gladiators' TV show has become a major contender as a 110m hurdler.

Dai Greene: Swansea City youth footballer produced patches of world-class form in 2009 plus the promise of becoming a major force in the 400m hurdles.

Christine Ohuruogu: Only fifth in the 400m final at the World Championships after preparations were hamstrung by injury; expect the Olympic champion to bounce back in style in 2010.

Simon Turnbull

i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Robert De Niro has walked off the set of Edge of Darkness
news The Godfather Part II actor has an estimated wealth of over $200m
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
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

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower