Monday, April 21, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

The greatest of all time?

Usain Bolt is the first sprinter in 24 years to win the 100-meter and 200-meter gold medals in the same Olympics.

The greatest of all time?

We've now seen Usain Bolt's gold-medal winning 200-meter sprint with our own eyes, and it was truly spectacular.

This time, there was no early celebration. Instead, Bolt lowered his head - and the proverbial hammer - in the final meters, storming across the line and into history in 19.30 seconds.

The margin of victory was almost as stunning, with Bolt crossing the line more than half a second ahead of the Netherlands Antilles' Churandy Martina.

And it was great to see the man whose record Bolt broke, Michael Johnson, celebrating the historic moment in the BBC's commentary booth.

Bolt is the first man in 24 years to sweep the 100m and 200m golds in an Olympics, and he set world records in both. 
There are plenty of people out there who, even as they celebrate Bolt's achievement, cannot help regarding it with a deeply ingrained cynicism that comes from having seen too many historic moments ruined by failed drug tests.

But the IAAF says Bolt has been drug-tested 11 times this year and has passed them all. Hopefully, this time we can finally allow ourselves to celebrate.

Daily News Olympics writer Marcus Hayes reports from the Bird's Nest in Beijing and wonders what's next for Bolt on the paper's Olympics blog, Olympic Proportions.

Kyle Whelliston pays tribute and has some more photos of the race on his Olympics blog, Swifter Higher.

(Who knew that in addition to being a mid-major basketball guru, Whelliston is a certified Olympics historian? Where does he get the time?)

Those of you who've been to the Penn Relays before have seen Bolt in person, though you might be wondering just when it was.

I called Penn Relays director Dave Johnson just now to find out. After a bit of research, he found that Bolt's last appearance here was in 2005. as the opening leg of Jamaica's sprint medley relay team.

That was actually the only USA vs. the World men's SMR the Relays has ever held. I took a look into the Inquirer's archives to find the agate results from that day's races, but they only list the top four finishers in the event. So I looked around the web a little more and found an archived results page at USA Track and Field's website.

It turns out Jamaica finished fifth that year in 3:22.58, a full ten seconds behind the winning USA Red team.

(As an aside, the feature photo on the front of that day's Inquirer sports section was of Justin Gatlin. That might show more than anything else how long it's been since Bolt paid us a visit.)

Bolt also ran the 4x100m here in 2004 as a high schooler. He was the second leg on the William Knibb High School  team, which won the small schools consolation final in 42.33 seconds.

The school is located in St. Ann, Jamaica, and is in the same parish of Trelawny as those famous yams Bolt eats all the time.

As for the present, though, let the debate begin: Is Usain Bolt the best sprinter of all time?

Cast your vote in the poll at right, and have your say in the comments.

Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
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About this blog
Soft Pretzel Logic is Philly.com's college sports blog, with a primary focus on the University of Pennsylvania. You'll also see coverage of the Big 5, other major college sports events in the region, and the annual Penn Relays track and field meet.

Reach Jonathan at jtannenwald@phillynews.com or 215-854-2330.

Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
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