‘Lightning’ Bolt: Is he human?

Ankit Banerjee

Can a human being be faster than a cheetah? The answer would probably be a dilemmatic ‘yes’. Then can he be called a ‘human’? He can be if he is someone called Usain Bolt. Usually when a dog chases a man, the latter tends to give up and surrender mid-way. That does not imply that the person is a tortoise like runner but mostly because he does not have the conviction that he can be faster than a dog. However some individuals have the belief in them to challenge a cheetah, possibly the fastest animal on planet known to mankind. A cheetah does a 100m in 5.5secs. Probably the greatest runner in the history of the game, the Jamaican once had the audacity to challenge a cheetah. Well the most awaited spectacle never happened, but such is the confidence of Usain Bolt.

Every era produces super humans. For example the next generation will never have the pleasure of witnessing a Sachin Tendulkar or let’s say a Lionel Messi or a Roger Federer. That is the nature of sports and there comes the question again, will this world ever see someone faster than Usain Bolt? Most of us would say ‘probably not’. So it will not be wrong to associate the term ‘super-human’ to describe Bolt.

Most Indians first noticed the ‘fastest man on planet’ when he was getting all set for his 100m final, Beijing 2008. Asafa Powell or Tyson Gay were the frontrunners for the event, but this unknown quantity called Usain Bolt whistled past his competitors and the ease with which he did, it was sensational to say the least. It felt like Bolt knew from the outset about the result, and it was a matter of mere formality to take the tracks, and perform the rituals. Watching legends of the past has given us a rough idea about the mechanics of sprinting but this tower-like figure was unique and all the formula’s and equations of sprinting went for a toss. Bolt looked like a beast that did not have any competition, and was in a planet of his own. This Jamaican does make extraordinary sprinters look very ordinary.

Bolt has got the perfect structure for a sprinter and to complement that aspect, he also has a psychological edge over others. For an athlete that`s priceless. You can only perform at your best when you`re relaxed. Bolt is so chilled out that he almost falls asleep on the blocks and it wouldn`t be surprising if one day he just fell over sideways because he had drifted off while he was waiting for the start gun. That doesn`t mean Bolt won’t fret before a race. It is difficult to believe that he approaches the track without any worries. He is a great showman and as laid-back an athlete as we have ever seen on the start line but his stomach would surely churn while he cradles on the warm-up track, his legs would surely feel weak because of all that adrenaline pumping through his body. But he controls and harnesses that energy better than anyone we have ever witnessed. ‘Lightning’ Bolt is an epitome of an athlete who knows how to perform when it matters most. And at an Olympic games that is all that matters.

Bolt reminds us of the Jamaican culture which all of us secretly want to be a part of. We enjoy his success, which rarely happens when a different national wins. A friend of mine very wittily said when asked - Why do the Jamaicans run faster than the others? - “After all, the Jamaican tradition of running very fast in one direction is probably rooted in their ancestors` desire to escape the clutches of the English and Scottish cheats who once carved up the island.” I didn’t for sure know how true he was but found his reply quite interesting.

The six-time Olympic gold medalist is an institution in himself. He makes us ponder on the fact - IS HE HUMAN?