The Bolt and the Beast…

An account of the Men’s and Women’s 100m finals at Jamaica’s Olympic national trials where world records were broken and the winning times were faster than those in the American trials.

Finish of Jamaican Olympic trials men’s 100m semifinal, the winning blur is Asafa Powell…

So i was at the stadium yesterday for that thrilling 100m men’s race which saw Asafa Powell, Usain Bolt and Yohan ‘the Beast’ Blake vying with each other for first place. Asafa had won his semifinal and Bolt his. In the final Powell lead the way coming out of the starting blocks fast unlike Bolt who lumbered a bit in the beginning. All eyes were on them when the Beast running in lane 7, seemed to appear out of nowhere, gaining on the others by leaps and bounds and slicing into the finish line a head ahead of Bolt who had by then overtaken Powell. I mean it doesn’t get much better than this.

Earlier we had enjoyed Shelly Ann Fraser’s seemingly easy, thrilling run to victory over a star-studded cast of runners including Veronica Campbell-Brown, Kerron Stuart and others. All in all it was a great evening bedevilled in the early stages by a malfunctioning starter’s gun. How can a gun not work in Jamaica asked a man within earshot, looking puzzled.

There was some gloom earlier in the day when news broke that Asafa Powell had injured himself and might miss the semis and final. Exasperated Jamaicans cussed him left, right and centre citing mental weakness, psychological problems, general all round fecklessness etc trying to understand why this runner so beloved of everyone here seems so prone to injury and misfortune. This time there was also anger at the prospect of being robbed of the chance to see the great Jamaican running triumvirate compete against each other in the same race.

People were thrilled therefore to see Powell on the field when the time came for the semis and he got a huge roar of applause when his name was called. He then proceeded to run better than anyone has seen him run in recent years delighting his fans, though some felt he should have maintained his early lead to the end.

What I didn’t realize till this morning was that Powell had torn his groin during the quarter final heats on Thursday evening and been flown to Miami for medical attention. When he ran yesterday he had only been back from Miami four hours before the semi-finals and knowing how disappointed the public would be if he didn’t run had insisted on taking part. I hope he didn’t aggravate his injury by doing so, but as someone said on Twitter, “The man have heart and guts.”

i couldn’t identify the author of this image so it remains unattributed though the AP suggests it might be an Associated Press photograph.

Now everyone waits breathlessly for the 200m finals tomorrow night when Bolt and Blake meet again. I think Bolt should prevail because the 200m gives him more time to recover from his slow starts and he’ll certainly want to teach young Blake a thing or two after being pipped by him in the 1000m.

Incidentally the winning times in both men’s and women’s 100m races were faster than those in the American trials the week before. So once again Jamaica has a monopoly on the fastest men and women in the world.

I hope to be there but it all depends on ticket availability. It’s quite clear that something highly irregular is going on with ticket sales for the National Senior Championships to give it its proper title. I went to the ticket office on Thursday morning to get grandstand tickets for Friday and was told they only had bleachers available. All around the ticket office were scalpers offering grandstand tickets at three or four times the official price. Even on the way to the stadium the street was full of young men flogging tickets. Yet i heard from a friend this morning that she was able to obtain grandstand tickets from the Stadium ticket office at 12.30 pm on Friday! But there’s a coda. In response to my incredulous “you got grandstand tickets at the stadium office?!” she replied:

“Believe it – what’s more interesting is that I had a white American with me and SHE got the tickest although they told me they had none – scandalous if you ask me”

What are we celebrating this year again? 50 years of WHAT? smh…when will we ever live up to the standards set by our heroic athletes? Will it take another 50 years to get there? Talk about slow starts…