Information Courtesy of the IAAF (Jamaica) – With their displays of unrivaled speed and agility, Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt and Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva confirmed that their generation remains the sport’s driving force after earning the World Athlete of the Year Awards for 2008. Bolt, who celebrated his 22nd birthday in Beijing, and Isinbayeva, 26, have time and again illustrated their ability to perform with the poise and conviction of seasoned veterans. Each ended their respective seasons with virtually untarnished records, and left Beijing as dominating Olympic champions with feats that aren’t likely to be duplicated any time soon. Until this season, Bolt was primarily seen as a leading force in the 200m, with his promise he exhibited as both the World youth and World junior record holder in the event reaching its fruition at the World Championships in Osaka a year ago where he dashed to silver. But that conventional wisdom held true only because he hadn’t yet seriously contested the 100. That view was shattered in the early days of May in Kingston when he sped to a 9.76 performance to become the second fastest man in history in just his second 100m race of the year. Immediately and ferociously, there was a new kid on the block gunning for bragging rights as the World’s Fastest Man. After a 9.92 follow-up two weeks later, Bolt seized that title on 31 May when he succeeded compatriot Asafa Powell as World record holder with his stunning 9.72 run in New York, defeating reigning World champion Tyson Gay in the process. After his solid 200m debut in Ostrava, where he was unchallenged in 19.83, the talk of the summer turned to a possible double dash bid in Beijing. The young care free Jamaican didn’t disappoint. After taking the sprint double at Jamaican championships, Bolt suffered his only defeat of the year, finishing second to Powell in Stockholm by a scant 0.01. But once in the Chinese capital, nobody came even remotely close to raining on Bolt’s date with destiny. His 100m victory in a World record of 9.69 is already the stuff of legend. But those numbers don’t even come close to illustrating the magnitude of his dominating achievement. His early celebration some 20 metres before the finish simply left the world stunned, wondering how fast he could have run had he not gotten caught up in the emotion of the moment. There was no early celebration in the 200m final four days later when he took down another legendary mark, Michael Johnson’s 19.32 World record set at the Atlanta Games 12 years earlier. Indeed, his coach Glen Mills confirmed that he had never seen his charge run so powerfully. In another dominating performance, Bolt stopped the clock at 19.30 to firmly etch his place in sports history.
- 10 years ago
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