Jamaica’s Usain Bolt waves his national flag as he celebrates winning the Men’s 100m final last night. (OLIVIER MORIN) It took Mr Usain Bolt a mere 41 strides in 9.81 illustrious seconds to further cement his name in Olympic history Sunday night. But the fact that the Jamaican became the first man ever to win three successive Olympic 100 metre titles has defined him beyond the Olympics. Mr Bolt is, no doubt, the greatest sprinter that the world has ever seen, and few would argue against the claim that he’s Earth’s most prodigious athlete.
While his world record runs in the 100 metres at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and the London games in 2012 were special, Sunday night’s victory in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was awe-inspiring because it represented the first step in his quest to win a historic ‘triple-triple’ combination of gold in the 100 metres, 200 metres and the 4×100 metres relay in three consecutive Olympics. Today, Mr Bolt will begin making the second step in that quest when he competes in the heats of his pet event, the 200 metres. He has told us that he hopes to smash his own world record — 19.19 seconds set in Berlin, Germany, in 2009. “I really want (the) 200m world record. If I can get a good rest after the semi-finals, there’s a possibility I could,” he told journalists after Sunday night’s 100 metres. “When it comes to the 200 metres, I’m much more confident. The 100 metres is always the hardest one for me.” Whether he will achieve that feat is left to be seen, but many people have come to learn that betting against him is risky. But even if Mr Bolt doesn’t break the record, the very fact that he has set it as another goal speaks to his fixity of purpose and his unwavering belief in his ability to succeed at the highest level. That, we hold, is one of the fundamental lessons that Mr Bolt’s life of hard work and determination offers to all Jamaicans. While we praise him for his achievements — and he deserves every accolade — all Jamaicans, we believe, must consider it their duty to work with the same level of discipline, as Mr Bolt does at is craft, in order to make Jamaica a better country. We reiterate that our leaders should move beyond the swift congratulatory messages that they revel in releasing, and work with the same determination displayed by Mr Bolt, and indeed our other athletes, to correct the ills of this country that we all love. That, we believe, would be one of the greatest tributes that this country could pay to someone like Mr Bolt, who has lifted Jamaica’s name globally since 2008 by totally dominating world athletics. For, as we have often stated in this space, if Jamaica can be this successful in world athletics, we can replicate that success in other areas. For now, though, we await with heightened anticipation the next five days of Olympic competition and hope that Mr Bolt will indeed achieve the goals he has set for himself. And, as we watch him compete, we should all consider ourselves fortunate to be witnessing history in the making.
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