Oops, he did it again: Jamaica's Usain Bolt sets new world record

Bolt ran a 9:58 Sunday at the world championships in Berlin. Why are Jamaican sprinters so fast?

David J. Phillip/ AP
Jamaica's Usain Bolt celebrates setting a new 100m World Record after the final of the Men's 100m during the World Athletics Championships in Berlin on Sunday.

It's hard to know just when the world's fastest man will stop breaking records for the 100-meter dash.

Usain Bolt again toyed with the limits of our belief Sunday when he laid down a physics-defying time of 9.58 seconds at the world championship finals in Berlin. Perhaps my contact lenses went blurry for a second. Nope. Nine point five eight.


Even sports announcers had to look to the extraterrestrial for an explanation.

"There's no one on this planet - or any other that we know of - [who can] run this fast," exclaimed NBC announcer and former top-flight sprinter, Ato Boldon, moments after Mr. Bolt's feat. "He's a meter-and-a-half faster than anyone else in human history."

Making it look easy

And, Bolt being Bolt, the 6'5" Jamaican did it with style.

Before the gun, while American Tyson Gay wore a stone-cold stare and others jogged in place or tried to envision every step, Bolt sauntered around joking with fellow Jamaican Asafa Powell. When his name was called, he did his trademark gesture of pulling back an imaginary bow and arrow and pointing up to the sky.

When the gun went off, it was over. The shorter sprinters' only prayer was to explode out of the starting blocks faster than Bolt. They did not.

What the crowd couldn't know at that precise moment, however, was that Bolt would smash his own outrageous world record (set last year at the Olympics in Beijing) by a staggering .11 seconds. But they didn't have to wait long. Blink and they'd have missed the golden streak that was Bolt cross the line with a 9.58.

Postponed chest-thumping

Elated, Bolt thumped his chest in celebration. Only this time he waited until after the finish line to do it.

When he won the gold medal in Beijing, he decelerated and began the chest-thumping with about 10 meters to go in the race, causing some commentators to tut-tut about his sportsmanship before speculating wildly about how fast he could run if he actually ran through the line.

Now they know.

Or do they?

When Bolt rings in his 23rd birthday on Friday, he'll still have several years of sprinting ahead of him. And he shows no signs of slowing down. After all, he was still coming off a foot injury suffered in a car accident months ago when he won Sunday's race.

That didn't stop him from an exuberant jog around the stadium clutching the black, gold, and green Jamaican flag. Nor did it seem to bother him when he danced with teammate Asafa Powell, who got the bronze Sunday with a time of 9.84. (Not too shabby, Mr. Powell.)

Jamaicans from Negril to Spanish Town, from Montego Bay to Kingston will be celebrating this performance.

No surprise the fastest man is Jamaican

So how does tiny Jamaica develop so many world-class sprinters? There are many reasons.

Check out this story I did out of Jamaica ahead of the Olympics last year for a few. Also, check out the video, which shows Bolt dogging a training session on his home track in Kingston.

Now, can anyone tell me if the dance Powell and Bolt did today is a new one?

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