Originally posted on FOX Sports  |  Last updated 8/5/12
Your legs are wobbly, your chest is hurting, and you can't breathe, which is probably a good thing because it keeps you from screaming and squealing like a teenage girl at a Beatles concert. That's what it's like watching Usain Bolt. You can't allow yourself to blink, either, because in the time that your eyelids go all the way down and then bounce back up, Bolt has moved too far, and you've missed it. He did it again Sunday, winning the gold medal in the 100 meters, this time in an Olympic record 9.63 seconds. Bolt and Carl Lewis are the only men to win back-to-back Olympic 100s. And Bolt says he looks forward to the Rio Games in 2016. "I've showed that without a doubt, I'm the best,'' Bolt said. "This is where I want to become a legend, and that's just one step in the door.'' Too late for that. Bolt is already a worldwide legend. He is, and already was, the rock star of these games. No offense to Michael Phelps, but even his swimming records were a warm-up act for Bolt. We've spent the past week gushing over Phelps, and he has deserved every bit of it. He backed it up in London. But the talk goes too far when people ask if he's the greatest Olympian of all time. Bolt is bigger; Bolt is better. Bolt is a freak on land and Phelps a freak in water. But nothing tops the Olympic 100 meters. Nothing. Remember all those empty seats earlier in the Olympics? The Olympic Stadium was packed Sunday, 80,000 full, including Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and at least half the US basketball team. Two million people applied for tickets to see Bolt run the 100 but were turned away. For Phelps, organizers were having a hard time filling a 10,000-seat swim stadium and used soldiers as seat-fillers. Phelps is an American argument, I know. Only in America is that even a discussion. Bolt is a worldwide phenomenon. In Super Friends terms from the 1970s, Phelps is Aquaman and Bolt is Superman. Aquaman is cool and everything, but he's no Superman. The 100 meters is a worldwide moment, the defining moment of the Olympics. In this case, it just so happened to be the greatest race ever run. Bolt's Jamaican countryman and training partner, Yohan Blake, won silver in 9.75 seconds. American Justin Gatlin, back from a four-year doping ban, won bronze in 9.79. Consider this: American Tyson Gay ran the fifth best time in Olympic history, 9.80 and finished fourth in the race. He was crying, inconsolable, afterward. This was the Woodstock moment of Olympic track and field, the Beatles appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show, Michael Jackson moonwalking on TV for the first time. You have to imagine a stadium packed with flashing bulbs and screams. In pre-race introductions, everyone tries to put on a show. Bolt made all sort of hand gestures, possibly including shadow-boxing. Gatlin walked seriously toward the camera. Some people call it poor sportsmanship, but they're wrong. It is part of the show. No one is showing up anyone. It's just a cockiness that each and every runner appreciates. Bolt has had technical troubles with his start over the past few months, losing to Blake in the Jamaican Olympic Trials and false-starting at the world championships. His coach told him to stop worrying about the start and just concentrate on winning the race in the final 50 meters. So Bolt said he sat back in the blocks for a split second while the runners took off, making sure he wouldn't false-start. Then, "I slipped in the blocks,'' he said. "I don't have the best reactions.'' By the time he got to the final 30 meters, Bolt knew it was over, and his mind started to wander. He thought about the world record and looked up at the clock to see if he could still break it. No. Too late. Then, he started thinking about the mugging he did as he crossed the finish line to win gold at the Beijing Olympics, putting an arm out and turning sideways. But he decided against doing that again. It's amazing how much can go through a guy's mind in 9.63 seconds. Most everyone else in the place was calmly pondering; "AAAAAAHHH!!'' The world's fastest man is 1,000 times sexier than the world's best swimmer. That's not Phelps' fault. He's like your superstar playing country or jazz. Bolt is a little rock and a whole lot of soul. Phelps was an American success, developed the American way, through camps and things. Bolt is just some sort of phenomenon. He still eats McDonald's Chicken McNuggets and says he has had some this past week, "I'm not going to lie.'' And in his biography, he talks about his lack of hard work. He says he can't bring himself to dedicate himself to a disciplined lifestyle: "If I train right, eat right, go to the gym all the time and dedicate myself 100 percent, then I definitely will do crazy times. It's hard. "I don't know how some sportsmen do it. I do what I like, stay up until whatever time I feel like, socialize when I like and eat what I like. I don't follow any of the rules.'' That could play into how he does in Rio. He is 25, and the body doesn't take those chicken nuggets well forever. At some point, age catches up with everyone. On the other hand, Phelps was considered a training machine before Beijing and needed to take a little time away after that. Bolt is not going to burn out. So is Bolt the greatest Olympian ever? Not yet. For now, if he wins the 200 meters later this week - if? Hah! - then he will be the only person to win the 100 and 200 in consecutive Olympics. Lewis, though, won consecutive 100s, a silver and then a gold in 200s and also won four long jump golds. Bolt is going to need to win another 100 in 2016 to end all discussion on greatest ever. But while Lewis was must-stop-and-watch TV, he wasn't considered as likeable as Bolt. That kept him from being the star Bolt is now. In the TV-driven era of sports, it's all about entertainment. Bolt takes his job seriously for 9.63 seconds, or so, every four years. To watch them though, they are the greatest 9.63 seconds you ever can't breathe through.
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