There are some men who, though when they are born they are the same as every child who comes into the world that day, have within them the power to break the mould, transcend the mundane and let the world know their name. Close to 31 years ago in Sherwood Content Usain St Leo Bolt came into the world. That was the last time he was ordinary.
Fast forward three decades and having announced his retirement from professional competition at the end of the current season, Usain ran his last home-crowd run at the Racers Grand Prix in Kingston, Jamaica earlier this month. It was always going to be a special occasion but even the most hardened fan of the fastest man on earth could be forgiven for being surprised by the sheer scale of the emotional outpouring. Opened by prayers and a celebration of the greatest athlete in Jamaican history, from the moment it opened it was no longer the Racer’s Grand Prix but Salute to a Legend.
As a farewell tour for a jubilant home crowd, Bolt did not and could not disappoint – he may have had a terrible start as usual, he may have run the 100m in an average for him) 10.03, but he played to the stands, shadow-boxing and running through his usual pre- and -post race routines to give everyone there a sense that they had truly seen him in all his beautiful pomp and circumstance. And of course, he won.
With a tougher line-up by far than the 29 athletes in Kingston when he comes to London this August for his final World Championships, Usain will have to work as hard as he ever has to go out on a high. For an adoring crowd however, it will be enough to see him do what he does best – own an entire stadium with easy-going grace.