Friday, August 15, 2008

Fastest Man on Earth

In just a few hours, we will know who can claim the title of “fastest man on earth.” The men’s 100 meters final in the Beijing Olympics pits three of the greatest speedsters in history: Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell of Jamaica and Tyson Gay of the United States. Between them they hold the 8 fastest times in the race, under 9.8 seconds.

This is not to say that others cannot pull an upset. Any number of factors could propel an unknown or unheralded sprinter into gold medal and history. But if we go with the record, it is most likely that the winner will be from among Bolt, Powell and Gay.

Men’s 100 meters is the most glamorous track and field event in the Olympics. It is over in a blink but its hold on the imagination lasts for years. Who has not dreamed of running as fast as the wind, outrunning foes real or imagined, outrunning inner demons, outrunning adversity, into a realm of bliss? At some point in our lives, we all have.

My sentimental favorite is Tyson Gay, if only because I cannot shake off his image of collapsing on the track and writhing in pain during the U.S. Olympics trials in Eugene last July. What can be more stirring than coming back from an injury and wearing the crown jewel of the Olympics? In reality, though, Usain Bolt appears unbeatable.

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